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I will chronicle my first steps into how I opened the door to a spot on Team USA for the Winter Triathlon in Asiago, Italy February 2019.

A Triathlon Journey, Adventure & Destination - Race Recalled

marc mone winter triathlonA triathlon journey, adventure & destination with two of my favorite people. My rock in life, Marcie Moné and training partner Kevin Triathlete Elmore. As for most triathlon events the preparation is fairly repetitive, swim, bike, run, strength training, eat, sleep and repeat. The Winter Triathlon, World Championships Asiago Winter Triathlon World Championships 2019 however was unique, training & preparation was different in so many ways. Winter triathlon encompasses a sport, cross country skiing that requires as much technique or more than swimming. Fortunately with cross country skiing if you stop you don’t drown. I found the skiing to be very challenging for me to learn in the few training sessions I was able to accomplish before the race. On a flat course it was tough, the course in Italy was very hilly which made it brutal in every sense of the word. The uphills were punishing because I didn’t really learn how to climb. Using every upper body muscle I had to climb the 500’ of elevation gain that the course delivered in roughly 4 miles was exhausting. The down hills were terrifying because I had limited control and steerage on the descents. I was just as afraid of taking out another athlete as I was for my own safety. I have a new found respect for the fear of of the unknown. I can now more closely relate to someone thinking about how they will get out through the surf and back in safely to T1 in an open water swim of a typical triathlon.

The winter triathlon event itself is a combination of and in this order, run, mountain bike & cross country skiing. Preparation is unique because lots of new gear is required, warm clothing which adds weight and reduces mobility. Different running shoes, something waterproof and with a tread that will provide stability and traction on snow and ice up hills and down. Of course skis, boots & polls. Questions come to mind shall I wear gloves to change into my ski boots or keep them on and try to keep my hands from freezing, what beanie shall I wear the thin one I used under my helmet on the bike or something different to ski with, oy vey!

Transition is set up very specifically in a World Championship race, failure to do so is either a time penalty or disqualification. After transition was set up all men were lead single file numerically by bib number to the start line and then sent off like a herd of wild buffalo.

Now out on the run course there was really no turning back and the finish line needed to be crossed! So 31° and snowing was the current situation we were in, up and down the hills for 2 laps, with a quick call to nature. The footing on the run was rough at best kinda like a bad hair transplant, plugs everywhere! I entered T1 trying to get my heart rate back under control and start the mountain bike portion because about 100 yards out from transition was the steepest climb on the bike course. With the course being 2 laps it was fairly congested, narrow and navigation was of paramount importance and I didn’t want to have to dismount on the course. The climb on the loop portion of the course we did twice, was just over a 1/4 mile long at an 8% grade, it was a leg burner. Safely returning to T2 it was time to transition into my waiting frozen ski boots and man up for the ski portion of the triathlon, this would challenge me to a limit I’ve rarely been to in the past. The first loop of the ski course would be challenging in the sense that there were still so many athletes still on the course. I feared for their safety as I entered the track, stand clear California is here! My beginner skill set made climbing difficult because I lacked that specific skill and the descents frighting for the same reason. After completing the first loop I was confident that I would cross the finish line in some shape or form. On the second loop I had to switch my technique on the climbs from my awkward V1 technique to double polling up the hills. This was basically all upper body and was everything I had to get to the top of every climb, then recover at the top. For every climb was a harrowing decent where I kinda had to just say “ok lets do this” and the outcome would be the out come. I think I went down about 4 times and believe I had more snow on me that anyone on the course that day! Crossing that finish line was a great feeling of accomplishment.

As always I was proud to be a representative of USAT TeamUSA representing America with 7 other teammates from the US. We made friends from all points on the globe and the Italian hospitality was over the top. We will have memories to share forever about out Winter Triathlon experience in Asiago, Veneto, Italy. Thanks to the European Triathlon Union’s support of the Winter Triathlon, USA Triathlon and the countless volunteers that made this all possible. Including our sponsors and partners Challenged Athletes Foundation Cádomotus: The Speed of Intelligent Motion, SBR Sports, Inc., Team F2C Nutrition, Mdrive, Unify, Smart Home, Safetti USA, On The Spot Media, Converze Media

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Prepared, Poised and Ready to Rumble

Fast forward 2 weeks and it’s game on at Nationals. We arrive in Minnesota on Thursday January 25th and gather our ski’s from REI and our Bikes from Now Bikes & Fitness. On Friday we search out the race venue and set out to attempt a course familiarization session. The race director said it was not going to be a challenging course but it tested out limits with some steep sweeping downhills and uphill’s. So we both feel confident that at least we will be able to complete the course and the race in its entirety on Saturday. We covered the entire course which ended up being 7.19 Kilometers.

Now its off to packet pick-up, no problem, pre-race meal, check, final preparations back at the hotel room and off to bed for a sound nights rest. Fortunately, the triathlon did not start until 9:00 am. We packed the car and off to the race venue to set up transition and figure out how to stay warm and warmed up before the race. The race consisted of a 5K run, 17K bike and a 7K cross country ski. We are super excited to have an opportunity to challenge ourselves for a spot on Team USA for Winter Triathlon.

