Last year, at just about this time, my column focused on my experience at the USA Triathlon Sprint Duathlon National Championships that were held in St. Paul, Minnesota, as the frame for a presentation on five of my long-time “back-of-the-pack” thoughts. For indeed, last year, as is happening with increasing frequency as I get older and slower, I was dead last (which is just fine with me, as long as I finish). This year it was back once again to St. Paul, but this year’s column will focus on the race itself and my experience in it.
This year there was a major course change. Last year because of then-recent flooding of the Mississippi River that runs through the city, the bulk of the course was on a flat parkway that runs alongside the river on the St. Paul proper side. This year the race was held entirely on Harriet Island, a large piece of land across the river from downtown St. Paul. The major feature of the two-loop bike course was the “Ohio St. hill.” And quite a hill it was, presenting a challenge for all but the strongest hill-climbers of us, especially for the first 1/2-mile or so. And I had a rented bike, which although the seat height was adjusted properly, was still a bit too small for me, plus the gearing was not nearly as low as I have it on my bikes at home. Would I make it up Ohio St.? That was the question.
And so the day before the race, up the hill I went. I did stop to catch my breath and check my heart rate on my monitor after the steepest part, which happens to come first. My heart rate was not too high, so off I went and did make it to top, feeling OK. That experience would prove very important on race day, for we had to get up the hill twice. The first time, I stopped to check my heart rate after the first steep bit. Happily it was actually slightly lower than it had been the day before. And so, on I went. The second time up, no stops at all. I did go on to finish, last again, but I did finish, cheered in once again by my long-time great friend, the estimable Tim Yount, our long-time and most valued COO.
And what a great finish it was, for me. I had had a lousy 2014 season (only three races, due to illness for myself and my wife). This year, we had an unseasonably cold spring back East (during the week I live in Port Jefferson, Long Island, New York, and on the weekends I’m in the City). St. Paul was actually my first race of the season, a race for which I had only six weeks of outdoor training. (I do lift weights, stretch and ride my stationary bike extensively during the winter offseason.) And so, I am thrilled with what happened there.
Indeed, with the season I had last year, and my very late start for this, my 33rd, season (because of the weather missing three-four races that I usually do), my enthusiasm for our sport was beginning to sag. I do have to tell you that my experience at St. Paul, making it up that hill and finishing the race, happily and healthily as I like to say, has completely renewed my enthusiasm for my beloved sport. I am looking forward very much to the half-dozen or so races I hope to get in this summer. I am already looking forward too to next year’s Du Nats., to be held in Bend, Oregon. And because the Sprint at the Du-Worlds for the Nats. is the qualifier is a draft-legal race, next year I am going to up my training and go for the Standard-Distance Du. Those Worlds are non-drafting. And, oh yes. It just happens that I’m aging up next year (to the 80-84 age-group). Now there’s a motivator for you!
So how do I think I managed to finish race number 243 for me, happily and healthily, with the not-quite-right bike and a very limited amount of training? That will be the subject of next month’s column.
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.