Jim Halley – I never set out to be a triathlete. When I was in the Marines, all I cared about was the gym and how much weight I could lift. 6 weeks before my 21st birthday I was in a skydiving accident and spent 21 months in recovery but ultimately came out the other side stronger than ever. Years later, my wife decided she was doing to do a (like just one) triathlon. Somehow I got roped into it and ten years and a hundred (give or take) tri’s later, here I am. Now I have an entire drawer filled with tight spandex outfits, a special razor for my legs, and too many wheels and helmets! I’ve just recently started getting involved with the tri community here in Tallahassee and can’t wait to get even more involved!
Age: 37 according to the calendar, 8 according to my actions.
Current occupation: Aviation System Manager for FDOT. It’s like being the Gwen Jorgensen of airport planners, trust me.
Previous occupation: I’ve been an airport planner for ten years and prior to that I spent 8 years as a special operations Marine.
Dream occupation: The Marine thing was pretty awesome – they paid me to jump out of planes, shoot cool guns, and blow things up!
If money were no object, what would you do: Spend every day running, skydiving, doing triathlons, and playing (after adopting) rescue dogs.
Favorite non-triathlon hobby: Skydiving and sleep.
Favorite indulgence: Cage-free quinoa and edamame wrapped in kale. Wait… that sounds disgusting. Let’s go with cheesecake. Yeah, cheesecake sounds better than quinoa any day!
Favorite book, TV show or movie: All of the Bourne movies. Whenever we watch those, my wife always says, “You were a Marine, if we ever get attacked I expect you to be like Jason Bourne.” For her sake, I really hope I never have to fight off 8 foreign spies using nothing more than the spatula I won at Breakfast on the Track.
How long have you been doing triathlon: 10 years – my first tri was in April of 2007. I really thought I would be “one and done” but it’s kind of like this hobby is addictive or something…
Why do you participate in triathlon?: It was an accident. I used to be big into weightlifting as a Marine, then I had shoulder surgery and, at the same, time, my wife decided she was going to get into marathons and triathlons. Since I couldn’t lift weights, every time she’d go for a run, I would. Next thing you know, I’m waking up early to go swimming, buying elastic laces that don’t need to be tied, shaving every inch of my body, wearing spandex… it escalated quickly!
Share something others don’t know about you: I hate vegetables. I mean, I despise them. I don’t go anywhere near them. No lettuce, no tomatoes, no onions, none of that. They’re all barfy! Meat and starches only!
What events/distances do you train for: Nothing in particular. I prefer mid-distance races – international/Olympic triathlons. After 2 hours or so, I lose concentration. I have a short attention span. I’m like a puppy: Lots of energy. No attention span. And I bark at the TV. And I’m not too good in the car.
What are your current goals: To get back into tri’s like I was a few years ago. Since moving to Tallahassee, I haven’t done as many as I used to but I’m engaging with the club more now, getting out there and training more consistently, did a few last year and was pretty happy with my performances so I feel like I’m on the right track. As LL Cool J said, “Don’t call it a comeback, I’ve been here for years.”
What is your favorite race and why: My favorite race is anyone with a nasty, choppy open water swim. I’m not a natural superstar swimmer in normal conditions but I’m extremely confident so when the ocean gets nasty and everyone starts freaking out and getting all hesitant, I actually feel MORE confident on those conditions so it evens the playing field.
What hydration and nutrition products do you use: My favorite hydration product of all time is Motor Tabs. Other than that, the Gu tabs are pretty good. For nutrition, I just go with whatever free gel I got in my last race packet or, for longer distances, I like to freeze mini-snickers bites, throw them in my Fuel Belt top tube holder, then have one every 15 minutes or so.
What is some of your favorite gear (wetsuit, goggles, bike, hydration system, shoes, etc.): Xtenex laces! Seriously, if you have never tried them, GO BUY SOME NOW! Ten times better than Yankz or any other brand. They are life-changing!
What training resources do you recommend: I’m a huge fan of The Triathlete’s Training Bible. I’ve never been very good at following a plan of any kind (yeah, I know I’m a professional planner for work – don’t pay any attention to that) but that book has been the only one that I felt I could actually use and follow. I use a lot of workout and periodization approaches from that book and it seems to be working!
What advice do you have for anyone beginning triathlons: Don’t worry about the nerves or the fear you have. I’ve done probably a hundred tri’s in my life and before each one I have the exact same thought as I do when I skydive: what the ____ am I doing?! As I get closer to the starting gun (just as I do as I get closer to actually jumping out of a plane), that fear turns into positive energy and I use it to fuel me. The nerves are normal – trust your training, trust your plan, and just go out there and have fun!
