Tag Archives: triathlon

Gift Yourself a Sprint Distance Triathlon (GROUP LEARNING SESSIONS)

Post by Rodney Jenkins, a Group Exercise Instructor at the REX Wellness Center of Garner. He is also a business teacher with the Wake County Public School system.

REX Triathlon Raleigh

Eight years ago, I started my own triathlon journey, struggling because I knew nothing about preparing for the sport. Thanks to friends in the triathlon community, I eventually found my way and learned how to properly train. Since then, I have completed 3 Iron Distance Triathlons. It is now my goal to make sure Rex members do not follow the same arduous path I took.

There is a correct way to prepare and I can show you how. Read more…

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Lessons from a Mock Triathlon

Post by Rodney Jenkins, a Group Exercise Instructor at the REX Wellness Center of Garner. He is also a business teacher, a soccer coach and an athletic trainer with the Wake County Public School system.

On September 4,  seventeen determined athletes participated in the Knightdale Wellness Center Mock Triathlon. Over the past few years, we have held this event at our centers to help members prepare for race day.

Participants have an opportunity to participate in the entire swim, bike and run course without the pressures associated with an actual race. We start in the pool with staggered swim starts (every 30 seconds a swimmer begins), we have a transition area and we cycle and run the entire course. New cyclists and runners are partnered with experienced triathletes so we run a very safe event.

However, the Knightdale event was a little different. Instead of being the instructor, I became the student because several members taught me something new about the sport of triathlon. As we started the swim, I asked each person about themselves and this is what I heard:

  • Swimmer #1:“I was recently in the hospital for a month.”
  • Swimmer #2: “Cancer survivor.”
  • Swimmer #3: “I was in a serious automobile accident but I’m back.”
  • Swimmer #4: “I’ve never done this before so I want to see if I can do this. I’m not even registered for the race.”

So what did I learn? The triathlon can be so much more than an athletic event. It can be a reaffirmation that life’s challenges may cause one to stumble but not fall. Thanks all for sharing your stories and I can’t wait to see all of them again on September 19 at the Rex Knightdale Triathlon.

Rodney and fellow participants in the Knightdale Mock Triathlon

Rodney and fellow participants in the Knightdale Mock Triathlon

The REX Wellness Sprint Triathlon- Knightdale is on Sunday, September 18.

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Reaching the Finish Line: Beach2Battleship Half-Iron Distance Triathlon

051613_TheresaPost by Theresa Pearce, a member of Rex Wellness Center of Garner. Theresa completed her first triathlon sprint in 2013 with Rodney Jenkins, a group exercise instructor at the Rex Wellness Center of Garner. This year, Theresa shares her experience on the challenges and successes she faced while participating in two half-iron distance triathlons. 

After completing several sprints in 2013 and 2014, I decided 2015 would be the year I would tackle two two half-iron distance triathlons, the Raleigh Ironman 70.3 in May and the Beach2Battleship at Wrightsville Beach in October. Knowing that I had to prepare for two triathlons with several weeks of training, as well as having plans to travel overseas,I was looking forward to a busy yet exciting year for me.

Training for the Raleigh race began at the end of January, and went really well. The day of the race approached very quickly. During the swim course, I spent too much time, barely making the cut off time. I got through 50 miles on the bike before getting pulled off the course by race officials, at that point,  time was not on my side. After 22 weeks of training, I was left with heartbreak and disappointment. However, I had no choice other than get over it and move on.

The third week of training for B2B was starting the following week which would give me a new goal to focus on. In this race, I was part of the 70.3 training group at Rex led by Rodney Jenkins. After a couple of days off, I was right back at it for a few weeks before my trip to Europe. While traveling abroad, my friend, Angie Jenkins, and I managed to get in a few outside runs along with some indoor cycling. Once we got back to the U.S., we returned to our regular training schedule.

Publication1All of a sudden, race day for the Beach2Battleship arrived and the weather conditions were nearly perfect. With a little help from the ocean current, my swim was faster in this race. This allowed me to get on the bike sooner. As I transitioned into the cycling course, I looked at my Garmin and realized the bike ride would be faster too. This meant that I would make it to the run and have a chance to finish. I didn’t expect to break any speed records on my run, my main goal was to just keep moving forward to get to the finish line.

