Monday, February 3, 2014

First triathlon blog post. 2/3/14

Hi everyone, for my first blog it will be kinda long and just a little background about how I got into racing where I'm currently at for the upcoming race season.

Most of the people reading this know me. If you don't, my name is Matt Jennings. I'm a 22 year old college student and triathlete from Frankfort, Il. The reason I have started this blog is to help network with other triathletes and to keep my friends and family(Grandma's) updated on whats going on.

To begin with,

I started getting into endurance sports through my sister, Amanda, by signing up for different distance run race including the Soldier Field 10 miler, Palos Bank Half Marathon, and eventually leading up to the Indianapolis Marathon in October, 2011.
                                  (Post Indianapolis Marathon..lots of pain/cramping at this point)

During that time I started riding bikes on the trail and eventually became hooked on riding. In January, 2012, I transferred to Northern Illinois University and joined the triathlon club right when I got there and was instantly hooked. Along with the great teammates I had at this time, I was incredibly fortunate to have Coach Mike Kanute. Before joining, I didn't know much about triathlons but at a meeting, Coach talked about the "triathlon lifestyle" and how it becomes more than just working out and racing. After a couple weeks I realized he was talking about all the camaraderie, corny jokes, feeling perfectly comfortable in public places wearing bike spandex, road trips and tons of other traits that make the sport so unique(All of which will be talked about through different posts). Through the teams experience and school's resources, we were able to compete in several different races including three National Championships, three of the greatest weekends of my life. Twice at the University of Alabama and once at Arizona State University.

                                                    NIU Triathlon Club - University of Alabama

                                                        Arizona 2013 -  Pre-race day ride

                                                                           Swim Practice

Arizona - My favorite place in the entire world

During the beginning of the last summer, my work schedule differed with my riding partner, Ron Kittler, so I was often training alone.
*On a side note, I would like to thank Ron, owner of FnA Bicycles, for all the support, riding and complete craziness we have while riding. *
Anyway, there was a couple of different groups I had previously heard about and trained a little bit with, but never really connected with them. Eventually, I was lucky enough to run into Jeff, Kim, and Pam along the trail one Saturday and they invited me to a ride the next day. I absolutely loved the 40 mile route, pace, and group but decided I needed time to by a new bicycle.
                                                              (Insert creative name here)

I ended up training with this group throughout the summer which included a trip up to the Ironman Wisconsin course and multiple 80 mile rides.

"Triathlon Lifestyle moment" - Not going out with your friends on a Friday night so you can wake up at 5: 30am to go on an 80 mile bicycle ride.

As summer went on I stuck to the MECTC race circuit which included Rockford triathlon, Evergreen triathlon, Muncie Conference Championships and Tri-the-Illini. Every race was a different experience whether it's sleeping in the back of your car, pre-race party, and meeting dozens of new people every weekend there is always something to learn.

As summer came to a close, I was able to work myself into a position at work and decided to take a semester off of school. During this time the group I was training with was looking for a new club to join. This is how, through Jeff, I met Mary Ann Sedor and Rick Schopp. They are the owners of Intent Endurance Sports Club, Unlike the previous clubs I had tried, I felt a positive connection and similar outlooks on racing and "intentions" for why we do what we do. Over the last couple months we have worked together and I am proud to say I'm on their race team and one of the coaches for their youth/juniors teams.
To go along with working with at Intent and other jobs. I am back to taking classes at Governors State University, Joliet Junior College, and Second City Chicago trying to figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life after I graduate in December 2014.
                                                              Intent Riding Jersey

Lastly, I decided to end my season one race early(Purdue) due to being tired and really fatigued. It was something I didn't want to do because the course is incredibly fast and competitive, but I knew it was the best decision. I then decided to take 4 weeks off swimming completely and slowly work my way back into it so I can focus on running. Yesterday, I competed in my first race of the year and can now say that the decisions made months in advance are now paying off greatly. My swim was sub-par for me but I made the mistake of not getting a serious warm-up, did 200 of normal 900, and I went out way to fast for the first 300. I ended up being 175 yards short of 15 min PR but somewhat expected that for the decrease in swimming. I went into the bike not knowing exactly how to use a basic stationary bike. For the first couple minutes I was going out decently hard but looked over and saw Michelle(Cough, Cough, Amanda) was further than I was. Amanda is a great cyclist but I knew that shouldn't have been happening so I adjusted the resistance settings and cranked the RPM's up to 140 or above. My right glute started to cramp up but I knew I wouldn't be able to pedal out of it since the RPM's were already up so high so I figured since it was only 11 minutes left I could just get through it and hope nothing bad happens. I ended up close to the top of the bike and quickly drank water and stretched out for as long as they would let me. Next came the run portion of the race which I was more excited for than any other race I have ever been in. Our wave had only four people in it, which my sister randomly knew the two others very well through her boyfriend. We all started at the same time and after the first half a lap I was all alone. I did the first lap in 42 seconds but felt that was a very comfortable pace. I knew if I wanted to win 1st overall I would have to place at the top of the run so I decided to pick it up a little more. As for my specific splits I don't know but it came out to 5:58 minute miles for 15 minutes. This set the course record which I was happy about but more what was even more encouraging was being able to go that fast after the sup-par swim and cramp on the bike.

                                                               Run portion of indoor tri
                                                     What my evening activities include


Most posts won't be this long but there was a lot of information I wanted to get out there and how I got to where I'm at now.
Anybody looking to train or just starting to get into triathlons/running/endurance sports can feel free to connect with me on here, Facebook or Twitter.
Facebook: (May or may not work)

As always, I'd like to thank everyone who's supported me, especially my parents and two sisters, Amanda and Michelle.

Till next week,

Matt Jennings

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man".


  1. Blogging is an awesome way to connect with others! I learned about you through the Chicago Tri Bloggers site... good luck in 2014!

    1. Thanks! I'll be sure to keep in contact with everyone