Sunday, March 3, 2013

Triathlon 101

We are less than 3 weeks away from the start of the next Triathlon 101 class and I can't wait!  Since I've already been through this class, it may seem weird for me to be excited about it, but I'm excited for all of the new people that will be joining us.  I'm excited for the start of their journey.  I almost feel like some sort of energy vampire because I feed off of other people's excitement, enthusiasm  and accomplishments.  It is hard to describe the feeling you get when you do something that you never dreamed you could do, but you will understand when you cross the finish line.

What to Expect

The first class on March 23 is going to be a swim clinic from 9am-11am at Lodi High School.  Do not fear, you won't be swimming the entire two hours.  If this class is anything like the class I attended last August, the first part will be Coach James talking about the class and triathlons in general.  The actual swimming part will follow the introduction and it will be more technique than training.  Fundamentals will be the main focus.

I remember walking on to the pool deck for my first class and seeing the coach's triathlon gear and thinking "Man, I am in the wrong place.  I don't have all that stuff and I don't want to buy it in case I hate it."  The good news is that you don't need the all the fancy gear for your first triathlon.  All you need is a bike (beach cruiser, mountain bike, road bike, whatever) and a bathing suit (and it doesn't have to be a Speedo).  This is your chance to explore the sport of triathlon.  Hopefully you will love it as much as I do (then you can start buying fancy gear). LOL

Practice, Practice Practice
Lake Camanche

During my Triathlon 101 class, we went to North Shore Camanche for two evening open water swims and one Saturday practice triathlon.  We also had cycling clinics, running clinics, and plenty of swimming.

Open water swimming wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.  I only saw a couple of fish and I eventually got used to weeds touching my feet.

You might feel a little nervous swimming away from the shore, but James always had people out in canoes to make sure everyone was OK.

Listening to James teach us about open water swimming

Setting our our transition area

We practiced transitions a couple of times.  One time we were at a park in Lodi and our transitions consisted of riding off on our bikes, coming back, racking them, and then running.  We practiced again up at Camanche during our practice triathlon and again up at Sacramento during our practice race (James wanted us prepared!)

At our Camanche practice triathlon, most of us had our wet suits.  Although the water at Camanche was warm enough that we didn't need wet suits, many of us had rented or purchased used ones on eBay and we wanted to try them out.  A couple of us even wore them to swim practice at Tokay High School one night.

Race Practice
One thing you can be sure of, Coach James is not going to let you do your first triathlon without proper preparation.  Not only is James an excellent swimmer, but he knows all the ins and outs of cycling as well.  One Saturday James had a friend of his who is a USA Cycling coach come and host our bicycle safety clinic (not that James couldn't have done this himself).   Our running clinic was hosted by Fleet Feet of Stockton.

While you will get plenty of instruction on Wednesdays and Saturdays during the 10 week course, you will need to do some homework.  As part of the course, you will have access to pool time in Lodi with the Masters swimmer.  If you belong to a gym with a pool, you can practice there.  You will also need to do some biking and running on your own too.


Bright and early with our race numbers on
Our graduation race was TBF Racing's Golden State Triathlon Super Sprint up at Discovery Park in Sacramento.  The race was held in October, and I remember it being pretty chilly...especially the water in the American River.  Lucky for you, your graduation race is going to be in June.

James had us there for our race at 6am.  We were the first one in line for our race numbers and we got a bike rack to ourselves.  We also had plenty of time for warming up and going to the bathroom.

NOTE:  Besides writing your race number on your arms, putting a sticker on your bike helmet and strapping a number on your race belt, the event staff will also write your AGE on the back of your leg!!!

Headed down to the river for the race start
T2 - All that practice paid off
Smiles all around!

Final Notes

Look at the picture above of our first Triathlon 101 graduates.  Everyone is smiling.  Not little, smile for the camera smiles, but BIG, HAPPY smiles!!! In fact, if you look at any of the pictures of our class, you will see lots of smiles.  It feels amazing to step out of your comfort zone and accomplish something you didn't think you could do.  If you have people in your life telling you that this is crazy or that you will never make it, don't listen to them.  You will get more than enough support from the rest of us "tri" crazies and we will cross the finish line together.