Friday, January 30, 2015

This Train...

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Thanks for checking in.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Finding my MoJoe

One question I’m often asked is: “Why do you love being a professional triathlete?”   

Normally I’ll give a rehearsed answer about how I love representing myself, my family, and my country in the races.  In some cases I’ll reference how interesting the travel can be if that’s what I think will strike a cord with my audience.  Often saying what people expect to hear is the surest way to avoid a more serious conversation—one which you have neither the time nor the willingness to engage. 

There’s truth in those answers, and that’s why I get away with giving them so often.  Who wouldn’t love getting to race for his/her country at exotic locales all over the world?  Just a few weeks ago I started a race diving headfirst into Tokyo Bay—that alone should be enough to convince anyone this life is awesome, right?  Except for maybe the unfortunate Japanese fisherman, not too many people are afforded the opportunity to test those waters.  I’m a kid from tiny Wildwood Crest, NJ—of course I love seeing the world.  When the answers seem to make sense, why ask for clarification?  

Each day I choose to work towards being a better triathlete and competitor is a day I choose against something else.  Choosing to race in New Zealand, China and Japan this spring has simultaneously meant choosing against a graduation celebration with my family, a close friend’s marriage, and time with a special someone in San Diego.  

The choices I make each day define me, and I wasn’t sure I liked my direction.  I started asking myself, “Am I choosing triathlon results over my relationships?  How are my daily decisions helping me toward my long-term ‘life’ goals?”  I didn’t know the answers to these questions, but I decided the questions were important enough to warrant a total re-evaluation.  I reached out to those I love and trust—my family, my friends, and my coach.  With their help and guidance, I realized the problem wasn’t what I was doing.  The problem was how I was doing it.      

When I graduated Boston College, David McCullough gave some great advice in his commencement address.*  Titled, “The Love of Learning,” the historian’s advice that kept popping into my head was:
Facts alone are never enough. Facts rarely if ever have any soul. In writing or trying to 
understand history [or sport] one may have all manner of "data," and miss the point. One can have all the facts and miss the truth. It can be like the old piano teacher's lament to her student, "I 
hear all the notes, but I hear no music.”  

Triathletes live in a world of results and splits, and I had grown obsessed with the work.  Paces and times preoccupied my thoughts.  I thought if I could just run X:XX pace or bike XX miles/hour I’d get the results I wanted.  After working my butt off to achieve these training goals, I expected the results to automatically follow.  I became so consumed with the facts and data that I forgot the thing that makes for truly great results.  I forgot that great achievements—in sport, in art, in work, and in life—are great because of the spirit and heart that goes into them.  It is something different for every individual, and I needed to reconnect with what “it” was for me.  

I absolutely love some aspects of what I do, and others I don’t.  Of course I don’t love making choices that physically isolate me from my family and friends.  I don’t love training so hard for so many days in a row that I lose the energy to be myself.  What I love, what keeps me making these choices, is my love of learning.  I love learning about myself through my experiences as a professional triathlete, and I’m not finished yet.  I want a spot on the starting line at the 2016 Olympics.

My mission, what makes me feel alive when I’m racing a triathlon, is setting an example to those around me that says, “Decide you want something, and accept that you might fail.  Let the process change you.  It’s about having the courage to continually discover yourself through the struggle.”

This spirit drives me to be a better Joe Maloy.  I’m not going to be a professional triathlete forever, but, for better or for worse, I’m stuck with being Joe Maloy.  It’s who I am during the races, but more importantly it’s who I am during all the other times too.  Maybe that’s what love is all about.  It’s deciding you want something, opening up and accepting that failure and hurt are always possibilities, but then going for it anyway. 

I don’t have it all figured out, but that’s the point.  Later on in McCullough’s address he quoted Abigail Adams, “Learning is not attained by chance. It must be sought with ardor and attended with diligence.”  Through these struggles—both personal and professional—I’m learning what success means for me.  The choices I’ve made thus far have allowed me to both fill my life with incredible people and achieve great triathlon results.  These two things do not have to be exclusive.  For me to be at my best, I need both.   

With the continued support of those I love and a whole lot of “ardor,” I’ll continue moving in that direction.  Thinking things through, involving those I love, and working with everything I’ve got will be my recipe for growth.  Of course it won’t be easy—nothing worth achieving ever is.  The process will make me a better brother, son, boyfriend, friend, and example to others.  This will make me a better Joe Maloy.        

*I will neither confirm nor deny any accounts I was not paying attention when the speech was being delivered—let’s just say it’s a good thing we write things down.  Here’s a link to the full text:

Friday, December 20, 2013


It's funny how time can get away from you.

I've been meaning to put something on this blog for much too long, but I'm just getting around to it now.  Why?  I was waiting for the perfect moment.

