My previous column in this series was entitled “My Lost Season (Almost?),” and in it I described my 2018 season going into September as a “totally lost season, for one reason or another.” I dealt with pre-race sickness twice, a cancelled race, water that was too rough for my seasick tendencies and a family illness preventing travel abroad. Would it end up being totally lost? Well, as I said:
I’m calling this one my “lost season” — actually my first one ever.
As some of you know, I have been racing triathlons and duathlons since 1983. My first triathlon was on Sept. 17, 1983, at Sag Harbor, N.Y. — the second running of the Mighty Hamptons Triathlon. Since then, by the end of my 35th season last year, I have done a total of 255 triathlons and duathlons.
In May 2017, the USA Triathlon Board of Directors issued a Strategic Plan. A year since its original implementation, I decided to take a look at it — especially to see how we, as individual members, might be able to help in its execution.
As an organization, USA Triathlon’s mission is stated “To grow, inspire and support the triathlon community.” Indeed, the organization, the Board and the staff have a major role to play in realizing that mission, but each of us has a role to play as well. Of course, we support the organization with our dues, but also we can do USAT-sponsored races ourselves.
Since last year I had been looking forward to doing the 2018 USA Triathlon Sprint Duathlon Age-Group National Championships (non-drafting), held in Greenville, South Carolina. It was the qualifier for the 2019 International Triathlon Union Age-Group Sprint World Championships in Pontevedra, Spain. I was especially looking forward to going there. Among other things, the city has many historical sights, including a 12th century bridge built near the site of a bridge built by the Romans during the time of their Empire, 3rd century B.C.E. — 5th century C.E. (Given the size of my age group, Men’s 80-84, crossing the finish line would have qualified me to go to Pontevedra.)
This my third (and last for now) essay in the series on the mental aspects of multisport racing. For the first two, I talked about mental discipline being central to both training and racing: understanding why we are doing what we are doing, being rational about how we go about it in our training and our racing, and then staying focused on what we are doing in both. That is, rationally staying within our limits, even as, over time, we may expand them. In the second, I talked about the power of the mind on a day-to-day basis and over time as well.
Let’s first talk about the value of what we can call “mind-work,” in both training and racing. (Of course, the most important aspect of mind-work in multisport racing is “knowing why you are in the sport,” which I discussed in last month’s column.) One aspect of mind-work is “knowing your body.” For example, it can be knowing that the physical pain you are feeling on a ride on in a race is indeed not due to an injury. Rather it is knowing that the pain is from muscle-use, knowing that when you finish, or perhaps even when you go on to the next race-segment, in a few minutes it will go away. And it is being able to act on that knowledge and keep going.
I think that it was the renowned American inventor Thomas Edison* who was supposed to have said: "Invention is 10 percent inspiration, 90 percent perspiration."
Taking "inspiration" to mean mental work, at the time back in 1992 when I wrote the original version of this column (see my note below at the end), I thought that the ratio in triathlon racing was almost the opposite of that one (even on a very hot day) — that is 90 percent mental work, 10 percent perspiration.
The 2017 season was a rather strange one for me. For a variety of reasons, I did only three races, which I believe was my lowest total in my 35 years in our sport. But in each of those races I had a special experience. So, despite the small number of races, it was, in its own way, a great season. This despite the fact that I was not able to even start what would have been my biggest race of it, the Sprint Duathlon Age Group World Championships in Penticton, British Columbia. And so, in this column let me share some of the lessons I learned about staying with our sport, even when things seem to be going wrong.
By Dr. Steve Jonas | Nov. 16, 2017, 10:07 a.m. (ET)
Talking Tri-/Duathlon for Ordinary Mortals®: A Series, (No. 47, 2017/11)
First, let me say that while I live in a part of the country, the New York City Metropolitan Area, that has a cold winter, I do recognize that there are many multisport athletes who live in a moderate-to-warm climate year-round. But that doesn’t mean that you don’t have a winter. It just means that you don’t have a cold winter. And, while some people can race and train pretty full-bore year-round, many of us cannot.
