When I first met Sip at Age Group Nationals, it was like greeting an old friend. He’s that really warm and welcoming kind of guy who sees the best in everyone. His energy, enthusiasm, and high standards are infectious. 2011 was an incredible year for him – two National Championships at the 2011 US Masters Spring Nationals swim meet, his first (yes, FIRST) triathlon in May, selection for the Endurance Films Racing Team, and competing at USAT Nationals. On top of all of that, he and his wife welcomed their eighth child! I’d like to back up a little and find out what led Sip to this point.
Have you always been active, or as a long-haul trucker, did you have a period of inactivity? What sports were you into growing up?
I was a highly motivated young kid. If I did something I wanted to be the best. Part of this was because growing up as a black kid in an all-white neighborhood, I wanted to be "accepted." For boys, being good at sports is a sure-fire way to become accepted. At school, I wanted to be the "smartest". I think the other half was fear of failure. My dad, who raised me by himself from when I was ten, never pushed me to do anything - he was always super supportive, encouraging and easy going, so I'm not sure where I got this fear of failure, but
I have used it to become disciplined. When I was twelve, my Uncle showed me his gold medal from the Tokyo Olympics and he and my dad said if I wanted to get my own Olympic medal, I needed to focus on one sport. So I gave up football, track, basketball and tennis and stuck to swimming. I swam all the way through college and then didn't do any kind of sports or training for 18 years! So I was very inactive.
What led you to start Fitness Trucking? What are the goals and means to accomplish those goals?
I just kinda stumbled into that, actually. Driving a truck was a really random move to begin with. Within a few months of living on the road, I had gained about 15 lbs. of "trucker's gut" and the poorly misnamed "love handles". I vowed then to find at least 15 minutes a day to workout whether it was at the truck stop, rest area, or even in the truck. Whenever I got bored with a workout routine I would buy a new piece of fitness equipment. After a year I had developed some really awesome 15 minute total body circuits that I could do virtually anywhere, and especially on the side of the truck. It was then that I felt I could help other truck drivers and Fitness Trucking
was born. Basically, I just want to teach others what I have learned about driving a truck and staying fit that has actually worked for me. Sports, fitness, competing, teaching, and generally doing something of benefit for the world is what I like to do and is the thing driving me. At the end of the day, I want to be able to point to something that is recognized as a good thing and say, "Yeah, I did that."
Sip, you say that you were away from swimming for 18 years. What prompted the return and how long were you back swimming before winning two titles at the US Masters Spring Nationals? What did you win?
I wanted to show my kids what it was I used to do. Since I had been doing my Fitness Trucking workout routines for over a year, I was in great shape generally speaking and very strong. I started swimming about 2 or 3 times a week for about a month when I swam a Masters meet in Muncie, IN at the end of January 2011. I was surprised and learned that I qualified for Masters Nationals later that year (early May) in Arizona. My wife and I decided that would be a good family vacation so I started training seriously that February. So I had been back in the water for about 4 months total. I won the 50 yd freestyle (22.03) and the 100 yd freestyle (48.42), both of which were Indiana Masters Swimming State Records.
How do you fit training in with with your responsibilities at work and home? Your wife Tammy seems incredibly supportive and proud. How do you keep the training from becoming a source of friction? Do you have any organizational or time management tips?
Wow! That is gettin right up in there, ain't it? LOL. As crazy as it seems, it was easier to train while I was driving the truck. The main challenge to solve was the daily variables of when and where. Particularly when it came to the swim. I always had to find a YMCA where I could park a truck. Usually I would park and sleep there the night before, get up and swim, then go about my day. When it came to running and biking, I could pretty much do that anywhere whenever it was convenient on a daily basis. Even the weather wasn't much of a problem. It was tough, though, especially when Tammy got pregnant. When I wasn't driving or training, I was sleeping. She did talk to me about how I spent less time on the phone and computer with her once I started this triathlon "thing" but she was always supportive.
Now that I'm home, it is MUCH, MUCH harder. I thought I would get more rest - take a nap in the afternoon. Nope. And between the six kids at home, the baby, starting Fitness Trucking, and some other pursuits of mine, there are just way more things on my plate. So I'm something of an organization freak. I currently keep four large wall calendars to track everything - one for our two teenage girls' activities, one for our four boys activities, one for the Fitness Trucking business and one for training. I also keep three daily planners, log my training on two different websites, and track every piece of food I eat!
