S.H.E.: Tips for Taking on a Triathlon

By Stacie Smith • Last Updated 12:06 pm on Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Area athletes looking for a new challenge might be interested in participating in a triathlon. Before swimming, biking and running to the finish line, some area tri-athletes offer practical tips for success.

Jeramy Duffield of Greenville competed in his first triathlon a few years ago in Fremont and competed in the running portion of the Tri Del Sol while his wife cycled the biking portion. Duffield’s wife, Tiffany, was the driving force behind his getting involved in triathlons.

“The biggest thing is having a good support system and having a reasonable goal,” Duffield said. “You can register for a tri thinking, ‘I can run this fast, I swim this much and I can bike this far, but at the end of the day you should just want to cross the finish line.’”

Duffield’s suggestion for equipment is making sure to have a good pair of running shoes and a good-working bicycle. He pressed the importance of starting out small and not running out and buying the most equipment available.

Stanton resident, 36-year-old Michelle Johnson, prepared to compete in her third triathlon at Clifford Lake, which was put on by the Clifford Lake Inn. She had always been a recreational runner and competed in area 5K races, but once she heard of the Clifford Lake event to benefit the Central Montcalm High School girls’ basketball team, she signed up.

Johnson saw the swim portion as the most daunting challenge of the race.

“I have a friend who does tris all the time and he said, ‘You can swim across the lake, it’s not that far,’ but I explained I don’t swim,” Johnson said.

Johnson had her friend watch her swim and he explained her stroke would make her tire quickly and not have energy to complete, so she enlisted her sister who had taken swim lessons at Montcalm Community College to improve her technique.

Her first Clifford Lake Triathlon also made her realize to do well in the biking portion, it is important to have the right bike. Rather than invest in an expensive road bike, she simply borrowed one from a friend who cycles and races frequently. Johnson also thinks it is wise to take part in the swimming practices offered every Monday and Wednesday night at Clifford Lake where someone follows behind the slowest swimmer in a pontoon to make certain everyone makes it to shore safely.

Both Duffield and Johnson think the most important part of participating in a triathlon is accomplishing the goal of crossing the finish successfully.

“Even the person who comes in last is simply excited to finish,” Johnson added.

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