What the 2016 Age-Group Triathlon Nationals Meant to Me

By Dr. Steve Jonas | Sept. 27, 2016, 5:49 p.m. (ET)
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.

In 2014 I did only three races, total, after averaging about eight for the previous 31 seasons. For 2015 it was five. Then, as you may recall, (see my June column in this series, “Renewal Time),” I almost didn’t get it going at all this year. For my first race of the season, at Pawling, New York, with the permission of the race director, Dan Honig, with lots of negative thoughts in my head, I skipped the swim. I actually got out on the bike course feeling not so good and thinking “well, this may well be it — for a career.” But then on a course I knew well, I did one hill, and then another, and another. And then I was right back into it.

Next I went to the USA Triathlon Duathlon National Championships in Bend, Oregon, had a great time (although not a great time, but I did get up that very challenging hill), and since then it has been off to the races. I actually raced four weekends in a row leading up to Omaha, something I haven’t done in quite a while. And so, for this pretty slow and getting ever-slower triathlete/duathlete, what did that mean?  

First, being there formed a sort of book-end with my in-race experience at Pawling.  Second, I hadn’t done a swim in a meaningful triathlon for several years. Already a member of the USA Triathlon Century Club, I have been aiming to get to the Duathlon Century Club, which I should do soon, and so have been doing mainly duathlons. Admittedly, one reason that I had decided to go to Omaha was that I knew that the water in a lake swim there, in mid-summer, would very likely be warm and calm. And it was. I did get through the swim, slowly but very comfortably. Then I just had to bike and run around an almost flat course.  And I did.

And so, third, I finished, once again, and once again I felt just great crossing that line. I was way at the back of the pack of course, but I did cross it. And since I am inherently slow, as I am so fond of saying, finishing happily and healthily has been my goal since my very first race, the second Mighty Hamptons Triathlon at Sag Harbor, New York, (an Olympic-plus distance event) on Sept. 17, 1983. I can hardly go those distances any more.  But I am back. I finished a triathlon — Nationals — happily and healthily. I was next-to-last overall but third out of three in my 80-84 age group.  

So my season came full circle. I hope that the weather holds and I will be able to do the last two duathlons that I have on my schedule for this year. But even without them, as I close in on 250 races total and that Duathlon Century Club, it’s been some season. I am truly back.  That’s what Omaha meant to me.  

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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.