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  • Writer's pictureRamsey Bergeron

Nautica Malibu Triathlon: as a coach and a competitor

Paying It Forward

I vividly remember my first triathlon. It was a sprint triathlon in Carlsbad California in 2007. A 1k swim in the Pacific ocean, a 25k bike and a 5k run with views of the ocean. That first beautiful, terrifying experience has me coming back to triathlon time and time again. This past weekend, I got to share that feeling by introducing 2 relay teams to the sport at the Nautica Malibu Triathlon.

Tricia, Katya, Kelly and I in New Zealand

Back in February, I had taken a group of 18 to hike the Milford Track in Fiordland in New Zealand. A few of us went out for hikes together after returning to Arizona and one day while hiking with two of my fellow travelers, Katya and Tricia, we discussed finding new goals to keep fit. I mentioned I was doing the Nautica Malibu Triathlon and suggested that if they found doing all three legs of the triathlon too intimidating, they should form a relay team. After the dust settled, we ended up with TWO relay teams this weekend, and out of the 6 girls who comprised the teams, only one had ever done a triathlon before.

Jumping in the Deep End

Out of those six, one of them is my client Katya who I have been training for several years. Katya is a trooper. She is tenacious in achieving any goal we lay out. So when 3 months ago I talked her into doing the swim portion of the relay we made a plan of what it would take to get her to cross the finish line of an open water, 800m ocean swim. For starters, Katya didn't know how to swim! So we met at the pool many times to go over basics. How to breathe, how to pull, how to not panic. Then we transitioned to a lake. Then this past Friday, it was time for the real test: the ocean.

We arrived Friday afternoon and after picking up my race packet for my individual International Distance Race on Saturday (more on that later), Katya, Kelly (another client who was with us in New Zealand) and I proceeded down to the water to get a swim in. A former high school swimmer, Kelly zipped out past the waves and took to it like, well, a fish in water. Katya had a little more trouble getting use to the waves crashing down and throwing her back towards the beach. We spent time out there and I taught her how to dive down under the breakers and just keep swimming. She still had two days till her race and would get to watch the international distance that the other relay team and I were doing Saturday to watch what others do.

On Sunday, Katya exceeded her goal of finishing in 25 minutes by coming out of the water in 22! It is such a great feeling when I see clients do something they never thought possible.

One of my former clients, Sandy, who moved to San Diego came up and was our cycling and my wife Ashley capped off the team as the runner. It was a lot of fun getting to watch them on the course.

International Distance Relay

The day before, Kelly, Tricia, and their friend Nicole relayed the international distance. I didn't get to watch as much of their race since I was right along side them racing the same course. But afterwards they seemed like kids on Christmas morning and all are certain they will do a solo triathlon next year instead of the relay.

Shouldering the Burden

Saturday was the first race I had done since having my labrum repaired in my left shoulder back around Memorial Day. My only goal was to finish and make sure the shoulder would hold up for the whole swim. Being in the second wave, I wished the girls good luck in transition and headed down to swim start. I felt unusually calm before this race. Whether it was because their was a pod of dolphins playing by the start line, or it was the fourth time I have competed here (more than any other location), when the gun went off, my heart didn't pop out of my chest.

The swim went surprisingly well. I had made a concerted effort to follow all of the PT instructions I had post surgery, and spent more time in the pool than I had in previous years. I managed to make it out faster than my previous PR by about 30 seconds! That may not seem like a lot, but for having to sleep in a recliner 3 and a half months ago and not being able to lift my arm over my head, it was significant.

My bike was average, and considering the reduced cardio I was forced to do post-surgery that was also a win. Its a great course with a few rollers along the PCH that has just enough climb to make you get out of your saddle once or twice. I skated into transition 5 minutes faster than my bike time last year.

Oh the run. Of the three disciplines, its by far my least favorite. I knew I hadn't run very much at all lately and with my back already being sore, 10 minute miles would be an optimistic goal. I managed to stay just under 11 minute miles and beat last years run by 7 minutes.

All in all, it was a great weekend as an athlete, a coach, a husband, and a friend.

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