The USA Triathlon Century Club — for USAT members who have done 100 or more triathlons — was established in 2011. I was an inaugural member. The USAT Duathlon Century Club was established in 2014. When that notice came into my email inbox, I went to my detailed race record and counted up my duathlons. Being a non-athlete [except for downhill skiing] when I took up triathlon at age 46, I thought, “well, I indeed would like to keep track of my races.” I had no idea that I would get to the number I have reached so far — 240-plus — but since I have gotten there, it is nice to have that record.
I found that I could not be an inaugural member this time around, but I was pretty close. By the end of the 2013 season I had 90 duathlons of varying lengths under my belt. Just 10 to go. No sweat. I’ll just do only duathlons until I get there. Well, as it turned out, it was and continues to be a sweat. In 2014, due to weather and illness (mine and my wife’s) I did only three races altogether (all duathlons). So then, looking at 2015, I thought for sure I’d get to 100 this year. Well, no. Again, a combination of the weather, illnesses, car trouble and available races that fit into my complex schedule, the best that I will be able to do by the end of this season is in the high 90s.
Well, why I am telling you all this about my duathlon schedule, you might ask? Because in the course of this season, knowing that I would not reach 100 duathlons and with the New York Triathlon Club’s Central Park Triathlon beckoning, I decided to get back in the swim of things. I had done Central Park 15 times, but the last one was in 2012. My last triathlon was the New Jersey State Championship Sprint in 2013. But, the swim at Central Park is short — only a quarter of a mile and it is in a lap pool. I train on the bike and fast-walking (which is what I do now for the run) in Central Park all the time. I’m quite comfy there. And so, I decided to see if I could still swim. First, I hopped into a friend’s pool and did my first quarter-mile swim in two years. Then I repeated that at a local gym that I just joined because they have a 23-yard (yes, 23 yards) pool. No problem. Nor was it a problem in the race.
Why was that? Because if what you want to do is simply get through the swim of a triathlon when you haven’t swum for a while, you will very likely find — like I did — that swimming is like, well, riding a bike. Actually, back in 1983 when I was deciding whether or not to try my first triathlon — the Mighty Hamptons in Sag Harbor, New York, for which the swim was 1.5 miles — the first thing I did was go to a local pool to see if I could still swim. At that time, at age 46, I hadn’t swum any distance at all since age 12 in camp (where I did have very good swim instruction). And yes, I could still swim. Obviously, for that race I did some serious distance swim training, but always at the leisurely pace of the trudgeon crawl (freestyle with the arms combined with a frog kick), with which I had become most comfortable as a kid. And that’s the stroke I still use, for when I was much younger it got me through five ultra-distance swim legs just fine, as well as the numerous Olympic-distance and sprint races I have done up to now.
And so, the thought here is, if you haven’t done a triathlon for some time and you’re thinking of tri-ing it again, do so. It is highly unlikely that you will have forgotten how to swim. Just be sure to train for the swim and take time to learn about the shared responsibilities among athletes, race directors and USA Triathlon for swim safety at www.usatriathlon.org/safety.
This series of thoughts and recommendations about multisport racing by Dr. Steve Jonas is, over time, drawn in part from his book, "101 Ideas and Insights for Triathletes and Duathletes" (Monterey, CA: Healthy Learning/Coaches Choice, 2011), from which text is used with permission. The book can be purchased here and is available at Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com.
Steve’s most recent multisport book is "Duathlon Training and Racing for Ordinary Mortals®: Getting Started and Staying with It" (Guilford, CT: Globe Pequot Press/FalconGuides, 2012), available at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.
His first book on multisport racing, "Triathloning for Ordinary Mortals®" 2nd Ed. (New York: WW Norton, 2006) also can be found at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Dr. Jonas recently was featured in World Class Magazine. Click here to read the article.