Multiview 8: Frank DiPadova

24 Mar

The other night, I made the dumb decision to run with my car key fob stuffed down into my sports bra. I didn’t have a pocket, sue me. Anyway, my sweat fried the poor guy’s tiny little circuits and therefore I couldn’t disengage my car’s anti-theft device, which means I could get into the car but couldn’t actually turn it on. Luckily, Frank was around and ready–with tools–to remove my car battery in the hopes that it would reset the security device. It didn’t come to that, luckily*. But Frank was ready to help and didn’t make fun of me when I couldn’t answer the question: “You got turbo charge in here?!?”

Just as I changed very little about Ale’s profile because I felt that her writing revealed who she is, I’ve done very little tweaking to Frank’s. What you’ll discover about Frank by reading his answers is that he is that rare breed of extremely gifted athlete who is also utterly humble. He is dedicated, he can laugh at himself and he gets great pleasure out of seeing other people succeed. Here is Frank’s story:

Name: Frank DiPadova
Hometown: Point Pleasant, NJ
Current Town: Miami Beach, FL
Sport(s) of Choice: I am a football junkie, especially college, nearing obsession. This whole triathlon thing  has gotten up there too with the obsession level but my true love will always be on the track.
Longest Distance Covered and on what (feet/bike/skis/snowshoes/etc…): Does my 1200+ mile drive from Brooklyn to Ft. Lauderdale count?


No…ok then it was the 70.3 miles of swimming, biking, and running in the Miami Man half-Iron
Occupation: Assistant Controller for Holman Honda and Lauderdale Infiniti

Gimme a brief history of Frank in sports. What did you do as a kid? Have you always been athletic?

I can’t remember a time when I was not involved with sports. It started with soccer and little league with a little wrestling mixed in there and progressed to football and track as I got older. I was an avid skier for about ten years going almost every weekend to the Poconos and occasionally to Vermont. Even when I wasn’t playing organized sports I could be found in a pick up basketball game, slinging the ball around the street, or hitting golf balls on the links.

High school was strictly football and track (indoor/outdoor). I actually quit football my senior year to run cross country and focus on track. My dad wanted me to go out for the golf team my freshman year because we would play all the time and I was half-way decent but in the end he was happy I stuck with track. I was one of the state’s top quarter-milers by the time I left high school and I earned a D1 scholarship to Monmouth University where I ran for two years winning a conference championship my freshman year. I then transferred to Virginia Tech where I finished out.

Sometime after my freshman year of high school I participated in a US bobsled fundraiser/recruiting event on the Seaside Heights boardwalk where you push a sled down this track and they time you. I ended up pushing the fastest time and was invited to participate in the national camp and push-sled championships in Lake Placid. So at 18 my skinny ass is standing next to these giants. I mean these dudes were monsters and I’m like alright let’s do this and was able to hold my own. So I competed as a member of the US Olympic bobsled team at the national summer training camp for 3 years but decided not to go back after that for various reasons that are for another conversation.

What the F*!k?!?

OK. Sorry. I’m back. How did you get into triathlon?

I could tell my friend was up to something. We would hang out all the time but all of a sudden we weren’t and he was working out more, especially swimming and running. I finally got it out of him that he was secretly training for the Nautica South Beach tri back in 2008. “Yeah I’ll go watch.” So I went and with drink in hand, yes at eight in the morning, and cheered him on. After watching him cross the line and somewhere in my buzz, I said “I can do that”. But I didn’t want to wait a full year to do it so I searched and searched online and found the Escape to Miami race later that September and signed up. I do not recommend doing the Olympic version as your first ever race. My experience from that day can fill a book on what not to do for a triathlon. But as painful as it was the first thing that popped in my head as I slugged across the finish line was, “When is the next race?” I haven’t looked back since.

How do you feel about qualifying for USAT Age Group Nationals this year? Are you planning on competing and if so, what are you doing to prepare yourself mentally and physically?

It is kind of a mixed bag for me really. On one side I’m super excited about qualifying because it really is a great achievement and I should be proud. But the other side of me thinks that I didn’t necessarily deserve it. You see, I didn’t compete in one olympic distance race all season and the race that got me in was a long sprint that was a smaller field. The race for me was not my best either, in particular the run. I obviously had to still go out and race but for me I need to earn it by beating the guys out there that I know are good. I will not be competing in the race but not for the aforementioned reasons. It’s the weekend before Ironman Canada, which is my main focus, and the timing just does not work out for me. If I am able to qualify next year than I’m there for sure.