Throughout the run I saw everyone from our training group at various stages of their runs as well as spectating friends from Rex who were there cheering us on. About mile 8 or 9 it started to hit me that I was going to make it. From that point on, tears would come and go all the way to the finish line. I was so happy to finish and get that medal because it really had been a long year of training and it finally paid off.

At the end, it was a exiting day for all, as everyone on our Garner Rex team finished. After a few hugs and some food, the group waited for fellow Rex members Liz and Jason to finish the full distance race before leaving for the night.

The next morning I awoke with tears in my eyes just thinking about what happened the night before. Though I didn’t get much sleep because I was too excited, I was on cloud nine. Some of us met for breakfast to talk about the race before leaving town. When we arrived home, Rodney and Angie presented me with a 70.3 magnet for my vehicle. I can’t thank them enough for the love and support they have showed me throughout this journey and beyond.

Publication2Our entire B2B training team is much appreciative of the support the Rex Wellness family has showed us throughout this adventure. In 2013 the plan was for Rodney to coach me to finish what was to be my first sprint and only triathlon. Coach and his wife have long since become close personal friends of mine for life and now I’m a 70.3 finisher for life!! You could say there was a slight change of plans.

I am proof that if you commit to your training and don’t give up, it is not required that you be tall, lean, or super fast to accomplish something as great as finishing a 70.3 half-iron triathlon.

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Conquering the Beach to Battleship Half-Iron Distance Triathlon

Post by Rodney Jenkins, a Group Exercise Instructor at the Rex Wellness Center of Garner. He is also a business teacher, a soccer coach and an athletic trainer with the Wake County Public School system.

When October 17th rolled around, the Rex Garner B2B team was ready to tackle the fitness challenge of their lives and we could not have asked for better weather.  Temperatures were in the low 50’s at race start and winds were relatively low.  We already knew from Friday’s pre-race dinner that there would be a very strong tide which meant we were in for a fast swim and we were ecstatic about that.

While we waited for the swim start, butterflies and all, we were able to calm our nerves a bit by cheering for the full iron distance athletes as they swam by.  They always start 30 minutes before the 70.3 group and start a mile or so up channel from our starting point.  We could tell by watching the swimmers go by that the tide really was fast so we were anxious to get started.  Rex Members Liz Jackson and Jason Pannkuk were in that group so that added to our excitement.

102815_Rodney6Shortly after the 140.6 group went by, it was our turn.  Unlike the 140.6 group that had a mass start, the 70.3 group start would be in waves by gender and age.  Our first team member to go was Trey Jolly, and we all cheered at the top of our lungs for him.  Next was Mary Miller, Kristey Evans, Jenny Beazley, Theresa Pearce and me.  Last was Tina Manning, Lu White and Angie Caporiccio.  At the end of the day, I discovered that we all had the same swim experience.  There was certainly a strong tide but the water was extremely choppy and you really had to struggle to raise your head above the water to breathe above the waves.  We all managed to get through the swim, ran to T1 (swim to bicycle transition area) and were off on our 56 mile bike ride.

During our bike ride, we had low winds, which was extremely helpful.  That meant we were in for a fast bike ride and our legs would be in pretty good shape for the run.  I was fortunate to see Mary and Kristey on the bike course and caught glimpses of everyone else during the 13.1 mile run.  Seeing the team during the run was a huge relief because I was assured that everyone survived the bike course without a crash or flat tire.

102815_Rodney1One thing that I came to admire about this group of athletes was their undying commitment to their training.  There was absolutely no quitting in this group; even before the race started, I knew they were all destined to be 70.3 Iron Distance Athletes.  During the course of training, you always experience some doubt in your abilities, but at some point during our 22 weeks of training, they overcame those negative thoughts.

As I watched each of them cross the finish line, I met them with a hug and the words, “Welcome to the Club!”  When we were all done, we huddled together to share laughter, stories and tears.  What a wonderful moment in time that was for all of us.  They did it and I am so proud of each and every one of them.  What a privilege it was for me and Angie to share this journey with them.  Great job Team!  Great Job!