Today (December 20) is my birthday.  On this day twenty-eight years ago my parents were living in a little house near Sunset Lake in Wildwood Crest, NJ.  The house's exterior walls had gaps to the outside where brisk bay winds regularly blew through the living room, and its electrical wiring should have been condemned.  I remember them telling me stories of relatives advising, "You know, you really shouldn't have a baby until you have this-much money in the bank...blah blah blah."  If they had waited for the "perfect" time to have a baby I might have never been born!

Waiting for things to be perfect only amounts to a more comfortable form of procrastination.  Blowing out the candles on this blog post, my 2014 wish is to do a better job listening to my intuition and seizing the opportunities around me--in both my races and my day-to-day life.

(...And if you're thinking, "Oh no he said it!  Now its not going to come true," you're wrong!  Blog birthday wishes are different than the kinds you make when you wish on a cake.  These wishes still work as long as you end it with a song.)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Tongyeong World Cup

Before a dream is realized, the Soul of the World tests everything that was learned along the way. It does this not because it is evil, but so that we can, in addition to realizing our dreams, master the lessons we’ve learned as we’ve moved toward that dream. That’s the point at which most people give up. It’s the point at which, as we say in the language of the desert, one 'dies of thirst just when the palm trees have appeared on the horizon. Paulo Coelho,  The Alchemist

One of my goals heading into the 2014 season was to win a World Cup.  Sure I wanted to win a major race for my country, my federation, my sponsors, my family and my friends--but, come on, I'm selfish!  Most of all I wanted it for myself.  The challenge provided the framework to my daily efforts and thought processes.

I traveled to Tongyeong, South Korea with this goal in mind.  I arrived 5 days early to adjust to the 16-hour time difference and was immediately greeted with some interesting weather.  A typhoon brushing the coastal city the following day made me change my original training plans--my test had begun.

A screenshot of the weather upon my arrival
While it looked pretty intimidating on radar, the storm amounted to little more than a big ol' rainstorm.  Hardened from my winters in both Boston and Wildwood Crest, the storm was no match for me--I even snuck in a run that morning!  Spending the afternoon alternating between reading The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett (a good read if you're looking for a long-ish novel) and watching the storm was a great way to relax after my San Diego-Tokyo-Busan-Tongyeong travel day.  On a quick aside--Even though it sometimes seems like ages when you're cramped onto a plane, modern travel times absolutely blow my mind.  The speeds are incredible.

Riding out the storm (photo credit to roommate and all-around good guy, Tommy Zaferes)
Sunghee and me
Anyway, the following day the Soul of the World continued it's test.  About 10 minutes into my first bike ride in Korea, my rear derailleur cracked.  While I could have replaced the shifting mechanism alone, a replacement for the derailleur hanger was not so easily found. The piece, which had also broken when the derailleur cracked, was unique to my bike.  There was no way I could get a replacement in time for the Saturday race.  Instead I turned my attention to finding a replacement bike, and in the process I could not have dreamed of meeting more helpful individuals.

Tongyeong is a relatively small fishing town on the southeastern Korean coast, 90 minutes from the nearest city, Busan, and 4-5 hours from the South Korean capitol.  A faint fishing smell lingered in the air wherever you walked, and it just didn't seem like the type of place where I'd easily find a piece unique to my American bike.  I contacted the local organizer for the triathlon, Sunghee Kim, and explained my situation.  She quickly set me up with the event's bike sponsor, Bike MCS.

After a quick look at my bike, the mechanic confirmed my original suspicions.  They did not have necessary parts to complete the repair--my bike was as useless as the "-ay" in "okay."  Together, Sunghee and Bike MCS worked through the challenges and the language barrier to transport a top-notch bike from Seoul for me to use in the race.  This involved considerable effort on their part, and I could not be more grateful for their support.  They had an attitude that was kind of like, "Well, it's not ideal but we're going to figure this out--no matter what."  I immediately liked them.

It can be daunting to need something in an unfamiliar environment, but let this story serve as a first-hand testament to the benevolence of the ITU, Sunghee, and Bike MCS.  Doogy from Bike MCS wouldn't even let me pay for the rental.  Talk about service!

Reassured that I'd finally be on a functioning bike during the race, I was ready to go.    I worked with the mechanics to get comfortable on the Argon 18 rental bike, and I pre-rode the course that Friday to get accustomed to the little differences.  I was a little concerned that the brakes on the bike were wired opposite to what I was used to, but I didn't have many other options!  Sometimes you've just gotta decide to make a situation work for you.

