Adam Raphael places first in his age group at his most memorable triathlon -
his first full Ironman - the 2015 Ironman Mont-Tremblant and qualifies for
the Ironman World Championship in Kailu-Kona Hawaii
Photo courtesy: Adam Raphael
The 2018 Boston Marathon has new meaning and purpose for triathlete Adam Raphael. Adam, 26. is set to run Boston five years after the Boston Bombings. He's running to raise money to benefit the Lingzi Foundation and honor the life of Boston University graduate student Lingzi Lu. She was a spectator when the bombings took her life at age 24.
In an email interview, Adam shares how he got into triathlons, what it takes to run and compete in triathlons and be a good swimmer, cyclist, and runner, his nutrition and training regimen for triathlons and for the Boston Marathon, and why he is raising money for the Lingzi Foundation.
Rugby Player Turned Triathlete
Rugby was a popular sport when Adam was in high school. He dropped cross-country preseason because he found running "boring and painful." He opted for rugby. His rugby days continued in college. One day the words of one his professors during his last semester at UNH sparked a new challenge. Adam recalls his professor announcing in class, "If anyone wants to run or swim with me after class one day, let me know. I'm always looking for people to train with."
Adam accepted the invitation and began training with his professor for a a duathlon (run-bike-run) which quickly turned into training for a 2.4 mile open water swim, a 112 mile bike ride, and a marathon. "After the first race, I can safely say my life changed for the better," says Adam. To date, he has finished over 30 triathlons. He elaborates, "Lots of short course and Olympic, about 11 or 12 Half Ironmans, and 4 Ironmans." A half Ironman consists of a 1.2 mile open water swim, a 56 bike ride, and a half-marathon. Double those distances, and you a full Ironman.
Track Record of Pushing Mind and Body
Adam's triathlon career is one of consistently impressive stats. "I think a lot would agree that one of the most important things in finding success in this sport is consistency. Day in day out grind. Consistency in the pool, in the saddle, and on trails and roads will lead to incredible physical adaptations and positives." Adam adds, "Being able to hurt is really what I like about this sport and why I think I've been able to find success."
Adam Raphael flies to the finish at the 2014 USAT Age Group Nationals
Photo courtesy: Adam Raphael
Competitive by nature, Adam points out triathlons push his body physically and mentally. "I see races as opportunities to learn about my self." A triathlon is a physical sport with a mental component. Raphael explains that his mental toughness comes from "putting in many hours year after year in this sport. It comes from lacing up when I didn't necessarily want to....like the foundation on a house, it's not the pretty stuff that makes it sturdy, it's the hard, cold, concrete that has settled into the cool muddy ground that makes it stand for years and years. My training days and failures are the same way. It all helps with this 'mental training' which grounds me in the sport...The hard workouts, the bad days, and the times when I didn't want to. It's just a matter of finding all the pieces and putting them together on the big day."
Adam is a predominantly plant-based athlete whose nutrition consists of mostly fruit and vegetables. Occasionally, he'll eat fish. On race day, he consumes gels and will throw in "plain and simple salty pretzels." When training and on race day, Adam stays away from "custom blends, or fancy sports drinks" and hydrates with "good ol' Gatorade" the drink handed out at triathlons. "During full distance Ironman racing, I'll probably drink about 2 bottles per hour if it's hot. I think I put down 16 bottles or so of Gatorade when I raced in Kona in 2015 and peed myself subsequently 4 times on the bike."
As a child, Adam handed out orange slices to Boston marathoners running past his grandmother's house near Heartbreak Hill. "I never could comprehend it as a young kid, so being able to have the opportunity to run it now is just amazing.' While he has run 4 full marathons in triathlons, the 2018 Boston Marathon on April 16 will be Adam's first 'open' full marathon.
"I'm scared as hell because without the biking or swimming, I'll be able to push harder out of the gates and harder is definitely going to hurt." His first Boston marathon will be "humbling and incredible." As he runs, he'll be remembering why he's running Boston. "For me this marathon is about Lingzi Lu, a Boston University student from China who passed away during the 2013 Boston Bombings." Raphael has been raising money for the Lingzi Foundation for last five months to provide scholarships and mentorships to those who may have lost limbs during the bombings.
Boston training run up Heartbreak Hill
Photo courtesy: Sebastian Gilbert
Training for Boston has not been marathon specific due to his triathlon schedule. He placed 4th in his age group at the Ironman 70.3 in Puerto Rico on March 18. "I never got a chance to fully recover from this race so it'll be interesting to see how things shake out."
Boston won't be his last marathon. Adam will be training in the summer for the Philadelphia Marathon in September.
Tips for Being a Triathlete or Marathoner
"Be consistent. Find a way to make training consistent and manageable for you and you'll want to to keep coming back. Set small goals first, then stay consistent. Consistency will breed good habits and good sessions will follow. The hard times when you look back on training and racing are going to be the ones you remember most so learn to love them." Adam finds the time to train and race while working part-time at Marathon Sports in Boston and volunteering as an EMT.
In May Adam starts the Physician Assistant program at Massachusetts General Hospital Institute for Health Professionals. "I've been working hard toward this goal for longer than I've been competing in the sport. I'll probably race locally through out the summer and fall."
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To learn more about Lingzi Lu, and to donate, click Lingzi Foundation