This week, the Oakland Triathlon Club announced its 2014 Elite Team. I’m extremely humbled to be a part of this group, which includes some of the Bay Area’s most promising athletes: Ian Ballentine, Christina Liebner, and coach Mitchell Reiss. We are already training for a very full season of Olympic-distance races: our top events include Wildflower, Escape from Alcatraz, and Oakland’s very first Oakland Triathlon.
Considering that my last triathlon was in 2009 or 2010 (it was that long ago), I’ve been training as if my life depended on it. In a week, I swim more than I did for the entire year and a half that I lived in Texas. I’m back to doing my pleasure reading on the bike trainer, and stealing glances at my Garmin every couple of minutes on my “relaxation” runs.
I’m also remembering that the nature of triathlon training is schizophrenic. Fitting two longish workouts into one day means suddenly shifting mental gears (and clothes) between desk and bike–two places where I give my all. Compartmentalizing never feels quite natural, but it’s a survival strategy for most age-groupers; unless, of course, your rich aunt just died and left you a hefty race stipend. Then, there’s a drive to get better that creates this urge to measure everything: heart rate, time per pool lap, length of a bike interval, last week’s running pace, the five-millimeter difference between one set of pedal cranks and another. One day at the gym, I caught myself counting sips at the water fountain, and wondered if all these numbers were literally making me crazy.
Yet, at least for me, I do all this counting with the understanding that triathlons are still totally relative. Lots of people are just going to be faster. And more important, there are athletes of all speeds whose dedication and pure heart for this sport completely humble me.
And this is the spirit of what makes me so happy to race for the Oakland Triathlon Club. Besides being backed by some great sponsors, it’s THE most diverse group of athletes I have ever met. It’s California’s fastest-growing (and best!) triathlon club–and in my opinion, probably the most inclusive and friendly one on the whole planet. I can’t wait to push my physical limits with these folks this year, and continue to meet and write about our goals and accomplishments.
Here’s to a SAFE and HAPPY 2014 race season!