By BRIAN WIERIMA
Running a triathlon is mentally challenging for anyone who competes in it, no matter if they are sprinting through each mile, lap or course – or if they are taking their time to ensure they finish it.
The Captiva Tri at South Seas Island Resort Saturday-Sunday, Sept. 12-13, attracts every level of athlete, from the experienced Ironman competitors to the first-timer who just wants to push themselves to the limits.
Longtime Captiva resident Margarethe Thye-Miville and her 15-year-old daughter Maxime, land in the latter category, while Fort Myers 59-year-old Duane Rice has a top three finish in his age division as his goal.
Two different levels, but the same result in mind – the finish line.
“When you finish something like a triathlon, you feel a sense of accomplishment,” Rice said. “In sprint Triathlons like the one in Captiva, I want to finish in the top three in my age division.”
But the biggest competition for Maxime and Margarethe Thye-Miville will be themselves, since their golden ring will be finishing well and having a good time doing it.
The Mivilles, along with Margarethe’s husband, Rene, live right on the bay, just down from Blind Pass on Captiva, so their training facilities are right in their backyard.
“I am not a serious athlete, but I like using my surroundings here on Captiva to swim, kayak and run,” Margarethe said. “I want to push myself and don’t expect a first-place finish, but I don’t want to finish last, either.”
Maxime, who is entering her sophomore year at Fort Myers High School and plays basketball, also feels she is prepared physically for her first triathlon, but there are definitely challenges which will lie ahead of her.
“Mom and I were talking and she said we were more or less in shape and we should try a triathlon sometime,” Maxime said. “I jokingly said ‘yes’, so we are going to try it out. But I run a lot, about 2.5 miles every couple of days and I’ve biked a lot here, as well.”
The triathlon begins with a 1/4 mile (440 yards) swim in the Gulf of Mexico. The swimming will transition into a 10-mile bike race on paved island roads of Captiva, which will be closed for the event.
The finale will include a 5K run (3.2 miles) along the Gulf, Red Fish Pass and the South Seas golf course.
Although Maxime is a regular runner, she said she is very familiar with the biking course. The swimming might be a different story.
“I’ve swam a lot in the Gulf, but honestly, I am going to take it easy in the swimming part of the race, so I know I will finish it,” Maxime said. “I know I will be tired, but I don’t think I will be drop-dead tired at the finish line, though.”
The 5K running finale will be Margarethe’s biggest concern.
“I’m not afraid of the swimming part, but it’s amazing how hard it is to run 3.2 miles for me, even though I run a bit. I still have to push myself through it,” Margarethe said.
The competition and the opportunity to push oneself isn’t the only attraction of the Captiva Tri, though.
“I love the event, because it’s a local fundraiser (Healthy School Pantry) and it benefits someone else who needs the help,” Margarethe added.
Rice will have a top three finish in mind in his 55-59 year old age division. He has finished well in the Captiva triathlon, including a third-place finish in 2013 with a time of 1:05.15.
He also has three Ironman competitions to his accomplishments, as well as seven half-Ironmans.
Rice is approaching his Captiva Tri race as a full sprint through every event, since the course is shorter, thus enabling the experienced athlete to go full throttle.
“And that’s actually a little harder, because I hate 5K’s because you don’t have a pace, you run it at 100-percent,” Rice said. “That’s tough.”
Rice started seriously training for triathlons when he turned 50 as a way to lose weight, after he stopped smoking. It was a good choice, as he shed 30 pounds, but also picked up a healthy hobby in which he trains for five days out of the week with the “Geared Up” training group.
“We swim, bike and run,” Rice said. “We do it as a group, so it makes it into a fun activity.”
Mondays start with an hour swim, followed by a boot camp on Tuesday led by trainer Angie Ferguson. Wednesday is another hour swim, followed by track work.
Thursday is another boot camp, followed by a longer bike ride. Friday is a rest day, then a 50-mile bike ride on Saturday takes about three hours out of Rice’s time.
“I’m a routine kind of person, I love having a routine,” Rice said. “I like the group I work out with.”
Swimming is Rice’s most difficult event, just because of the amount of people kicking and stroking through the water.
“In a pool, you have sides you can grab a hold of and a line to follow,” Rice said. “But in the open water, it can be more choppy and you are out there by yourself. Sometimes you’ll get kicked in the face from someone in front of you and lose your goggles, but you just need to stay calm and put them back on.
“My goal for swimming is going all out towards the buoy, and make that turn. The homestretch is always the easiest.”
After the swimming is done, competitors will have to run to their bikes, change into shoes, then take off on the 10-mile course.
Then the 5K running race begins.
“You are already breathing heavy heading into the 5K, and I always look for someone to pass in my age bracket when running,” Rice said.
Rice stays with the rigorous training because of the people he is training with and that feeling of accomplishment after running a triathlon or Ironman.
It takes time, but the benefits outweigh the work put into training.
“It’s a lifestyle and you make a lot of friends,” Rice said. “You just feel like you got something done after training.”
That finish line is the goal for everyone who begins on the starting line. It doesn’t matter how you make that finish line.
What does matter, is the feeling one gets when crossing it, no matter if it’s your first time or your 99th time.