UNC Health Talk

My First Triathlon part 4: Rodney’s Perspective

Rodney Jenkins, a Group Exercise Instructor at the Rex Wellness Center of Garner.
Rodney Jenkins

Post by Rodney Jenkins, a Group Exercise Instructor at the Rex Wellness Center of Garner. He is also a business teacher, a soccer coach and an athletic trainer with the Wake County Public School system. Rodney, our ‘Garner Ironman,’ is helping first-time triathlete-in-training, Theresa, achieve her goal of completing our July 14th Sprint Triathlon. Follow Rodney and Theresa’s journey through their blog posts over the next few months.

Here we are on week 8 and Theresa’s training is coming along very well. When we started training, Theresa thought that this journey would only involve running, cycling and swimming. That has hardly been the case.

On June 2, Theresa found herself at Jordan Lake at 5:30 a.m. to help work the Raleigh Ironman 70.3. I signed up as a captain for the body marking team months ago, and from that day forward, I was constantly recruiting volunteers which included my wife and several friends and neighbors. I knew this would be a great opportunity for Theresa to see what a half-iron distance race was like and to also see the importance of volunteering.

As athletes, we need to do more than participate – we need to give back! Once we arrived and I was able to organize my 38 volunteers, we went to work and Theresa was up for the challenge. With sharpies in hand, we marked well over 3,000 triathletes. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the process, the athlete’s race number is marked diagonally on the upper right and left arms. The age of the athlete is usually written on the left calf and every swimmer must be marked.

Theresa and Rodney's Wife Angela during the Holly Springs Two Town Tri.
Theresa and Rodney’s Wife Angela during the Holly Springs Two Town Tri.

The following weekend, we were volunteering at the inaugural Two Town Tri in Holly Springs. I was one of the race organizers so I put Theresa to work in the swim area. My wife Angie was a participant and our friend and training partner James was there too. Since all three of us are triathletes, we were able to walk Theresa through the entire triathlon event. She saw firsthand how Angie set up her bike for transition 1 and 2 by strategically placing her bike shoes, helmet, glasses and gloves in one area and her running equipment such as shoes, socks, gels and cap in another area.

After witnessing two triathlons, it was time for Theresa’s first mock triathlon, AKA ‘brick.’ We swam 300 yards in the pool, ran outside into our transition area (the Rex Bike rack), jumped on our bikes then ran. She did great. We needed to get this done this week because next week I depart for Europe for my annual journey with high school students. Am I concerned that Theresa will fall off the wagon while I am gone? Not at all. She is so determined to succeed and her Rex Support group will continue to support her.

Theresa and new friend and trainee James Boyle
Theresa and new friend and trainee James Boyle

Lastly, there is one more thing that Theresa likely did not count on – forming friendships with her teammates. When you train together, a true bond forms and I am so glad that Theresa has become my friend. Not just my new friend but she has become a friend of Angie, James, Shannon, Ron, Jim and the list goes on. We have created a bond because of the Garner Rex Wellness Triathlon. July 14th can’t get here soon enough!