BY DR. STEVE JONAS | AUG. 29, 2017, 5:01 P.M. (ET)
Talking Tri-/Duathlon for Ordinary Mortals®: A Series, (No. 46, 2017/08)
When I meet first-timers at a race I am fond of telling them, “Remember today, for you will never again do your first triathlon (or duathlon, as the case may be).” And while I don’t remember too many of the 250-plus triathlons and duathlons I have done, I surely remember that first one, and in some detail, too. It was the second running of the Mighty Hamptons Triathlon, the first one to be held at Sag Harbor on New York State’s Long Island (where it has been held ever since).
BY DR. STEVE JONAS | JULY 27, 2017, 11:42 A.M. (ET)
For those who might not know, Jayme McGuire, who happens to be a dear friend of mine, is the editor of our quarterly magazine, USA Triathlon. In the Spring, 2017 issue, in her regular feature “From the Editor” (p. 12), she wrote, in part:
“While many of the athletes we feature [in the magazine] strive to be ambassadors for the sport and encourage others to get involve, there are some triathletes who perhaps unknowingly are pushing others away from the sport.
BY DR. STEVE JONAS | JUNE 05, 2017, 5:58 P.M. (ET)
A while back a journalist working on a triathlon publication decided to do his first triathlon, along with several fellow staff-members, some of whom were experienced triathletes. He experienced a mixed bag of results, which he happened to discuss with me.
BY DR. STEVE JONAS | MAY 08, 2017, 4:11 P.M. (ET)
Just about the time I first started running, back in 1980, I met Dr. Charles Ogilvie, Professor of the History of Medicine at the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine (TCOM) in Fort Worth. At Charlie’s invitation, I had come to TCOM as a consultant in medical education and preventive medicine.
BY DR. STEVE JONAS | APRIL 03, 2017, 11:36 A.M. (ET)
Last year, I believe it was, Pearl Izumi issued a Pact (http://thepact.pearlizumi.com/). Online (of course) they urge people to sign on to it. In my long experience with our sport (34 years at the end of last season), I’ve never seen anything quite like it. And so, in this column, I would like to share it with you, along with some comments and the retailing of a few relevant personal experiences.
BY DR. STEVE JONAS | MARCH 06, 2017, 2:16 P.M. (ET)
This column is about my long-time friend, Dan Honig, the founder and long-time President of the New York Triathlon Club. I first met Dan at the second triathlon I ever did, the East Coast Championships at Barnegat Light/Long Beach Island, N.J., in October 1983. I was already into “finishing happily and healthily,” in a race that was at distances that approximated today’s Olympic-distance racing like my very first, the Mighty Hamptons Triathlon at Sag Harbor, N.Y.
BY DR. STEVE JONAS | JAN. 17, 2017, 6:23 P.M. (ET)
On Jan. 1, 2016, even though I wouldn’t become 80 until Nov. 22, I entered the USA Triathlon 80-84 age group. That’s because, as most readers of this column already know, the age group you are in is determined by the age you reach during that calendar year (which makes age-group determination much easier for race directors/scorers.)
As my regular readers know, this is one of my favorite themes/topics, one that I have turned to on a regular basis for just about as long as I have been writing about our sport. For I think that doing so — that is setting goals that work for you — is the key to having fun in the races, whether you are fast, slow or in between. As I have said many times, if they are to work for you, the central element is that the goals that you set have to be rational and realistic, for you.
On Sept. 25, 2016, I reached a milestone in our sport: closing in on the end of my 34th season, I did my 250th multisport event. For those of you who know me or follow my columns, in recent years I have been getting even slower. As I approach membership in the 80-84 age group, I have also been going shorter than I did for the bulk of my career. You also know that 2014 and 2015 were not great seasons for several reasons. And finally, you’ll recall that at the beginning of my first race this year, I was actually thinking of packing it all in. But everything turned around during that race, and it has been a great summer.
The 2016 USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships were held at Omaha, Nebraska, on August 13-14. I have been lucky enough to have been able to go to a number of triathlon national championships, beginning with St. Joseph, Missouri in 1999. But for a variety of reasons, I had not been to one since 2012. So this year was special for me.
I first did the sprint at CGI’s New Jersey State Championships at Princeton, New Jersey, in 2012. I did it again the next year, but then I missed it until I was able to get to it once again this season. There are two events, a sprint and an Olympic-distance race. Since 2009, they have been run on separate days, like a National Championship. Since then, both races have been sold out. The race is centered in Mercer County Park, outside of Princeton.