Here's what happened:

The Soul of the World tested me, and I nearly overcame all of the challenges.  But I didn't.  You don't "nearly" win a race--you either do or you don't.  When I fell off the bike, my first thought was, "The hell if I've come all this way to fall off a bike.  I'm going to win this race anyway."  I ran my career-best 10K, but I didn't have any extra gears for the sprint finish and settled for 5th place--6 seconds out of second place and 14 seconds from realizing my pre-race goal.  I still need better focus and better execution.  While close, I'm not there yet.  My experience in Tongyeong proved I'm competitive with some of the world's best triathletes.  My skills need to catch up to my fitness.  Now, as coach Paulo Sousa likes to say, "It's time to keep the (expletive) pressure on."
He's just not wearing an orange shirt

Monday, September 30, 2013

Lifetime Fitness Tempe

I made the decision to travel from Las Vegas to Tempe during a conversation with Coach Paulo during the women's final of the Las Vegas Super Sprint. While Gwen Jorgensen ran away with the race, I turned and told Paulo, "I think I should just go back to San Diego and train this weekend. I can't race again on Sunday. It's going to be my third race in seven days."

Paulo thought for a moment, looked me in the eyes and said, "No, I don't think thats a good idea. Your fitness is still there, and you have a good opportunity to race Sunday in Tempe." Okay, you caught me. Maybe I didn't make the decision... :)

Shortly after the swim start (I'm in second, directly under the orange buoy)

Instead of putting my attention on the challenges ahead of me, I continued to stress about my bike shipment. No matter how hard I tried to remember I had no control of the situation, I could not stop myself from thinking about it. That bike bag contained all the things I need to make a living, and all of a sudden it was gone. My life would have been so much easier if only I had trusted my instincts. I knew it was a bad idea to trust the driver. I knew he didn't know what he was doing. I could have taken a train or taxi. None of these problems would have existed if only I had tusted myself instead of Nirvana Travel Company.

Like the Vegas race, that time was gone. I made a decision and I had to live with that. A few more talks with Paulo and a six-hour drive with Eric from Las Vegas to Tempe were exactly what I needed to calm these unprodutive thoughts. Slowly, I started to feel like myself again. Eric had me laughing with comments like, "Dude, look at all these Joshua Trees. They look like alien plants--like a tree and a cactus that had absolutely no business getting together got bored and were like, 'Eh, why not?'" Naturally, this spurred an intelligent conversation about the duck-billed platypus being "The Joshua Tree" of the animal kingdom. I was starting to "chill."

A Joshua Tree--pretty weird looking, right?
The Duck-Billed Platypus

While I was laughing and occasionally paying attention to the road, Paulo was working behind-the-scenes. My bike wheels were in my bike bag (which was who-knows-where), and I needed something to roll on for Sunday morning's race. I called every bike shop in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area on Friday morning, but they either wouldn't rent wheels or were all sold out for the weekend. Enter the generosity of Bryan Dunn.

Bryan (far-left) finished 2nd in the Sprint Distance race in Tempe

Remember how I told you Paulo was working behind the scenes? Well, he worked his magic and introduced me to Bryan Dunn--a Phoenix-based friend who was willing to help me out with race wheels. I spoke with Bryan on the phone Friday afternoon, and 18 hours later he was lending me $2,000 worth of bike equipment (These aren't your average bicycle wheels and Bryan Dunn isn't your average guy).

After all this coordination, getting to the race was actually a huge relief. For the first time since I left London, I relaxed and just let me be me. I gave the day everything I had, and in this case it was good for second place overall.

Men's and Women's Podium

A great deal of the credit for this result needs to go to all the people who helped make it happen. Paulo kept me focused on the task at hand. My training/travel partners Eric Lagerstorm and Jason Pedersen (Jason rode in a separate car from Vegas to Tempe and was not privy to our intellectual Joshua Tree conversation) motivated me with their focus and kept me relaxed. Bryan Dunn lent me his wheels, and Heather and Trevor Wurtele donated my shoes. Even fellow competitor Jarrod Shoemaker chipped-in and lent me an extra race belt. Who ever said triathlon wasn't a team sport?

Fortunate to have this guy on Team Maloy


Las Vegas Super Sprint

Paulo doing his thing during the on-course warm up

Marc Lees, the Las Vegas Super Sprint Race Director, first told me about this race back in April. He said, "Hey, this is an opportunity to race on the strip in Las Vegas. We're building a pool in a parking lot and putting the race on television. You're not going to want to miss it." I was sold.


The timing wasn't perfect having raced the London Grand Final four days beforehand--but hey, how often does timing work out the way you want? There was no keeping me out of this race. I flew into San Diego on Monday night, swam and ran on Tuesday, and I drove to Las Vegas after my Wednesday morning workouts.


