Somewhere in between work, academics, and being a father, Justin Vaicaro has time to train.
The XTERRA SoCal Trail Run Ambassador works full-time as a network security architect/engineer and is taking online classes to finish his degree in business administration and computer information systems from Florida Institute of Technology. A former Marine with a combat tour in Iraq, Vaicaro has a 4-year-old daughter and his family is expecting a second child later this year — around the same time he starts graduate school.
“I honestly fit my training in whenever I can: early morning, lunch break at work, or after work (if I can leave a little early),” Vaicaro said. “I get all of my long rides and trail runs in on the weekends. I try and schedule my homework and training around my family time. I don't always get it perfect, but it really comes down to just communication with my wife. I give her a layout of my daily and weekly training and she really goes out of her way to allow me to train.”
While it may appear chaotic — Vaicaro said people think he’s nuts — this has been his routine for years. He’s worked and taken classes for the last five years, so homework is on auto pilot. He studies during any pocket of free time — early in the morning, late at night, breaks at work. Racing has also become family outings. With his daughter showing interest in sports, they bring her along to show what trail and triathlon races are like.
He spent 2013 focusing on his first long-course triathlon. But his September half iron triathlon was canceled at the last minute and he had back surgery at the end of the month. Vaicaro said he had a quick recovery and got in base training for December’s HITS Palm Springs half iron triathlon. He finished 20th in the 35-39 age division.
“I took a slow and methodical pace getting back into race shape, but I missed out on about four to five weeks of long base training,” he said. “I only missed my goal time by about 15 minutes or so.”
His military background helps bring focus. He enlisted in the Air Force after high school and spent four years there. After Sept. 11, he joined the Marine Corps, did a tour in Iraq, and after eight years, exited as Sergeant in 2010.
Among his mottos are: “quitting is not an option,” “embrace the pain and push past it,” and “nothing stronger than a Marine with God on his shoulders.”
“I use the hardship that I endured to keep my mind in check and focused on the task at hand,” he said.
As an ambassador, Vaicaro tells other athletes he encounters about XTERRA. He’s excited to talk about fitness and health. Vaicaro has eyed out several XTERRA races this spring, but racing in them depends on his schedule.
“I want to take my fitness and racing to the next level and want to use XTERRA as part of my athletic platform for success,” said Vaicaro. “Life is great. You just have to find what you enjoy and embrace it. Be gracious knowing that training and racing is a gift.”