Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Man for Christmas! My New Coach

A few nights ago, fueled by a glass of Naughty Elf wine and a rare moment to myself with kitty in lap, I decided it was time to take the next step.  Now that I back to training 5-6 days per week and running regularly, with races ahead of me and injury [hopefully permanently] behind me, it was time to just go ahead and admit that I am in over my head.  As a fellow tri-er said, "If you are the point that you're asking yourself if you need a coach, you already do".  Ok then.

So a while back, I introduced my friend Anthony as my Coach Sheriff.  The was true, but only in the sense that I sent him confused emails every few months, which he very patiently answered ("Running shoes go on your feet, Miranda....").  In one of these exchanges he offered to coach me for real if I ever got serious.  A truly generous offer, considering the amount of time and effort it takes to coach a triathlete, especially a hot mess like this one.  There was also the consideration of being coached by a long time friend - awesome in that he is well acquainted with my particular brand of crazy, having watched it grow up.  Yet also a little odd, since coaching is pretty personal.  Kinda like asking your bestie to be your gynocologist.  Yes, Anthony, I did just compare you to my OB-GYN.  Having second thoughts yet??

Ain't he a cutie?
Anyway, after a flurry of late night texts, we established that yes, Anthony was indeed up to the challenge.  I got myself a Training Peaks account (which I cannot stop playing with - OMG), linked us up, and away we go.

So, once again, let me introduce my real, honest-to-goodness, watching-everything-I-do, going-to-kick-my-butt coach, Anthony Bagnetto!  To be referred to henceforth as the Sheriff, for reasons previously explained.

Sheriff was a competitive swimmer in high school, then moved to New York City after college in 2002 and became a strength coach & trainer.  He was bit by the triathlon bug in 2006, and since has raced all distances - some of the highlights being 70.3 Montauk, Escape from Alcatraz, Ironman Wisconsin, and most recently USAT Age Group Nationals for the Olympic distance this year.  I take great comfort that no matter how pain he's putting me through in 2014, he'll be in more himself, as he is taking on IM Lake Placid in July. (I will be there along with a gaggle of our high school friends to cheer him on).  He is a Level I USAT Coach, trains athletes of all levels, and was voted "One of NYC's 15 Nicest Instructors" on RateYourBurn. See?  I picked a NICE coach.  He also maintains a blog, website, and all manner of other social media.  He recently launched what I'm sure will be a truly epic website,, where athletes can connect and read about each other's experiences at specific races.  Yes, you can even read about me there!  Clearly this guy is going somewhere.

Iron Sheriff.  IM Wisconsin.
He seems to pick all the hilly races...

Which really is not surprise, considering that Sheriff was basically the President of our high school.  No exaggeration - at the ten year reunion people were actually fighting over which table he sat at.  It was amazing.  All my family and friends have met him.  My coworkers have met him.  My kids love him.  There is really no one on the planet that has met him and not liked him.  He's just one of those people who is always so happy and positive that you just want to shake him.

Sheriff and then-girlfriend came to visit and fell in love with our kids.
Never let your wife hold a baby, dude.... no more IM training for you!

I'd like to share some of my favorite Sheriff moments, both by way of introducing him to you all, but also to give myself some fond memories to look back over when I'm cursing him four months from now in peak training weeks.

  • The time he dropped me on my head.  Yes, really - this was the first (and only thus far) vaguely athletic thing we've done together.  Being both die-hard band geeks, we were runners for our high school color guard, which was performing a swing routine where we flipped each other over our arms, over our backs, etc.  We tried the over-the-back flip.  On a concrete floor.  Bad news.
  • Dancing at my wedding.  We played that same song and danced to it (sans flips this time), so well and for so long that my new mother in-law assumed that we were old sweethearts and was a little concerned that I was jilting the Jedi within two hours of marrying him.  Oops.  Bonus - the straps of my dress kept sliding down, and by the end I had massive bruises on my upper arms.  On our honeymoon Jedi made me wear a sweater the whole time so that people wouldn't think he was a wife-beater.  As the cruise was to Alaska, this wasn't a problem.
Swing dancing
    On my honeymoon.  Note giant bruises.
    Somehow I think this will not be the only time Sheriff hurts me...
  • That time in NYC.  I was in New York for work, went out with my coworkers, had way too many beers on the corporate card, and decided that Sheriff needed to come meet us immediately.  At 11:00 at night.  I have vague memories of stumbling outside, of Sheriff asking me what cross street I was near, and then within minute he appeared, having ridden his bike to the bar.  Now, maybe midnight bike riding is normal in NYC, but it seemed pretty badass to me.  Even more-so as he had at least two spin classes to teach starting at 5 am the next day.  I have no idea how far his apartment was from where I was.  It could have been a block or miles.  Who knows?  My coworkers and I were so unprofessional that night that we forever ruined Sheriff for working in corporate America.  Service rendered if you ask me...
  • Making the grooms' cake for his wedding.  Yes ladies, he is married.  And his wife is every bit as amazing, nice, and gorgeous as he is.  Sorry.  We offered to make a groom's cake for his wedding last fall.  Triathlon themed, of course.  It was three tiered - I made the three separate cakes, drove 5 hours to New Jersey with them in the back of my car, and then hastily stacked and assembled the cake in my hotel room upon arrival.  The cake was a surprise for Sheriff, and seeing how psyched he and the rest of the guests were made it hands down one of my favorite projects ever.  Plus, the next morning hurricane Sandy hit the coast right where the wedding was, making the weekend even more memorable.  He even does his wedding extreme!

The couple makes me take a bow before they cut it

I am very very happy to have such an experienced, talented, and positive coach working with me.  Even more happy to have maintained 15 years of friendship with such an awesome guy.  Let's hope that continues to be the case!  Just kidding....

Want more Sheriff?  Who wouldn't?

Website & blog:
Follow on Twitter @anthonybagnetto

Sheriff is taking on new clients both in the NYC area and for online coaching.  He doesn't know it yet, but he's also going to write a Q&A session for new triathletes with me in the next month or so, so if you have question leave them in the comments!

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