Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Learning to be "True to the Tri"

Last week I caught a major respiratory infection, which set me back for a days, but it’s been a productive and educational week still.  Thursday night I had a session with Jaime Poire, a member of the Lakes Region Triathlon Club and Triathlon veteran of 11 years.  He walked us through race day to visualize the mental and physical preparation that an athlete has to do to focus and have a great race.  Training doesn’t end at learning how to swim, bike and run better; the nature of the Triathlon is not three separate events.  The transition between the different events is critical to your performance.  In addition to answering more questions that he probably imagined we would have, he told us some of the tips and tricks that he’s developed over the years, like how to quickly mount and dismount the bike at transition.  I hadn’t thought about the rules of Triathlons, but Jaime shared with us the rules of passing and drafting on the bikes.  Of course I hoped I’d be passing people on the course, but didn’t know the safe and proper ways to do so while abiding by the rules.  The race, while it is a competition, is best raced against yourself, as a personal challenge.  For that reason, we race with integrity for the rules, or “True To The Tri” [T4].  He was a wealth of knowledge, and mostly all things we would never have known without him!  (Thanks Jaime!)

Friday night, I dared to go back to swim practice, still fighting the respiratory infection.  I couldn’t breathe very well anyway.  But at least I would try.  (The Sunday before I had a great day in the pool.)  I actually had a great practice, and didn’t really have any trouble until the 11th lap.  It was great to feel that because the next day was going to be a big one with the Mock Mini Race!

Saturday morning, bright and early, the Lakes Region Triathlon Club hosted and staged a Mock Mini-Triathlon.  We would do this short course as a method of learning the challenges of facing the transitions after the actual exertion of each facet of the race.  We would feel it get harder, realize how important the Triathlete’s focus is in transition.  Starting out, just as Race Day, at registration, we got out bodies marked on our arms and legs with marker.  I took some time to warm up at each event and check over my gear; the bike is in great shape, I loosen up my muscles with a couple laps around the nearby race track, and swam a bit to get the cold lake on my skin.  We regroup to walk the course, observing and studying where the “In” and “Out” points are, and any obstacles that may be in the way.  Once we’re in the water at the starting point, we get the signal and start off.  I try not to rush and focus on breathing well to make it.  It wasn’t easy, especially with the respiratory issues I’m already fighting.  The team is cheering on shore and Jean in the kayak is keeping me going as I start struggling more, but make it to shore to run through the course to the transition where I have my bike.  As I reach down for my shoes, I about fall over dizzy, but keep going… throw on socks, shoes, helmet and I run off, hop on the bike and bike through two laps of the course, still catching my breath from the swim, having to focus on this now.  Good dismount, run it back to transition, rack the bike and sprint off to the finish line.  What a rush!  We learned a lot about the event, the preparation, and the focus that it takes to be great at the sport.  It was a great feeling, and the encouragement the entire way of the Lakes Region Triathlon Club volunteers was amazing!  Thanks so much!

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