This is the last post that I have written for the Spanish Magazine Sport training. www.sportraining.es
What impresses me the least about my friend Jean-Luc is that he completed 33 Ironman including 10 in Hawaii.
I met him one Saturday riding in the fog on Beach Road. We started to talk and the conversation lasted for 120 km. Before that day I had been cold on the bike a few times, but I had never met anyone so interesting during a training session.
The conversation prompted my interest in this Frenchman, who studied Russian and lives in Melbourne. I was curious about this person who writes astronomy books, speaks 5 languages, finished Hawaii ten times and who was talking to me about “The shadow of the wind”.
I have never heard from a triathlete what he told me that day. “At work I don’t mention that I do triathlon so that people don’t think I can’t commit myself to work and perform.” Physics teacher at University, engineer, independent consultant, lecturer in astrophysics … these are all titles appearing in his curriculum.
In addition to being an atypical triathlete, he is married to a lovely wife and they have a young daughter who is a great little swimmer. Jean-Luc studied physics and astrophy
sics, holds a PhD on gravitational waves, and wrote two astronomy books in 2015: “Understanding the Universe” and “Cosmology of the 21st Century”, both published in English and French. The former is for the general public; the latter is a bit more technical. He speaks English, French, Italian, Spanish and Russian.
What does a normal day look like for Jean-Luc?
During the week he gets up around 5am, usually works a little bit before going for a 4 or 5 km swim. He then goes to work and at lunch time he does 45’ of spinning or goes for a run. After work he either goes to the gym, does some spinning or goes for a run. At the end of the day he works a bit more if ne
On the week-end he does his long training sessions. This Saturday he told me he swam 24 km in the sea.
He started triathlon in 1993 (and doesn’t remember exactly why), completed his first Ironman in 1996 and in 1997 he did his best time: 10:09’. In 2006, he did a personal best in Kona: 10:15’. This was the year when Norman Stadler won, and the famous Macca and Faris were also on the podium.
And what are Jean-Luc’s objectives? In July 2016 he will compete again in the 36 km open water swim from Capri to Naples, crossing that he already completed last summer. In August 2016 he will swim across the English Channel and he is also planning to do another Ironman at the end of the year. In August 2017 he would like to do the Arch-2-Arc triathlon from London to Paris. What does this consist of? It is a triathlon which starts with a 140 km run from London to Dover, then continues with a swim across the English Channel and finishes with a 300 km bike ride from Calais to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. He will be the oldest person to ever complete the event; he is currently 55 years of age.
He remembers a few anecdotes from all this time in triathlon, for example 8 years ago when he was in Langkawi, Malaysia, to compete in the Ironman. This is how he tells the story: “I woke during the night before the race and looked at my watch: 6.07. The Ironman starts at 7, I NEED TO RUSH!!! I took 30 seconds to have a shower, ate a piece of bread with jam, put my triathlon suit on, grabbed my bike pump and bottles and left the hotel room. When I arrived at the lift, everything was quite, and it very dark outside. I looked at my watch again and saw 6.07 … but the watch was in chrono mode! 6’07” was the time it took me the day before to jog 1,200 m back to the hotel from the transition area, after dropping my bike close to the swim start … It was 1:30am! I went back to bed and the next day, for the first time in an Ironman I won my age group”.
What is his secret, how does he do it? He gave me three clues.
He goes to bed early and wakes up early.
He watches TV 2 hours a year, instead of 2 hours a day for many people.
He is very efficient when he works. (And I know he also is when he trains.)
I was curious to know what type of people Jean-Luc admires; his answer was Sister Madonna Buder who completed the Hawaii Ironman in 2005 when she was 75 years of age, and Carlos Ruiz Zafón because he wrote “The shadow of the wind”, the best book Jean-Luc read.
Jean-Luc is very modest, cultivated, quite reserved and at the same time he is the person I met who is the closest to a science fiction character.