Nov 162005
 
Authors: Margaret Canty

Swim a half-mile, bike 20 kilometers and then use every last drop of energy to sprint another 5 kilometers to the finish.

Sarah Lanphier, a swimmer since age 10, started competing in triathlons two years ago with her swim team.

"We did triathlons together during off-season. They were fun, so I decided to continue doing them," said Lanphier, freshman business major.

Now a member of CSU's club triathlon team, Lanphier plans to compete in the National Collegiate Triathlon, the "culminating event" for the team, said Karri Smith, associate director of sports programs.

Although it is the off-season and the team isn't practicing together very often, Lanphier maintains a grueling practice schedule that starts at 6:15 a.m. and affects her entire day, including meals.

"I do master swimming in the morning for about an hour and 15 minutes. Around 1or 2 p.m., I bike for 2 and a half hours and then run for 20 minutes," she said. "It can vary though."

With constant physical activity, Lanphier said eating is "really important."

"I eat between 2,500 and 3,000 calories a day, but that's because I am pretty small. Most guys eat 4,000 to 5,000," she said. "If you're not eating enough of the right things, you'll bonk on the ride."

Registered dietician Dawn Clifford said that "bonking," as Lanphier refers to it, happens to many athletes who do not get enough nutrients before and after their physical activity.

"It's important that athletes obtain enough calories to support their caloric expenditure," Clifford said. "Athletes can hit the wall, which is what we call it when the body has burned all its carbs, the primary energy source."

Like everyone else, Lanphier must eat a mix of most food groups. An average meal for her includes salad, cereal, cottage cheese, fruit and meat. It's not unusual to see her at meals in the residence halls with double the amount of plates as most people.

"Athletes need to make sure they're getting their calories from high quality foods," Clifford said. "The big difference isn't in the quality of the foods they should eat, but the quantity."

For Lanphier, her rigorous training and eating schedule is just a normal day.

"I used to swim four to five hours a day, so I'm used to it. It's just what I do," she said.

Participating in triathlons paid off for Lanphier.

"(Triathlons) make you more efficient at doing things and keep you more on task," she said. "You learn not to procrastinate."

Prioritizing has become an important aspect of Lanphier's life.

"You don't go out and party during the week. You have to get your work done, but it's easier than in high school when you had to be in school for six hours straight," she said.

With the strict schedule of studying and practicing, it's hard to imagine how this sport could be worthwhile, but Langier doesn't question her choices.

"The people and the races are the best part," she said. "Everyone is dedicated and works hard. They're passionate people, and it rubs off."

For her, finishing is the true reward.

"It doesn't matter what your time was, you're just happy to be done," Langier said.

For Langier "being done" can be anywhere from an hour and 20 minutes for a smaller race, to five and a half hours for longer races like the upcoming Iron Man, where she will swim 1.2 miles, bike 65 miles and then run 13.1 miles.

"Triathletes must have perseverance and be dedicated to all three sports and a healthy, well being lifestyle," Smith said. "They are dedicated to themselves and the team."

Langier said one of the hardest aspects of the sport is training herself during the off-season.

"You have to make your own schedule every week, because there is no coach. It can be confusing trying to balance training," she said. "It's complicated to try and plan for the year and the season."

Despite this, Langier has no intention of letting up.

"It's an individual sport so it's sometimes hard to find the motivation," she said. "But it's a bunch of fun."

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