Are you tired of the same old marathon/half marathon training routine? Want to spice up your workouts? Feel the need to pick up a new sport? Want to achieve a solid overall level of fitness? If you have not tried a triathlon yet, I suggest you get on it, they are FUN and challenging! I have done a small handful in my day and my favorite to date is the Nautica Malibu Triathlon, in none other than Zuma Beach, Malibu, California. It is a half mile ocean swim, 18 mile bike ride and a 4 mile run – just a little over the distance of a standard sprint triathlon. If this distance is too tame for you, there is an ‘International’ race on the Saturday before – 1.5k swim, 40k bike ride and a 10k run.
What is so spectacular about this triathlon you ask?
- It begins and ends in Malibu, what could top that? The weather is typical California perfect in September when the race is conducted.
- The run and the bike portions of the race are relatively flat so you should be able to handle it with ease. If you are experienced, there is a chance you could break your PR.
- In 2012, the event itself raised $1.17 million for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and its pediatric cancer research program. That is pretty amazing.
- Given it’s proximity to Hollywood, this seems to be the triathlon of choice for celebs. The year I did it, I was dead set on beating Teri Hatcher (Desperate Housewives). If that little stick could do it, I could do it better…unfortunately, she only did the swim leg that year…she is one fast stick and I swim, well, not so fast.
What nuggets of wisdom can I share?
- Don’t ever give up. Swimming is my weak link. I was scared to death of swimming in the ocean. So much, that as I started to make my way to the first buoy about 450 feet away, I had a panic attack (PA) – full fledged. Fast breathing and an irrational feeling of impending death from a shark attack or drowning – the whole nine yards. After a few terror filled minutes, I managed to pull it together and flipped over on my back. I started the backstroke trying not to cry and with the taste of saltwater in my mouth (by-product of the PA). I told myself, if I could just get to the first buoy, I would continue on with the race. It seemed like a lifetime before I reached that buoy, but I did it and was able to reach the beach without drowning or seeing a glimpse of a shark (thank god).
- Train in an open water venue with a wetsuit. It could be a lake or ocean (preferable) if you have access to one. If you have never trained with a wetsuit before, it is quite the experience. My first experience wasn’t pleasant. I wasn’t wearing it correctly, got very claustrophobic and wanted to rip it off my body. Once I learned how to properly put it on, I quickly got used to it and now love it.
- Wetsuits are not slimming – don’t get your hopes up that any hint of excess flesh will mysteriously disappear inside the black seal costume.
- The Pacific ocean is COLD. However, the water is sometimes a few degrees colder than normal – bring an extra swim cap just in case – you may need to wear 2 to protect your precious noggin. The water for us was in the low 50’s on race day.
- If you are interested in participating, mark it on your calendars for registration typically in January (I would double check this in case the process has changed). The race will sell out in a day.
- The day of the race is crazy – get there about an hour (or more) early to get set up – traffic is a nightmare.
- If you are not going to travel with your bike, reserve one EARLY – like several months early. The race website has some recommendations on where to go for a good bike. I didn’t do this, and ended up with a rusty 10-speed Schwinn from the 1970’s. It had to be the last available road bike for rent in the entire city of Malibu and the Santa Monica area.
Even though I thought I was going to die that day in the fine city of Malibu in front of Teri Hatcher, the open water swim and this triathlon was one of the most exhilarating athletic experiences of my life. Maybe some day I will do an Iron Man like my awesome friends over at TriNutz.
I walked away with an enormous sense of accomplishment and felt as though I was able to overcome an irrational fear that day. Don’t let your fears get in the way of living life – we all have em. Get on the Life Bus and make it happen!