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Why Tri Now? – Jumping In!

June 21, 2012

Your first triathlon. You either remember it, or you’re planning on it. And if you’re planning on your first tri, it can be an intimidating experience. There isn’t just one or even two sports to become competent at, but three. And that’s to say nothing of the transition areas. The nice thing though is that other folks are out there too, taking on their first tri right along side you. Don’t believe me? Our own Joyce Nugent is one of those people. You probably know Joyce either from the Lamar sales floor, or in her new role as our Marketing Director. And like a many of our amazing customers, she’s taking on her first triathlon this Fall. Joyce will be checking in with us from time-to-time and she wants to share her experiences with you. As Joyce sets off on this adventure, she’s got to decide if she can learn to swim, and her “maybe coach” has to decide if she can be taught.


Jumping In!

by: Joyce Nugent

Being in the bike industry and working with a bunch of rabid roadies, mountain bikers, triathletes, and BMX-ers has exposed me to many different genres of cycling. I started on a mountain bike and still love riding the trails, then moved on to road biking as well, initially because it was so easy to just head out the door and ride without having to get to a trailhead. Mountain biking is so “Zen” and road riding satisfies my need for speed. More recently, over the last year or so, I have become fascinated with people who do triathlon. The challenge seems so great–having to become adept at three different disciplines–when I know how hard it is to become good at even one of them.  When you combine that with incredible distances, such as the Ironman competitions do, it becomes a study in endurance. I’m in awe of my coworkers who do these.

For some reason, I am the kind of person who loves a challenge and having a goal to work toward motivates me. I decided that I want to do a triathlon and I’ve set my sights on the TriRock, a sprint distance race, on Labor Day. Now to a lot of you that may seem like no big deal. Ever since I’ve started to mention my intention to people, I’ve gotten a good number of responses like, “Really? I did my first tri ever with no training and it was a half-ironman.” These kinds of comments don’t really help me out a lot! For one thing, I don’t know how to swim. For another thing, and I don’t really like to talk about my age, but lets just say I qualify for an AARP card and no one tries to stop me and ask for an ID anymore when I buy liquor, even though those little signs by the register say that they card you just for looking younger than 35. Most people my age don’t decide to take up swimming in open water for the first time in their life.

Joyce is ready to put her cycling fitness to the test in her first tri! First though, there’s that issue of learning to swim!

On the advice of one of my coworkers I contacted a coach in the area, Claudia Spooner. I was told that Claudia is an accomplished triathlete who now coaches and competes. Claudia is in her forties and has children, so I feel like I might be able to relate to her a little more than a 24 year-old guy full of testosterone. I emailed Claudia to inquire about possibly using her services and she sent me back a plethora of forms to fill out asking about my current fitness level, hours available for training, and goals. I tell her that I am an avid cyclist, but that I can’t swim. Oh, and I used to run but its been, um, a few years now. I tell her about my goal race and ask her if it’s even feasible. She responds by asking me to come out to one of her Masters swim classes at a community pool and check it out. I’m thinking she wants to see firsthand how big of a project I’m going to be. Afterward, she and I will meet for a consultation.

The Masters swim class meets at freakin’ 5:30 AM.  My alarm goes off at 5 and I roll out of bed feeling around in the dark room for my stuff, not wanting to wake up my husband. I don’t think he believed me when I told him I was getting up to go do this. I have no idea why not; maybe because he is usually up an hour earlier than me. I then realize that being the first one up means that I actually have to make my own coffee and feed the cat. I sleep in later than him for more than one reason.

Leading the pack on Women’s Ride Day, Joyce now has her sights set on her first tri this Fall.

I arrive at the outdoor pool and the realization hits me that we are swimming in total darkness. Bonus! At least the people in neighboring lanes won’t be able to see me.  There are already at least a dozen (over)zealous people in the water swimming laps. At the end of the pool I see someone standing and I can tell, even in little light, that it must be the coach. Even her silhouette is athletic. Slim, angular and fit in spite of her wearing sweats over a bathing suit. If I do this, will I be transformed into looking like that?

I introduce myself and Claudia says, “Hi Joyce. Jump in and swim a lap for me.” I ask, “Now? Did I mention that I don’t swim?” She asks if I’m afraid of water and I say no, I just don’t know how to freestyle, breathe, kick, and stuff in unison. I can tread water though. So I jump in and start across the 25-yard distance to the wall on the other side. This is when I realize that even though people can’t see me, they can for sure hear all the thrashing and gasping–sounds travels really well over water. I make it a whole 12 yards or so and Claudia tells me to just stop it and come back over and hold on to the side of the pool. I comply. I didn’t know how great it could feel to hang on to something as solid as a concrete wall. She reminds me later that there will be no concrete walls in the open water swim.

Claudia explains to me that swimming is very much about numbers and counting and rhythm. That a swimmers legs kick one, two, three, four, five, six while her arms move on one and four and her breathing is at every other stroke. I explain to Claudia that I was an art major. She is very patient and says that the first thing we have to work on is breathing. I agree. I am a big fan of breathing. I practice this at first while holding on to the side of the pool, just to reduce the number of things I have to worry about all at once. It helps. I learn to breathe in through my mouth and out through my nose and to try not to gulp. The next time I’m turned loose across the pool I make it all the way to the other side. After taking a break over there, I make it back.

An hour later, over coffee, Claudia explains to me that I can just take the swim lessons, but if I hire her to coach me, she will guide me through weekly workouts for the run and bike portions of the tri as well, all designed to get me in proper shape just in time for the Labor Day competition. She asks me if my goal is just to finish, or if I want to do better than that. I tell her that I don’t want to suck and I want to finish at least in the top two-thirds of my age group, meaning in my mind that I want to finish in the top half, but I’m too embarrassed to say so. She assures me that she can help me get there.

She is so hired.


About Joyce:

Joyce started her Bicycle Sport Shop career on the sales floor at the Lamar location about a year and a half ago, having relocated to Austin from Grand Rapids, Michigan. Then new to mountain biking and road riding, having been introduced to it just a couple years prior by her now husband, she was previously a runner and an equestrian. As soon as she started riding all she could think was, “where has this been all my life?” and was hooked.  As of April, Joyce became the new Marketing Director for Bicycle Sport Shop combining nearly twenty years of marketing experience at both ad agencies and on the corporate side and her passion for bikes. As Joyce says, “it doesn’t get much better than that!”

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Esther permalink
    June 21, 2012 2:12 pm

    You Go Girl!!

  2. Jon Holmquist permalink
    June 22, 2012 2:01 am

    Claudia is awesome. She will give you constant motivation, listen and make needed adjustments to your workouts, and if you start making excuses she’ll look at you like you’re speaking a foreign language. Like I said, awesome.

    • Joyce Nugent permalink
      June 26, 2012 3:44 pm

      Thanks for the affirmation, Jon! Love your comment.

  3. June 22, 2012 11:45 am

    I’m rooting for you – good luck!!

  4. June 27, 2012 5:08 am

    Good post … Carry on

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