Tri Challenge: Strength in numbers
July 29th, 2011
03:28 PM ET

Tri Challenge: Strength in numbers

Since January, six iReporters have been training in the Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge. We’re following along as they prepare to compete alongside Dr. Sanjay Gupta in the August 7 Nautica NYC Triathlon.

Well that's it. I've completed my last long workout before the big race and I must say it was the best weekend of training I've ever had. It all came together like never before: swim, bike and run.

My coach Eric called me during the week to tell me this would be my last big workout before the race. I was excited to step up to the challenge but a little nervous as well. I knew how important it would be to make a statement, not to anyone else, just to the guy who use to live in my body. If I had any self doubt I planned on crushing it this weekend.

So, I met with my training group at 6:30 a.m. Saturday morning for an open-water swim. The lake was calm but my nerves were not. From the moment I stepped up to the water line I felt the importance of the moment. I would either grow mentally stronger today or become weaker before the race.

I had two challenging obstacles to overcome. First, I'd never swum around buoys in a triangle setup before and second, I'd never swum with paddles on my hands, much less in open water. Then my coach says "you'll need to do three laps." I thought to myself, I don't even know if I can make it around the buoys. It looked like a long way to go but I quickly remembered it's make it or break it time as our head coach, Consuela Lively aka Sway, say,s "Joaquin get in the middle of the pack!"

So, off I went with the group. Surprised to have made it around the buoys once, then twice and finally a third time with no trouble and even once with the paddles. I felt really good but went for one more lap to feel great and my fourth was the best! It was one extra lap that my coach had asked me to do. So, I left the swim that morning with a ton of confidence and feeling ready for the Hudson.

The next day I would again meet up with my training group at 6:30 a.m. but this time for what's called a triple brick. We would be doing a bike then run, three times in a row. Once again I could feel the importance of the day. I would need to hit all my pace numbers to feel good about my final effort before NYC.

Physically, I focused on my hydration the night before and on keeping my fuel up during the bricks with gel packs. Mentally, I focused on the numbers. My mph's on the bike and my minutes per mile pace on the run. It really helped me stay relaxed and in the flow, especially on my second and third bricks. I actually got faster with each one. It was an incredible feeling to finish the weekend off strong and I can still feel the momentum building from it.

There is definitely strength in numbers when it comes to the sport of triathlon. Whether you're trying to increase your distance on the swim, gain more speed on the bike or improve your time on the run, improving your numbers can really help build your confidence before a race.

Remember, I'm a dad trying to impress his three young daughters. So, I've set a time to beat at the Nautica New York City Triathlon. It's  "NYC in under 3" (hours).

Just how fast will I finish my first tri? Stay tuned to find out. See you at the finish line!

soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Angela

    Good luck to you all! I've enjoyed following your training.

    July 29, 2011 at 16:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Bob

    great job!

    What are your numbers? Pace for cycling and running?

    I am sure you gone do that in less that 3 hours!

    July 31, 2011 at 04:21 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.