Friday Feature – Debi Zaret

Team Triumpher Debi Zaret

When I joined TT in the fall of 2012 I was already cycling, running and doing strength on a regular basis. I had NO idea what I was getting myself into not realizing that the spinning had somewhat of a focus on triathlon. My goal was to simply spin a couple of times of week for fun and exercise. I was also swimming elsewhere but switched to TT to see if I could improve (ha!) I was initially intimidated, however, as I got to know the people, I realized that many of us were there just to keep in shape and have fun!

At that time, I had little knowledge of triathlon – while I could run and bike, I have always struggled with swimming. So, the thought of having to swim bike and run was not on my radar. Fast forward to May 2013 where I signed up for my first tri a tri at Carleton. My goal was to finish regardless of time. I love the training – competing not so much, so finishing made it all worthwhile and if I didn’t finish at least I had TRIed.

Fast forward……since 2013 I have done several sprints – the distance and training fits well with my family commitments and lifestyle. Same goal – Tri my best and hopefully finish. In the past few years the training has paid off, not only finishing, but even placing in my AG and standing on the podium has been rewarding as well!

Because of my lack of confidence in my swim ability, sometimes even imagining that I could finish a 1000-metre time trial has been a deterrent. Especially the fear of open water swimming but this past year I conquered the open water swim at the Tremblant sprint. (I wasn’t fast but I did it!) With a focus to just finish, I managed to get through the swim and off I went on the bike and run!

None of this would have been possible without the support and encouragement of my family as well as everyone in TT who are the most caring group of people. Having recently gone through a difficult time with the loss of my dad, the concern and support of everyone has been incredible. Not only have the workouts provided a great vehicle for stress release but the encouragement and comfort has truly been remarkable. Everyone is so concerned about what is going on in each other’s lives (whether you are a young parent or grandparent or somewhere in between) there are no age/ability barriers and it makes it totally worth it to show up for a swim or spin! I love the inclusivity in the group – whether you are training for an IM or your first tri a tri or just working out to keep healthy – the camaraderie is very special.

I have had to be realistic about my goals in triathlon. As a result of an accident in 2011 I had a compression fracture in my lower spin. A couple of years later I broke my leg. Both incidents related to running. While it took me a while to gain the confidence that I could run again, I am now very realistic about how far and how much my body can tolerate. I was told I would probably never run again but by listening to my body I didn’t take no for an answer and I am now running faster than I ever have. In terms of my swim, I know I will never be in the fastest lane, I made it through the swim at Tremblant and that will be my goal again this year!

Having taken up triathlon in my early 60s, I am. extremely fortunate that I have the opportunity to participate in this sport. I have met an inspirational group of people who for all their own personal reasons are involved with TT. Gaining the confidence to participate in triathlon and especially the open water swim has been a huge accomplishment for me.

This year I move up an age category! Never would I have imagined that at the age of almost 65 would I be involved in the sport of triathlon! I won’t be alone in my new AG in TT, ask several us – we are never too old to TRI!

Team Triumpher Debi Zaret