By MARY TAN
AAP staff writer
Are you overweight? Do you want to treat your body better? Is it time for you to try something new?
The YWCA believes in empowering women and eliminating racism. That’s why they’re encouraging everyone to come watch participants in the fourth annual YWCA Women’s Triathalon at Lake Nokomis this weekend.
The triathalon will take place Sunday, August 14 and involve 1,239 participants swimming 500 yards at Lake Nokomis, biking 16 miles and running 3.1 miles. While that sounds intimidating to some, more than half of the women will be first- time triathalon athletes, who have never participated in any other athletic event before.
Nicole Cueno, race director, says the race is inspiring because the women come in all “shapes, sizes, ages and ethnicities.” She believes everyone who participates is a winner, no matter how long it takes you to finish. “It’s a very caring and supportive atmosphere. If you get tired you are never unsupported. There’s always someone there to help you.”
Cueno does wish more people of different ethnicities would participate in her event. “The vast majority of our participants are Caucasian. We would love to have more Asian American women come join us and experience a triathalon.”
As a former participant in the 2008 Olympic Marathon Trials, Cueno is a distinguished runner. She does feel a person needs to be somewhat disciplined to complete the training schedule but she feels it’s a goal most people can achieve with a little determination. Everyone who signs up receives a training plan geared towards beginners. The YWCA also offers classes to help you through the training if you need some extra guidance.
Jane Cacich, 59 , is participating in the YWCA Triathalon for the second time with her two daughters Lindsey, 27 and Allison,24. The Saint Paul Mom was thrilled when she finished her first triathalon last year. “I never thought I could do it because I was not a swimmer. But I did it and we enjoyed it so much. The training was worth it.”
Cacich and many others say the most challenging part was transitioning from biking to running.
“After your legs pump up and down on a bike for 16 miles, your legs feel like bricks when you start running.” She advises those thinking about doing a triathalon to start out slowly and take one step at a time.
But Cueno says don’t let challenges stop you. “We have women who just walk instead of run the 5K leg of the race. In all parts of the race you can stop. In fact, we have people in the water with you during the swimming portion in life jackets. They’re holding floating noodles for you to grab on to if you need a break,” said Cueno.”
This year’s participants range in age from 14 to 73, with the oldest racer last year participating again this year. Event organizers are still looking for volunteers to assist with the race. They say volunteering is a great way to be part of the fun, positive atmosphere without actually doing the race. They also urge you to come and join the other 2,000 spectators who are expected to be cheering on the triathletes.
They say the transition area, where participants transition from swimming to biking and then walking, is a great way to see what it’s all about.
While the YWCA race is specifically for women, there are many others for men and women in the metro area.
You can find them at www.trifind.com. If you are interested in learning more about the YWCA Triathalon or would like to volunteer for Sunday’s event, go online to www.ywcawomenstri.org.