Slacker trains for the June Lake Triathlon, “The Toughest Race in the Most Beautiful Place”
I’d had a couple glasses of wine when I decided to sign up for the June Lake Triathlon. A girlfriend of mine, a new mom, wanted to set it as a goal for herself and I flippantly said, “sure, I’ll do that with you!”
I don’t consider myself athletic (especially not compared to most Eastern Sierra athletes), but I’m active. I’ve run several marathons and a few more halves, and I swam in high school. Bikes? Sure, I can ride a bike.
It seemed plausible.
However, I severely underestimated how badass triathletes are—at least that’s what the race prep has taught me.
The June Lake Triathlon was started in 2007 by Alana Levin, who said that there was once a June Lake Tri in the 1980s, but that it was defunct by the time she moved to the Eastern Sierra. She was racing triathlons at the time, and thought it would be a perfect setting for one.
“I asked everybody I knew to put on a triathlon, but nobody would do it, so I finally decided I would do it myself,” said Levin.
This will be the event’s 11th year, although Levin has never raced it. “I can’t race it. There’s too much going on on race day! One day, maybe,” she said with a laugh. Levin is also a trainer for the High Sierra Triathlon Club, a group of super-dedicated local enthusiasts that hold multiple practice events in the months leading up to the race.
Rea “Gaines” momentum
After I signed up for the Tri, I joined the club so I could go to swim practices, since I figured that was the skill I needed to improve the most. Boy, was I right. Sally Gaines, the salty 65-year-old swim coach and President of the Tri Club, kicked my butt every week in the nicest way possible. She even emailed me links to articles about technique.
Here’s the thing about these Tri people, at least the ones I met in the club—they’re hardcore, they’re very teamwork-oriented for sport as individual as triathlon, and all they’ve got really shiny stuff.
Here’s the thing about me—I’m kind of a slacker, I prefer working out on my own (probably so nobody else hears me gasp for air), and all my gear is super crappy. I never sprung for a proper swimsuit and wore a bikini to all the practices. At least I got a free blaze orange swim cap with my Tri Club membership.