Our newest member to the LAVA “Golden Ticket” club is 49-year old Wayne Yurtin of San Jose, Calif. Yurtin is the CEO of the Silicon Valley software firm, Screaming Velocity, Inc. He is the proud father to a set of 12-year-old twins, and has been happily married for 21 years. We caught up with Yurtin shortly after he heard the big news that he would be heading for the starting line in Kona to get his initial reactions and to learn a little bit more about him:
LAVA: How long have you been competing in triathlons and do you have any other sport background?
My first triathlon was a local sprint tri in 2010. I had been running half marathons and trail races, and saw the Kona Ironman race on TV. I told my wife, “I’m gonna do that race some day!” I’ve always been an average all-around athlete, but never a top performer at any one sport. From the golf team in high school to surfing in college, wakeboarding in my 20s, to auto racing in my 30s and 40s— I’ve been involved in a lot of sports. I must say, though— I’ve never found a sport like Ironman that I’ve so thoroughly enjoyed. Ironman races have this “spirit” about them. Sure, you’re competing. But you have this feeling of going into a long battle with 2,000 others. It’s a magical day.
LAVA: You have competed in Ironmans all over the world. How many have you done and what is your most memorable one?
I’ve competed in 10 Ironman events since 2010 (seven 70.3s and three full-distance Ironman races). My most memorable race was Ironman Austria in 2011. We had approximately 30 people from my triathlon team who made the trip from California to Austria. It was an amazing trip, a fantastic venue, and the locals were huge supporters of the event. It was also my first—and you never forget your first!
LAVA: Along with your Ironman World Championship entry you also receive online coaching through MarkAllenOnline with Luis Vargas. Have you ever been coached for a race before? How do you think this will be different?
Yes, I’ve been coached by former pro triathlete, Pete Kain, for the past four years. As part of Kain Performance, we have some serious high-level male and female triathletes who train and compete. Last year, I got a chance to hear Mark Allen speak at one of our team meetings. It’ll be exciting to see what new ideas Luis Vargas and Mark Allen Online have for me while training for Kona this year.
LAVA: It’s almost July, so you might have to start some pretty serious training here very soon! Do you have any races already planned and what is your strategy for getting to the starting line healthy and fit?
The good news is that I trained hard from January through May getting prepared for Ironman Texas, which I completed in late May of this year. I’m hoping that base will stick with me some. Of course, since Texas, I’ve completely been in R&R mode (you know, lots of pizza, beer, and Buffalo Wild Wings!) I had assumed that Ironman Texas was going to be my only Ironman race of 2014. It’s exciting to know that I’m going to have the Kona opportunity this fall. I literally kicked my training back into gear on June 20—the same day I got the call that I won the Kona slot.
The bad news is that I’ve been struggling to get over a botched knee surgery from last year. I had a torn medial meniscus tear (the medial being the inside of the knee). During surgery, the doctor also decided to perform a lateral release (that’s a procedure on the outside of the knee). One year later, one with a heck of a lot of physical therapy, I continue to struggle with pretty serious outer knee pain. If there’s one piece of advice I would give to fellow triathletes out there, it’s this: Do not EVER let a doctor perform a lateral release on you, unless that’s where your specific injury lies and it’s your only option. It has been a very tough struggle trying to get my run back and to rehab from this surgery. It’s going to be a bit of a dance between doing enough run training for Kona, but not so much that it’ll keep me from the starting line on Oct. 11.
LAVA: What is your strongest leg of the race and what is your weakest?
The bike is definitely my strongest leg. And being a technology guy, I love the combination of human power and cycling technology. At the Texas Ironman race last month, I had a bike PR of 5 hours, 29 minutes. Normally, I’d probably say the swim is my weakest leg, but with this knee injury, it’s probably a toss up between the swim and the run! I had a PR race in Texas at 12 hours, 3 minutes. I’m still trying to find a way to break the 12-hour barrier. I’d love to find a way to go under 12 hours in Kona, but I’m thinking sub-13 is probably a more likely scenario. Given my current situation, my top priority is to enjoy the race! If a PR is within reach, you can bet I’ll push hard for it!
LAVA: You are the president of a technology company, Screaming Velocity, Inc., in Silicon Valley. So you must be pretty tech-savvy. What are your must-have technology gadgets to train with?
My top tech gadgets are definitely my Garmin Edge 500, and the Strava.com website. I love both of those!
LAVA: What was your family’s reaction to the news that you won a slot in Kona? Are they being treated to a trip to the Big Island as well or are you going solo?
They’re super excited. We were in Maui in April for the kids’ spring break—and they absolutely love the Islands. I booked flights for all of us for Kona in October and we plan to make it a family vacation. There’s nothing like having my family there throughout the day, and of course, seeing me cross the finish line! Hopefully it’s not too late in the evening!
Stay tuned to lavamagazine.com for all your pre-Kona and race week coverage and to find out how Yurtin’s Kona training and race-day unfolded.