By: Jennifer Macko ’16, Campus Recreation Services, Group Fitness Instructor
Triathlon. Break it down: tri – three, athlon – athletic competition.
If you’ve never heard of the sport or you’re not quite sure what it’s all about, I want you to picture this:
You’re splashing into a lake, surrounded by fellow competitors in swim caps and goggles, dragging your legs through the turbulent water until it’s deep enough to swim. You get a rhythm going in your stroke, gliding through the waves and sliding over athletes suited in slick black wetsuits. Occasionally you sight in the distance and see your destination dock growing closer.
Before you know it, you’re pulling your seaweed-covered body out of the water and dashing to “T1”, (transition 1) simultaneously pulling off your wetsuit and finding your bike. Under your suit, you are already wearing your kit, red, gold, and black repping the Terrapins, obviously. On goes your helmet, bike shoes, and shades and you’re off to cruise through a 25-mile bike ride.
You soar down the hill, getting “aero” then zoom up the next climb, standing out of the saddle to power to the top. You fuel up on Gu shots and electrolytes, and by the time you’ve dried off from the swim, you roll into “T2”.
Off go the bike shoes and helmet and on go your running shoes. Every attempt to find a clip is an immense effort; your legs feel like bricks. But soon, you find your stride, sweat beading on your forehead as you smile at the cheering onlookers who ring cowbells and wave signs to “Keep going!” and telling you “You’ve got this!” The inspiration and adrenaline coursing through your veins push you to the last stretch of your 10-mile run, the final leg of the triathlon.
You see the finish line, crowded with friends and family, and you forget about the tiredness in your body. You could go forever. You fly through the finish, glancing at your time as you throw your hands up in celebration.
This is Triathlon. It is full day of fitness, fun, friends and family.
If you are an athlete looking to branch out, someone looking to get in shape by working towards a goal, or just a student looking to find friends in a SUPER healthy outlet, I highly encourage you to check out this spectacular sport.
10 Reasons to Try a Tri
- Bragging rights!
- To meet new people
- To find your comfort zone… and break right out of it!
- To add variety to your workout – triathlon makes for very well-rounded athletes
- To surprise and amaze yourself!
- To have something to train for
- To eat copious amounts of food after racing/training
- For awesome medals and t-shirts
- To enhance your sense of physical wellness
- To have fun!!!
- Start out with a “sprint” distance.
- This is 750 meter swim, 20 kilometer bike, and 5K run
- People of all shapes, sizes, and experience can complete this race and have a great time
- It takes about 90 to 120 minutes to complete
- Get a bike.Road-style is recommended, but you can get by with anything in a sprint
- Learn to swim. Be able to swim for at least 30 minutes with confidence.
- Run a 5K! Chances are, if you can run a 5K at all, you will be able to run one, a little slower, to end your race.
Check out the Maryland Triathlon Club. We train together 1-6 times a week and we get HUGE discounts on races and “tri swag” including Maryland kits!
Train on your own with a friend or family member. You can do your first triathlon together and share this awesome experience!
But, don’t just take my word for it. Some fellow tri club members shared with me their experiences in the sport:
“I joined triathlon club because I had always been running but started to get bored only running. When I went to the first Saturday morning bike ride, I was nervous because I didn’t know anyone and didn’t know if I could keep up with everyone. I quickly realized everyone was just as hungover as me and had an awesome time meeting everyone.
My favorite memory with the team was at Ironman MD cheering on Meredith (Wilson). It’s easy to get caught up on shaving off seconds in transition or setting a PR, but it’s volunteering at races and cheering your friends on when you realize what an amazing, supportive community is behind every triathlon. It’s also nice because I had a group of friends who liked to/needed to eat as much as I do.” – Kate McGinnis ’15
“I’m not quite sure I had a single specific reason for trying triathlon, but I wanted a new challenge. I had a competitive running background and years of cycling recreationally, so swimming was the only new sport (though with more than enough difficulty!)
One of my favorite memories was in the Monticelloman Triathlon, when there was a huge down hill adjacent to a beautiful farm field with bales of rolled hay, just cruising down the hill and looking at the scenery.” – Tammy Walsky ’15
“I would say I started out doing tri because I got super bored of just running and wanted to add some variety to my workout routine. I found out about it after seeing someone with an Maryland Tri shirt on my freshman year and I bought my road bike the following summer. My favorite experience was definitely the ironman. The crazy amounts of people that came out from it and the people that you see along the course (80 year olds with cancer, people with physical handicaps, whether they were blind or amputees, etc) was super inspiring. To me, it’s obvious that the Ironman and Triathlon itself is about more than just yourself. Obviously a sense of accomplishment feels great, but that’s not what keeps you going when your feet are dragging and you don’t want to move another inch. That’s why I love it so much.” -Meredith Wilson ’15