A few things you should never say to a professional triathlete:
“Well, it must be easy for you since you don’t have kids.”
“Well, it must be easy for you since you’re so skinny.”
"Well, it must be easy for you since you don't have a normal 9-5 job."
Not only are those futile questions in a chicken-and-egg capacity, but they involve personal situations that most likely entail sacrifice. Moreover, there are extreme exceptions among the roster of successful pros. Body type runs the gamut, nearly half the field has children, and multiple professional triathletes concurrently hold-down full time jobs.
CBCG professional triathlete Andrew Langfield, does even more. Like, way more.
"I actually just finished up the first year of my internal medicine residency here in Oak-town, like... two days ago! Super exciting, and pretty hard to believe. But the quick summary is I moved to Portland back in 2011, to become an Oregon resident for the purposes of applying to med school at OHSU. School then became a 5-year ordeal from 2012-2017, culminating at graduation just over a year ago and relocation to Oakland last June. Both my wife Elena and I matched at county hospital programs (think Cook County from the TV show ER), which provide care to an incredibly diverse patient population here in the East Bay. One year down, two to go for both of us! Then we actually get to start working as independent physicians. We both have 3-year commitments with the National Health Service Corps as part of a loan-repayment program, so post-residency will go work as primary care docs in a medically-underserved area somewhere. That is basically the long-term life/career goal anyway, so it's a great deal for us. But yeah, embarrassed to admit that when I first moved to Portland 7 years ago, I didn't fully appreciated I was signing up for the 11-year plan, haha."
Amidst his wildly demanding daily, weekly, monthly, and annual schedule, he also manages to train for triathlon, but not just any triathlons, and not just to compete in the middle of the pack. He’s a successful pro triathlete who just keeps getting better.
So how does Andrew fit in not just triathlon training, but professional-level training and racing? Moreover, he’s a devout husband to the wonderful Elena Phoutrides, another amazing budding MD whom he met at OHSU, as well as dedicated member of his totally wonderful family in Boise, serving as an exemplar of many things many people would like to be. Welp, here’s a typical day in the life:
"Oh man, so many days to choose from for this! I seriously love my job, and never a dull day goes by at Highland Hospital. The backbone of any internal medicine residency is the experience on inpatient wards, which is the majority of what I did this past year. These are the patients that were too unwell to make it to their clinic appointments or be sent home from the ED, and had to be admitted to the hospital. I'm actually working on a little write-up for my own blog, about one of my most memorable days on service. So if you are interested in a little more insight on the inner workings of a busy county hospital, stay tuned! But a general summary of one of those days might go something like this:
5:10 - alarm goes off, snooze too many times, finally out the door on the commuter bike by 5:25
5:35 - be late to the pool for masters, miss most of warm-up
6:20 - out of the pool 10 minutes early (45' is better than nothing!), finish the commute in to work
6:40 - hit the door of the hospital, put on scrubs, first cup of coffee
6:50 - get sign-out from the night team on my patients (any overnight events, new admissions, etc.)
7:00 - pre-rounding on the computer (vital signs, morning labs, imaging studies, specialist recs, etc.)
8:00 - start seeing patients
8:30 - BREAKFAST! best part of the morning, usually an omelette +/- a big ol' pancake, second cup of coffee, banana for later
8:50 - finish seeing patients
9:30 - formal rounds begin (meet with rest of team, go see the entire census starting with the sickest)
12:15 - LUNCH! and noon conference, chow on a sandwich + yogurt + fruit + cookie + milk while getting some knowledge, third cup of coffee
1:00 - finish rounds with team if needed, then start working on all the to-do's (phone calls, orders, consult questions, discharges, procedures, etc.)
5:00 - SNACK! usually bowl of cereal + granola bar
6:30 - ride home, 6:30 is always the goal but of course some days this doesn't happen, other days done earlier but stay to catch up/work ahead
6:50 - home, decompress
7:15 - evening session, usually 45-60' run, or trainer session, or strengthening (kettlebells and plyos)
8:30 - DINNER! I'm lucky that my wife loves to cook, but she's arguably busier than I am, so we usually try to cook a big meal for the week
9:30 - DESSERT!, or beer, or both
10:00 - bedtime
And how does Andrew manage to travel to compete? Most of his competitors have the luxury of arriving a week or more early to any location, with no rush to get home aprés race, putting them at a clear advantage to acclimate to a scene, thwart mechanical issues, and rest. Welp, here’s a typical race weekend sched for Andrew:
Wildflower weekend was a whirlwind, as always. Love that race, the campground scene, the woodstock vibes, the hospitality, everything about it. I was stoked to get Friday completely off, so had the car packed up Thursday night, waited out the morning rush hour here in the Bay, and was on the road by mid-morning.
8:30 - hit the road!
9:00 - obligatory Denny's pre-race breakfast
12:00 - arrive at campground, eat all the pretzels, set up camp
1:00 - shake-out ride and run, get things dialed, jump in lake
4:00 - pro meeting
5:30 - dinner, hang at campsite with wife, friends
9:30 - bedtime
RACE MORNING! - went fast, had fun, tried to be nice
12:15ish - cross finish line, lounge, chit-chat
1:30 - post-race lunch, more chit-chat, shoot breeze with Bagg, VT
3:00 - break camp, hit the road
7:00 - dinner with Elena's family in Palo Alto
10:00 - return rental car
11:00 - finally home, unpack
Midnight - bed time
6:00 - wake up, bike commute/recovery ride
6:45 - start work, woof"
The example of Andrew’s exceptional lifestyle and triathletic success is not to urge anyone to “suck it up, buttercup” (phrase courtesy CBCG coach Ivan Dominguez). It’s more of a marvel at what’s possible - an inspiration for us all when we’re feeling overwhelmed. His coach looks to him as a paragon of execution and devotion, and sincerely hopes Andrew never burns out of his drive to compete, since his talent and execution are truly an inspiration to us all.