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Kristie’s Rex Sprint Triathlon Experience

Post by Kristie, Rex Wellness Center of Garner Member


Kristie on Race Day morning

My triathlon journey began two years ago when I attended my friend’s triathlon. I just went to support her, but when I left her event, I caught the “bug.” At the time, I was pregnant with my twin boys and I remember thinking, “just let me get these boys out and settled – I’m doing that!” After they were a year old, I thought I would start to prepare myself for the triathlon, but I knew I needed a pool and the gym fees discouraged me. So I just signed up for a half marathon instead. While this was fun and definitely a bucket list item, my heart still wanted to do a tri.

I ultimately joined Rex Wellness Center and began the road to the triathlon. I had NO idea what I was doing. I was already a runner so I felt the most comfortable with this portion. My bike purchase was only a few months earlier and had only logged greenway miles because of my fear of the road. I knew how to swim from childhood lessons, but somehow felt that meant nothing competitively. So I decided to spend the most of my time in the pool and on the bike.


Kristie and her fellow Rex Tri trainees

Right around the time I began my membership, I started receiving the weekly newsletters from the wellness center. In one particular newsletter, I read that you could submit your name to potentially win triathlon training from a well-known triathlete!   My initial thought was I NEVER win anything, but I signed up anyway because I knew if I didn’t sign up I CERTAINLY wouldn’t win. Let me just say, when I got the email that I was one of the ones chosen, I just about exploded with excitement because now I KNEW that my goal could be achieved now. The best part was knowing who would be training me- the infamous Rodney Jenkins!

We met initially and he asked me if I had support at home because training for a tri would take commitment. With 3 kids at home and working full time at night, I knew I had my work cut out for me. I discussed this with my husband Jason and my parents, and they supported me fully. Rodney ran through all the things I needed, and I went out and got everything required for the tri.

I looked the part, now I had to train for the part. I soon met Theresa, last year’s Rodney-triathlon-protege and Angie, Rodney’s wife, and these two would help me a lot along my journey with their encouragement. We were all able to get some road miles in on the bike and I continued the swim journey on my own. I was introduced to Shannon Thomsen and he helped me tremendously on shifting gears and hill work. I was able to learn from him how to use the terrain to my advantage with the hills. His patience and confidence in me boosted my confidence level and I thank him for that.


Swim portion of the Mock tri

The mock triathlon occurred one week before the Garner Triathlon and I am extremely grateful for this opportunity. We all went out and I got to experience how it might be on race day, and it taught me several things. First, I now knew it was possible because I completed it! Secondly, it taught me what it feels like to be in the pool with others that have varying skill levels. I got to feel what it was like to pass someone and have someone pass me. Lastly, I learned what a great supportive family there was in our own Rex family of triathletes. Everyone had wonderful things to say. While I felt slower than them, they all said I did a great job. No one ever made me feel like I was wasting their time. It was a great feeling.

On race day, the adrenaline was definitely pumping! I arrived at 5:45 and Shannon and Theresa helped me set up. Body marking was next. Afterwards, it became a waiting game. As I got in the water, it really sank in, and all I could say was here goes nothing!


Kristie crosses the finish line faster than her goal time!

At this point I had to trust my training. I estimated that I could swim in 7 minutes and I did just that. The bike transition happened faster than I had anticipated, and because I had ridden the course a few times, I knew what to expect. The run transition was fast and the brick training helped me get on the road without feeling too tired. I actually ran my 2 miles faster than I had anticipated. I finished the whole thing in 1 hour and 12 minutes. I was shooting for 1 hour 15 minutes so I was very excited.

To anyone who wants to do this, you can do it! It is possible. After all, I am a mom of three young kids and a full time nurse who works nights. It is possible. You just have to believe in yourself and run your own race! I am signed up for the second and third part of the Rex Triathlon Series and hope to do an Olympic Distance Triathlon next year. It is my ultimate goal to do a 70.3 Half Ironman. Then maybe, just maybe take it even further. We will see! Thank you Rex Wellness Family for the opportunity and the support!

