Ben Larsen

Name:  Ben Larsen

Tell us about yourself.  

Tall, dark hair, dreamy blue eyes… wait, what kind of profile is this again?

2012 Musselman (Photo by Steve Plante)

I work in downtown Syracuse just outside of Armory Square at Bell & Spina Architects (a firm that specializes in building forensics (i.e. Water infiltration investigation and remediation).  If it sounds highly technical and boring… well, it can be.  But I love the fact that I’m never working on the same problem.  It’s always different and changing with unique challenges by building construction type, materials, and an ever evolving industry.

When I’m not working, training, eating, or sleeping; I love working with my hands and learning new skills. I’m constantly designing something new for me to build from wine and tea racks to solid wood entry doors and flooring. From my architectural education, I also like to dabble in learning about the arts and aspects of different cultures. Everything is connected.

How long have you been involved in Triathlon and what made you take it up? 

This is my third season, however, I began 4 years ago just trying to regain the fitness that I had lost after college. (I still love those all night breakfast diners that serve pie and omelets within the same meal… what do they call it at 2am? Certainly “snack” doesn’t cover the quantity I was used to in those days.) I was going to sign up for Green Lakes Triathlon to have a deadline for my training, but when the time came I had missed registration. Upset with myself I found the earliest tri I could register for and wound up at Keuka Lake the first week of June. Since then I have been a candidate for Triathletes Anonymous meetings. Constantly trying to prepare and improve upon what I’ve already built with the attitude; “I can do better.”

2011 Eagle Lake Tri – 1st in Age Group

Who is your Hero? 

I don’t really have a specific hero, but there are certain aspects that can be found in anyone that are inspirational to me.  Such as a man with no legs that finishes a 140.6… When we do something ‘superhuman’ that everyone around us had doubts that we would ever make it.  Those people that pursue their dreams despite all odds or hardship both internal and external are the heroes that I look to. The ones who never stop searching for the next great experience to remember in a new place to visit, a good deed done, or in an unexpected thread of beauty found in the most unlikely of places… The people who do this are the ones who are really living life. The ones who never give up are my heroes.

What is your athletic background?

I was a competitive swimmer in high school (which is probably the cause of 80% of my weirdness… the other 20% is the countertop’s fault as far as my mother maintains). The 500yd free and 100yd fly were my best events breaking 5 min and 1 min in each respectively before graduation. I broke a record for the 200yd IM at the time and still hold the middle school record for 50yd breast stroke… (I was on the first middle school team… never mind the fact that there isn’t a middle school team anymore but it still sounds good if I don’t mention that.)  Later I transitioned into water polo in college and equestrian sports while completing my Architectural degree.

2011 Syracuse 70.3 (Photo by Sam Sampere)


What are your Triathlon strengths and weaknesses?

I’m a fish. (As some like to say, although, I’m finding that there are a lot of fellow members that are catching and passing me in these OWS’s… AWESOME JOB GUYS!)  I’m very good in the water, but I tend to flop around on land. My cycling is much stronger this year as in past years thanks in great part to the WTF spin classes and all of the support from OCC members.  Running… well, I’m still working on that one.  A knee injury early in my second year is why I tend to take it easy on that leg of my training.  Maybe next year I’ll be as well rounded as I thought I was at my very first triathlon.

2011 Syracuse 70.3

What was your first triathlon and what do you remember most?

Keuka Lake Triathlon (Sprint).  I remember freaking out that I was participating in an officially sanctioned race with actual rules. It’s just a swim a bike and a run… How could there be rules!?  I quickly found out. What made the biggest impression on me was the compassion of the fellow participants for the “new recruit” (me) and their willingness to help me. After all, I came prepared to win the whole thing and blow everyone away… with my unbeatable steel 1980′s Schwinn road bike WITH toe clips, sailing specific wetsuit (high neck, short sleeve, and short legs), and my breathable cotton fabric running gear.  ….yeah, I had no idea….  After my first race I purchased triathlon specific clothing and after the season I got a new carbon bike and wetsuit.


What is your favorite race and why? 

Keuka Lake (Intermediate) is the prettiest tri I’ve competed in. Although I’ve not compared it to Cayuga Lake Tri yet and have heard very good things about that one… But I’m bias. The run is nice and flat along the lake, the bike doesn’t have any big hills (if you like biking up Sweet Rd, like me, you would agree) but has a nice downhill with beautiful views of the New York Wine country. The swim is cold at around 60 degrees or so each year, but it’s worth it to have a cool run.  PLUS after it’s all said and done, the food afterward is worth the entry fee alone. (but then EVERYTHING tastes amazing after a nice long workout… Even PBR.)

What was your worst race and why? 

Tri in the Buff 2011 (intermediate).  Not because of the nice flat course, but rather because of the 12 hot wings and beer I had the night before.  This was the race I learned about what proper dieting was not. The swim was ok…. But;

After a wavy swim in Lake Erie, I felt very dizzy

With hot wings and beer still in my belly

I’d thought they’d be ok, “its protein silly”

On the bike I maintained a pace in pain

Twenty was fast before, now I see 10

I don’t remember this as hard back when

The run started fine, with heed flavored lime

On the way in they sent me out again!

Oh please not another loop… I have to…

The sun burning down on me with my frown

Running turned walking, nothing was easy

It wasn’t that bad… ‘pop goes the weasel’

As bad as it was, I finished with grace

That and plenty of yuck on my face

What are this year’s goals?

My main goal this year is to perform well at the Burlington National Championships in August.  I’m racing the Intermediate distance and am going to have to push myself more than I have in the past.  That is my focus race this year. Beyond that I haven’t made any plans. Possibly take on a 140.6 in September, but I haven’t decided if I want to push that to next season yet.

2012 CNY Tri Club’s WTF (Photo by Sam Sampere)

In five years you hope to …

Lately I’ve been thinking about endurance cycling and riding across America on a series of tours or all at once if I can save up enough vacation time.  I’ve recently taken a short tour from Syracuse up to Burlington, VT with a group of friends and had an amazing time. Partly because cycle touring is different (laid back) than racing.  There are some pretty cool people out there that you never meet when you drive as far as you can before stopping to rest.  With touring, it seems like there aren’t enough places to stop.  I’ve also been looking at registering for one of the qualifier races for RAAM in the Adirondacks, but haven’t done so yet.  Five years is a long way to plan out and I’ve always been more of a spontaneous person than a planner.

Something most people don’t know about you:

There are more than a few things that aren’t routinely known…

Along the lines of learning new things, I also like learning about weird things.  Like knitting for instance, which, in and of itself is not weird, but it is for a straight guy (like myself.)  I got tired of boring solid colored cycling arm warmers for guys… and didn’t want to make the kind of statement that pink leopard print necessarily would have. So I decided to make my own that I will be wearing around when it gets colder again.

I try not to drink the same beer twice (although, for IPA’s I routinely make exceptions to the rule).

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