A LIFE-CHANGING TRANSITION WITH TRIATHLON
IN A REMARKABLY fast transition, Jenna-Caer Seefried went from being an
overweight, unathletic woman in her early 20s to becoming the 25–29 age-group long-distance triathlon world champion last August. Her first triathlon was only five years earlier, and she took two years off racing in between. As Seefried says of her triathlon experience so far, “It’s been a wild ride.”
Not so long ago, Seefried joined a fitness club to lose 50 pounds of extra weight and then, to keep it off, she joined a running club in fall 2011. She was surprised to find she liked being athletic, but a pelvic stress fracture was the result of running too much, too soon. Because of that injury, she tried biking and swimming, and that led to her first triathlon.
She didn’t waste any time before getting serious about her new sport. In May 2012, she bought a bike and started learning how to swim. Her first triathlon, Ironman 70.3 Buffalo Springs Lake, came just ten weeks later, and her first Ironman race followed 15 months later in Sweden.
She got the confidence to go for a full-distance race after finally breaking the five-hour 70.3 barrier at the Cotswold 113 in England.
“I put together a race that showed what I was doing in training with a 4:56 finish, I was second in my age group, and it made me believe I could really have a crack at Ironman,” she says.
In 2013, Seefried took third at Ironman Sweden and her time of 10:56 went beyond her original dream of finishing in under 12 hours.
“It’s also memorable because a mechanical problem left my bike seat all the way down for the last 30 miles,” she recalls. “I lost some time trying to fix it, only to miss winning the age group and (getting) that Kona spot by less than 12 minutes.”
There were more races before Seefried’s first born arrived in 2014, and then she decided to step away from racing for awhile. Once she returned, her third-place finish at the Canadian Long Distance Nationals was another memorable podium.
“It was the race that made me believe I could really get back to competitive form after taking two years off racing to have my son,” she explains, “and it qualified me for the itu Long Distance World Championships.”
Despite being one of the slower swimmers in her age group at the 2017 itu World Championships, Seefried took first place at 7:10:35, close to six minutes ahead of the second-place finisher. It was her first time there, but she says it won’t be her last.
In 2018, Seefried has a busy schedule lined up including Ironman 70.3 competitions in Victoria and in her home base of Calgary.
“I’ve never focused on the half distance before, I’ve always trained for Ironman or long distance,” she says. “I’m excited to see what happens this year with trying to increase my top end speed. The training has been completely different, and that’s been a lot of fun and a new challenge.”
Seefried is also coaching and can relate to many of the athletes who seek her guidance.
“I love working with those athletes because I’ve been there, I was 50 pounds overweight and never played sports as a kid, so I understand the trepidation of getting started and I love being a part of that journey,” she shares.
As a newbie, the biggest challenge was swimming. “I never had swimming lessons,” she explains, “so YouTube was my teacher for the longest time, and that first length of a pool, I was pretty sure I would drown.”
Once a shy and quiet person, the sport took Seefried out of her comfort zone.
“Triathlon shifted the direction of my life completely,” she says. “I am so grateful for everything it has given me, and I hope to be able to help others experience the same.”
Helen Powers is a regular contributor to Triathlon Magazine Canada.
Some riders use a disc wheel for added speed thanks to the improved aerodynamics. You will usually need a special pump adaptor to be able to access the valve and fill a disc with air. These are sometimes referred to as a “crack pipe” and essentially serve as an extension of your pump to a 90 degree angle. Make sure you have one of these with you if you use a disc wheel – especially when out on the road during the race. Sometimes it can take minutes for a support vehicle to pull up, so make sure the essentials are on your bike.
Those essentials include, at a minimum: spare tube(s), tire levers and I highly recommend a CO2 inflation device rather than a mini-pump. You want to waste as little time as possible, and it takes just a few seconds to inflate a tire to 100 psi with a CO2 cartridge versus the minutes it could take pumping away with a mini-pump. If you are using tubular tires, be sure to also carry a spare that is prestretched so you are able to get it on easily. You will need to be careful taking corners with a tubular that hasn’t been glued, so it’s best to have a pre-stretched tubular with a dried layer of glue already on the base tape. Ensure that your spare tube or tubular tire also has the correct length valve or valve extender installed for your wheels. It’s always better to have a valve that is too long than too short.
Try to bring a spare wheel set, if you can, in case you need to make a last-minute change. Test out both rear wheels at home to ensure shifting is smooth. Sometimes some adjustments will be needed when changing rear wheels. If a few turns of the barrel adjustment on the derailleur have to be made, take note of how many turns are needed and in what direction, so you can easily make the adjustments once the wheel is swapped. If major adjustments are needed, I would recommend against using that particular wheel as a spare.
On race morning, calibrate your power meter before the swim so it’s ready to go once you hit the bike. Also ensure that your bike is in an easy gear so you are able to get up to speed quickly and efficiently.
Nick Di Cristofaro is a mechanic and VeloFix owner-operator.
Zone 3 Vanquish Squad Hornet Alto (CC86 and CC311) Shimano Dura Ace Di2, SLF pulley wheels and Dura-Ace pedals Shimano TR9
Kask Protone (training), Garneau P-09 (racing)
361° Spinject (training),
361° Chaser (racing) Polar 800 OwnWay
ABOVE Jenna-Caer Seefried at the ITU Long Distance World Championships in Penticton