What is your hometown?
Born New York City, it was at age 3 that I moved to “La Guarida del Pirata” (The Pirate’s Hideout) in Quebradillas, Puerto Rico. I lived in Mayagüez, PR at 17 where I studied engineering at UPR-RUM. I consider the North and West coast of Puerto Rico to be my ‘home’. I grew up playing basketball, bodyboarding, mountain biking, and spelunking in the NW Coast of PR; it offers great natural resources, amazing views, challenging trails, world class waves and other incredible attractions.
I am relatively new to Jacksonville, FL are as I recently moved here with my fiancé in October 2015; I am looking forward to new challenges and exciting experiences here as well.
How long have you been doing triathlons, running or swimming?
At the age of 21 I found myself working through college as a lifeguard. I spent the majority of my time watching competitive swimmers training. From the start I found myself attempting to mimic their techniques and master their moves. I’ve been bodyboarding since 11, which in turn made it little easier to handle myself in the water, although, I swam like a surfer! I have been playing basketball since I was 4 (it’s a hometown thing), and continued regularly until I left college. I was always active; I had to be doing something. Post graduation in the winter of 2011, I moved to NYC to work in a bike rental shop that was located inside a tri-shop in downtown Manhattan; this is where I bought my very first ‘fixie’ to get around the city and begin cycling.
My first triathlon was converted to a duathlon due to low visibility caused by fog. I was competing in the 2012 TriRock Series – Lake Welch, NY. I was more prepared for the swim because of my waterman background, despite the fact that at the time I less than enjoyed running. After that event, I moved back to Puerto Rico and realized my fixed gear was not suited for elevation changes; this prompted my transition to a road bike. After that I did my first Olympic tri in 2013 Trialo de Rincón. From that moment on, I completed several Olympic distance triathlons as well as completed the 2015 Ironman 70.3 Puerto Rico (the one with the shootings).
What is your favorite mantra?
I find that I take joy in reading various quotes and proverbs. There is a song in Spanish that comes to me, by Vivanativa, that I always scream out loud when I’m alone on my bike it goes: “Acho Papa Que Qué? Cuando elegiendo como siento adentro, adentro! Sigues buscando que? Sigues buscando y estas lleno adentro.” ( …When choosing how I feel inside, inside. What are you searching for? You keep searching and you have it in you.) Their music plays through my life, as the vocalist was my neighbor in Quebradillas.
What is your zodiac sign?
Virgo; I was born in the year of the Ox.
What is your favorite piece of training equipment?
My Garmin vívoactive® HR, with my Cervélo RS as a close second.
If you were a t-shirt, what color would you be and why?
I would most definitely be a tie-die one, made from my niece or nephews. They are always creative and made with lots of happiness and love; reminding the wearer to Keep and open-mind.
What is your nickname?
Johnny, Johnny B, Jon, pretty much any variation of the sort. A lot of people call me by last name – Babilonia, Babi or Babilon, while my close family still calls me Johnny Boy. In high school and college my clearly delicate nature lead them to call me “La Bestia” (The Beast).
What is your favorite pre-race meal?
In the morning, it’s usually sunny side up eggs and bread or a bagel (umm carbs) with coffee for 2-3hr races. I might add more protein for longer races. But usually, a coffee, a PB&J or PB, Banana & Honey toast, or even a bagel is the go to pre-meal. (P.S. I never forget a gel 15 minutes before the event).
What do you do to recover from a hard workout?
A protein recovery shake with some banana is always my first option. Dynamic stretches before and static stretches after followed always aid in recovery followed by hot bath with epsom salt and some rolling or compression (best option is to strap on the Normatec in the Zero Gravity Chair).
What is your favorite race?
My favorite tri is Trialo de Bosque Seco; a 34 mile bike and 7.5 mile run are in and out courses that include hills through beautiful sceneries, running through a trail and the whole time feeling fully immersed in nature.
Currently, I stick to STRAVA segments, they keep me pushing harder.