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My First Triathlon: Rodney Reflects

Post by Rodney Jenkins, a Group Exercise Instructor at the Rex Wellness Center of Garner. He is also a business teacher, a soccer coach and an athletic trainer with the Wake County Public School system. Rodney, our “Garner Ironman,” is helped first-time triathlete, Theresa, achieve her goal of completing our July 14th Sprint Triathlon. 

After spending 3 weeks in Europe with 38 very energetic high school students and 3 awesome teachers, I returned home Friday, July 12 just in time for Theresa’s big day. The following morning, Theresa met Angie and me at 6:00 am for an easy 2 hour bike ride followed by a run. I had a chance to see for myself how ready she was for the following day’s triathlon. Not that I had any doubts, because due to the magic of Wi-Fi, I was able to keep in touch with Theresa, Angie and other team members the entire time I was in Europe via voice, text and Facebook apps so I knew they were keeping her busy and on schedule.

When our Sunday morning race day rolled around, Angie and I met Theresa in an adjacent parking lot,  and we pumped up her tires and walked our bikes and triathlon gear over to the transition area. Our earlier mock triathlon and her personal observations from volunteering for the Two Town Triathlon and the Raleigh Ironman 70.3 had her very prepared. She knew exactly how to setup her bike and run transition equipment on her own.

After receiving our pre-race instructions from the FSSeries event spokesman, we were ready to go. A large number of Theresa’s support team members were participating or volunteering so she had a lot of supporters. The Rex Garner family is a close-knit and supportive group so it came as no surprise to me that so many of us were there. There are too many names to mention but they all know who they are.

As 7:00 am rolled around, we took a few pre-race pictures and were ready to go. Angie and I were in the pool early in the race so I did not see Theresa until I was half way through my run. She yelled at me as she rode by on her bike and was smiling so I knew that things were going well. When she completed her bike ride, she made a quick transition and was on the road for her 2 mile run. The brick training worked like a charm. As she approached the finish line, many of her team members were there to enthusiastically cheer her on.

Theresa crosses the finish line of her first sprint triathlon!

I hope she enjoyed the hugs because she was smothered in them as soon as she crossed the finish line. I cannot with complete certainty say how she felt but the smile said it all. She did it and she is now a triathlete!

Is her journey complete? I doubt it. As Angie and I continue to prepare for our Iron Distance Triathlon in October, guess where Theresa is? She is still training with us. Last November, I wrote a blog entitled “Avoiding Post Race Doldrums” and why you should sign up for another race before you complete your upcoming race. During the course of our training, I told Theresa that Angie and I would be celebrating our October Ironman by flying to Vegas to run the November 17, Las Vegas Marathon. Guess what? Teresa is coming with us to run the half-marathon!

I don’t foresee the doldrums in Theresa’s future. One of our training groups’ favorite slogans is “No Pretenders, Never Surrender.” I think that slogan fit’s Theresa very well. Congratulations Theresa. Well done my friend.

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My First Triathlon: Mission Accomplished!

Post by Theresa, a member of Rex Wellness Center of Garner. Theresa completed her goal of competing in Garner’s Inaugural Sprint Triathlon on July 14th, with the guidance of Rodney Jenkins, our “Garner Ironman.” Theresa is blogging about her experiences as a first-time triathlete-in-training to hopefully inspire others to try it! When she has time off from work and isn’t at Rex Wellness Center, Theresa likes to go to the beach and hang out with friends.

My first triathlon is history. It was such an amazing day from beginning to end. The first task was getting all of my equipment to the transition area after a little help from Rodney in the parking lot with the bike. His wife Angie double checked my set-up and gave me some last minute pointers. Then it was time to get marked, pick up my chip, mingle, and wait while getting a lot of pre-race encouragement and good luck hugs in the process. I just wanted to finish and enjoy the day.

Seeing all the people around the pool was a sight to behold. I was thinking if I can just get through this part, everything will be alright. I knew it wasn’t going to be the same quiet and calm pool I had been practicing in. Except for a few little taps by an arm here and there, I got through it and breathed a sigh of relief as I was off to the transition area.

During the transition to the bike is when I think I got a little nervous. That’s when it hit me that I’m really doing this. I composed myself, mounted that bike, and off I went. Since I wasn’t an experienced cyclist, I will say having ridden the route a few times before definitely was to my advantage. This was my favorite part of the triathlon and where I think I performed the best.

