USA Triathlon News Blogs Ordinary Mortals® My Lost Season (Almo...

My Lost Season (Almost?)

By Dr. Steve Jonas | Sept. 12, 2018, 6:27 p.m. (ET)


Talking Tri-/Duathlon for Ordinary Mortals®: A Series, (No. 54, 2018/09)  

As some of you know, I have been racing triathlons and duathlons since 1983. My first triathlon was on Sept. 17, 1983, at Sag Harbor, N.Y. — the second running of the Mighty Hamptons Triathlon. Since then, by the end of my 35th season last year, I have done a total of 255 triathlons and duathlons.

And man, I was really looking forward to this, my 36th season. 

But it has not been a good year, to say the least. For one reason or another I have been able to do none of the races I had on my schedule. I’m calling this one my “lost season” — actually my first one ever. 

And so, what happened? 

My first event on my schedule, the New York Triathlon Club’s “March Madness” duathlon, was cold, wet and windy. Alright, a no-go. Next was the 2018 USA Triathlon Non-Drafting Sprint Duathlon National Championships in Greenville, S.C. The night before I was supposed to fly down for the race, I was hit with an acute gastroenteritis, eventually diagnosed as a bacterial variety. Obviously, I didn’t make it to that one.

Next up, there is a flat duathlon on New York City’s Staten Island, “Patanella’s Flat as a Pancake” in mid-June. I’m ready to go, but it was canceled this year. Next was the New Jersey State Championships at Princeton. I was really psyched, but for some reason I was feeling very weak when I woke up on race morning. Thinking it wouldn’t be wise to try my first race swim of the season in that condition, I decided not to toe the line. The New York Triathlon Club’s Central Park Triathlon, scheduled the next weekend, went by the wayside for a similar reason.

The first highlight of the season was still ahead of me, the USA Triathlon Sprint Age Group National Championships in Cleveland, Ohio. It featured mostly flat bike and run courses, and the swim was scheduled for a somewhat protected area of Lake Erie. I have been getting seasick in swims that have any kind of motion in the water since I was about 60. I take what I like to call “my performance enhancing drug,” a prescription non-drowsy medication called Meclizine. Yes, it’s not on any restricted list, but it does enhance my performance in the water by helping me not get seasick.

I get down to the transition area to check-in the afternoon before the race, but then I go over to look at the water. It looks pretty rough, but people are saying “well, the wind dies down toward morning, so you ought to be fine.” Well, the problem would be if the wind didn’t die down and I got down for the start and then decided not to go, I would be waiting around for about 4 hours in order to get my bike out of transition. So, another no go.

The irony at that race was that USA Triathlon and the Coast Guard made the joint decision the next morning to convert the race to a duathlon due to strong currents in Lake Erie. Of course, I had no way of knowing that in advance. So, another miss.

Then there was the second highlight of the season, the International Triathlon Union Age Group Sprint Triathlon Grand Final in Gold Coast, Australia.  I had been looking forward to this race since I qualified last year in Omaha, Nebraska. But, I have a family member with a serious illness who is getting worse, and I decide at the last minute I really can’t be that far away for so long.

A totally lost season, for one reason or another — my first ever? Well, hopefully not. 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.

Next month, I’ll tell you what happened, and I will also tell you how I have already started planning for next season so that — barring circumstances beyond my control — this doesn’t happen again.


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 and

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 and

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.