Posted by 8th District Public Affairs, Monday, October 25, 2010
>Petty Officer 2nd Class Brad Pigage’s latest triathlon victory wasn’t his first one of the season, in fact, it was his seventh.
Pigage, a 26 year old Coast Guard rescue swimmer at Air Station Houston, has been competing in triathlons in his short career. In those competitions, he has done far more than make his mark representing himself and the Coast Guard in the sport.
I caught up with him after his 1st place victory in the Try Andy’s Tri in Sugarland, Texas, Oct. 17, 2010.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Prentice Danner: Hi Brad, congratulations on your win in the Try Andy’s Tri, how did you feel going into the race?
Petty Officer 2nd Class Brad Pigage: Yeah, I felt great, the swim went well. I came out of the swim in second place, once I got on the bike I pushed myself and created that gap from the rest of the guys. I was able to hold on to that lead for the run, once I crossed the finished line, the announcer said that I had broken the course record, but it turned out that that wasn’t the case.
Danner: Sorry to hear that. A little about your history now. How long have you been a triathlete?
Pigage: I have been racing triathlons for five years now. I started back in 2005 and actually did my first race while I was half-way through rescue swimmer school. I remember, we had just passed a really big water test on that Friday and all my classmates were going to go celebrate and relax, and here I was packing up the car to drive four hours away to go race in a triathlon. They all said I was crazy.
Danner: What events did you compete in before triathlons, or did you just jump right in?
Pigage: I grew up swimming competitively up until about eighth grade. But, soccer was my main sport until my senior year of high school. After high school and during my first few years in the Coast Guard, I really got into surfing, but as far as training for triathlons, I never even knew what they were. It wasn’t until I lost my surfing buddy to cycling, that I started learning about the sport. I was curious, so I went out and bought a cheap road bike and it’s been a blur ever since!
Danner: Do you remember details of that first triathlon that you competed in?
Pigage: My first race was in a small town in North Carolina called White Lake. It was a small sprint race, 750 meter swim, 12 mile bike, and a 3.1 mile run. I think I ended up 39th overall and actually placed 3rd in the age group for 20-24 males. The race went pretty well I thought, I felt good. I do remember seeing the guys who placed 1st, 2nd and 3rd overall, they were flying! Little did I know in a couple years I would be battling it out with them (for those spots).
Danner: Where do you stand now as far as being a triathlete is concerned? What is your ranking, your status, and your goals?
Pigage: Right now I guess you can call me an Elite Amateur. Basically it’s a step just under Professional. This year I was supposed to get my professional status, but fell just short on the qualifying race. I think in order to run with the big boys I am going to have to step up my training. My goal is to hopefully be racing as a professional sometime next season. I just hope I don’t look like a rookie out there!
Danner: Describe where being a triathlete falls in your character, and what drives you to continue?
Pigage: I’ve always had a very competitive attitude. It goes all the way back to when my older brother and I used to battle it out on NHLPA Hockey ’93 on the Sega Genesis. I hate to lose. When I have a bad race, it only motivates me to work harder. I’ve won races overall before, but if my time wasn’t good, I’d be disappointed. That’s just how I am. What motivates me to continue? Although triathlon is an individual sport, the support and friendships you make through training and racing are amazing. I absolutely love the sport and everything about it, and I will continue racing because its just plain fun!
Danner: How does being a triathlete affect your job?
Pigage: Out of all the triathletes with full time jobs out there, I believe I have it the best. Being a helicopter rescue swimmer in the Coast Guard has so many benefits towards training and racing. Not a lot of people get two hours every morning to workout. It can be tiring to work a full day and then go workout again afterward but I feel extremely lucky. Especially to have a command that fully supports you. That goes a very long way. I love what I do and wouldn’t change it for anything.
Danner: What’s next? Do you have anything you are working towards beyond triathlons? Any plans to run ultra marathons, swim the Gulf, or wrestle a great white?
Pigage: There’s life beyond triathlons??? Lets see… Ultra marathons are way too long. The Gulf is nasty, and a great white doesn’t stand a chance! I would like to give back to the sport more.
Danner: What event stands out most to you?
Pigage: Last December I had the opportunity to guide a visually impaired athlete through a 18 mile running race. It was the most fun I have ever had running before. We got done and I didn’t even feel like I had just ran 18 miles. We laughed and joked the whole way and to just see his excited face when everybody was cheering for him down the finishing chute was amazing. Next year I get to guide the same athlete through a triathlon and I can’t wait!!!
Danner: What advice do you have for other athletes that are interested in following in your footsteps?
Pigage: My advice to other athletes would be to get into the social part of triathlons. Trying to get into the sport by yourself is really hard. Finding other athletes that are your same speed that you can train with is very motivating. Getting up to the elite level just takes commitment, having a structured schedule of workouts and a coach definitely helps, too.
*Top image courtesy of Petty Officer 2nd Class Bryan Sutherland.
**Story and bottom image by Petty Officer 2nd Class Prentice Danner