"I recently talked triathlon with the ultimate Fil-Am Tri member, JP Alferos. JP is a great example of living a healthy lifestyle with a huge smile. I guarantee you will enjoy to know this great guy!
What was your athletic background before you started doing triathlons?
Prior to doing triathlons I did not have much of an athletic background. Growing up I did martial arts for quite a while, then in junior high and high school I danced hip hop with a few teams and competed in competitions. I only really started running about 8 months prior to my first triathlon.
What led you to do your first triathlon?
There is this pride that comes along with saying that you’re a triathlete. I know a lot of friends and family members that run, a lot that cycle, a few that swim, but putting the three together takes a lot of discipline and perseverance, as well as self-confidence and a desire to progress.
What was that first triathlon like for you?
My first triathlon was definitely an unforgettable experience. I remember squeezing into both my trikit and wetsuit and the tight fitting clothing being one of the most uncomfortable feelings in the world. My heart was racing at the start line and I was scared out of my mind of the waves. When the horn blew, I hesitated I was probably the last one in my wave out of the water, and once I got out, struggled up the hill to the transition.
After I changed, it seemed that my cleats and pedals were in an argument because I was unable to even clip in. My mind was racing with the thought of falling off of my bike. I was pedaling and huffing and puffing along the course. Barely sipping anything, I reached the transition, and almost fell off while trying to unclip, that God for the metal fence.
After transition, I sprinted out of the gate, hoping that I can make up for some time. A mile into the 5k, my legs gave out and I realized that I went too hard on the run immediately. Although struggling to maintain a slow jog, I continued to cross the finish line because I wanted the title of triathlete.
What are your favorite benefits of membership in the Fil-Am Tri?
I think the biggest benefit of Fil-Am Tri is the relationships we build with the team. Although the various discounts are helpful, the family aspect is important. I have never been a part of a group that is this supportive and positive. I know that I am not the fastest but regardless of speed and skill, there is encouragement from the newest member, to the Ironmen and women. No matter what the skill, the team is there to support, answer questions, provide guidance, and encouragement. I cannot ask for more at this point in life.
You had mentioned you were a lot heavier. How long did it take to drop the weight and how were you able to do it?
At my heaviest, in the end of 2009 and early 2010, I was 302lbs. Now I am 170lbs and still getting healthier. I had to not only change my eating habits, but my way of life. I began with walking and tried everything I could, including weight loss programs. It wasn’t until I started to train for my first half marathon that the pounds started to come off.
What do you do for a living and how have you incorporated triathlon into your job?
Currently I am working for the University of Southern California as the Project Specialist for the School of Social Work as well as Adjunct Faculty for ICDC College teaching introduction to computers for adult learners. Racing has helped me in so many ways; it’s given me the self-belief that I can accomplish great things. I have taken lead on projects as well as innovation for both jobs. Coming back to work after a race, my co-workers always ask to see the medal and ask how it was, not the director at work is prepping for her first half marathon, and a bike team is forming to do events in the LA area.
What is your favorite thing about your Fil-Am Tri membership?
Again, it would have to be the people. Everyone is encouraging and friendly, regardless of your skill level.
Please also tell us how you came to join the Fil-Am Tri?
I joined a Ragnar team for SoCal with Rusti Rasing. He spoke of his transformation and desire to be better in the sport. After speaking with him, I ended up purchasing my road bike and he added me to the Facebook group. Since I live in LA and he was in San Diego, it was a bit harder to train together. There was a 50-mile ride that TZ invited me out to and so, in fear of passing out, I went. TZ and Greg switched off to make sure I was ok, they coached and helped me out to finish the ride. Afterwards I met a lot of FAT LA guys while we hung out at Liberty Park eating empanadas and they shared their stories of triathlons. I joined later that week.
What triathlon racing accomplishment are you the most proud of and why?
At the first LA Tri Series event, I was able to do my first race without stopping. I gladly was able to pace myself, accomplish negative splits, as well as practice good nutrition. Although it was only a sprint, it showed me that I had the ability to do this type of racing. Currently I am prepping for my first 70.3 at Vineman in July. Although I have yet to cross the finish line, I always look forward and see the next race as my favorite one.
What are your future triathlon goals?
I think we all have the goal when starting this sport to complete an Iron Man and to get that title. For progression, I am still learning this sport and am looking to get better in all three disciplines but have fun doing it.
What was the dumbest thing you have ever done as a triathlete?
Besides trying to swim without really knowing how to swim, I did ITU sick which wasn’t too great of a race. This was also my first Olympic distance and the first race that I threw up at. Definitely not a good idea to race sick, but I paid for the registration fee so figured I might as well do it.
What has been the funniest thing you have seen in a race?
During my first tri, there was a guy that raced in a banana costume. I’m not sure how T-1 worked out, but I sure hope that he swam with the costume under his wetsuit. Seeing a giant banana on a time trial bike, then on the run was definitely something to laugh about.
What has been the coolest thing you have observed in a race?
At the SD ITU race, I got to see Team Hoyt. This was probably one of the coolest things that I’ve seen, especially after seeing all the YouTube videos of the father and son duo. I heard Rick (son), yelling to go faster, and the father (Dick) kept pushing.
What have been some of the best benefits you have realized as a triathlete?
My health has improved tremendously. From being over 300lbs and unable to run a block, to doing triathlons is an accomplishment in itself. Now that I feel good in health, it reflects in other aspects of my life.
Also, in chatting with friends, they always are in awe of this sport, but no one really wants to give it a try. There is definitely an amazing feeling to say “I’m a triathlete” when among friends and family members.
What is your career focus now that you have arrived in Los Angeles?
I hope to start the doctorate program for education with a focus on educational leadership soon. I hope to become the director of student affairs or student services at a major university in the next few years. In doing so, encourage students to achieve the best possible, all this with an iron man emblem on my car and desk.
When and why did you start following the Fil-Am Tri?
I joined Fil-Am Tri in June 2012 to represent my culture. I’ve seen a lot of teams out there, but not many that represent people, it’s usually a shop or team. When wearing my FAT gear, I have this extra push to go a bit harder, maybe it’s me, or maybe it’s the importance of the colors that I’m wearing, but I tend do want to perform better when wearing Fil-Am Tri gear.
Who do you most admire in the endurance sports community and why?
The endurance sports community has been nothing but positive from my experience. There’s always encouragement during the race and of course during training.
JP, thank you for sharing your story. You have quite a journey and I’m thrilled you have made Fil-Am Tri your home. Our community and club are because of your contributions. Good luck with all of your future endeavors!"