UK HealthCare

Staying the Course: UK Pharmacy Triathlete Balances Academics and Love of Competition


LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 18, 2012) − What does a pharmacy student have in common with an Ironman triathlete? Both require passion, dedication, determination, sacrifice and a lot of hard work. Merge these two individuals into one and meet Travis Albrecht, 23, a third-year pharmacy student at the University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy.

It may be hard to imagine how anyone could manage the academic rigors of one of the top pharmacy schools in the nation and the physical demands of competiting in triathlons, but Albrecht not only manages, he excels in both the classroom and on the tracks, courses and waters.

Albrecht was first introduced to pharmacy in high school through his teachers. His math teacher had a daughter who happened to be a pharmacist. Another teacher had a wife who was also a  pharmacist. When his teachers would talk about them, Albrecht's interest in the profession peaked, and he even spent some time shadowing his math teacher's daughter. Albrecht's decision to pursue pharmacy was made early.

Albrecht's love of sports and competition also began early. He played offensive lineman for the Lafayette High School Generals in his hometown of Lexington. After graduating from high school and leaving football behind, he searched for his next adventure.

If you spend a little time with Albrecht, you'll quickly learn he's not someone who is cut out to be a spectator when it comes to sports. He's someone who needs to be right in the middle of the action. One of the first things that led Albrecht to competing in triathlons was dropping the weight he needed in high school to be effective on the football field. "Once I dropped the weight, it felt pretty good," he said. "I bought my first bike so I could tag along with my brother and a friend, who were avid bikers. I also began competing in some 5K and 10K races."

Albrecht's athletic abilities and competitive spirit seem to come naturally to him and he threw himself into his new ventures completely. "I enjoy the challenge," he said. In 2007, his new sports interests took on a whole new life of their own after participating in his first Ironman Triathlon. His interest soon turned into what he describes as an 'addiction.'

"The sensation when you cross the finish line is so exhilarating and a feeling of accomplishment."

To be clear what an Ironman Triathlon is, the competition consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a marathon (26.2-mile) run in that order and without a break. Most Ironman events have a strict time limit of 17 hours to complete the race. Ironman Triathlons are held all over the world and are considered one of the ultimate challenges in the sports world, a test of grit and ability. Ironman Triathlons culminate every year in the Ironman World Championship.

While this kind of activity may sound grueling, it's more like the fuel that fans the fire for Albrecht's competitive nature. The intense training required to prepare for a triathlon actually is more along the lines of good therapy for him.

"Training gives me a chance to clear my head, and with a long enough bike ride or run, I can release some stress and work out some problems," he said.

Albrecht admits swimming is his least favorite of the triathlon events, but even so, he pushes himself to be better at the sport and recently joined UK's master's swim club as a way to do just that.

Although Ironman events are a hobby for Albrecht, he treats it with all the seriousness and professionalism that he gives to pharmacy school.

As Albrecht trains for a career in pharmacy in the classroom and while working in the Kentucky Clinic's Outpatient Pharmacy, he also regularly trains for triathlons and half triathlons both locally and nationally.  His passion for both areas of his life seems to get equal billing.

With the new spring semester's schedule in place, a day in the life of Albrecht might look something like this: up at 4:40 a.m. and in the pool by 5:30 a.m. He will then spend 60 to 90 minutes on a stationary bike or treadmill. Classes are in the afternoon; work in the Kentucky Clinic Pharmacy until closing, and possibly a light run afterward.

When it comes to studying, Albrecht has a plan for that as well. "I review my notes everyday during lunch and before bed so I don't have to cram at exam time," he said.

Despite the recognition Albrecht receives for his excellent academic and athletic abilities, he's a pretty down-to-earth guy. He likes to read books written by or about professional athletes and says that he draws energy and motivation from them. "It makes me realize that somebody out there is busier than I am so if they can do it, why can't I?"

Albrecht is also inspired by his brother, whom he describes as a real hero for serving his country; and his parents, hard-working people who have been big supporters of his passion and pursuits.

Albrecht lives his life as a well-seasoned athlete with a true love for participating in triathlons. He also has an equal love of helping people including counseling patients in the Kentucky Clinic Pharmacy. "I like being around people and making a difference in their lives, even if it's just a small difference, like this."

Whether he's on a bike, track, pool, or behind the pharmacy counter, Albrecht is making a difference.

To read more about Travis's adventures as an Ironman triathlete, check out his blog at:

Media Contact: Ann Blackford at (859)323-6442 or