Troy Jacobson and Nancy Gugerty routinely do something most others would consider crazy, and they're good at it, too.
Jacobson, of Hunt Valley, and Gugerty, of Baltimore, are nationally ranked triathletes.
The most recent rankings, which include only events through midsummer, list Gugerty as No. 1 among 20-24-year-old women and Jacobson as No. 6 among men ages 20-24.
Gugerty, 24, runs Olympic-distance triathlons, which include a .9-mile swim, a 24.8-mile bike and a 6.2-mile run. This season, she entered 12 triathlons and won three of them. Her best race, though, was one in which she finished second.
In the National Amateur Championships in July in Hammond, Ind., Gugerty finished less than four seconds behind the winner, but qualified for the World Amateur Championships last month in Australia.
"That was my race of the season," said Gugerty, who works as a diet technician at Johns Hopkins. "It showed me I could compete with any amateur in the country."
Gugerty, who started running triathlons when she was 18, did not fare so well in Australia. She was disqualified for drafting -- following another rider too closely during the bicycle leg of the race.
"That was pretty unfortunate," she said. "It was an eight-mile circular course, and at any given time, there were 500 riders on it. Everyone was riding close."
She said her sights are set on qualifying for the World Amateur Championships, which will be September in Muskota, Ontario. A graduate of Loch Raven High School and the University of Maryland, Gugerty said she wouldn't mind going pro, either.
"It would be exciting," she said. "I really like my job, though. I don't think I'd want to live the life of a pro triathlete for too long, maybe just for a few years."
Jacobson, on the other hand, knows he wants to go pro. Unlike most triathletes, who compete for the challenge, Jacobson, 22, said he just wants to win.
"I like the feeling of being able to beat other people," he said. "That's definitely a driving force."
Jacobson runs ironman triathlons, a combination of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike and a 26.2-mile run. Last month, he ran in the Hawaii Ironman, the most prestigious event in the sport, and finished 40th. He was the third-fastest amateur.
A former football player at Dulaney High and West Chester (Pa.) University, Jacobson started running triathlons two years ago. He won the first ironman triathlon he entered, last year at the Tri-Fed Ultra Distance National Championship in Sunapee, N.H.
"I've always seemed to be better at the longer races because I can catch up on the bike and the run," he said. "I'm not a very good swimmer. In fact, I'm a terrible swimmer."
Jacobson, who transferred to Towson State but is taking a semester off to start a nutrition and counseling business, said between working and training, free time is minimal. When asked how much time he has for social activities, he said: "My girlfriend would like to answer that one."
Jacobson and Gugerty, who are members of the Tri-Maryland Club, said that during the April-to-October season, they spend about four hours a day training. While Jacobson will spend this winter concentrating on his swimming, Gugerty said she will be working on cycling, her weak link.
It is that sort of intensive training they will need, if they intend to go pro in a sport where only the best can make enough to even cover their expenses.
"When I turn pro," Jacobson said, "I want to actually make a living."