Tri This for Half-Time Entertainment!
by Sarah K.
I’m at what I like to think is the mid-point in my life (53 by USAT standards) and finally have the opportunity to enjoy the half-time entertainment, which I am hoping to extend for a least three more decades. I saw a saying (and actually put it on my Road ID) that says “Life is a Tri, Go for It!”, and that’s my plan for the future. And since the lucky day I met Joe LoPresto and learned about Experience Triathlon (ET), this is no longer a figment of my imagination; I truly believe I have a shot at being a long-term triathlete with his expert guidance, along with ET coaches Steve, Greg and Patty.
When I was in my late forties, I made a decision that I wanted to be “Fit at fifty”, so I started working with a personal trainer toward that goal. The focus was primarily strength training, using cardio activities as a warm-up, and the routine was effective for weight loss and general conditioning, but the aerobic capacity factor was missing. I’ve always enjoyed various sports, am reasonably coordinated and have always liked being active, but never really found my niche. I’ve always secretly wanted to be a competitive athlete in some sport and was excited when the magazine “Geezerjock” was first published because it provided examples of successful athletes in every sport imaginable over the age of 40. I worked with two people on an extensive project at work, one an accomplished triathlete and the other her “tri project”. I was fascinated by the sport and impressed that these two got up at 4 AM to swim, etc. before a hectic day in the world of public accounting. I’ve never been much of a runner and my idea of swimming was laying on a raft in the middle of the pool, going down the water slides or goofing off on the diving board, so I assumed that a tri would be way too challenging for me to even attempt, so I gave it no consideration. All the while during this period in my life I was a care-giver for a seriously ill spouse, which inspired me to ensure I did everything possible to improve my health status for life because while some health issues cannot be avoided, there are several that can be eliminated with positive lifestyle choices. As I tweaked my fitness profile, I was constantly seeking something that would be challenging, but could be done for life. Triathlons seem like the perfect choice, because you don’t just run, which can be really tough on older joints, rather you mix it up and swim and bike, too. You also incorporate weight-bearing exercises via core work to ward off osteoporosis for older women like me; so it’s the perfect recipe for the “Baby Boomer” crowd. I talked to my work triathlete friend about giving it a try and she totally agreed it was perfect for someone my age and was really excited that I was giving it consideration. She assured me that I too could be a triathlete, but she highly recommended formal training with someone experienced in the sport. So earlier this year, I decided to attempt a sprint distance triathlon, just to see if I could cross the finish line intact. I checked out some training options and attended a couple of introductory sessions two different places, but I really wanted something local, so I joined the Lifetime Fitness triathlon group class in Romeoville this past spring after doing a Google search for local tri training that lead me to ET’s website (best Google find ever). I contacted Coach Joe from the ET site, who told me about the class, assured me that the class was for all levels and encouraged me to join the group. Prior to joining the class, I had already registered for the Danskin Women’s Sprint tri and like an idiot told family and friends my plan, so now I was committed and knew I had to start training or die at the event. The group class was fun and I learned a lot from Coach Steve (outstanding coach and instructor) from biking to swimming to transition to changing a bike tire, but I wasn’t disciplined enough to train the way I should have been on my own for the event, especially swimming, which is extremely tough for me. I did some other training after the Lifetime class ended, specific to the Danskin tri, with a group of women in the northwest suburbs and it was helpful, but not quite the right scenario for me, although I met a lot of really nice people who became friends. I stumbled through the Danskin Sprint tri 7/08/07 with 3900 other women (it’s quite the zoo) and finished (my goal) very slowly, but had a great time (fun, not speed) and was very motivated to improve, because it kinda awakened my competitive spirit, coupled with my desire for fitness for life. This experience truly excited me about the sport and made me want to be a better all-around person in all aspects of my life.
I had a feeling this would be the thing for me; it’s challenging, it’s fun, it’s a great community of people, and I should be able to do it long-term. I’m now serious about this, so I knew I needed professional advice to advance. I need to improve all of my tri skills, but especially swimming, so I knew from past experience that Coach Joe would be the best and I contacted him for suggestions. We started personal coaching services about a month ago and I’m in awe of Coach Joe, he’s my “Tri-dol”! His attention to detail and tailoring training for me specifically is perfect. I participated in the Pleasant Prairie sprint tri 8/19/07 just for more race experience and to see if I really like the sport and the answer is a definite yes. I like that it’s an individual effort (except for the coaching aspect) and you’re really only competing with yourself, but with Experience Triathlon, you truly feel like you are part of a team and each Coach (Joe, Steve, Greg and Patty) is always supportive, encouraging and super helpful with knowledge sharing tips on the spot.
In my short tenure with ET, I’ve been to Summer Camp (awesome fun, learning experience), Centennial Beach Monday swims, had a private swim lesson with Coach Steve, one group run and a few group bike rides. All of the coaches are outstanding; they are not only knowledgeable, but diplomatic, kind and encouraging while instructing, which is really appreciated by me. They genuinely care and never make me feel like I’m a “ball and chain” in any of the group activities, which is true of all of the ET athletes, everyone is extremely nice, not to mention FUN! I could go on and on about all the wonderful experiences I have had in such a short time with ET, but this is long enough already, so I’ll save some for my next novel. There’s a saying that “the more you know, the more you realize how little you know”. I’ve only scratched the tri surface, but am looking forward to learning from the best for a long time. Thanks Coach Joe and everyone involved with ET, you’re the best!