The second transition went a little better. I took off running and made my way up Timber Drive. I thought my wet socks were making my feet feel a little heavy, but I’m positive this part would have been a lot tougher if I hadn’t done several brick workouts during my training. Throughout the run I was met in either direction by other members who were shouting my name and encouraging things along the way. Finally, I saw the finish line and one last burst of energy carried me across and I’m done!!

Now it’s time for congratulatory hugs, and of course the first comes from Rodney and Angie. Many others followed along with a lot of pictures. Quite a few other members were doing their first tri also and we were all feeling good for each other. It was a great team atmosphere.

Theresa and her fellow supporters, including trainer Rodney Jenkins (back left in yellow)

Thank you to the staff at Rex for allowing me this incredible opportunity to train for my first triathlon with a first class trainer like Rodney Jenkins. And a big thanks to Rodney and everyone involved who helped him help me during this process. I am quite overwhelmed by all of the support I have received.

Now I’ve been asked if I was going to consider the Rex Wellness Tri-Peat (participating in all 3 Rex races between now and October – Garner, Wakefield and Knightdale). Like the proverb says: if at first you don’t succeed, you must try, try again. Though I feel like my first triathlon was a success, who knows, I just may have to tri, tri again!

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My First Sprint Triathlon: part five

Post by Theresa, a member of Rex Wellness Center of Garner. Theresa completed her first half-marathon about six months ago! Her next goal is to compete in Garner’s Inaugural Sprint Triathlon on July 14th, with the guidance of Rodney Jenkins, our “Garner Ironman”. Theresa is blogging about her experiences as a first-time triathlete-in-training to hopefully inspire others to try it! When she has time off from work and isn’t at Rex Wellness Center, Theresa likes to go to the beach and hang out with friends.

With just a few days to go before my first triathlon I feel well-trained and ready. Rodney has been away for a few weeks but he’s been checking in on my progress via the internet. In his absence, his wife Angie and the rest of my support team made sure there was no slacking on my part.

I feel like I’m continuing to get better on the bike each week. Shannon (one of my fellow wellness center members) has been there from day one helping me with cycling and he’s a great teacher. Thanks to all of that training, just this last weekend I went on my longest ride at 31 miles around Jordan Lake with Angie, James, and Rebecca. It was so much fun.I have spent much time practicing in the pool. Since I couldn’t swim at all too many months ago, getting through this part will be a major accomplishment for me personally. The plan is to stay relaxed and not to panic.

Of course Angie and I have still been running together from her house when our schedules permit. One Friday a group of six of us ran together from the wellness center. That was fun too. My final long run before the triathlon was a solo run last Saturday. It gave me chance to reflect on all the special people that have come into my life over the last couple of years as well as the newer ones in the last couple of months that have given so much of their time for me to improve myself and help me with this training program. I could never thank them enough or list all their names but I cross paths with them at the Garner Wellness Center and they know who they are!

Theresa and her trainer, Rodney, the week before the big race!

Finally, this event will be special because so many people I know will be there in the crowd. Some might be doing their tenth and some their first like me. I’m not really competing against any of them, just myself. Everybody will be cheering for each other. It should be a fun day!

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My First Triathlon part 4: Rodney’s Perspective

Post by Rodney Jenkins, a Group Exercise Instructor at the Rex Wellness Center of Garner. He is also a business teacher, a soccer coach and an athletic trainer with the Wake County Public School system. Rodney, our “Garner Ironman,” is helping first-time triathlete-in-training, Theresa, achieve her goal of completing our July 14th Sprint Triathlon. Follow Rodney and Theresa’s journey through their blog posts over the next few months.

Here we are on week 8 and Theresa’s training is coming along very well. When we started training, Theresa thought that this journey would only involve running, cycling and swimming. That has hardly been the case.

On June 2, Theresa found herself at Jordan Lake at 5:30 a.m. to help work the Raleigh Ironman 70.3. I signed up as a captain for the body marking team months ago, and from that day forward, I was constantly recruiting volunteers which included my wife and several friends and neighbors. I knew this would be a great opportunity for Theresa to see what a half-iron distance race was like and to also see the importance of volunteering.