A mass start ensues with the run being the first event in the triathlon a 5K loop around Lake Phalen, mostly flat with a couple short climbs. Headed into T1 where I will add one layer a windbreaker jacket to keep the wind chill off my body while riding the bike. The bike course also went around the lake 3 times with a short extension through the park to get the 17K. Despite a couple spills in some deep snow I survived the bike segment without incident. Now the segment we were all kind of dreading, the skiing. Now it was time to couple finesse with speed of which I had neither. I got off to a slow start and as one might expect and would be passed by many more proficient skiers along the way. Based on the fact that this was my fourth time on cross country skis I did fairly well staying upright and moving forward. By the time I covered 19.3 miles and 2:12:42 later I was done and grinning ear to ear as I crossed the finish line. I had accomplished my goal of successfully completing a Winter Triathlon. The journey was sensational because along the way I had challenged myself to do things I’d never done before, met new friends and been to places I’d not seen before.

I was excited to finish 4th out of 8 athletes in the 55 to 59 AG and secured a spot on Team USA. I’m pleased to say that I am currently training for the Winter World Championships in Asiago, Italy held on February 10th, 2018. Always set goals and believe in your dreams. It may not always be easy but it was sure worth it.

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Taking the Next Step Into the Journey

Marc Mone Winter Triathlon World Championships JourneyWe searched and researched thoroughly, winter clothing, snow cross running shoes, beanies, leggings, wind proof base layers, gloves that provided warmth and dexterity etc. Next, we then had to find a location where we could take a cross country ski lessons and rent some fat tire mountain bikes. Our local southern California mountains had not received enough snow for that to be a training location. Salt Lake City, UT seemed the likely option. We were able to secure ski lessons at Solitude Nordic Center in Big Cottonwood Canyon. Day one was going to be cross country lessons and day two would be a mock triathlon. So, the travel plans were made and off we went.

Marc Mone Winter Triathlon World Championships JourneyOn Friday morning January 12th day one, we received our fitting, gathered our gear for the group lesson and headed out back to the ski park. The ski park is basically a flat course with lots of turns, this was really going to challenge me no doubt! A Nordic ski set up, is a toe mounted binding and very narrow skis and long polls. Cross country skiing is just as much arms and upper body as it is legs, so being a strong swimmer and still in fairly good shape I felt ready to proceed. The basics of forward progress and maintaining momentum were explained to us by our instructor. Mastering the timing and coordination of the movements were about as foreign to me as learning to line dance. There were lots of embarrassing moments for me falling down and trying to get back up looking like a one-legged flamingo in the process. The lesson lasted one hour then we were on our own, we spent roughly 4 hours that day getting comfortable with balance, timing and coordination.

On day two January 13th, we drove about an hour from Salt Lake City to Park City. We were able to locate a place to rent the fat tire mountain bikes, cross country skis and it provided a venue for us to ski and complete our practice triathlon. We proceeded to gear up and prepare for our adventure at 7000’ feet of elevation in 27 degree weather. We found a trail adjacent to the bike rental shop that provided us with a great place to run and ride our bikes. We stepped out and did a 5K run, some ice made this run a little dicey at times, but we prevailed. That experience took about 30 minutes. Then it was time to mount our bikes for a challenging ride on some single track bike trails. Riding in the snow presents it’s own set of challenges, varied terrain, different snow depths and surfaces. We spent roughly 2 hours finding our way around the mountain enjoying the views and challenges that were presented to us on the bike. We were a bit anxious with this ride not really knowing how these bikes would handle in snow and ice out on the trails. Mission accomplished, and it was now time to rent our skis and complete the triathlon. But by this we had burned some calories and were in need of some food. We belled up to a local pub for a nice blackened salmon sandwich for lunch, hydration and some needed rest.

Marc Mone Winter Triathlon World Championships JourneyAfter lunch we proceeded to White Pine Touring Nordic Center in Park City to rent our skis and complete leg number three of our triathlon. The Nordic ski course was set up on a location that is a golf course in the summer. It had some twists, turns and hills that presented some new challenges, trying to turn on skis with no edges. We covered a distance of 3.26 Kilometers in 45 minutes, elapsed time of 1:05:40 not bad for a couple amateurs! We felt proud, tired and accomplished all at the same time. Beginner level preparation for accomplished Age Group Triathletes, but it’s the best we could do, so we are now ready for The National Age Group Winter Triathlon Championships in Minnesota. I was encouraged at this point that I would be able to share this experience with my fellow USA Triathlon Ambassadors, family, friends with the adventure it rewarded me with.

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Checking Off Another Item On My Bucket List

It all started 11 Months ago as I was thinking, for the 3rd year in a row how would I create an opportunity to compete as a winter triathlete in Southern California for a race in Minnesota. It wouldn’t be easy, but it was sure worth it. Traveling to Minneapolis in January by myself in the dead of winter wasn’t high on the list for me. I needed a partner, someone who will take a risk and have some fun at the same time. There was really only one option the guy I spend all my time training with Kevin Elmore. We had traveled to many National and International events over the years so naturally it would be a great fit. I presented the Idea about the winter triathlon to Kevin in it’s unique multisport format which was run, bike & ski to be done in the frozen tundra of St Paul Minnesota. Naturally Kevin was curious and concerned as was I because neither of us knew the 1st thing about winter triathlon much less how to cross country ski.

We were faced with several challenges in order to prepare for the National Qualifying event that was essentially 6 weeks out from the day we decided to make a go of it. We would be able to carry our triathlon season fitness into January with a few changes to our routine. We needed to find some snow and that was not happening anywhere near our residences in Southern California, we needed to rent cross country skis, fat tire mountain bikes, attain some cold weather training gear, plan a training trip in addition to a trip to Minnesota to the event itself. These components added some anxiety to the excitement of the preparation for the training and eventually the race.

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Marc Moné
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