If you think life ends after 59, and knitting and soap operas are all that’s left in your future, you might want to meet Jill Wiest.
The Gratz resident, age 60, achieved the dream of competing in the XTERRA World Championship held in Kapula, on the Hawaiian island of Maui. The competition was a triathlon involving an ocean swim, mountain biking course and a trail run through the sand under a hot sun.
“I decided to go back to my active roots of 15 years ago and race off-road triathlon again with the goal of qualifying for the world competition Oct. 27, 10 days after my 60th birthday,’’ Wiest explained. ‘‘I competed in the world competition in 2005 and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It was time to go back!”
Meeting Her Goal
It took Wiest almost a year of preparation by participating in qualifying road and off-road triathlons and 5 and 10K runs, as well as weekly weight training at the Northern Dauphin County YMCA.
“At 60, training becomes more of a challenge than in younger years, so I focused on training plans for Masters Athletes (over 50),’’ she said. ‘‘Joel Friel wrote numerous books on the aging athlete, and they were invaluable.’’
“An individual needs to race two (XTERRA) races to qualify for Maui, one in your region of residence. The higher you finish in a race, the more the points. The more races you do, the more points,’’ said Wiest, who participated in races in New Jersey, Maryland and Virginia. “I was fortunate to finish all three, and because there simply aren’t a lot of women my age doing these off-road triathlons,
“I want to be that ‘old gal’ still out there doing tri’s in old age.’’ Jill Wiest
I was either first or second in all three.” In July, Wiest earned regional champion in her age group, being one of only two women aged 60-64 in her seven-state region participating.
“From that point, my training started focusing on Maui,’’ she said.
The Training Protocol
The Swim. For most people, it can be a challenge just to train, while balancing working and family time. This was no different for Wiest. She found swimming to be the most challenging. ‘‘When I raced triathlons in 2004 and 2005, my swim was the worst, and I ended up switching to just biking because I hated swimming and couldn’t seem to improve.
So I had to work a little harder,’’ she said. Being an older learner, she lacked the stroke muscle memory that most young swimmers grow up with and keep through adulthood. She joined a team in Carlisle and hired two coaches. “One (who swam around Manhattan this summer) analyzed my stroke, while the other (who swam the English Channel and the North Channel in a relay team), worked on open
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Jill Wiest (right) displays the jersey she wore in mountain biking (above) and other competitions during the recent XTERRA event.