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May 15, 2009

Try the Tri

I’ve been doing triathlons for so many years, in some ways it’s hard to remember a time when I didn’t consider myself at least a part-time triathlete.

What I still remember vividly, however, was that initial trepidation about making the transition from a single-minded runner to a multi-sport athlete, and all the specific fears that accompany it. Fears like being terrified of open-water swimming. Wondering what kind of bike to use. Or whether or not to wear socks.

Since my newspaper column is generally geared toward novice runners, it’s logical extension to write a column every now and then about making the transition from running to triathlon, and that’s the subject of the Monterey Herald article that follows below. The intent was to describe the simplest route to becoming a beginner triathlete.

The column is also noteworthy for a couple other reasons …

1) After I got called out last month for committing the high crime of misidentifying the color of a marathon shirt, I set a little goal for myself to use the word “periwinkle” in as many newspaper columns as possible from now on. So far I’m one for one.

2) Also in the wake of that marathon board fiasco, it was a refreshing contrast to work with Terry Davis, the owner of
Tri-California Events. He’s one of the most gracious, humble, and generous people you’ll ever meet. You’ll also be hard pressed to find someone who’s done more for the sport of triathlon over the years than Terry and his wife Betsy. I’m always happy to give them a little extra publicity.


Running Life 5/7/09 “Try the Tri”

Let’s say you’ve recently completed a marathon, and you’re wearing your periwinkle race shirt with pride, but wondering what your next big challenge could be. Or maybe you’ve done so many road races that they seem repetitive, and you’re looking to add a little more excitement to your athletic exploits.

If so, we’ve got the perfect antidote for you: taking on the Triathlon at Pacific Grove this fall.

September 12th and 13th will be the fifteenth anniversary of the PG Tri (as it’s locally known), which was one of the first races created by Tri-California Events, owned by Terry and Betsy Davis of Pacific Grove. The race is another example of the world-class offerings we have right in our Monterey Peninsula backyard.

Through the years, both Tri-California and the PG Tri have enjoyed enormous growth in size and prestige. The first Pacific Grove race had just over 200 entrants, and the business operated out of the Davis’s garage on David Avenue. This year nearly 2000 triathletes will participate in what has become a two-day event, with an Olympic Distance race (1.5k swim, 40k bike, 10k run) on Saturday and a shorter Sprint Triathlon (.5mi swim, 12.4mi bike and 2mi run) on Sunday. Go to http://www.tricalifornia.com/ for detailed race information.

Tri-California has expanded to include races throughout California (including the world-famous Wildflower and Escape From Alcatraz triathlons), and has grown from a shoestring budget to a successful enterprise that also raises thousands of dollars for charity. Their events attract top professional talent as well as amateur and novice triathletes of all ages – and the PG Triathlon is definitely the best opportunity for locals to get their feet wet in the sport of triathlon.

Transitioning from running to triathlon isn’t as complicated as it might initially seem. Obviously, you’ll need to adjust your training schedule a bit, and make a few investments in (or borrow some) basic gear - but your general fitness from being a runner will carry you a long way towards getting started in triathlon.

The timing of the PG Tri is perfect, as warm summer days and long daylight hours provide expanded opportunities for training. The race date in September typically sees ideal weather conditions. And if you start now, you’ve got more than three months to prepare, which is plenty of time.

Here are some tips to get started …

· Assuming you’re already a runner, decrease the number of days per week that you are running, and substitute a swim or bike workout instead. You won’t lose overall fitness by cutting down running mileage to cross-train; in fact, it will probably improve. Try to bike and swim at least once per week.

· Get a bike – but it doesn’t need to be expensive or fancy. In fact, it doesn’t even have to be a road bike; many first-time triathletes use off-road bikes for the sprint distance. Use whatever you already have or can borrow; you can splurge on a bike after you decide to become a full-time triathlete.

· Likewise, you’ll definitely need a wetsuit for the cold ocean swim. If you can’t borrow one, you can rent one online at http://www.wetsuitrental.com/ or similar sites. Until then, your swim training can be done in a pool.

· Fleet Feet Sports in Monterey schedules coaching sessions for new triathletes. Call 831-372-5664 for details and times.

Many local athletes successfully jump back and forth between the sports of running and triathlon; with a good plan and a little bit of help, this may be the perfect time for you to join them.


Rainmaker 5/15/09, 5:39 PM  

I love the tri-california races, they are all in incredible locations. I'm really hoping to get back to Wildflower next year, and perhaps Pacific Grove as well.

Oh, and btw - awesome use of Periwinkle.

21stCenturyMom 5/15/09, 7:15 PM  

I see a link to this article every day when I get my LinkedIn update. It is featured in the triathlon group.

jen 5/15/09, 9:14 PM  

Great article! I have several runner friends that are transitioning (ha!) to triathlon this summer and I'm going to pass this along to them. Thanks! :)

Jo Lynn 5/15/09, 11:02 PM  

Thank you for sharing. As soon as I read "decrease your number of days per week you are running", my heart sunk. I just love running SO MUCH. I want to do a triathlon though. Soon. Soon I will think about trying one. ;)

AKA Alice 5/16/09, 9:33 PM  

I would almost sweat that you were writing this just for me! I've been thinking about a tri, have starting riding and everything...but I'll admit it, the ocean swimming had me just a little bit nervous!

Paul 5/18/09, 8:51 PM  

So when are you gonna do a tri again?

Makita 5/19/09, 8:03 AM  

This is a great boost as I'm considering giving the Tri a try this summer. Thanks, Donald!

Alisa 5/19/09, 10:09 AM  

I've had PacGrove on my race calendar for awhile now.

I'm thinking of trying a sprint mid-summer and going for the olympic at PG.

Thanks for the article.

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