As athletes, we need to do more than participate – we need to give back! Once we arrived and I was able to organize my 38 volunteers, we went to work and Theresa was up for the challenge. With sharpies in hand, we marked well over 3,000 triathletes. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the process, the athlete’s race number is marked diagonally on the upper right and left arms. The age of the athlete is usually written on the left calf and every swimmer must be marked.

Theresa and Rodney’s Wife Angela during the Holly Springs Two Town Tri.

The following weekend, we were volunteering at the inaugural Two Town Tri in Holly Springs. I was one of the race organizers so I put Theresa to work in the swim area. My wife Angie was a participant and our friend and training partner James was there too. Since all three of us are triathletes, we were able to walk Theresa through the entire triathlon event. She saw firsthand how Angie set up her bike for transition 1 and 2 by strategically placing her bike shoes, helmet, glasses and gloves in one area and her running equipment such as shoes, socks, gels and cap in another area.

After witnessing two triathlons, it was time for Theresa’s first mock triathlon, AKA “brick.” We swam 300 yards in the pool, ran outside into our transition area (the Rex Bike rack), jumped on our bikes then ran. She did great. We needed to get this done this week because next week I depart for Europe for my annual journey with high school students. Am I concerned that Theresa will fall off the wagon while I am gone? Not at all. She is so determined to succeed and her Rex Support group will continue to support her.

Theresa and new friend and trainee James Boyle

Lastly, there is one more thing that Theresa likely did not count on – forming friendships with her teammates. When you train together, a true bond forms and I am so glad that Theresa has become my friend. Not just my new friend but she has become a friend of Angie, James, Shannon, Ron, Jim and the list goes on. We have created a bond because of the Garner Rex Wellness Triathlon. July 14th can’t get here soon enough!

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My First Sprint Triathlon: Part Three

Post by Theresa, a member of Rex Wellness Center of Garner. Theresa completed her first half-marathon about six months ago! Her next goal is to compete in Garner’s Inaugural Sprint Triathlon on July 14th, with the guidance of Rodney Jenkins, our “Garner Ironman”. Theresa is blogging about her experiences as a first-time triathlete-in-training to hopefully inspire others to try it! When she has time off from work and isn’t at Rex Wellness Center, Theresa likes to go to the beach and hang out with friends.

As of this post, I am about five weeks into the training program. Over the past five weeks, I’ve gotten to know my trainer Rodney better. Before this program I really didn’t know Rodney as much as I just knew of him. Rodney always responds if I have a question or concern and if I don’t see him for several days he will email or call and check up on me. I have also gotten to know his wife Angie and they are both great to work with!

Theresa on the indoor track at Rex Wellness of Garner

As expected, the intensity level has started to pick up a bit. The swims, bike rides, and runs are all getting longer. I am still working on my swimming technique but I know with more practice it will continue to improve. I feel like I am more relaxed and confident in the water than I have ever been. The more I get in the pool, the more I want to get back in and swim again another day. Rodney showed me how to push off and change lanes as well as other things to expect in the pool on the day of the event. Angie has helped me with things like what to wear on race day.

I’m about as new to cycling as I am to swimming so I’ve really got my work cut out for me, but I’m up for the challenge! There are a lot of avid cyclists at the wellness center and I have sought advice from many of them. I have been on a bike rides with some of my fellow members, Ron and Shannon. Shannon even rode his bike in the rain with me one Sunday! We have done a lot of hill work and I have been on some trailways for my shorter rides during the week. I believe Shannon was hand-picked by Rodney to wear me out on those hills and he does a good job!

I’ve had the opportunity to go on a few early morning runs with Rodney and Angie from their home since they live fairly close to me. I’ve never really been accustomed to running with other people (especially of their caliber) so the thought of it made me a little nervous at first. They made me feel comfortable and ran at my pace. I have a feeling if I were to run with them many more times my pace might just improve a little bit, and that would be a good thing!

This weekend Angie and I are running a 5K in Fuquay Varina. I’ve only done one 5k and it was over a year ago so it will be fun to do another in preparation for the triathlon. Hopefully in the next month I will be Tri ready!

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