Friday, April 6, 2018

Fast Family Man: Interview with Dan Cushman

Thanks for the time, Dan!

What’s your athletic background and how did you get started in triathlon?

I swam in high school, and was average at best. In college, I found out that I was a decent runner, and joined the triathlon team at the University of Arizona. I have been hooked ever since.

Are you from Utah originally, and if not, when did you move here? If you don’t mind saying, what do you do for work?

I have been all over the place. I'm originally from a small town in Southern Oregon, and after college in Tucson, I have lived in the Bay Area, Miami, and Chicago as well. I am a non-operative sports medicine physician at the University of Utah. I have a great job, and get to help people remain active. As I can't focus on just one thing (i.e. triathlon is 3 sports), my job is perfect because I do a lot of different things. I am the team doc for all of the endurance athletes at the University of Utah (cross-country, track & field, swim/dive), as well as doing a fair amount of sports medicine research, and seeing patients in a few settings. It is a great mix, and I am one of the few people who just loves my job. I worked for about five years as an engineer out of college, before going back to school, and I do not regret the road I took.

2006 IM 70.3 World Champs in Clearwater

Your wife races as well, correct? Do you often race together or is it too tough to get away at the same time?

She does. In fact, we met in San Francisco on a bike ride. She is currently training for the Boston Marathon, so we are on different schedules, but we do many races together. She tends to do longer races, while I tend to do shorter races. We definitely understand each other, and I couldn't ask for anybody better! Apart from being an amazing athlete, she is fun, laid back, intelligent, and an amazing mother as well. I could go on about her all day, so I'll spare you... We have three young kids, which makes training juggling challenging at times, but we always seem to make it work. We are about to have our 10-year anniversary, and we are going to go on a bike trip overseas for a week, which will be amazing. We have done several bike trips together, and this will be the first time we can afford someone else to transport our gear!

Dan & Laura at Rock Cliff

How would you summarize Ice Breaker? Be honest with us - how much did you pay that police officer before the race to lead [then-leader] Jacob Barnes the wrong direction on the bike course?

I hadn't done the race before, but I did cheer my wife on a couple years ago with the kids. It was a lot of fun. Yeah, Jacob Barnes would have easily beaten me. I have definitely been steered off course numerous times in the past, and know how frustrating it can be. In fact, I find it is rare that I have not got lost at least once per race! Jacob is a great guy, and really fast, just like everybody else who works at Salt Lake Running Company!

Brineman 2016 with Jacob Barnes (left) and Robert McConville

Where were you at relative to Jacob when he went off course… could you see him?

Honestly, I'm not sure. My guess is that he was a ways ahead of me.

What other races are on your schedule or are you considering for this season?

I'm planning on doing local sprint races this year. I usually only have about an hour per day that I can train, generally very early in the morning before work. I often have to be in by 7 a.m., and I always make sure that I can see my kids in the evenings, so it limits my ability to do longer races. I love the races around here, and the people are great.

Looking at some of your race results it looks like you’re very steady across the 3 disciplines.. how would you rank yourself from your personal weakness to greatest strength?

Thanks, but I feel like cycling is definitely my weakness. I think it's mostly a combination of limited time to train, and I just hate riding indoors. If it is a very hilly course, which is hard to find, I can usually do quite well, but I just do not have much power. Running is probably the easiest for me. Anyone who has seen me in person, knows that I have much more of a runner's build (I'm very skinny).

You finished 2017 as #2 in our M3539 rankings, with an overall win at Rockcliff (sprint), 7th overall at Echo (sprint) and 2nd overall at Brineman (sprint). Is it true you’ve moved up to “wreak even more havoc” on the M4044, or are you still hanging onto 39?

Ha! I am turning 40 at the end of the year, so technically they put me in the 40-44 age group. I'd be happy to stay in my thirties longer. Your number one racer, last year, Robert McConville, is a good friend of mine, but way too fast, so maybe I'm just trying to get away from him.

Having raced Brineman the last couple years, what are your thoughts about the venue as the 2018 State Champs race?

I love that race! I think that is my favorite swim around here. If I can get my butt in gear to train a little longer, I could conceivably do the Olympic (State Champs race).

Dan and Laura did a 5-day trip from Miami to Key West, FL with only bikes and a tent

Anything else you’d like to share?

If anybody is running the Salt Lake City Half Marathon or Marathon, I will be doing a research project at the Finish Line, where we will be testing the effects of dry needling on post-race soreness. Come say hi! 

And if any triathlete out there has an injury that I could help with, I never mind people contacting me by email, in case I can help!

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