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This year, the "2003 City of Los Angeles Triathlon"
is all about me
August 28, 2003
Training to compete in a triathlon is a selfish
endeavor. This is what I have learned since making the decision
to enter the 2003
City of Los Angeles Triathlon (which takes place on September
7th) as a multi-sport athlete. You may have read the story
I wrote for iFlyLAX.com last year about my experience
as the cyclist member of a three-person relay team in the event.
My respect for those athletes who took on all three legs of the
race as solo competitors, and a recent challenge to a triathlete
friend in Florida, have become the catalysts which will toss me
into the ocean at Venice Beach less than ten days from now.
all goes as planned, I'll emerge from the water unbruised; sprint
to my bicycle in the transition area; mount up and pedal furiously
through the streets of Los Angeles, Beverly Hills and Hollywood
until I reach the bike-to-run transition area next to Los Angeles
City Hall; change shoes and leave the bike and helmet behind for
a 10 kilometer run up to Dodger
Stadium and back to the finish line at historic Olvera
here to view a course map.)
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so selfish about all that?... It might seem like somewhat of a sacrifice.
Well, racing in the event is the culmination of months
of preparation, and a workout schedule that has been "all about
me". In a quest to swim better, ride faster, and run stronger,
I've had to train for the specific disciplines at least five days
a week. I've concentrated on my swim stroke, my leg
power, my running technique, my heart rate, and my
lung capacity. Additionally, I've monitored my diet and my
calorie intake, and ensured that my body has been properly
hydrated and gets enough rest. Actually, training for an olympic
length triathlon (1500 meter swim, 40 kilometer bike, 10 kilometer
run) is like taking on a part-time job... without pay! (To train
for an Ironman length event would be a full-time job.)
Speaking of money, just how much does it cost to race
in a premiere triathlon like the L.A. Tri? Actually, the entry fee
is quite reasonable, especially when you consider the great "swag"
(free stuff) competitors receive at the event Expo (which is open
to the public, too) held the two days before the race; not to mention
the huge support and security staff, county lifeguards, and L.A.P.D.
and traffic control officers hired by the event's organizers to
keep things running smoothly and keep the city streets clear and
safe for participants.
far as other expenses go: to ensure I would feel confident (and
safe) in an almost one-mile ocean swim in the midst of many others,
I enrolled in a community Master's swim class for $29. And before
attempting any considerable rough water swim practice on my own,
I participated in an ocean swim clinic sponsored by SCAQ
(Southern California Aquatic Masters Swim Club) for $30. Swim
goggles are a must, and I'll probably buy a new triathlon-specific
wetsuit for a couple of hundred dollars, but the ocean won't be
particularly cold in early September, so a wetsuit will be optional.
training and racing, a good pair of running shoes was required,
along with some nice running shorts and such, all for about $150.
But by far the biggest expense you'll encounter should you choose
to take on the sport of triathlon is a decent bicycle -- because
your old beach cruiser won't do. However, neither will you need
to spend $5000 on a top-of-the-line, time-trial/triathlon specific
bike. For about a grand, you can pick up a respectable road race
bicycle (less, if you are eBay savvy), a pair of cycling shoes,
pants, and a helmet. In my case, as a cyclist/racer from way back,
I have a nice Trek (much like Lance Armstrong's TDF racer) that
I bought some years ago which has been slightly modified to perform
in the 24.8-mile bicycle leg of the race. But by all means, don't
let the expense of buying a bike keep you from getting into triathlon.
Because you'll certainly get your money's worth out of it; as cycling
becomes a regular part of your athletic lifestyle.
last expense you may incur will probably relate to nutrition. All
those calories you burn and fluids you lose during training will
need to be replaced. In addition to a diet of quality carbs and
protein, you'll need lots of water and most likely start downing
energy bars and gels, re-hydration specialty drinks, and recovery
shakes. The variety of these type of "power" products
is endless; which brands you decide to use will be a matter of personal
cheapest commodity in your triathlon expense book will be advice.
But just because advice is cheap, or free, doesn't mean it's not
good. In fact, once you begin to get involved with training, you'll
certainly meet other like-minded, healthy, enthusiastic and friendly
athletes; many of whom are tri-veterans who have tried and tested
all that is new to the beginner, and are happy to pass on the information.
You'll also find opportunities to join clubs and clinics which will
help you get on track with proper techniques, and help you avoid
pitfalls and training errors.
But after all is said and done, triathlon is an individual
effort. And it's now up to me to put down my pen and hit
the road. Today, the plan is a moderately paced 25-mile bike ride
which will be followed by a 4 to 5 mile run -- a training method
called a "brick", I have learned. I've got some personal
goals for the race, and I'll follow up this story with a report
on my results and the complete triathlon experience. As a 48 year-old
newbie, I keep telling myself that I'm not going to become a "tri-geek",
and that the Los Angeles event will be my only multi-sport race
each year. But I saw that there are some shorter distance triathlons
coming up in Long Beach and Catalina Island in the fall I could
do, too... piece of cake!
To read about
last year's race (as a relay team), CLICK HERE
2003 City of Los Angeles Triathlon course
For more information on the City of Los Angeles Triathlon,
to see all the Professional and amatuer results and race times,
or to learn how Team iFlyLAX.com fared in the 2002 relay-team event,
click on the 2002 results page link.