Member Profile - Robert Johnson
You may have seen him fly by you on the track. You may have cycled next to him in the spin sessions and realized that your pedal stroke sucks next to his. He is one of the quiet ones in our Rat Pack of high level athletes. Read on to see how one falls into triathlon and despite wearing board shorts, can reach Elite levels.
Where are you from?
Born and raised in beautiful Chilliwack, BC. Chilliwack is a really great place to live if you love the outdoors and being active... and corn. You'll often see me listed as from Chilliwack in race results because I still think of it as home and I hope to move back there someday.
What was your sports background?
Although I dabbled in a lot of sports growing up - baseball, soccer, basketball, volleyball - I've always considered myself a hockey player and have been playing some level of organized hockey since I was three. I played at a decently high level and have always been able to skate with anyone but I really have no hands and had a lot of shoulder injuries growing up so I wasn't really able to take it anywhere. Saying that, I still love the sport and still play
How did you get into Triathlon?
I blame Dominik Szopa for this whole thing... For some reason I was always interested in the sport and I can remember almost joining the UBC Tri club when I first started university (regret not doing that), but didn't think I could swim well enough. Back in 2008 when Vancouver hosted World's, Domi and another co-worker decided to doa try a tri out by Harrison Lake and I got swept up into it. I can remember telling everyone I was going to win but I can honestly say I did little to no training for that 'race'.
I showed up wearing board shorts and toting a very old road bike I borrowed from a friend. Ended up walking for much of the swim and came out of the water with the worst swim time in the race and vowing never to do that again. Despite that, I somehow ended up winning the race. Looking back I know I was terrible but I had so much fun doing it and had never accomplished anything like that before so it felt good.
Caught the bug from there and decided to actually try training for a race in May of 2009 (Subaru Vancouver tri). Going into that race I somehow had it in my head that I was going to beat Facundo Chernikoff (ha!) but it should be noted that I beat Jeff M, Clarkeand Choppy :)
You are a strong runner, would you consider that your best discipline in triathlon?
Well it's definitely not swimming! Right now running is my strong suit but I seem to be injured more than I'm healthy so I think I might realize my potential in cycling before I do running. I always say I don't have any background in any of the three tri sports but that's not entirely true.
During the off season from hockey as a teenager I used to go with my dad to the track to run and to stay in shape. There was no structure to it at all. I'd just show up and run as fast as I could for a couple miles and go home. No timing myself, no warm-up or cool down, just running as fast you can (this will probably not come as a surprise to Alan or Andrew).
What is your most memorable moment in triathlon?
I've had so much fun doing this sport and have had a lot of good times both in and out of races but probably the most memorable for me was standing on the pontoon in Budapest,getting ready for the start and knowing how many people were back home watching and how hard I'd worked to get there. Running over the chain bridge in such a beautiful city - it was very cool.
You play hockey, why is it the Canucks will never win the cup?
Hold on there.. I believe we're in first place in the league right now. I think this is our year. (Ed. Even programmers can have delusions ;-)
What are your 2011 triathlon goals and beyond this year as well?
The same as last year - to not be the last place guy amongst Rob, Jeff, Clarke and Ryan in any race :D Realistically it's to finish in the top 10 at Nationals in the Olympic distance. Although I do feel it's within reach for me to achieve Elite status I don't feel I can compete in the swim with those guys so right now I'm not sure that's something I really want to focus on.
I ran into some serious competition at Worlds but I also learned that I belong out there. But I did feel like I left something unfinished so my ultimate goal right now is to keep improving so I can bring home a medal from Auckland.
Do you see yourself in the longer 70.3/Ironman distances?
I don't know, right now I don't really feel any strong desire to do an Ironman. I can see myself maybe doing a Half in a couple of years but right now that distance doesn't interest me a whole lot and I'm not sure my body would hold up for the run. Never say never I guess.
Was Stephanie already over 40 when she chicked you?
Ha ha! Yes she was and she'll never let me live it down! All I'll say is that she's in good company because I only get chicked by the best! Martina, Steph, Lynsey Corbin (top pro Ironman) and Kirsten Sweetland (Olympian) are the only girls who've chicked me. Steph is pretty amazing - she works, has three kids, coaches hockey and is a high level triathlete and destroys women (and men!) half her age.
I'm not going to trump her up too much though.. she has been conspicuous by her absence lately though so she better pick it up if she ever wants to do it again!
You worked at RIM, how much do you enjoy your iDevices these days?
Wow you really researched this. I actually hated my time in Waterloo Ontario working for RIM. We got free Blackberries to use for testing but I never really warmed to them so I don't use one now. I use a Google Android now and I love it and it has some Garmin like apps that work fairly well.
You work with Dominik now at Pointstreak, has he challenged you yet on the GranFondo?
Domi is more than solid on the bike so if he were to challenge me to a race that might be it but I think he knows better than to challenge me to anything with an athletic component involved.
If it were a race to see who could fix their computer the fastest though, he'd destroy me.
Coach Andrew is inching towards his 50th year, do you think you might beat him then?
Hmm, well actually I did beat him last year you know ;) It's pretty amazing really because he's battled injuries the last few years so I haven't even faced him at his best yet.
Some of the guys have talked about it and Andrew (and Alan too) have been doing this so long that they can start training a month or so before a race and still get themselvesup to shape in time to challenge any one of us.