Even though she was wearing a mask, there was no doubt that the person in line ahead of me in the supermarket was my friend (and former Ithaca Times colleague) Deborah Bliss, and her eyes conveyed that she was happy. I asked her what she had been doing to pass the time during the pandemic and she said, “I did a triathlon today… a virtual one!”
We spoke soon thereafter, and Debbie said, “I like to schedule three or four triathlons every summer, but I wasn’t able, obviously, to do that this year.” She added, “I noticed that some organizations were holding virtual triathlons—or duathlons for those who do not have access to a place to swim, and since I have a pond I signed up for several triathlons.”
When asked what distances were involved, Bliss said, “I prefer the Olympic distance. I recently completed the Grand Rapids virtual event, and I like to see how my time stacks up against other people in my age group.” She continued, “I swim 1500 meters (0.9 mile) in my pond, I bike 24.8 miles and I run a 10K (6.2 miles). It takes me about 3 hours.”
Discussing the adjustments she has had to make during these strange times, she said, “Back when we were in the ‘real world,’ the goal was to qualify for nationals, but that’s not happening.” Showing her propensity to keep the wheels turning, she added, “I found another series of races known as the ‘Terrible Triathlon Series,’ which is comprised of six races. Some of them are like a ‘real race,’ with race bibs, actual transition zones, and I get mentally psyched when I do those.”
Bliss has decided that rather than wait for particular events to be held, she can stay a lot more active if she enters other, longer races. “Those races involve a 1.2 mile swim, a 90 kilometer (55.9 miles) bike ride and a half-marathon (13.1 miles),” she stated. “That is very challenging to me, and when I finish I feel like I really accomplished something.” I was not sure I believed her when she said, “It’s a lot of fun,” and she added, “When the pandemic hit, I could have said, ‘Oh well, I’ll just let this year go by,’ but I know how hard it is to get back into it if you stop.”
While Debbie is clearly in possession of the internal motivation needed to put in many hours of training, she nonetheless likes to keep an eye on how other triathletes are doing. She said, “There is rarely anyone in my age group in regional races, so I like to do national and international events when I can.” She said, “If I can finish somewhere in the middle of the pack when competing against other age groups, I’m happy with that.” I asked one more question: So, Debbie, you mentioned your age group… would I be displaying bad manners in asking what that age group is?
“Oh, that’s okay,” she offered. “I’m 72, so I compete in the 70-74 age group.”
Speaking of cool virtual events, I’d like to share this from my buddy Jyl Dowd: The Cancer Resource Center invites YOU to join us in our first ever Virtual Walk & Run during the July 4th weekend. A lot of things in this world have stopped, but cancer is not one of them. CRC staff and volunteers continue to provide much-needed support services to people facing cancer in our community.
If you want CRC to remain a source of information and comfort for folks during a scary time in their lives, then register online or download a form here. Invite your family and friends from near and far to join the fun and get moving while supporting CRC.
The wonderful thing about this virtual event is that you can walk or run from anywhere, with anyone! So, register today to get started. We are counting on you!
If you have any questions, do not hesitate to reach out, we are happy to help!