Describe a typical training day.

With Ironman Canada coming up my volume has increased significantly and because I work a lot my training has to start early. During the weekdays I pull doubles by hitting the road at 4:30 with either a run or a bike workout and then come back after work to the hit the pool or weights. Sometimes I’ll run after work if the workout calls for it but cycling is always in the morning because there is nobody on the roads and swimming and weights are after work because they are not open early enough for me.

Trying to get enough sleep is a challenge but I find that the more I workout the more alert I feel during the day. Maybe that’s just the delusional over-tiredness but it works. The hardest part of any of this training is getting my feet on the floor when the alarm goes off. After that the rest is easy. Having a social life is a little bit difficult too but its worth it to me. Besides, my friends are my friends because they understand. They think I’m crazy but they support me and that means a lot. I will say that riding that early in the morning is kind of peaceful because the craziness and hectic hustle of Miami Beach has stopped and its just quiet. There is no better way to see the beauty of the beach then when its asleep. It helps me get my feet onto the floor each morning.

What do you normally eat?

I am a creature of habit and continually eat the same things almost everyday until I can’t stand the sight of them anymore. Breakfast lately has been cereal with rice milk, an english muffin with almond butter and jam, and coffee, which is the most important. Every now and then I’ll scrambled three or four eggs in there to mix it up some.

I bring my lunch to work, which helps tremendously in making sure I don’t eat junk. That consists of a turkey, chicken, or roast beef sandwich, fruit (bananas and nectarines, which I’ve been on a big kick with lately until the last batch I got from Publix which were pretty crappy so I might have to switch it up), almonds, cookies (from Greenwise section of course) and other assorted healthy snacks. I will go out once a week as my splurge but find that I can’t do it all the time or else I will feel it. Thank God there is not a Chick-Fil’a near my work or else everything I just said would be right out the window.

Dinner is pretty plain as I don’t have much time to cook. It mostly consists of chicken, vegetables, and rice all thrown in a wok and stir fried up. I do have to get my macaroni fill so I’ll have those once or twice a week. I now eat for fuel not flavor.

You recently started coaching for Alien Endurance. How do you balance the demands of your own training with your new coaching obligations? What do you like about coaching?

It has not been as hard to balance as I thought it would be. I think the best way for me to keep that balance is to coach when its time to coach and train when its time to train. If I’m with a group then its my job to make sure that everyone gets through the workout successfully so I have to focus on what they are doing. I’ll ask for feedback a lot during workouts making sure everyone is ok and see if we need to push it more or hold back some. If my workout is longer than I’ll make it up at another time. My favorite part of coaching is the positive responses I get back from the athletes. If they are happy then I’m happy. It is also great to see people push beyond what they thought they were capable of doing.

You’re in the process of training for Ironman Canada. Have you competed in a full Iron before or will this be your first? How are you prepping for it and do you have any expectations about the race?

This will be my first Ironman and I must say that I have the full range of emotions when thinking about it. I go from super excited to completely nervous and everything in between, so come race day I’ll either harness all that energy and use it for the race or throw it up all over the beach at the start line.

My training volume has increased significantly since we started about three weeks ago. I’ll probably average 20 hours a week for the next 5 months with a few “off” training weeks which I’m sure I’ll be looking forward too. The good news is that I’m not doing it alone and I’m with a great group of athletes that will be able to motivate each other. That is very important. I trained virtually alone for a half-Iron and it was pretty tough. I couldn’t imagine training for a full by myself.

I’d be lying if I said the only expectations were to cross the finish line. While that is the goal I still will be competing against myself and my teammates of course. I have a goal time of under 13 hours. That sounds kind of ridiculous now that I put it in writing to think I’ll be out there for that long. That’s over half a day of moving…a lot. Anyway, I’m budgeting a 1.5 hour swim, 6 hour bike, and 5 hour run. That puts me at 12.5 hours but I anticipate coming in faster on the swim and maybe taking a little longer on the bike. They don’t have hills out there. They have mountains and I’ll be doing some serious climbing. But I like keeping everything in nice round numbers as its easier to mentally understand what I need to accomplish.

Can you recall a particularly challenging moment in training or racing? How did you deal with it?

During my half Iron race I was on the bike and sucking down gels and salt tabs like they were going to rot if I didn’t use them. There is quite a bit of sodium in those, plus all the gatorade I was drinking contained quite a bit too. About halfway through the bike I started getting this pain/cramp in my right side. It wasn’t that bad just yet, just uncomfortable. So when I got off the bike and onto the run I thought you know what I need right now? More gels. So I took some more and that was a bad idea as I could feel the cramping much worse now. Not to mention my legs thought they were still on the bike.