What is your proudest triathlon or competitive moment: For the first 4 miles of the 2016 GWTC 5/10 mile challenge, I stayed ahead of Charlie Johnson. It doesn’t matter that I was doing the 5 miler and he was doing the 10 and, throughout mile 5, he put probably 2 minutes on me… for 4 glorious miles, I was ahead! That’s as close to a win as I’ll ever get against him and it’s going to have to be good enough!
What, in triathlon, do you wish you could improve the most: Swimming. I don’t really swim. Actually, I more or less just don’t drown while slowly moving forward. So, if I could get better at that, I wouldn’t complain.
Current occupation: Sea Turtle Conservation Biologist, FL Fish & Wildlife
Previous occupation: Bike/Tri Shop
Dream occupation: No occupation – just racing and traveling.
If money were no object, what would you do: See previous answer!
Favorite non-triathlon hobby: Running… that’s a non-triathlon hobby, right?! Camping, mountain biking, playing with my pups!
Favorite indulgence: Amber beers, red wine, dark chocolate
Favorite book, TV show or movie: The Bourne Trilogy, Transformers, Serendipity – yeah, I know that seems odd.
How long have you been doing triathlon: 10 years this May
Why do you participate in triathlon: I enjoy pushing my physical abilities to see what I’m really capable of and I really do enjoy the sport. I may not say that while waiting for the swim start, but once I’m in the water, I feel at home and in my element.
Share something others don’t know about you: I’m an open book, however, most people are not aware of my awesome dance moves!
What events/distances do you train for: I can’t say I necessarily train specifically for the distances, but perhaps that’s part of my problem. I enjoy sprint and Olympic distance races the most though because I’m able to push my pace during the race and don’t have to give up my life during training.
What are your current goals: Get back into tri racing the way I used to, competing in many more races this season, and doing my first Xterra! Perhaps I’ll do another 70.3, we’ll have to see about that though.
What is your favorite race and why: Fort DeSoto Tri is probably my favorite, but really most races in the St. Pete and Sarasota area great! I can’t say exactly what I like about them, sure the water tends to be calm, but that’s not really why. Maybe it’s the view and the atmosphere I like best about that area in general.
What hydration and nutrition products do you use: The only real nutrition product I use consistently is Nuun. I’m a big fan of oatmeal or an English muffin with peanut butter and banana before a race, but otherwise, Nuun and water are my only go-to nutrition supplies. If the race is long enough for nutrition on the course, I’ll use a gel or chews of some sort.
What is some of your favorite gear (wetsuit, goggles, bike, hydration system, shoes, etc.): Again, I am pretty non-specific with this stuff. I love my Saucony A6 racing flats for the run and my favorite tri suit is my old store’s kit (Tri Bike Run in Juno Beach). I love my bike, although it is nothing impressive – Trek Equinox (aka. The Bullet), it was a nice upgrade from my old road bike and supposed to just hold me over til I got my Speed Concept, but that never happened… Maybe one day.
What training resources do you recommend: Other athletes. You can read all you want and study training plans, but the best resource is talking to those who have been there and done that before. Learn from their experiences, both the successes and the failures. Sure, what’s right for you might be a little different, but at least talking to others gives you a starting point. Ride with them, run with them, swim with them, and talk to them, ask your questions, and listen to the answers. Triathlon is such a great sport with amazing athletes who are always willing to share their experiences and help guide you along.
What advice do you have for anyone beginning triathlons: Same as above, talk to other athletes and train with them. Go watch a race. I used to coach beginners and that was always a part of our training, watching a race to see how it all gets put together, suddenly things start to click and helps you figure out what to do in your own race.
What is your proudest triathlon or competitive moment: I really have to say my first ever triathlon. I was so nervous before the race and even had to side stroke out to the first buoy to calm my nerves, but I started to settle down and find my groove. I crossed the finish line with a huge smile and was even more surprised to find out I got 3rd place in my division! I was so proud to finally call myself a triathlete and I never looked back.
What, in triathlon, do you wish you could improve the most: My biking. I am terrible! Funny enough, I’ve gotten better since I started mountain biking, but I just am not just good on the road…perhaps if I spent more time out there it would help, but running and mountain biking is just so much more fun (sorry, cyclists)!
What is your idea of a perfect day: Going to the beach, relaxing in the sun, and playing with my pups. We used to live 5 minutes from the beach and I do miss it, but I do have to say, the trails in Tallahassee are a close second.