Interview With Justin Torellas By Rebecca Tadema-Wielandt
I joined the Cape Cod Athletic Club this Winter to keep myself motivated and racing through this long, cold season. The Cape is a small community, you see a lot of the same runners at the local races, I noticed there was a new speedy guy toeing the line at the CCAC’s Winter Grand Prix Series. I asked around and found out the fast guy with the beard is an Olympic hopeful in the Modern Pentathalon. His name is Justin Torrellas and he hopes to be representing the U.S. in the 2016 Summer Olympics. Since we are in the middle of the Winter Games I thought it would be a good time to ask him a few questions. Like what the heck is the Modern Pentathalon?
Let’s start with a little introduction: Justin and his family, his wife Lydia, their daughter and two dogs, just moved to the Cape in July. He is a classical musician by trade, has been running for 8 years and been competing in the Modern Pentathalon for 3 years.
RTW: How did you find out about the CCAC? How long have you been a member?
JT: Before I even arrived I searched the internet and found out about the club and local runs. When I finally started training again in the Fall I just showed up at a run and the others couldn’t have been more welcoming. Within a few weeks I even joined the club to run a relay leg of the Cape Cod Marathon. I wasn’t in great shape, but it was fun and I got to meet a whole slew of members.
RTW: Where is your favorite place to run on the Cape?
JT: Hawksnest State Park in Harwich. It’s not the largest or nicest park, but I can be on dirt within a quarter mile of my front door. You can’t beat that. Plus there is hardly anyone there- I love people, but there is nothing quite like time alone and on foot in the woods.
JT: The most revered and popular event in the ancient Greek Olympics was the Pentathlon. It was designed to find the best all-around athlete and included the Long Jump, Discus, Javelin, the Stadion (a foot race), and Wrestling. When the modern Olympics were brought back at the turn of the century, the founder (Barron Pierre De Coubertin) wanted to again have a Pentathlon and modeled it after the skills needed for a well rounded soldier at the time. It has since moved away from it’s military origins, but the Modern Pentathlon and it’s 5 events (Fencing, Swimming, Equestrian Show Jumping, Shooting, and Cross-Country Running) have remained and is still the only sport specifically created for the modern Olympics. I have competed in many pentathlon competitions around the world, but I want to be clear that I have never (yet) competed in the Olympics. That is my goal and a title I want to earn. So far I have been on the National Team and World Cup Teams for the past 3 seasons, and earned a Bronze at the 2012 National Championships.
RTW: When are the qualifying games for the 2016 Olympics?
JT: Most sports, including Pentathlon, employ a somewhat complicated qualifying window in place of a one day trials like we are familiar with in Swimming and Track & Field. Basically from mid-2015 on, invitations are handed out at specific events. Around 2 months out from The Games, the remainder of the 36 spots are filled based on World Ranking.
RTW: What does a typical training week look like for you?
JT: Exhausting but lots of fun! Running and swimming require the most time. I usually run everyday at least an hour, and have been getting in a little over 80 miles most weeks. I swim (or use my Vasa Ergometer which is a dry-land simulator) 5-6 days a week, usually at least an hour. Since there is no one to fence with out here (to my knowledge), I’ve been spending less time fencing than I did when training with the team in Colorado. I still spend 4-5 days a week doing footwork and drills with my blade and a hanging tennis ball. Shooting has always been natural for me, so it’s just 20 min. 3-4 days a week for maintenance. I’ve been neglecting my horse riding, but I am going to literally get back on the horse this week at True North Farm here in Harwich. I really should be riding 2x a week. In addition to all the specific sport training, I like to get in 2 days of strength training and a little cross-training on the bike. Don’t forget stretching, rolling out, lots of eating… sometimes it gets to the point where even getting a massage can be hard to find time for. Most of my time outside training is spent with my family and resting. Sometimes I wish I did a single sport, or even triathlon as 3 events seem easier to manage. But I am committed to pentathlon for the next 2.5 years at least and I enjoy it.
If anyone is interested in following Justin’s training and progress, you can check him out at www.justintorrellas.com