Michael Shank Racing's Ozz Negri Finishes First Olympic Triathlon "It is amazing how much you can pull out of your self when you are in a competitive environment" -Negri Columbus, OH (30 September 2010)- Driver Ozz Negri has long been known for...
Michael Shank Racing's Ozz Negri Finishes First Olympic Triathlon
"It is amazing how much you can pull out of your self when you are in a competitive environment" -Negri
Columbus, OH (30 September 2010)- Driver Ozz Negri has long been known for his fitness inside the Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype he races for Michael Shank Racing, but the fast family man got a chance to show his form outside of it as well last weekend as he competed in his first-ever triathlon by completing the Publix Escape to Miami Triathlon.
Negri first put himself on the map as a man of tremendous fitness when he and Mark Patterson were the only two-man line-up in the 2006 Rolex Series season-finale as Negri left nothing out on the track and crossed the line in first to take the teams first-ever race win.
With an established physical training regimen already in place, Negri decided to enter the Olympic distance "Escape to Miami" event at the suggestion of a training partner. The race included a 1.5 kilometer (.9 mile) swim, 40 kilometers (24.8 miles) of biking, and then a 10 k (6.2 miles) run to the finish.
"A friend of mine that I train with mentioned it when we were biking because he's done it six times now so I just registered, and I didn't have any expectations. I really didn't change my training for this, I just wanted to go and see where I stood. I wanted to do it just because I do a lot of exercise to keep in shape for the long stints and just thought I needed something to measure where I am. Also, with the break between Miller and Daytona, I thought it'd be fun to have something different to be motivated about.
"But I didn't want to train specifically for it--I just wanted to use it as a way to see where I was. The only thing I did differently was to spend a few days in the pool before the race. I don't usually swim as part of my workouts so I wanted to make sure I remembered how!" joked Negri. "I didn't know what to expect, but it was a pretty awesome experience."
"The race is really close to downtown miami, so the scenery is amazing," said Negri, who has called Miami home for better than a decade. "There were about 800 others competing. We all got on a huge boat at 5:45 AM and it took us out to the island where the race starts. I didn't realize this, but when we got there, we had to jump out of the boat to get on the island and even though they had some torches going it was very dark and the jump was a big one! But it was cool, they had a band playing there on the island while we waited to start the race.
"Then the sun started to come up and as we got going to start the race, it was already 84 degrees out, just perfect. I was nervous about the water, being different from the pool, but it was just like it, really brilliant and you could see perfectly, it was just amazing."
As his engineers, co-drivers, and competitors will all attest, Negri is also known for his never-ending drive for improvement. And that is not just true at the track as he broke down his own performance during his first-ever triathlon.
"I made some rookie mistakes," said Negri. "I hadn't experienced swimming in the open water like that, so I didn't realize that the current would push you away from the course as much as it did so I lost some time there. Thankfully, they had people there, watching to make sure that wouldn't happen so they got me pointed the right way again! Then, I lost time on the change over from the swimming to the bikes. I was looking on the split times in the results and I think I lost two, almost three, minutes there. I just didn't have my stuff laid out like I should have and lost time there-I couldn't believe how quickly everyone else was out and on the road!"
From the early morning swim, it was onto the bikes. Of the three disciplines, biking is the one that Negri was keenest on, although even that segment was a bit of an adaption for him.
"I don't really ever ride road bikes, just going the same speed on more or less flat roads the whole time," said Negri, who usually pounds out the miles while navigating terrain on his mountain bike. "So the first 10, 12 miles, I was just pacing myself. I realized later I could have pushed harder but this was also just something I had to experience to learn. It was getting hotter and hotter, but everything was going fine and the run wasn't a problem at all. (Negri's wife) Claudia and the girls were there, they made a big sign for me that I saw when I came out of the water, that was very cool. they stayed there until the end. It was good fun."
Even though he didn't have much in the way of expectations, Negri had still been targeting some benchmarks thanks to feedback from fellow athletes.
"Everyone said that I should be somewhere in the 3:15-3:30 range. So to finish in 3:08 even with some of the mistakes I made, I was pretty happy with that. It is amazing how much you can pull out of your self when you are in a competitive environment. Even though I just wanted to do this to see where I was, I'm totally hooked. I've already registered for next year!"