Spanish teacher Nicole Smelis runs triathlon

Caleb Markley, Writer

Triathlons are a test of all around athletic ability. Incredible endurance and pacing is needed as well as good arm and shoulder strength. FHS Spanish teacher Nicole Smelis recently competed in one as part of her yearly effort.

“I’ve been doing 5ks for a long time,” Smelis said. “It’s something different.
The first year I did it with a couple of friends, and then this year I talked a couple of other friends into doing it with me. It’s kind of a group thing to do with friends and try to stay healthy.”

This is her second year competing in the First Try Triathlon in Linden, after a year off from COVID-19 last year. The triathlon took place on Aug. 21.

“I did it two years ago,” Smelis said. “It’s called the First Try Triathlon and it’s for people who want to get into the sport which is why I did it, not to be really fast. It’s much shorter than an actual triathlon— technically, it’s called a super sprint because it’s short.”

While a triathlon is usually a 1.2 mile swim, a 56 mile bike, and 13.1 mile run, this race was only  a 0.3 mile swim, a 6.2 mile bike and a 1.6 mile run. A triathlon has its ups and downs; the race can often be very different from training.

“The swim and the run were the hardest,” Smelis said. ”Even though I train to swim, I don’t train with a swim cap on. It sounds silly, but oh my goodness it was so hot. There were a couple of times where I thought I wasn’t going to make it and had to hold onto a kayak for a second. Then the run as well because it’s at the end.”

Smelis found that the volunteers at the race really helped her through the tough running portion.

”I don’t really have a favorite part because all of it is crazy hard,” Smelis said. “But this triathlon in particular, they had volunteers at all the corners so you know where to turn, and they were amazing. I wasn’t last, but I came close to last. They still cheered you on and made you keep going.”

Next year, she hopes to come back better than ever as she continues to train with her goal of beating her time for two years ago.