IRONMAN Triathlete, Patrick Schuster from Arlington Texas made the commitment to turn pro this year will be donning the Vector450 logo this year. We caught up with the 40 year old veteran endurance athlete after the Memorial Hermann IRONMAN 70.3 in historic Galveston, Texas. We spoke with the full time fireman and father of two, to find out what drives him, fuels him and how he’s training for this summer’s grueling IRONMAN races.
How long have you been involved in the dual and triathlon world?
I started racing in 1998. I finished my first IRONMAN and qualified for Kona, Hawaii the first time in 2000.
When you started, what were your goals?
I started racing triathlon with the sole ambition of racing in Kona one day. I watched the broadcast of the 1997 race the night before my first marathon, and it sparked something inside me. I knew right then I would get to Kona. As time went on and I kept racing, I found that I really loved it. Pushing yourself to limits you didn’t even know were possible is rewarding.
Was going pro on your list?
It wasn’t at first, but as I got into the sport and realized how much I enjoyed it, it became a goal. I actually qualified to race pro in 2004. The biggest challenge, not much different than now, was money to travel to races. Knowing that I needed to support my family and that doing so as a pro triathlete was a long shot, I also started EMT school at the same time. So, the season didn’t go as I would have liked it to. I finished one race, turned in my Pro card, and immersed myself in school.
Over these 15 years, how has your approach to training changed?
My approach has changed drastically over the years. Keep in mind, triathlon, especially IRONMAN, wasn’t the same in the late 90’s early 00’s that it is now. In most circles, people didn’t know what either term meant. So, how I trained consisted of a lot of trial and error. If in doubt, I trained more. Looking back, I was probably over-trained for the first 8 years I raced.
What about nutrition? Has it changed as time has gone on?
The same as my training. There was a lot of trial and error over the years. I remember when there were only a couple flavors of PowerBars and the gels were the consistency of cake frosting. Now, there are literally hundreds of choices types and flavors of bars, gels, bites, etc. It took a long time for me to figure out what I could eat and digest and even longer to figure out how much I needed during each phase of a race.
What do you avoid now?
It’s not really a case of avoiding anything in particular. Mostly, I just try to eat healthy. The better fuel you put in your body, the better it will perform.
I imagine you have tried many supplements over this period…what products have you tried and stayed on, and what has failed?
Mostly, I have taken multivitamins, fish oil and things along those lines.
Since none of us are getting younger, what ails you the most when training and racing?
I have been blessed that throughout my triathlon career, I have not been plagued with injuries. The thing that I see as most different from when I first began racing fifteen years ago is that recovery seems to take longer. I need more rest and downtime to bounce back than I did when I was 25 (but don’t we all…)
When we met just over a month ago at Bicycles Inc, and I gave you a bottle of Vector450…what compelled you to try it?
I figured it couldn’t hurt. It’s all natural – just egg protein.
What were the first indications that there was something positive going on?
I noticed that I felt better that evening after a hard training day, not as rundown and fatigued as was normal.
How long was a normal recovery after a hard workout before Vector450?
It’s hard to say because I never really recover in between workouts; I’m always carrying a bit of fatigue until taper time.
How long is it now?
I’m not quite as stiff the next day, which helps me get moving a little faster.
How many hours per week has Vector450 helped you add to your training?
I’m doing the same amount of training; my coach regulates that pretty closely. I feel better after the harder training days.
How are you taking Vector450 during training?
2-3 before a hard session and 2-3 in the middle of the session.
For race day at the IRONMAN 70.3 in Galveston, what was your dosing plan?
4 pre-race and 4 mid-race
After 15 years, 8 IRONMAN Hawaii, you decided to go pro – how did that happen?
The thought was it may allow me to race more and save money. I also wanted to see what kind of race I could put together racing alongside the best of the best.
Last year, your time was 4:21:16, this year your time was 6 seconds slower, but you had a mechanical failure, can you elaborate what happened, and how much this cost you overall? ( time to change your own tire, lost time in the pack, and transitioning)
It’s hard to say because you never know what can happen. Without the flat, anything – good or bad – could have happened. What I do know is I approximate I lost 15 min, it is possible to have gained more, but who knows.
Wow, that’s about 15 min lost. If you stayed at your pace, didn’t get a flat, would you have cut that 15 min off your time?
Maybe… really, it’s hard to say. I could have cramped or I could have had the run of my life. The one thing I’ve learned about racing is that anything can happen.
You lost time in the transitions, and took a pee break…not normal Pat, do you feel your mental game changed after the flat?
Yes, I knew I was out of the race for placing. I decided to have a good run and see what I could do. The fact of the matter is though, there are more “gears” to shift into and more pain you’re willing to tolerate if you’re in the hunt for a place. When you’re racing for yourself and racing for time, you can push hard, but it’s just not the same.
OK, the BEST picture of the day was you TALKING and SMILING at mile 65! There was NO ONE else doing this and we have the pictures to prove it…It seem to appear that you had more in you to push your run even harder?
Mostly, I decided that since my hopes of a personal record or competitive finish were gone, I should just do what I got into the sport for in the first place – to have fun. I had trained and spent the time to get ready to race. I might as well enjoy it. Also, there were too many people who had helped me get there and/or come to see me race to let them down and quit just because I had bad luck.
You were in line for a top 15 finish….Is taking 15 min off your time….I need your honest opinion as a veteran endurance athlete, who is over 40 years old, full time fireman and father of two…what did Muno-IGY and Vector450 do for you?
It helped me recover so that my next day’s workouts could be started more refreshed.
After the race, your were relaxed, cutting it up with fellow racers and family…how long was your recovery after this race?
How long after previous races?
Have you seen changes in your training since starting Vector450?
I’m not quite as sore the night after a hard workout, so I’ve got more “in the tank” to start the next workout, which also helps mentally.
What are your goals for IRONMAN Woodlands, Texas?
I would like to beat my previous personal record, and in a perfect world, I would like to finish in the top 10.
What about the Kona in Hawaii?
Unfortunately, Kona is just not in the cards this year. With the points structure in place for pros and the limited number of races I will not be able to attend (I have a full-time job and a finite amount of vacation time) – it’s not something that will work out this year.