2016 APR - Athlete Profile
Melinda and Carl Regenauer
Meticulous Preparation, But With a Sense of Fun
“This is a great triathlon community, with such good synergy.
The energy of the athletes is infectious.” – Melinda Regenauer
“I prefer to race more often and to go fast.” – Carl Regenauer
Ages: Melinda 51, Carl 50
Residence: Saratoga Springs
Occupations: Melinda: Administrative Officer in the Dept. of Surgery at Albany Stratton VA Medical Center; also, 15 years as a Physical Therapist at the VA. Carl: Electrical Engineer, Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory, Niskayuna.
Main Sport: Triathlon
Other Sports: Both: Cycling. Melinda: Cross Country Skiing. Carl: Running. Carl has been a USAT Level I Certified coach since 2014.
By Christine McKnight
It was one of those days in the triathlon wars for Carl Regenauer. About two-thirds of the way through his swim in the Montréal Esprit Olympic Triathlon in 2014, he noticed a pair of goggles floating in the water. Realizing they were his, and had been kicked off by another competitor, he quickly stuffed them into the neck of his wetsuit and finished, sans goggles. After shaking off his blurry vision, he hopped on his bike and negotiated a wet, rainy course featuring eight hairpin turns.
It turned out to be one of his best swims ever, even without the goggles. He posted a sub-one-hour bike split and finished with one of his best Olympic times ever, 2:07:35. “I was ecstatic,” Carl recalled, adding that it was one of the funniest experiences in his decade as a triathlete.
No excuses here from a guy who has built his triathlon career on meticulous preparation, attention to detail, and old-fashioned hard work – along with a healthy dose of keeping it fun. It’s all paid off for Carl, who has nine top-three triathlon finishes to his credit and an overall victory at the HITS Sprint in Hague last year. He has also qualified to compete in the ITU World Championship Sprint Distance race this September in Cozumel, Mexico.
As rewarding as it’s been, Carl admits that it’s a little surprising. “I didn’t realize I had that kind of potential. And I certainly would never have guessed that I ever had a chance to win a race outright,” he said.
Melinda Fry Regenauer, Carl’s wife, traces her triathlon roots back to her late teens in Wisconsin, where she competed in several sprints with her triathlon-pioneer mother, Mary Lynn Fry, as the sport was becoming established. Melinda relaunched her triathlon career last year at the Piseco Lake Triathlon. “That was such a thrill,” she said. “I swam from one pontoon boat to the next and was out of my mind with the fun of it all.” She crushed the bike course, averaging more than 17 miles per hour, and collected an unexpected third-place age group trophy.
Melinda and Carl competed together for the second time last September in the Montreal Esprit in rainy conditions. “It was a giggle fest,” Melinda admits. “We were all doing it in the face of such adversity, and it became totally energizing.” She has more sprint races on her calendar this year.
They are both Saratoga Triathlon Club board members, and play key leadership roles, especially in organizing Thursday night summer swims at Moreau Lake State Park. “This is a great triathlon community, with such good synergy,” Melinda said. “The energy of the athletes is infectious.”
The Regenauers went to the same high school near Waukegan in northern Illinois. As Carl recalls, they met in a German class. They married after college, in 1995, and now live in Saratoga Springs.
Faced with the usual time management challenges of triathletes, they turn to recreational cycling for their “together” time. They plan at least one vacation that revolves around cycling each year, and have pedaled their way across parts of western Quebec, England, Scotland, southern France, Italy, Sardinia, Michigan and Texas. These are relaxed outings in which they typically average ten miles per hour and travel 25 to 40 miles daily. They also ride a tandem bike regularly during the summer months, and even ride it up to Lake Desolation sometimes – including a five-mile, 1,000-foot climb, seeking the reward of the local fire department’s pancake breakfasts.
Carl’s breakout year was 2010, when, he says, he “went from being a really bad swimmer to an average swimmer,” after really working on his technique and just spending more time getting comfortable with the water. In 2011, he began training with Kevin Crossman of T3 Coaching and made a “huge jump,” improving in all aspects of triathlon. His Olympic times these days are usually between 2:08 and 2:15.
Carl qualified for the first time in 2011 to compete in USA Triathlon’s Age Group National Championships, and has made it to Nationals every year since then. His first experience on a world championship stage came last year in Chicago, where he competed in both the standard (aka Olympic), and sprint races two days apart. He finished 26th of 117 in the sprint and 69 of 117 in the standard.
The Cozumel sprint race will provide Carl with the opportunity to compete against the best age group athletes in the world. “It gives you a sense of where you stand, plus the races at this level are so well laid out and so well managed, it’s just an exceptional experience.”
Carl brings his engineer’s mind to his training regimen, right down to his brilliantly executed transitions, which are almost unrivaled in the region. How does he do it? Practice and attention to detail! You’ll find him spending extra time on transitions in April and May. Every time he finishes a cycling workout, he does a flying dismount. Last year for the first time, he mastered the flying mount, also now a part of every bike session. “It’s amazing how much time you can save if you can do these things,” he said.
While Carl said he may do a 70.3 race at some point, his schedule this year features nearly all sprint races. “I prefer to race more often and go fast,” he said.
Both Melinda and Carl encourage newbie triathletes to “keep it fun” and ask questions of their fellow competitors. “There is a ton of pressure to go do an Ironman, and Ironman is a super special experience, but I don’t think anyone should feel pressured to do an Ironman. It’s a lot of eggs in one basket.”
Christine McKnight (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a veteran triathlete who lives in Gansevoort.