Talking Tri-/Duathlon for Ordinary Mortals®: A Series, (No. 71, 2021/00)
Of course, all the races that I have written about in this series were special for me. But this race (the first of the two that I did in this series) was extra-special, partly because of where it is held. First of all, the “One More Tri” triathlon/duathlon series is run in Asbury Park, New Jersey (although this year all the races will be relays and they will all be done virtually). Why is Asbury Park special for me? Well, if an event that took place in 1907 hadn’t taken place, I wouldn’t be writing this column. For it was sometime that summer, in the lounge of a hotel in Asbury Park (which hotel is likely long gone) that my paternal grandfather-to-be, Henry Jonas, and my paternal grandmother-to-be, Rena Bonheim, first met. The story goes that Grandma Rena was playing a piano that was set in the lounge, that Grandpa Henry came over to tell her how much he admired her playing (and surely, he also admired her looks, because from her photos, she was quite a beauty. And, as it happened, Grandpa Henry was a handsome young man). The rest, as they say, is history.
My next connection to Asbury Park is part of a much grander history that took place during the summer of 1942. The U.S. had of course entered World War II on December 8, 1941 --- the famous “Day that Shall Live in Infamy” of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s elegant prose. But as of that date the War was having little effect on the mainland of the United States. My father, Prof. Harold J. Jonas, son of Henry and Rena, at that time an older (34) married man with a child, would not be eligible for the draft to go into the Service until February, 1944. How different were the conditions of wartime for the U.S. and the nations of Europe and the Far East.
As it happened, for that summer, to get away from the heat of New York City where we lived, my parents rented a unit at the Deal Apartments, just north of Asbury Park. It sat on a bluff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. And it was from the bluff that, at the age of 5, I saw one or more U.S. merchant vessels being sunk by Nazi U-boats just about ten miles off the Jersey shore. That is how bad our coastal defenses were in those early days of the War.
At any rate, as I was looking for nearby races for the summer of 2016, the “One More Tri” triathlon/duathlon set, to be held in Asbury Park (!), caught my eye. It was run by Special Olympics of New Jersey and featured fully-able athletes competing in the same events as special ones. The would be scored separately, but they would be on the same courses, both for the tri and for the du, at the same time. As you can imagine, there is quite a staff put together for these events, but the inspiring genius who brings everything together, and then holds it all together in one piece, is Ms. Jeanene Leppert, the Director of Special Events for SONJ. What a special person, for all of the special athletes, as well as for the rest of us. By the way, SONJ is so special that they have special athletes doing the swim, into the ocean waves, for the triathlon.
But by that time, the time had long past when I was doing triathlons with ocean swims. I had actually gotten sea-sick in the swim at a race off Jones Beach, N.Y. in 1998, and that was that(!) And so on Sept. 25, 2016, I did the du with two flat runs on the boardwalk and around the small lakes in a nearby park, and a virtually flat bike, north on a protected avenue, as it happened into Deal. I was first in my 80-84 age-group (of course because I was the only one in it[!].
But there was one more special element of this race for me. It happened that I had spoken with Ms. Leppert before the race, and had mentioned a couple of things: A) that it would by coincidence be my 250th race overall; B) taht I did have the special connection to both Asbury Park and Deal mentioned above; and C) in the context that many of the special athletes competing in the races of the day were beginners, that I had written Triathloning for Ordinary Mortals (1986) which, to my knowledge then and to this day was the first how-to-do triathlon book written specifically for beginners. Jeanene expressed a particular interest in the book and said that she would order a copy from you-know-where. So of course, I sent her one.
I did not give any of the above details further thought until, just after a crossed the finish line, Jeanene presented me with a special personalized plaque that had obviously been made up for me before the race. It celebrates my 250th race, and my book. Oh, what a feeling! And let me tell you, that plaque hangs in a place of honor on the wall of my office, just behind my desk.
As it turned out, I would also be doing what turned out to most likely have been my last multi-sport race, my 256th, at the “One More Tri” meet in 2018. That will be the subject of my next column in this series.
This series of thoughts and recommendations about multi-sport 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.
Steve has been racing tri’s and du’s since 1983. At the end of his 36th season in the sport, 2018, he had done a total of 256 races. He did not race in 2019 due to his own illness (from which he fully recovered), nor in 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For obvious reasons, 2021 is a maybe.