While it's all very exciting, the travel is not without headaches. The ironically named "Nirvana Travel Company" was responsible for transporting me from my London hotel to Heathrow Airport the morning after the race. The coach driver first insisted my bike bag was too large to transport (even though he had a full-sized bus). He and the Nirvana Travel representative on-board promised my bike, along with my teammate Greg Billington's, would be transported in a van following the bus. There was never a van, and I had to pass through customs with only a promise that my bike would be promptly shipped. Then, after promising to air-mail my bike bag to the USA in time for the Vegas Super Sprint, Nirvana Travel again disappointed. Long story short, I'm writing this post 14 days after leaving London, but my bike bag is still in the United Kingdom. Nirvana (noun)- "a transcendent state in which there is neither suffering nor desire..." Nirvana, indeed. More on this later...let's get back to the race.


While it seemed circumstances were stacked against me, these are normally the situations where I excel. Back when I was a youth swimmer, I recorded my first-ever "A-Standard" time in my younger brother's suit and goggles (I had forgotten my swim bag at our home 90 minutes away). On another occasion I had one of my best-ever meets during a snowy winter weekend when I had forgotten to pack any type of footwear. I recorded my first triathlon podium was after wearing a borrowed wetsuit during the swim portion (I didn't know an Antarctic current runs along the western-coast of South America).


An advantage to being absentminded is you learn to make adjustments when things don't go to plan. I had preformed well under less-than-ideal circumstances before, and I told myself this was another one of those situations. My coach, Paulo Sousa, lent me his bike (which was actually better than mine), and I wore a pair of cycling shoes that my Triathlon Squad training partners Heather and Trevor Wurtele had sent (with love).


The race had a morning semifinal and an evening final, but I failed to qualify for the final. In hindsight it would be easy to rationalize this poor performance, but that's not my style. I didn't show up to work, and I was beaten by better athletes on the day.


The race left a bitter taste in my mouth. I felt as though I had just typed a twenty page paper and forgotten to hit save. I had written it--so of course it was awesome--but I had no proof of anything I'd written. It was gone. I had blown an opportunity that would not come back.


All, however, was not lost. I took the rest of the day off and enjoyed watching my Triathlon Squad teammate Eric Lagerstorm crush the final and finish 2nd overall. I see him work his butt off every day in training, and it was fun to watch him put everything together for a good result. His performance even put a smile on Paulo's face!

Mark Lees and company did a great job putting this race together, and I think I speak for most of the field in saying I can't wait to participate in more of these races every chance I get.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

London Grand Final

Last weekend I competed in the World Triathlon Seres Grand Final in London, UK. When I set my schedule for the 2013 season, September 15th this was one of the circled dates. Being there was a great accomplishment, but I wasn't in the race to be a participant. I was in London to compete--ready to see how I stacked up against the world's best.


Now, "world's best" is a term that gets thrown around an awful lot...

In this case, "world's best" meant the 70 male triathletes who had best proven their talents in 2013, and I was one of them. Mentally and physically I was in a good place, and I thought with a great day I could crack the top-20. I had a good swim through the chilly Serpentine river in downtown London, but a poor first transition cost me a chance at making the lead pack on the bike. I've been practicing my transitions, but sometimes it doesn't go the way you planned. That's life--er, I mean, that's racing. I settled in with a group of 30 or so guys, and we maintained a :30 to :40 gap to the leaders on the bike. While it may not seem like much, in a race this competitive :40 is an eternity. For some perspective, the time gap between my 36th place finish and 20th place was 1:00. It was an additional :47 to 4th place.

Race Start


Through the second transition and onto the early parts of the run, I focused on staying within myself. I was confident that some of the guys up the road would come back to me if I stayed patient. Not enough of them did, and I know where I need to improve to become more competitive in 2014. I finished a respectable 36th, but if you know me then you know 36th in the world is about 35 places behind where I want to finish.

Look at the spectators--London Weather!


The International Triathlon Union does a fantastic job organizing these races in big cities all over the world. They put on the world's best events, give the races the world's best coverage, and attract the world's best competition. This year I raced in San Diego, Hamburg, and London, and I hope to take part in the entire 7 or 8 race series next season.


It's a strange feeling to compete on one of these world-class courses. It's a little ironic that I was biking past and through historical landmarks including Buckingham Palace and the Wellington Arch, yet all my focus was on the other competitors. I remember at one point looking up and seeing Big Ben in the distance, yet the giant clock only reminded me of the time gap to the front guys. While other tourists will leave London with memories of historical tours and photos of the changing of the guard, my London experiences taught me the streets around Buckingham Palace are really slippery when they're wet. Hyde Park also runs slightly uphill from east to west. Appreciate history--but don't be afraid to make your own.

Picture of the course in front of Buckingham Palace (photo from


This experience was sweeter because I shared it with those I love. My family has supported me from the beginning, and to have them cheering me on meant a great deal. It was very much their race too.

Post-Race Party!