I had the best weekend! After contemplating whether to do the Monticelloman aquabike or the Fredericksburg half marathon, Pablo and I decided to skip racing and head to Peasantman as volunteers instead.
We headed down to Lake Anna State Park on Saturday to join the DC Tri Club for some riding (30 miles), open-water swimming (15 minutes, it was cold!) and camping. On Sunday, we got our 5-mile run in early, then spent the rest of the morning volunteering at the Sprint & Oly Peasantman Triathlon. It was a fantastic weekend! The weather was beautiful, the people were amazing and if you’ve never volunteered at a race, I highly recommend it, you’ll have a great time!
Besides having a blast volunteering, I also really enjoyed training and socializing with my fellow DC Tri Club members. Triathlon may be an individual sport, but it is so much better when you’re part of a team!
Last week USA Triathlon (USAT) actually published an article about why you need to join a triathlon club. For a while I hesitated to join the club, but now I completely agree with the USAT!
Here are just a few benefits of joining a club:
1. Make new friends – I’m sure my non-triathlon friends love me, but there are certain things they are tired of hearing and certain stories they just don’t want to hear. My DC Tri Club friends have a higher tolerance for my triathlon stories. It’s also just so much fun to spend a weekend training, camping and socializing with fellow club members.
2. Learn from others – Just like I have triathlon stories, all the people you meet in the club have their own stories and many times those stories are great resources for you as a newbie or even as an experienced athlete. We are all constantly learning from each other, either through the Club’s forum, the various Club clinics or at happy hours and other social events.
3. Enjoy club benefits – $50 membership, cheap training triathlons, cheap swim clinics and an Ironman training program for $400 which includes a 24-week training plan, access to forums, and various clinics with nutritionists, bike experts, run and swim clinics and a race planning meeting. You cannot beat that!
4. Group workouts – When I first joined the club, I was hesitant to join the group workouts, especially the group rides. They can be intimidating! Many of the riders who go out on the group rides are experienced and fast and the idea of being in a pace line still makes me nervous, let alone the fear of being dropped within the first few minutes.
While I’ve made improvements across all disciplines since last year, I am still just a middle-of-the-packer and I start many of my sentences with “I’m a slow…” or “I am slowly improving at….,” so imagine my surprise when, as I was putting together a DC Tri Ragnar team, the first sentence in most of the interest emails was “I’m interested, but I’m a slow runner” and some of them were much faster than me!
It was a humbling moment that made me realize that I am not alone and more importantly I realized how silly the “I am slow” statement is. If you are signing up for triathlons, 200-mile Ragnar Relays, where you’ll be covering anywhere from 13-21 miles, half marathons or even 5Ks, who cares how fast you’re doing them! All that matters is you are doing it and I’m happy to have you on my team or in my training group any day!
Group workouts are intimidating, but once you realize you are not alone at your pace, they are an amazing training tool, because they hold you accountable, make you push harder, motivate you, make those long training days more enjoyable and actually will help you get faster!
5. Meet training partners – The more you do #1-4, the more likely you are to meet people who train at your pace. Pablo is awesome, but Pablo and I are not the same pace for any of the disciplines -although today we discovered that my fast swim pace has become the same as his base swim pace, yay me! While I typically like working out alone, I have come to really appreciate my workout partners and I’ve learned that a love for exercising alone is not incompatible with having workout partners.
My 2 personal favorites:
6. Never be alone on race day – This is one of the best perks of being on the DC Tri Club and the reason I decided to buy the club’s triathlon gear. As USAT says, “there is nothing better than seeing your teammates during your race.” Seeing a familiar face or even an unfamiliar face in the same gear as you, hearing a “you got this DC Tri!” and giving each other a quick high-five, is often just the energy boost you need! Supporters recognize you too and whether you are racing in DC or on the other side of the country, you are guaranteed to get at least a few “GO DC Tri!” cheers when you are wearing your gear.
7. Give back to your team – Being part of a club also inspires you to give back to others and pay it forward. You can answer people’s questions, lend someone a wetsuit or helmet or get more involved by volunteering at events and mentoring new triathletes. This year I have gotten a lot more involved both volunteering, as a mentor and, as I mentioned before, I put together a DC Ragnar Team, Together We Tri, with fellow club members.
Giving back helps your teammates, but it also has benefits for you. My mentees’ questions often make me think about my own training (check out my upcoming Workout Wednesday posts for more) and yesterday, at Peasantman, I was reminded of my love of photography (I have a bachelors in photojournalism after all) when my water stop volunteering became aid station/photography volunteering. It felt so good to be back behind a camera and even better to see the triathletes smile and get motivated to start running again because of the camera!
More info on USAT sanctioned triathlon clubs is available here and Chris Kaplanis has some good tips when exploring options: Keep in mind all clubs are not created equal. Some are purely social, while others are very competitive. Consider club organization, club leadership, proximity and of course the members. Go out to a club’s social event, workout or talk to members at a race and see what you think.
Most importantly, don’t be intimidated!