The Shield Online

First a mile then a marathon

What started out as a reason to just keep swimming is now a passion for Ian Clennan, who races in the 2018 USA Triathlon Junior Elite National Championships tomorrow

Ian+Clennan%2C+third+from+right+wearing+the+orange+wristband%2C+prepared+for+the+swimming+leg+at+the+start+of+a+USA+Triathlon+national+qualifier+on+June+23+in+Monroe%2C+Wash.%2C+about+45+minutes+east+of+Seattle.+Clennan+qualified+for+naionals+in+the+junior+elite+division+and+will+compete+at+nationals+tomorrow+%28Saturday%29+in+West+Chester%2C+Ohio.+Photo+courtesy+of+Ian+Clennan.
Back to Article
Back to Article

First a mile then a marathon

Ian Clennan, third from right wearing the orange wristband, prepared for the swimming leg at the start of a USA Triathlon national qualifier on June 23 in Monroe, Wash., about 45 minutes east of Seattle. Clennan qualified for naionals in the junior elite division and will compete at nationals tomorrow (Saturday) in West Chester, Ohio. Photo courtesy of Ian Clennan.

Ian Clennan, third from right wearing the orange wristband, prepared for the swimming leg at the start of a USA Triathlon national qualifier on June 23 in Monroe, Wash., about 45 minutes east of Seattle. Clennan qualified for naionals in the junior elite division and will compete at nationals tomorrow (Saturday) in West Chester, Ohio. Photo courtesy of Ian Clennan.

Ian Clennan, third from right wearing the orange wristband, prepared for the swimming leg at the start of a USA Triathlon national qualifier on June 23 in Monroe, Wash., about 45 minutes east of Seattle. Clennan qualified for naionals in the junior elite division and will compete at nationals tomorrow (Saturday) in West Chester, Ohio. Photo courtesy of Ian Clennan.

Ian Clennan, third from right wearing the orange wristband, prepared for the swimming leg at the start of a USA Triathlon national qualifier on June 23 in Monroe, Wash., about 45 minutes east of Seattle. Clennan qualified for naionals in the junior elite division and will compete at nationals tomorrow (Saturday) in West Chester, Ohio. Photo courtesy of Ian Clennan.

Ian Clennan, Knight staff

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






image_pdfimage_print

When meeting someone for the first time, the “what do you do?” question always seems to come up.

My usual reply: “Well, I’m a swimmer; however, I also compete as a triathlete.”

This answer often leads to the question of how I became a triathlete and why. The answer to that question starts in the pool.

Madison Olsen
Ian Clennan sprints through the Decker Lake course slightly ahead of teammates Finn Corbett and Wyeth Purkiss at the district cross-country meet. The varsity boys placed third overall,
allowing the team to advance to regionals last fall. Photo by Madison Olsen.

After six years of competitive swimming, I began to notice symptoms of the infamous “burnout.” Maybe it was because I had been in the same sport for too long, but I started to dread going to any swim workout or event.

I changed swim teams trying to shake this feeling, and while the new team offered a nice break, my hatred for the sport continued to grow. As I adjusted to my new group of teammates, I discovered the sport of triathlon.

One of my coaches who was trying to start a team with her swimmers. Being former pro cyclists and mechanics, my coaches taught us what they knew about cycling and how to train with the little knowledge of triathlon they had.

We started very small, only a few athletes running out of a shop in Round Rock, where we would run and do bike handling drills. In October 2014, I competed in my first race, without any real knowledge of the sport. I arrived at the course on my BMX bike with goggles in hand. It was the longest 45 minutes of my life.

[Triathlon] has the potential to open countless opportunities to its athletes through both travel and education. ”

— Ian Clennan

As races came and went we learned as a team what we needed to do to become competitive, and I discovered real value in my years of swimming. After two years or so of racing locally, I competed in my first national-level race in Cincinnati.

National-level races completely changed my view of racing. The guys I was racing with were three and four years older than me. At first, it was overwhelming. The competition became much more intense, and as a result so did I. This is when my training became what it is today. To be competitive, my mile times had to drop two minutes and my bike speed averages had to increase three miles per hour in a race.

Clennan crosses the finish line at CapTex triathlon in downtown Austin on Memorial Day. “It’s always downtown and it’s always a great Memorial Day,” Clennan said. “Its highlight is you get to race to the Capitol on your bike.” Clennan took third place in the men’s overall competition at the race. Photo courtesy of Clennan.

The distances also increased from a “super sprint” (200-meter swim, six-mile bike and one-mile run) to a “sprint” (750-meter swim, 15-mile bike and three-mile run). A typical triathlon starts with a swim ranging in distance between 200 meters and two miles in the longest races, bike distances ranging from six miles to 120 and running legs between a mile and a marathon; these vast gaps in distance make athlete training, fueling and equipment vary greatly from race to race.

Figure 1

My races are called “sprints” (750-meter swim, 12-15-mile bike, three-mile run). They are half the distance of an Olympic triathlon. The Olympic triathlon is a “draft legal” race, meaning the bike portion is more like a traditional cycling race with large groups of cyclists instead of an age-group race, which is a time trial. These longer distances are also used off road in X-Terra races. These three types of racing use different equipment, the most obvious being the bike. In a draft-legal race a traditional road bike is needed with “drop bars,” and a traditional frame (see fig 1). In a non-draft race time trial bikes are more common, they are easy to identify by their exotic frame designs and aero bars (see fig 2). Off road races use mountain bikes for easier gear ratios and grip in mud.

Figure 2

After four years of racing, I’ve learned that this up-and-coming and extremely complex sport that over half a million of us (nationwide) share has the potential to open countless opportunities to its athletes through both travel and education. Without the gentle nudge to keep me in the pool for triathlon fitness, athletics would be completely off my radar and for that I am thankful.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




Navigate Left
  • First a mile then a marathon

    Sports

    ‘Climbing just for climbing’s sake’

  • First a mile then a marathon

    Sports

    Claire Rudy enjoys being busy

  • First a mile then a marathon

    Sports

    A blessing in disguise

  • First a mile then a marathon

    Features

    Searle joins Mac family

  • First a mile then a marathon

    Features

    Senior sets goals high, toe touches higher

  • First a mile then a marathon

    Blogs

    Three and… still on?

  • First a mile then a marathon

    Sports

    Knights defeat Rebels in one-sided Battle of the Bell

  • First a mile then a marathon

    Sports

    Mac rowers race on biggest stage

  • First a mile then a marathon

    Sports

    Cruising past Crockett

  • First a mile then a marathon

    Photo Galleries

    One Step Closer

Navigate Right
The Student News Site of McCallum High School
First a mile then a marathon