Name: Jordan Rapp
Date of Birth: 28 Jul, 1980
Place of Birth: Sleepy Hollow, NY
Current home town: Thousand Oaks, CA
Other sponsors: Zoot Sports, Specialized Bicycle Components, SpiderTech, DJO Global / Compex, SRAM / Zipp / Quarq, Zico, and NormaTec Recovery.
Career highlights so far: 2011 ITU Long Distance World Champion, 2012 Ironman US Champion (Ironman NYC), 2012 Ironman Texas Champion, 2011 & 2009 Ironman Canada Champion, 2009 Ironman Arizona Champion
Why do you like Smith Optics?: First and foremost, I like the glasses. As an engineer, I really appreciate that they are innovative; the Pivlock design is a pretty incredible way to make a frameless pair of glasses. And, of course, they just work. Fit and function are both outstanding. But I also like that they aren’t just functional; they also look good. While no amount of style can make up for failings in function, it’s obviously nice to be able to look sharp too. There’s enough variety of lens options to cover all the situations you need but not so many lens choices as to be overwhelming (or overwhelmingly expensive for those folks not lucky enough to be sponsored). I also feel good about the prices Smith charges. While that doesn’t impact me, it makes it easier for me to say to someone, “these are great glasses, AND they won’t break the bank.” It’s easy to get behind a company like that. Smith delivers a quality product that looks good at a reasonable price. I believe in all of that. Great product. Great company. I couldn’t be more pleased to be a part.
Favorite Smith product and why: Smith Pivlock V2 (and V2 Max) because you never notice them. Once I put them on, I never think about them. They are incredibly light, so I don’t feel the weight. They offer great wraparound coverage, so I never notice light “leaking in.” On the bike, they mesh perfectly with my helmet so that no wind gets in my eyes. They never fog. It’s almost like they just disappear, except the sun isn’t quite so bright. Hard to ask for more than that.
How did you get into doing Triathlons?: I was a rower in college with Olympic aspirations. But I got injured in 2003, my first year out of college, trying to do way too much to make the jump to that next level, and triathlons were a way to stay active and fit while taking a break from rowing. I was an okay runner; I knew how to swim; and I enjoyed riding my bike as cross-training for rowing, so when a sign at the local health club advertised an “intro to triathlon” course, I figured “why not?” I always expected to go back to rowing. Maybe in another 10 years, I will.
Describe the suffering you encounter during a difficult race: A long distance race like an Ironman is so different from a rowing race, but the suffering is equally welcome. In rowing, you are ready to stop about 30 seconds into the race, but you still have another five minutes to go. In an Ironman, you never really have those moments where you are over the redline, but it’s more this constant grind that you are fighting. There’s this overwhelming feeling of wanting – needing, at times – to stop and get off your bike or stop and walk on the run. It just slowly grinds on you. You want to stop. But you don’t. It’s incredibly mental in that way. It’s rarely – if you’ve raced smart – your muscles that fail you. But keeping your brain from letting you down? That’s difficult. More difficult in some ways. It’s not that binary type thing of, “I can’t go any faster” or “I can’t lift any more weight” where you really are not capable of doing what’s being asked. It’s “can I just keep going… and going… and going?” There’s a lot of emotion in that which is not present in the more purely physical challenges.
How do you overcome that to push on?: At the simplest level, you just do. You have to remember that it’s not like I’m telling you to to lift 1000lbs over your head, where you just can’t do it. Most people can go as fast as the winner of the race. They just can’t do it for as long. The absolute paces are not particularly dramatic. It’s just holding that pace. Ironman is a war of attrition, which is largely about managing your reserves, both physical and mental, intelligently. And it’s also about believing that those reserves are bigger than you thought and finding out what you REALLY have left.
Craziest thing you have seen in a race?: Toss up between the guy racing an Ironman on the BMX bike and the guy doing one in an all-blue Root-Suit (one of those full body skinsuits that even covers your head).
In the off season, I like to… ride my mountain bike and spend extra time with my wife and son.
Misc, shout outs, thanks, rants…. Thank you to my parents, who didn’t think it was crazy when I decided I wanted to quit my job and try to become a professional triathlete. Or, even if they did think it was crazy, they supported it anyway. And to my wife, Jill, who is my anchor and keeps me from getting swept away by the inevitable storms that happen when it’s your job to be physically exhausted on a daily basis.
Learn more about Jordan by visiting his blog