Basically, my schedule is
5:00 am to 6:30 am -Training
6:30 am to 8:00 am - Get kids up and take them to school.
8:00 am to 11:00 am - Training
11:00 am to 2:30 pm - Fitness Trucking and other work
2:30 am to 6:00 pm - afterschool activities with the kids including the boys school basketball and wrestling, and Shin Do Ninjitsu class.
6:00 pm to 7:00pm is dinner
7:00 pm to 8:00 pm is free time
8:00 pm to 8:30 pm I put the three youngest boys to bed (usually play them the guitar)
8:30 pm to 10:00 pm Me & Tammy Free Time
10:00 pm is bedtime.
Now, how do I keep the training from becoming a source of friction? At times it is and I can't. My wife says that she got more bedroom action while I was on the truck! LOL.
You are training for IM South Africa, which will happen less than a year from the date of your first triathlon ever!! That’s pretty ambitious! Why did you select that race?
Timing, mostly. After this first triathlon season, I gained some confidence. Ironman was a challenge that I always fancied achieving in the back of my mind, and now I knew what it would take to train for such an event. I knew I was going to be at home for a few months so I looked for an Ironman race that would fall at the end of my work "break" and IM South Africa was it. I talked about taking Tammy to Africa from the first day I met her, and after taking the whole family to US Masters Spring Nationals last year in Arizona, a family trip to Africa to watch dad do Ironman seemed like the logical next progression. LOL. (Yeah, I'm crazy!)
You are raising funds to take your whole family. How are you going about that?
I'm going to rely heavily on the support of long haul commercial truck drivers. As one of their "own". I am hoping they will really support me. And they see that Fitness Trucking is really for them. So I figured I could feed two birds with one seed by getting truck drivers an organic energy bar and raising funds at the same time. I can raise most of the funds that I need to take my family to South Africa by selling 5,000 cases of the organic Fitness Trucking 140.6 Energy Bars. There's 5 million truckdrivers on the road . . . And there's lots of triathletes and other folks who just hear about a good story and want to be a part of it. When you but a case of Fitness Trucking 140.6 Energy Bars, you get a high quality delicious snack, but you also help a man achieve that incredible thing of becoming an Ironman, and you also provide a one in a lifetime opportunity for a family and six kids to visit their ancestral homeland. It's a win-win all the way around. To see our family fundraising video go to http://youtu.be/qYZKVkc_VDM . To order a case of Fitness Trucking 140.6 Energy Bars, go to www.youbars.com
1. Click “Re-order”
2. Enter re-order code “i57px”
3. Use coupon code “Fitness Trucking” for additional discount on this or any YouBars order!
Do you work with a coach or are you self-coached?
I'm self coached. Because of my collegiate swimming experience, I know what hard swim training and strength training is. For the biking and running, I pretty much follow the training methodologies of Joe Friel contained in his four books: The Triathlete's Training Bible, Your Best Triathlon, Going Long, and The Paleo-Diet for Athletes.
What does a typical training week look like for you?
What do you expect to be your biggest challenges in the coming year?
My biggest challenge? Fundraising enough money to bring my family to South Africa.
What motivates you? Are their particular people who inspire and drive you?
My motivation is internal. It sounds cliche, but its all about the journey. From the conceptualizing and dreaming, to the planning, to the execution of the plan, to the unexpected obstacles and overcoming them, to the thrill of competition, to the completion and achievement, to the reflection afterwards . . . I have come to thoroughly enjoy the process. I get "lost" when I'm not pursuing some goal. I get inspired by anyone that exemplifies the best in human spirit - be it some kind of triumph against all odds or kindness of character. Those things really touch me and it reminds me that it is worth it to carry on in training, or working, or parenting, or whatever it is that you set out to do because at the start its the right thing to do, and then later it gets difficult and you start to second guess yourself. Its those moments that make or break you and you have to find a way to carry on. I think that's kinda what Ironman is all about.
Anything else you would like to share?
Two men get up to work and go to the same job every morning. The first man drags himself out of bed, looks in the mirror, sighs, and complains, "all I ever do is lay these stupid bricks all day." The second gets up, hugs and kisses his wife (who made him free range eggs, turkey bacon and a fruit salad!) and says, "I'm off to build my cathedral!" Two brick layers, same job, two very different quality of life experiences. When I train, I am building my cathedral.