IRONMAN 70.3 – Mark Cullen
On Monday, I started a new feature where I began introducing the Genuine Health IRONMAN 70.3 team. We are a group of 4 best friends and newbie triathletes, training to tackle the Muskoka Half in July 2016. Today, I wanted to introduce you all to Mark “Every Sport Is Easy” Cullen.
A little about me: Being athletic is in my blood. I have come from a long lineage of successful, athletic and competitive people and as an only child, I am last in succession to carry on the Cullen torch of greatness.
Following in my father’s foot steps is no easy task – he is the legendary Gordy Cullen who had a hockey scholarship to Michigan and played Semi-Pro for many years. From there, he went on to auto race for 25 years across North America.
My mother was a runner and my grandfather was a high level hockey goalie. As you can see, I didn’t have much choice but to absolutely love sports. Other than training and working the sports industry, I love food, dogs and travelling the world.
Ever since I was young, I have been heavily involved in sports, playing high level soccer, hockey and golf for many years and participating in multiple championships, MVP honours and all-star games. Competitive sport was such an integral part of who I was that when this ended, I began searching for other ways to stay both active and competitive.
While I was attending York University for Kinesiology and Exercise Science, I dabbled in intramural sports but consistently found running to be a way to stay fit and competitive with minimal time or facilities needed. I decided to put my competitiveness to the test despite having very little training and ran a half marathon debut of 1:33.
I decided a marathon was the logical next step and debuted with a very positive split at the Ottawa Marathon, running a 3:29.
Doing anything less than my best is not an option for me, so I put in some serious training and tackled my second marathon and just missed Boston with a 3:05:45. I decided to race the Whitby half marathon two weeks afterwards and ended up winning the race which inspired me to try again for my Boston qualifying marathon.
On the last possible day to qualify, I ran a 2:58:17 in Pennsylvania and headed to Boston last spring to race what was one of the most fun races of my life in 2:58. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I am headed back to Boston this spring.
I have been focused on improving my PB’s in all events: MARATHON – 2:58, HALF MARATHON – 1:25, 10 K – 38:04 and 5 KM – 18:06. Considering the incredible veterans of the sport, I am relatively new to running and looking to stay injury free and healthy.
The highlights of my athletic career so far:
• Whitby Half Marathon Champion
• Numerous AG and Overall Podiums
• 2/4 Marathons are sub-3.
My most memorable running experiences:
• Boston 2015
• Grand Canyon 2016
WHY THE IRONMAN
I have been watching the IRONMAN world championships for the past number of years and have always said I was going to do one. The Simon Whitfield Gold Medal is one of my most memorable and favourite sporting moments ever.
I discovered a deep love for road biking a year ago and it seemed like a natural progression for me. I also love the competitive spirit of the triathlon and relish a new challenge. I look forward to becoming a more well-rounded endurance athlete.
The high volume of training required for an IRONMAN will be a great escape from my day job as a Sports Facility Manager. Aside from that, I absolutely love hills and Muskoka is notoriously hilly.
I am currently training for the 2016 Boston Marathon and am doing a mixture of track, intervals and long runs with lots of marathon pace. Unfortunately, I am currently dealing with a few setbacks due to injuries so I have turned to the bike to keep my fitness up.
(EDITORS NOTE: Mark can casually run a sub 3 hr marathon on no training. No one is worried for him.)
This is one discipline I have been slacking in this winter. I was a great swimmer when I was younger, but marathon training put a stop to my training and I am a bit out of practice. I will be increasing my swim training as the event approaches.
(EDITORS NOTE: Mark can casually swim laps around the rest of the Genuine Health team with no training. No one is worried for him.)
I have been doing a lot of volume on the bike with outdoor winter rides and rides on the trainer. I am still relatively new to cycling as I have only owned a road bike for about a year but I just completed my first century ride up the coast of California in January. I love the speed of the bike, the distance you can cover, the places you can see and the wind on your face.
I was quite muscular in my university days and have been working to incorporate more strength work into my routine to prevent injury and increase my strength.
This is something I am paying attention to leading up to Boston and throughout my races this year. Typically, I am fairly relaxed about it, but I eat a balanced diet. That being said, I am still learning lots from Latte!
(EDITORS NOTE: I am Latte.)
SWIM – I just want to get across in a decent time.
BIKE – Maintain 30 KM/HR average throughout
RUN – Low 1:30
I train with my Garmin Vivoactive and a heart rate monitor.
Epilogue: Some other fun facts/tidbits for you
Consistency – Although I love numbers and find myself caught up in training numbers and Strava more often than I should be, when I race, I don’t look at my watch and run by feel. This has translated into great results.
Chicken – It has been said by my friends that chicken is my super power and I eat a lot of it. I make a mean buffalo chicken pasta and will be eating lots of it throughout the IRONMAN training cycle! I also drink more Rumble than is normal for most humans.
Here we go:
I am hoping that readers can view that goal setting and training is important, but it is important to be flexible when you are balancing a number of other things such as a full time job, travel and professional development. I’m looking forward to this new challenge and sharing my progress and training along the way.