RaceMill Collegiate: Bryan Hancock of USC

The Challenge of Adventure

Hometown:  Charlottesville, Virginia

School:  University of Southern California

Sport:  Triathlon



RM:  How did you find your sport of choice?

BH:  I found triathlon because I was a swimmer in high school and wanted to continue my swimming career. Luckily, the triathlon club only swims twice to three times a week. I dabbled in cross country as well, so I figured I'd just avoid buying a bike and use my lack of one to skip bike practices. The team found me a rickety bike akin to Frankenstein and encouraged me to borrow it. Two weeks later I did my first race and I've been regularly competing ever since. It helps that it gives me the opportunity to eat most anything I want. That's a big draw.

RM:  What drives your competitiveness?

BH:  The challenge of adventure. When I'm doing a new ride and my coach says it is going to be hard, I know I'll be better for it. I want to be able to know I've done it, whatever "it" may be. Surrounding myself with others that share that idea while also using different strategies works best. I'm a slow and steady type of person, giving a slow burn through the race season so I can peak right when I want to. Others go in guns blazing, full speed ahead from the get-go. I also know a few people who toss in some effort when convenient. Whatever the case, there are fast and slow people in each group and I love training with all of them. It forces me to continuously re-evaluate myself and open myself up to different goals and training. With no "correct" way of doing anything, I'm driven to find the best way for me, and to help others find theirs. When my competitors are at their best, I will be at mine. Sure there are some bad races or mistakes. But that's part of the fun, I think. Gives a nice story to laugh about later. Why participate in life if you aren't going to push it? So to the limits of life I go.

RM:  Athlete that inspires you? Why?

BH:  I watched a documentary on Olympic gymnast Mary Lou Retton's experience at the 1984 Olympic Games. She competed for the All-around Individual gold medal against Ecaterina Szabo, a seriously talented competitor. She was able to just barely snag the gold on her last event, the vault, with a perfect execution. Due to the structure of the competition, she was allowed one more. She wanted to do it one more time, in order to prove the first time wasn't a fluke. She wanted to stick it again for the crowd, to honor the games. She gets another vault, so she said "why not take it?"  She won the first ever gymnastic gold medal won by an American woman.

RM:  How many years have you been competing?

BH:  In racing sports? Since before I can remember. In triathlon, I did two or three in middle school but if the bike leg is only six miles I don't think I can allow myself to count it. I'm about to start my fourth year in competing at the collegiate level. I'm not sure if that feels like a long or short time to me.

RM:  Perfect weekend workout trip... where to? what do you bring? Itemize it! Tell us why it's in your car and why we need it.

BH:  A weekend getaway to a place with hills, trees, and water. I don't have too much of that in South Central, Los Angeles. If you head any direction outside of LA, you'll come across some beautiful places. My car does not have an AUX option, so I have a Kelly Clarkson CD, a Barenaked Ladies CD, and the audio book or Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone on CD as my forms of entertainment. I suppose I could buy more, but those seem to cover all my bases or long car rides. I have a sleeping bag in my trunk, as you never know when it may come in handy. It's made to be used in 30 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. If it gets lower than that in Southern California, I probably don't want to survive the night anyway.  I have Clif Bars of varying flavors tucked away in all the nooks and crannies of my Honda Accord, very much like how a chipmunk or squirrel may collect and hide nuts.  If I'm going on a trip, it is almost assuredly something triathlon related. I will have my full-body wetsuit, cap, goggles, running shoes, and bike. the bike, of course, requires bike shoes, helmet, water bottles, a flat kit, sunglasses, a bike pump, and much more. And I'll never forget by USC Tri bike kit. The bib shorts are the only thing I will ride long distances in.  It feels like I'm moving my entire house any time I ever go on a trip. Triathlon has so many items, it has taken me years to not forget at least one thing.

RM:  Group Training or do you prefer solitude? why?

BH:  I rely on group training to get through the week. Swimming is impossible unless I have someone to share the burden with. That really goes with all the sports. Time passes so much faster when in the presence of friends. It helps me forget that my body is screaming for oxygen.

RM:  Best result so far?

BH:  At regionals (March Triathlon Series) a year or so ago, I had the best swim and bike of my life. I felt great and my mind was focused. I was excited for the run, when usually I'm just trying to forget how much it hurts. Within view of the dismount line, a manufacturing flaw in my bike no one knew about caused my front fork to snap in two and my bike "exploded," according to bystanders. My bike and I skidded across the road and hit a curb. I suffered pretty severe road rash and almost lost a few toes, but man, that race was fantastic. I've been chasing those times ever since, now with a broken wrist. I just raced that course again this year, and not only enjoyed myself, but survived the bike course! Now, I appreciate every race I'm able to finish. They're all the best result for me.  

RM: What are you working on right now?

I'm working to get my running times back down to where they used to be or faster. due to an injury I was forced to be 100% inactive for five weeks. It has been a long and slow road since then building back up.  And I'm always working on my bike. It can always be faster. I'm not very good at descending, so every hilly ride I do, I try to push myself in that department.

RM:  What are you training for now?

BH:  I'm training for Collegiate National Championships in Clemson, South Carolina, in about a week. I'm from the hot and humid East Coast, so I'm excited to return to my roots. I've yet to race at the collegiate level on that side of the country. It's the biggest race of the year for us.

RM:  Training secrets? Care to share?

BH:  I do what my coach says. He has a wealth of knowledge and experience. I also became accustomed to not drinking water during workouts from my time on my high school swim team. I've since broken out of that habit. I drink lots of water, and it helps beyond words.  I'm also never afraid to try new things and see fi they're for me. Adjusting my swim stroke, trying different techniques while cycling, or changing my form during my run. I'm always on the lookout for a way to improve.

RM:  Do you have a dream race you want to create?

BH:  If it wasn't always so wet, I would love to do a race in Ireland. It'd be a great time to put on or compete in. Especially because of the Guinness. Guinness at the finish line, Guinness at the aid stations, Guinness at home.  In all seriousness, it is beautiful, and the terrain would certainly provide an interesting bike and run course. May not be the fastest, but certainly enjoyable.

Training Tracks:

1) All This Could Be Yours by Cold War Kids -- I certainly hope it can!

2) Shark In the Water by V V Brown -- I love to sing this to myself while I swim.

3) Too Old To Die Young by Brother Dege (AKA Dege Legg) -- Straight up, this makes me feel cool.

4) Now by Matt and Kim -- As Nationals comes closer and closer, I like to remind myself that I need to do everything in my power in the moment to get where I want to be.

5) Four Five Seconds by Rihanna (the DJ Mustard Remix)

6) Wut by Le1f

7) Swimming by Florence + The Machine -- Another great song to keep me going in the water.

8) Only the Horses by Scissor Sisters -- When I'm running in a pack, our footsteps sound like a herd of horses. To me, anyway.

9) Blood Brothers by Ingrid Michaelson -- This is how I feel about my team. Though all different, there's something inside that makes us all the same.

10) Kanye by the Chainsmokers (Feat. Siren) -- I'm not really sure if I want to be like Kanye... but I'd like to be as passionate.

11) Hit It by American Authors

12) Countdown by Beyonce -- What better way to start a workout than to count down to it.

13) Wait for Love by St. Lucia

14) Black Widow by Iggy Azalea

15) Stop Me by Natalia Kills  -- No one can stop me.

16) Something New by Faul

17) No Mythologies to Follow by MO

18) Fall Over by Banks

19) Electricity by FMLYBND

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