Going Round the Bend

By Dr. Steve Jonas | July 21, 2016, 10:31 a.m. (ET)

Last month I wrote about getting renewed in our sport. As it turned out, that happened in the Pawling Triathlon, an unofficial race for me in which I only did the bike and the run (with the permission of the race director, Dan Honig). The goal was to get my feet wet for the season — without actually getting my feet wet. At any rate, I did get renewed, and so off I went to the USA Triathlon Duathlon National Championships in Bend, Oregon for my sixth Duathlon Nationals. I arrived a day early, as I like to do when I travel to races, to deal with jet lag, get a feel for the community and just to get a little downtime from my day-to-day activities (which happen to continue at a hectic pace, even though I am supposedly retired). Also, I was able to do the “introduction to the course” ride. When I got to the race, I was delighted that I did. For on that ride, as slow as I am (I was dropped by the main group within 3-4 minutes), I missed the turnaround of the out-and-back bike course and also at the end of the ride missed the turn back to transition. I was out on the bike for quite some time that day! But I did get to experience the course.

Because of that, the bike didn’t seem quite as long in the race. Although it was a short ride at 20k, it was an out-and-back, with the out being an almost constant uphill. The downhill was fun, but getting to it was not. For me, the up was quite a challenge, at an average of slightly over 6 miles per hour. Nevertheless, I did make it. And I made the runs too, equally slowly. Over the last half dozen years or so, I’ve had a series of injuries, not major, but enough to make it difficult for me to run. So I walk, and not too fast either — 16-18 minutes per mile. By comparison, in 1989, when I was 53, I walked the New York City Marathon in 4:46, which is under 11 minutes per mile. But that was then, and this is now. And so, what happened?

First, I made, on the button, the 3 hours objective that, after that introductory bike ride, I had set for myself for the race. I was, of course, dead last. But what’s important for me is that I made my objective. Second, by doing so I cleared by 10 minutes the maximum qualifying time to go to the ITU Age Group Worlds in Penticton, British Columbia, next year. I am going to try very hard to get there. For, while I have qualified for several triathlon and duathlon worlds in the past several years, for a variety of reasons I haven’t been able to do the races. This one would be my first since the ITU Triathlon Worlds at Gold Coast, Australia in 2009. I do hope that I can make it this time around.

So, what is to be learned here? First, race for yourself, not for anyone else. Second, aim to achieve speeds that you can reasonably expect to achieve. If you are fast and have a chance to make the podium in your age group, go for it. But otherwise, if you can reasonably expect to achieve one or more other goals, like mine, of qualifying for worlds, go for that. But third, the primary goal, for me at least, is what it has always been since my very first race, the Mighty Hamptons Triathlon in Sag Harbor, NY, on Sept. 17, 1983: to finish, happily and healthily. And that I certainly did, going around the Bend.

Dr. Steve Jonas Finishes his race in Bend, Oregon at Duathlon Nationals

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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.