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Dare2tri

I just watched the most amazing thing. Did you know there are Paratriathlons? You’re probably thinking, duh there are all sorts of parasports. I mean, I knew this, I know there are Paralympic competitions so in theory there must also be triathlons, but there is a whole community around this and we can be part of it!

I should back up here. This all started with my training plan assessments.

had to do an FTP test. I’m emphasizing the “had” because that mentality is about to change

Wait, I need to go further back. Why am I doing an FTP test?

I’ve never had a triathlon coach. All of my training until this year was cobbled together based off free plans, some excellent friends with excellent knowledge, pushing my own limits, and tons of googling “swim workouts for triathletes.” So this year I decided that I either paid for a customized training plan, OR went all out and hired a personal coach. I reached out to a very nice coach in my region and she was super helpful and kind and pointed me towards this program called TriDot. I will do an entire post on TriDot in a little bit, it is awesome. But all you need to know for now is that it’s a machine learning, artificial intelligence platform that analyzes thousands of athletes and their performances and creates custom training plans based on hugely complicated algorithms. 

Super cool, I was skeptical, again I’ll get into that later on, but I gave it a try and it’s AMAZING. I’ve been training under TriDot for the last month and every four weeks there is an assessment period where you perform certain workouts and the program evaluates how much improvement you’ve shown. So I had to do an FTP test. This is a cycling assessment that is incredibly challenging, mentally more than anything. I’m a huge believer in the mental toughness required for competition and that 90% of performance is based around headspace. Things like FTP tests are excellent for working that mental toughness muscle. That doesn’t mean I enjoy them. There are various versions of this test and tons of opinions on what are the “real” ones or what qualifies as a true effort. I won’t get into all that here; I choose to do the 20 minute all-out effort test. Yes, for those of you turning up your noses, there are longer ones that are technically more accurate, but I’m a mom of three, chicken parent of 6, baby chick parent of 4 and frankly I just have to look for time savings where I can. Therefore I do the 20-minute test. So there. 

This is what is happening outside my office window as I type this post. Mom of chickens, for real. They peck at the window until I look at them. I’d like to say it’s because they love me, but much like my kids they just want food. Actually, Hubs just texted and said the door to the coop blew shut and they’re locked out. The coop is where their food is, so my statement still stands.

FTP tests are grueling – in particular if you do them inside which I always do. There’s a pretty lengthy warm up of high power cycling and then you push a 20-minute effort as hard as you possibly can. But you can’t blow up and you don’t want to save too much energy and not go hard enough. It’s a fine balance. At the end, there is another complicated formula that spits out a wattage number which tells you what your Functional Threshold Power is = what your body can maintain for a certain amount of time. This number also determines the efforts of your workouts for the next several weeks.

I like to queue up YouTube videos the night before indoor trainer rides. It’s a nice way to take my mind off the fact that I’m working my butt off without actually going anywhere. There are several triathlon athletes I follow, I watch a lot of swim technique videos, I love watching race highlights and overviews, all of this I find very motivating. Check below for a list of some of my favorite athletes to follow, but I’ll highlight here one couple Jenna + Miguel. They are the nicest people, based on what I’ve seen, and both very competitive athletes. I believe Miguel is having is pro debut this year and both of them are national champs in some capacity. Plus, they were recently sponsored by Quintana Roo cycling, so you know they must be legit. They are a couple based on the West Coast. They put out very entertaining, yet down to earth, videos. What I like most about them is how kind they are to each other, you can tell that they love each other, they love the sport, but most of all they’re really good friends too. 

Okay so I’m doing my FTP test, it’s terrible. Think of the workout you hate doing the most and then imagine doing it for 1,000 hours because that’s how it feels. I’m watching my YouTube queue and I have lots of Jenna + Miguel videos in it because at this point I feel like they’re my friends and personal cheerleaders even though I’ve never met them. The video that pops up is titled I GUIDED FOR A PARATRIATHLETE-racing with a blind athlete at the Paratriathlon National Champs from July 2022.

What?

This is a real thing and it is a really awesome thing. 

Watch the video.

Description: The day after her wins at the USA Triathlon Legacy Tri in Long Beach, Jenna acted as a guide for triathlete Lizzie during the Paratriathlon National Championships. Lizzie is visually impaired, and in paratriathlon, VI-athletes compete with a guide acting as their eyes during the race.

Jenna swam tethered to this woman, Lizzie, in an open-water swim; being her eyes and non-verbally communicating with her when to turn. She then rode a tandem bicycle, narrating every step of the way what to expect, when to pedal, bumps, brakes, and turns. Then she re-tethered to her to run the final portion of the race. There’s a portion of the video when the screen goes black and stays that way for several minutes. All you hear is Jenna describing the bike course and talking Lizzie through it. At first I thought there was a glitch in the editing but then realized it was intentional. They were letting the viewer feel what it is like to trust someone completely during an event. The fact I was on my bike at the time made it even more impactful.

This is what this community is about, making competitive sports available to everybody. I watched this video with a huge smile on my face, it carried me through the entire FTP test, when I’m normally grimacing and muttering the entire time. I was so inspired by Lizzie, by Jenna for being her guide, and by the community that offered support to help them be successful. I got off my bike and thought, shame on me for having to do an FTP test. I GET to do an FTP test. I GET to go for a ride. I get to open my eyes in the morning and do all my training. I need to change my attitude and I need to get involved in this organization! If you want to learn more, the link www.dare2tri.com has a ton of information.

I can’t wait to get myself and my kids involved. I love modeling to them things I’m passionate about and there’s no better way to teach empathy and kindness than being Jesus’ hands and feet. Showing them that we can use the passions God gave us to serve others is priceless. 

4 thoughts on “Dare2tri”

  1. I have enjoyed reading your blog! I was so excited when I checked my email today and saw a new post, and now, after enjoying so much your writing style, your humor, and your story, I’m excited to learn more about para triathletes. One of Violet’s friend has just started learning more about para athlete competition since she has learned that she qualifies to compete as one, and now she and her mom are advocating in our wisconsin high school biking races to see some representation and adaptations for para athletes. Thanks for sharing the inspirational video and keep the great blog posts coming!

    1. That is so cool! I would love to hear more about that, this organization Dare2tri is based in the Midwest and it seems most of their camps and events are in the WI/IL area. Definitely something I want to look into more closely. Thanks for reading the blog and the kind words! I really appreciate it!

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