A Season Recovered

By Dr. Steve Jonas | Oct. 03, 2018, 5:27 p.m. (ET)

Boardwalk image

Talking Tri-/Duathlon for Ordinary Mortals®: A Series, (No. 55, 2018/09)  

My previous column in this series was entitled “My Lost Season (Almost?),” and in it I described my 2018 season going into September as a “totally lost season, for one reason or another.” I dealt with pre-race sickness twice, a cancelled race, water that was too rough for my seasick tendencies and a family illness preventing travel abroad. Would it end up being totally lost? Well, as I said:

“I am scheduled to do the Special Olympics of New Jersey’s One More Tri — I will be racing the sprint duathlon — in Asbury Park on Sept. 16. If I don’t get injured between now and race day, if it doesn’t rain, and if my family illness situation doesn’t deteriorate further, I will be there. And if so, that means that my season will have been very short, but not completely lost.”

The race was a short duathlon (1.5-mile run, 12-mile bike, 3-mile run) on a virtually flat course.  The weather was gorgeous — bright sunshine, temperatures in the 70s with a light northeast wind. The runs were flat too — the first was an out-and-back on the classic Asbury Park boardwalk, the second was a loop around one of the town’s downtown lakes and then another out-and-back on the boardwalk. And I made it!

Yes, I was very slow, about 3:20 for the course, but I finished. Given I had no races under my belt for the season and that my training had not gone well because of that, I had to push myself the entire way. I had a “sweeper” with me for the second run. Dave absolutely made sure I was going to make it — and I did!

I have had the sweeper experience before, the first time at my first ultra, the Green Mountain Steelman in 1985. There, last out on the bike, I had a local volunteer fireman with me for the last 50 miles of the 60-mile bike loop.  With his encouragement, I managed to finish within the time limit. But that was a different time. I’m now 81 years old, and back then I hadn’t even reached 50 yet.

When I was coming in for my finish at the One More Tri, and way behind everyone else, the deejay was still there. She played the Chariots of Fire theme for me as I came into the chute. That was the same theme that greeted me when I finished my first Ironman, in Cape Cod in 1985 (two weeks after I did the Vermont Steelman). I was last then too, but ahead of the time cutoff. Oh, what a feeling! It was like closing a loop.

Completing the One More Tri Sprint Duathlon, as short as it was, was a total renewal experience for me. I felt I had recaptured this past season in which, as I said above, I missed every single race on my schedule for a variety of reasons. But I made this one, 256 overall events in 36 seasons.

“How can that be, in such a short race?” you might ask. 

Well, I don’t know. It did it for me, just to finish a multi-sport race once again. Furthermore, I am now set up for next season. I already have put together a tentative race schedule of up to ten events, starting with the 2019 USA Triathlon Duathlon National Championships in Greenville, S.C., depending on where the 2020 Duathlon Worlds will be. I might even go back to try again in Cleveland, depending on where the 2020 USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships will be.

I have been hooked on our sport ever since I finished my first triathlon, the Mighty Hamptons in Sag Harbor, N.Y., on Sept. 17, 1983.  Although I have had several “few-races” season, I’ve never had a “no-races” one. All I needed to maintain my racing career for next year was one “fix” of a race. I got it — a fix one can be very thankful for — from my wonderful friends at New Jersey Special Olympics. For me, it rescued my season. Thanks, Jeanene and everyone!

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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 multi-sport racing, Triathloning for Ordinary Mortals®, 2nd Ed. (New York: WW Norton, 2006) also can be found at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Dr. Jonas has also been featured in World Class Magazine. Click here to read the article.