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Sam Barke/Photography Intern

By Sofie Farooque

Competing in a triathlon is not an easy task. It takes a ton of dedication and hard work. The difficulty factor is multiplied if you begin with little experience at any of the sports involved. Then again, if it was easy, who would want to do it?

It is hard preparing for the challenge. You will be testing yourself harder than ever before, as you sign up for your first triathlon, but with the right training and will power, anyone can do it.

Most people come to the triathlon world with experience in just one of the three sports involved, usually running or cycling. As you work on the other sports, it will be exciting to know you are growing as an athlete. You will be opening up a whole new chapter — or perhaps more than one — in your athletic history.

The UCI Triathlon Club is different from signing up for a sport on campus because it is not just for veterans. Team workouts are organized into groups from beginners to highly experienced athletes. Many join the club with a background in cross-country or track and field, but that is not how Marc Calilan got started. Calilan is the president of the UCI Triathlon Club and is a second-year anthropology grad student at UCI. Besides being on the football team in high school, Calilan had no previous training. In fact, he did not even know how to swim when he joined the club! Calilan was terrified of triathlons at first, but has gotten tremendously better since joining the team last year and credits his teammates for helping him along the way.

“Some days I’m really sore or can’t get out of bed, and my teammates are there to motivate me every day,” he says.

When beginners start their training, it may seem that getting to the actual finish line is just a dream that will never be accomplished. Soon enough, you will realize that you have what it takes and that’s a great feeling! Members will work out with the club often to get to where they need to be as a swimmer, biker and runner. Workouts with the UCI Triathlon Club are usually from Tuesdays to Saturdays, but schedules are very flexible.

“We understand that many students are active in many organizations on campus and we are flexible with workouts. You can always email the team if you have to miss a workout and there is always someone that will workout out with you,” Calilan says.

As members train, they concentrate on perfecting their running stride, keeping low on the bicycle to decrease wind resistance and learning the repetition of long, slow strokes as they swim. The key is to have full focus on the particular session you are competing in. For example, when entering the water for the swim portion of the triathlon, the triathlon athlete wants to have their mind focused on getting in and out of the water as quickly as possible. They do not want to focus on anything else but the strokes that will get them from one side of the pool to the other.

The challenges that come with completing a triathlon will give you a newfound confidence within yourself. What seemed light-years away from when you first started is now a huge achievement recorded in your personal athletic history. You can now say that you have completed a triathlon and your teammates will be there for you, cheering you along every stride in your step, stroke in the water and each pedal to your metal. After the race, it is not unlikely to stop for tacos or smoothies with the team.

“We are a cohesive team that motivates each other and gets along well. We hang out and go to Taco Tuesdays together all the time,” Calilan says.

Calilan was introduced to triathlons three years ago when his aunt was diagnosed with leukemia. Her doctor said she only had two months to live and the Leukemia Lymphoma Society really helped her during the struggle. After her death, Calilan wanted to be part of the Leukemia Lymphoma Society team in training, which is where he was introduced to triathlons. As a trainee, he ended up raising $2,000 for the organization that year.

As president of the UCI Triathlon Club, Calilan is able to continue his support for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society with the UCI Zot Trot which took place on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012. Ten percent of the proceeds to the UCI Zot Trot will go to the Leukemia Lymphoma Society.
For more information on the UCI Triathlon Club check out their website at: https://sites.google.com/site/ucitriathlon/.

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