There’s Chris Tremonte, standing at the finish line of last years Kirkland Triathlon, sipping on some water and smiling at everyone who walks by. It isn’t a big crowd at the finish because Chris is almost four minutes ahead of the second place finisher. He stands around awkwardly the way winners sometimes do, kind of embarrassed, not knowing what to do or where to look. Most people stare at him like he is some sort of alien with amazing powers resulting from an extraordinary cardiovascular system.
Finally, some other finishers cross the line, his eyes brighten, and he can share some of the attention in the finish area mosh pit.
This scenario is not so strange to Chris these days. Besides Kirkland, he has won the Federal Escape Tri the last two years. He won the Cascade Edge tri last June, and came in right behind national caliber pro, David Messenheimer at Seafair this year.
These last two years Chris has distinguished himself as one of the best triathletes in the area. The fact that he has done so while working hard as a program manager at Microsoft makes his results that much more impressive.
When asked how he can juggle two full time jobs, (Microsoft and Training), Chris answers, “Oy. It can be tough”. The Kirkland resident says he makes sure that rest is a priority and doesn’t just train/work himself into a hole. He adds that “a bit of up-front planning goes a long way. I find that a regular weekly routine helps a lot - certain workouts happen on certain days. Group workouts give me a bit of accountability, even if nobody else really cares whether I'm there, I can always hope someone will notice”.
This strategy is obviously paying off. His times keep getting faster and faster and the competition gets smaller and smaller in his rear view mirror.
Chris got started in Triathlons only four years ago while living in San Antonio. He tagged along on one of the brick practices sponsored by the local tri-club and was hooked. The guys at the Austin Tri-Cycles helped him replace his old mountain bike and he broke the top ten in the first triathlon he entered in 2002. Chris still lists the Austin bike shop as his main sponsor.
Chris isn’t tall and he has that svelte runners’ build that doesn’t intimidate so much as it demoralizes with a withering pace.
However it wasn’t always clear that running would be a part of Chris’ athletic future. With almost no background in long distance running, he tried walking-on to the Carnegie Mellon Cross Country Team seven years ago. Three weeks of only 40 miles a week thrashed his knees so bad he couldn’t play so much as a pickup basketball game for three years. Swimming kept Chris sane through collage and gave him a head start on triathlons.
Perhaps this early bout with a serious injury taught him something of moderation, pacing, and learning to listen to his body, all important skills to a triathlete whose health always seems on the brink of catastrophic collapse.
Chris races lots of the sprint distance races as a way of tuning up for the real meat and potatoes of his schedule which is the Tri-California Elite race series and UTI Cup races all over the country. These races draw professional Olympic Distance triathletes from around the world and are draft legal, a style of racing where speed is at a premium. If you are not up with the leaders at the start of the bike, you are off the back and no way to catch up since that lead pack is working hard together. This year he is ranked 10th in the California series with a couple more races to go.
Part of Chris’s success can be traced to his work with coaches and training groups outside the world of triathlons. In the winter and spring he rides with Recycled Cycles, a USA Cycling Team, which he says helps him with his off season training and bike handling skills. He also runs with Tom Cottner’s group for his speed work on the track. “I run with Tom Cottner once or twice a week depending on my race schedule” says Chris. He adds that “the variety of incredibly strong runners there helps push me regardless of my pacing goal for the day”. Add to these training groups lots of work in the pool with the Pro Club Masters and one begins to understand that it takes a village to make a triathlon champion.
Chris says his best event is swimming and his worst is cycling, but you can hardly tell that form a look at his recent results. He is usually in the top five or ten in each event and if he is near the front at the start of the run; fagetaboutit. He’s got the jets to run a 34 minute 10k at the end of an Olympic distance race.
Next year Chris plans to pursue a similar training and racing program and move up in the California Series rankings, maybe getting a national ranking as well. No Ironman races on the horizon since the long boring training required for and Ironman is not compatible with the speed necessary for draft legal Olympic races. Like any normal person Chris would gladly take a spot on an Olympic team before he would take a spot in Kona.
It’s clear that the plethora of sprint races in the Seattle area is ideal training for the draft legal races around the country. In the one hour “sprints” Chris practices racing with the throttle wide open from start to finish. Now if only there were some people around him he could race. October 2006