A half-mile swim would be plenty of exercise for most folks. To follow that half-mile swim with an 11-mile bike ride and a 3.1-mile run? Well, that’s just crazy talk.
But a growing number of amateur athletes who have caught triathlon fever call the sport “exhilarating.”
“You just feel invigorated after you complete the race; there’s no way to describe it,” said Secaucus resident Jamie Impreveduto, who recently competed in the Danskin Women’s Triathlon in Sandy Hook. “I find triathlons to be exhilarating. And it’s personally satisfying when you train and prepare for something like this and complete the race.”
These grueling races have become quite popular lately, with triathlon classes popping up in gyms and “triathlon coaches” offering up their services. Even singer/actress Jennifer Lopez completed a charity triathlon earlier this month. The triathlon, it seems, is the new yoga.
Impreveduto and her sister Loren McCue, who also competed in the Danskin Tri, caught the triathlon bug three years ago.
“I played softball [while attending Secaucus High School],” said McCue, who now lives in Point Pleasant. “But growing up, I wasn’t a major athlete. I’m more into exercising to keep fit. The husband of a friend mentioned [triathlons] to us. I had just had my first baby a year earlier. And I figured it would be a good way to get back into shape. So we tried it. But we were never interested in anything like this until three years ago.”
The sisters are the daughters of former Secaucus-based Assemblyman Anthony Impreveduto.
Training brick by brick
Danskin, a clothing company, sponsored its first women-only-triathlon in 1990 and since then more than 200,000 amateur and elite athletes have competed in their races. The Sandy Hook triathlon was one of eight the company sponsored in the U.S. this year.
Competitors pay a $75 registration fee to enter the race, 5 percent of which Danskin donates to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
“We had a grandmother who died many years ago from breast cancer,” McCue stated. “So being part of a triathlon that raised money for cancer research was also a really good feeling, and just made the race more meaningful.”
With a finish time of 1:23:24, Impreveduto finished an impressive 318th out of 1,513 women who competed in Sandy Hook on Sept. 14. “Honestly, I didn’t think I was too prepared for the race,” she said modestly. “I just had surgery about two months ago. So I really wasn’t able to train like I really wanted.”
The Danskin race was Impreveduto’s third triathlon; she has also competed in two half marathons.
He sister was shier about her results.
“I’d really love it if you didn’t put my time in [the article],” McCue said, laughing. “I’m not really proud of it.”
Still, she managed to complete the race, which was only her second triathlon – and she admits she “didn’t really train.”
“For my first triathlon I had more time to work out and train, ’cause I only had one baby. I used to work out in a gym, weight train, run, and bike when I could,” she said. “This time I didn’t really train much because I now have a second baby and it was a lot harder.”
McCue, a speech pathologist, estimates that she worked out about 15 to 20 hours a week prior to the Danskin race.
“This time around, I was just trying to compete with myself. But now that I see that I can complete a race without much training,” she said, “I want to do it again and really do it the right way.”
Preparing for a triathlon is similar to training for a marathon in that most competitors try to follow a systematic workout to build up skills, endurance, and strength over time.
Triathlon associations – and there are dozens of them – recommend that novices first build up such basic skills as being able to make U-turns on a bike without putting a foot down, or learning multiple swim strokes. From there the novice can try to build endurance.
For example, Impreveduto, who ran track in high school, said an athlete will “go for a bike ride then do a short run, or swim and then bike for some distance so that your body gets used to that combination. Those kinds of double workouts are called ‘bricks.’ “
Although some people in training workout alone, Impreveduto said most try to team up with a partner or group of athletes. Usually these training groups will follow a very specific training regimen.
“It’s easier to stay motivated,” Impreveduto said, “and a group can sometimes help you with your weaknesses.”
McCue said she plans to start a tailored training regimen soon, adding that she’d like to do the Danskin Tri again next year and run a half marathon. She hopes this training will help her improve her swims, the most difficult part of the tri for her, and improve her transition times.
The sisters both claim triathlons aren’t as intimidating as they may seem and encourage people, even those with a passing interest, to give one a try. “If you think you might want to start training I’d say try to do very short combination workouts,” advised Impreveduto, who hopes to do a half Ironman next year. “And from there you can build up little by little.”
Comments on this story can be sent to email@example.com.