Several times on the blog, I've posted about the benefits of Mother Nature's sports drink--100% coconut water. I use it for long runs and it's really helped keep me well hydrated and my calves cramp-free on long runs since I've been using it. My favorite brand of 100% coconut water is ZICO [Zee-Koh]. So, when ZICO contacted me about interviewing one of their Team ZICO members, I said, "Sure thing." Through Team ZICO, ZICO supports/sponsors a wide range of athletes from ultra runners to skiers, to decathletes, to gymnasts to surfers, just to name a few of the sports involved. ZICO hooked me up with team member, Kenny Santucci. You may now Kenny better as MTV's reality star from it's Challenge shows for many seasons. Since 2006-7 he's been a staple in many of the show's versions, most recently Challenge Mania: The Road to Rivals II.
Kenny, 30 years old, was born in Newark, NJ and currently resides in NYC. To learn a bit more about this reality star, I asked a few questions about fitness and his preparation for the Aquaphor NYC Triathlon as a member of Team ZICO.
RD: Did you grow up in an athletic family? Kenny: No, not at all.
RD: Were you athletic in school? Play any sports? Kenny: Played baseball as a little kid. I was a fat kid till I started wrestling in high school. I started running too. Love it still today!
RD: Tell me a little about your endurance sport background? Kenny: My brother and my trainer friend got me into it after the Challenge. Started with the NYRRC (New York Road Runners Club) then did some adventure races. Tough Mudder was first.
RD: Is the NYC Triathlon your first Olympic distance Tri?
Kenny: Yes it is.
RD: How have you prepared for the race? What did your training look like? Kenny: I tore my pec in CrossFit three months ago, so it stopped me from training for a while, but now I'm back. I just do what I want, but everything gets done at least two times a week. Swim. Bike. Run.
RD: Many of RunnerDude's Blog's readers may not be aware that you're a certified personal trainer having worked several years at the Equinox gym in NYC. How has being a trainer helped prepare you for the NYC Tri? Do you find yourself using some of the same techniques on yourself that you'd use with your clients? Kenny: Definitely. I understand the human body (particularly my own body) a lot more. I know where I can push myself and my clients and I know when to pull back.
RD: Often triathletes have one of the three triathlon events (Swim, Bike, Run) that don't like or that they feel is their weak spot. Is that true with you? Kenny: Well, I feel like swimming will be the hardest for me because I don't do it as much as I feel like I should, but also because of my injury. My left side is still pretty tight from surgery.
RD: Transitioning between each sport is challenging and a lot of time can be lost during transitions. Share any tips/tricks you use for moving between the stages of the Tri. Kenny: Have everything set up. Be ready to go and don't over think the transition. I find a lot of times I focus on that next stage and kind of stumble during transitions. RD: How do you feel about the open water swim in the Hudson River? Were you able to do any open water training in prep for the race? Kenny: Nah, I haven't. But, I have trained in the past. Not crazy about jumping in. Definitely the last place I'd want to swim in. Just don't want to come out growing an extra eyeball like the fish in the Simpson's [laugh].
RD: The bike and run course look fairly hilly. The run portion doesn't appear to have too many steep hills but there's lots of steady gain. What strategies (mental and physical) do you have in place for tackling the course? Kenny: With anything I do, I lower my head and I keep going. I tackle everything with the same intensity.
RD: Gadgets and Gear can play an important part in the Tri. Do you have a preferred bike? GPS? Running Shoe? Kenny: I use a Garmin watch. I'll be riding a Scott bike. I'll be running in my new Reeboks.
RD: What's the one must-have gadget or gear that's crucial to you? Kenny: Padded shorts 1000%!! My ass has been taking a beating without them.
RD: Proper fueling and hydration is key in an endurance event. What's your pre-run fueling consist of? Kenny: Bagels and ZICO latte.
RD: What do you eat/drink during the race? Kenny: Since it's my first one, I'm gonna try the gummy by Stinger and ZICO.
RD: I've been a big fan of ZICO coconut water for several years now. What benefits have you seen from using the product? Kenny: It's great for hydrating and tastes really good. Never feel that lag.
RD: For post-race refueling, what do you use? Kenny: French toast for sure from my buddy's restaurant on 13th and 3rd called Linen Hall.
RD: Describe your experience being a part of Team ZICO. Was it intimidating begin with professional athletes or did you feel right at home? Kenny: Love ZICO. Everyone there including the athletes have been great.
RD: An impressive group of athletes make up Team ZICO. Who on the team do you admire the most? Kenny: The twins [ Laurel and Rebeccah Wassner ]. They are amazing athletes.
RD: What's the biggest "ah ha" moment you had in prep for the NYC Tri? Kenny: The amount of work that goes into training. How important transitions are.
RD: What advice do you have for someone thinking about their first triathlon? Kenny: Just do it. Find one. Start training. Have fun!
RD: Do you have another race lined up on your own or as a part of Team ZICO? Kenny: I have the Louisville Ironman in August.
RD: Most people know you as a reality-TV and MTV personality. What's something about Kenny Santucci that might surprise the readers? Kenny: I'm a huge comic book nerd and I love Elvis.
Update: Kenny did indeed complete the Aquaphor NYC Triathlon and did well, especially for his first ever Olympic distance Triathlon.