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.
Twenty-two weeks ago, a group of ten Rex Wellness of Garner members took on one of the toughest physical fitness challenges of their lives. They decided to train for a 70.3 mile Half-Iron Distance Triathlon. Some were new to the sport of triathlon and others were simply ready to move past the sprint triathlon distance.
What exactly is a Half-Iron distance triathlon? You start with a 1.2 mile swim, you then transition to a 56 mile bicycle ride and end with a 13.1 mile run. The event that I chose for our group to participate in is Beach to Battleship, which will be held on Saturday, October 17 in Wilmington, NC. Triathlete Magazine named it as one of the top 5 Iron Distance races in the world. There is a full Iron Distance race (140.6) as well.
There were many factors in choosing this race for our team:
- My wife and I have completed the full Iron Distance event twice so I am very familiar with the course
- Wilmington is only a few hours away making it easier for family members to see their loved ones compete
- The swim is in the Intracoastal Waterway, which has its advantages: it is always wetsuit mandatory, there is the added buoyancy of a salt water swim and it generally has a tide. All three of those factors add up to a potentially fast swim. Although the swim is the shortest part of the event, it generally caused the most stress especially for newbies.
For our training program, I chose Be Iron Fit by Don Fink. My wife Angie and I have used it successfully for Beach to Battleship and Ironman Chattanooga. It is designed for the time-crunched athlete and has three training programs so every team member could choose a program to fit their work and family schedule:
- The “just-finish”
As we progressed through our first few weeks of training, it quickly became clear to the team why so few people in the entire world are Iron Distance Triathletes. We work out 6 days per week and train for two of the events (swim, bike, run) on those training days. Fatigue and hunger are our constant companions. Self-doubt can be an annoying companion as well but having a team to share those concerns has really paid off.
We created a Facebook page that has really streamlined our ability to communicate with and support one another. We always share our challenges, concerns and success stories as well. After all, when you spend 4 hours of your Saturday on a bike, hop off to run for an hour then follow that up with a similar Sunday workout, you need all the support you can get.
Lastly, I have to give a big shout-out to our support team. Our Facebook page members include not only our 70.3 competitors but other Rex members too. They are swimmers, cyclist, runners, trainers, our dietician and fellow Ironmen who have donated their time and advice and we could not have made it this far without their help.
By the end of the day on Saturday, October 17, we will welcome several new members to the 70.3 Iron Distance Club and I can’t wait!