Thursday, March 13, 2014

Triple Threat Profile: Jeff Kirkland - Oregon

Oregon's Jeff Kirkland is definitely one of the most interesting men in the world. For starters, he's a former professional golfer (having teed it up with the likes of Tiger and Phil), who now serves as a Pastor. Although he's a modest guy, my sources tell me he's also really fast!

What's your background and how did you get into triathlon?

I grew up playing soccer and golf. I became very competitive in golf at the age of 14. I have
always loved competition and the idea of trying to be better at all that I do. I was a professional golfer and injured my shoulder so I had to do something. I started running with a few friends then a buddy talked me into running a sprint triathlon. It was game on from that point!

Jeff in China
Has golf helped you at all as a triathlete?

Golf is a very individual sport like triathlon so I learned to depend on myself from playing golf. Also golf is a mental grind as is triathlon. I learned that I can go as far as my mind will go.

How do any pre-race jitters compare to what you felt before a golf tournament? Are the two sports at all similar in terms of mental preparation, focus, etc?

I absolutely love the pre-race jitters! When I played golf for a living and I stood on that first tee with the pressure of my mortgage and providing for my family I learned how to focus on the 
task at hand. In triathlon I can’t get ahead of myself I have to stay focused on the current task at hand whatever that might be swimming, riding or the run.

You are notorious for causing your age group to tremble with fear. How would you sum up your 2013 season? What was the highlight and lowlight?

The only thing I think I make “tremble with fear” is cupcakes because I will chase them down
and attack! I have had some success in my age group on the local level and am trying to expand that. My highlight of 2013 was running each race faster than the race before. I love to see progress! I made it a goal to smile and enjoy each moment even the times that hurt and I think I did that. My lowlight I guess would have been my first Olympic race just because I know I can do better.

How would you rank the three disciplines from your personal strength to weakness, and what's some gear that you use for each?

Running is by far my strongest discipline. I have seen great success in my running over the past five years. Then it is the bike followed by the swim but this year that is all going to change! I have put thousands of meters in in the pool this winter and seen dramatic improvement in that area. I run in Newton shoes which I absolutely love. Currently I race on a Specialized Shiv but am in negotiations with Blue bicycles to ride for them! I also ride and race Rolf Prima wheels as they are a local Oregon company and just flat out awesome.

You wrote in your application “I really have fallen in love with the sport and the challenge of the sport. I enjoy pushing myself to new levels all the time.” What's your focus in terms of racing and/or goals for the 2014 season?

In 2014 my main push is to race the Ironman 70.3 race in Henderson Nevada on October 5th. I not only want to race it but feel good doing it. My ultimate goal is to compete in full Ironman distance races starting in 2015.

You mentioned that you usually train with a guy 10 years younger than you. Are you guys friendly rivals or just friends? Can you still take him?

We are good friends and coworkers. In fact his wife has been my personal assistant for five
years. We push each other to be better but it is all in fun. We both want the other to win and
compete. Can I still take him would imply that I could at one point take him! Let’s just say that
we are competitive and don’t like to lose.

Can you tell us a bit about your day job, and what hobbies do you have outside of work and triathlon?

My “day job” is a Pastor. I have served as a full time Pastor for over 12 years and love every
minute of serving and helping people. I have the opportunity to literally travel all over the world and speak to people. I usually fly well over 100,000 miles every year! I enjoy spending time with my wife Kim and our almost 3 year old Kaiden. We ironically love to travel to places warm and sunny.

It’s a challenge for most people to train and maintain a somewhat healthy diet when on the road. How do you manage?

This is a great question and I think it is impossible! I try my very best but sometimes you just need to eat. I don’t do fast food or things like that but there are times when there is no “healthy” option. I try and pack snacks and stick to the simple things like veggies and leanproteins.

When you're home, what’s your favorite aspect of training in Oregon?

Probably one of the biggest perks of training in Oregon is living only two hours from Bend. We go up there whenever we can. Also Oregon has a huge bicycle community and a very rapidly growing triathlon community so the competition is very strong and there are lots of people to learn from and train with.

You can follow Jeff on Twitter @JeffPKirkland

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