The first four miles were crucial. The whole race was going ahead of plan at this point and now I was thinking I might not make it at all. Those might have been the longest four miles of my life. It wasn’t so much the cramping but the battle going inside my head as I was trying to convince myself to keep going. As I hit the four mile mark I made a decision to suck it up just go and it just all of a sudden clicked and my feet got lighter and the pain subsided. Now when I say lighter I don’t mean that I was galloping like a deer the rest of the way. I just got up to a quick jog as opposed the shuffle run that I was doing prior. Looking at my watch I could see that if I kept up my current pace I would come under my goal time which helped me push a lot of the pain away. The best I felt all day was the last 800m and coming down the finish chute.

Any interesting/funny/inspiring stories you want to share from training or racing?

Any race where my parents, aka the Costanzas, are at is always entertaining. My dad has this super nice camera, giant lens and all so he is fired up to take lots of pics. At the half Iron, for whatever reason, he could not find me, even as I am coming around the first loop and literally feet from him. And there is my mom, yelling at him, “Frank, Frank he’s over there, right behind you!!” “Where?, Where?” “What are you doing? He’s right there, turn around!!” This is all I hear as I’m running by so I’m assuming all the other spectators where treated to this show as well. So as my dad finally finds me as I’m going past him he tells me to stop so he can get a few pics. I’m not stopping are you nuts. And I continue on my way.

So after 5 hours 42 minutes and 18 seconds of racing he comes up with roughly 5 photos of my back. I later hear the rest of the story as my dad blames my mom because he wanted to wait by the bike dismount but she insisted that I already came in and so they left that area. Her version is quite the opposite as she told him to wait over at the swim exit but he didn’t want to listen. So this is how I’m spending my recovery time because I’m not mentally exhausted enough. My dad also blamed it on the fact that I was wearing all black and so was everyone else so it was hard to pick me out and next time suggested I wear really bright colors. He has some work to do before Canada.

This story sounds somehow familiar to me.

Anyway, talk to me about equipment/product. What do you wear? What do you ride? What gels do you like?

As far as clothing goes I don’t have a set product that I stick to for everything. For swimming its Orca, TYR, and Xterra.For cycling its Peal Izumi and Louis Garneau, who by the way make and excellent bib short, and for running its Nike and Puma. I have acquired many t-shirts over the years which I try to put to use if they are not some outrageous color.

I ride a Cervelo P2 and slap on the Hed 3c tri tubular tri spoke wheels for racing. Her name is Lola.

For nutrition it took a number of years and a few times resulting in unfortunate incidents but I’ve found that I work best with Gu and Hammer gels and wash it down with Gatorade. I don’t like the super heavy gels or those with intense flavors. I like to keep it simple because the last thing I want to do racing in Miami weather is take in something that will upset my stomach. Same thing with the Gatorade. Lemon-lime for training and racing. I’ve used various other products and either had bad results or couldn’t take it down because of the taste which leads to bad results. If I am doing a long race in the heat I will add some Endurolytes pills to the mix but not too much.

Any advice for the “noobs” out there?

Do not be afraid to fail. It’s going to happen. It’s inevitable that something will go wrong and you will have a bad race. The good news is that you will probably learn more from that experience because you will replay it over and over in your head and figure out where you went wrong and what to do to correct it. Don’t worry about the things you cannot control. If its windy, its windy for everyone and if its super hot, its super hot for everyone. Focus on what you can control. Also make sure to get to the race early to secure a clean port-o-potty. Usually the ones at the end are the less frequently used. You get there late, forget about it. There are a thousand nervous stomachs rolling through there. You’d be better off going in the woods.

* For full disclosure, I should mention that the reason Frank didn’t have to take my battery out was because Andy did some quick iPhone research and discovered there’s a button in the car that just needs to be pushed when the alarm is engaged. Whoops.


5 Responses to “Multiview 8: Frank DiPadova”

  1. Susan Middlebrooks March 24, 2012 at 11:07 am #

    Best of luck at Canada Frank. I am not only impressed with your athletic ability and dedication to training, but also your ability to fix Edith’s key – a true renaissance man!

  2. iwanttobeatriathlete March 24, 2012 at 5:38 pm #

    Awesome interview!! I love the comments about the Costanzas!


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