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Triathlon

Allison Moehlis: Triathlon Training a Humbling Experience — In More Ways Than One

Competitors learn race can expose all their weaknesses, and occasionally some body parts, but strength builds from the fragility

The trainer and the student (and author): Matt Trost and Allison Moehlis. Click to view larger
The trainer and the student (and author): Matt Trost and Allison Moehlis. (Moehlis family photo)

I have been the underachiever in the elite group of 6 a.m.-ers (people who exercise at 6 a.m.) at the Goleta Valley Athletic Club for nine years now. This group includes Ironmen, Spartans and people who are actually Tough Enough.

This nuclear family is a very positive influence on me and gave me the confidence to accept the Ironman 70.3 Triathlon (1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike and 13.1-mile run) challenge in Santa Cruz on Sept. 11. I have quickly learned, though, that it is humility and mental fortitude that fuel training endurance.

Enter Matt Trost, “Trainer Extraordinaire.” Matt is the exception to the rule of “those who can’t ... teach.” Just look at the race results: You’ll find him at the front of the pack.

In addition to being a winning triathlete, he is a wise trainer who works well with my feistiness. On more than one occasion he has had to remind me that he is the professional trainer and that I might try what he is suggesting, then question him if I don’t think it’s working.

Matt is also not shy to remind me that “this is not a fashion show” when I am worried about how I look when trying something new.

Matt is such a dedicated and engaged trainer that he even swims in the pool with me to observe closely and give immediate feedback.

For example, one time after finishing a few intense laps I was standing along the edge of the pool resting with my arms outstretched, and he kindly recommended that I might want to adjust my top. Actually, I wanted to liquefy and flow down the drain.

Matt was unfazed, gentlemanly and professional. He gingerly encouraged me to invest in a “more athletic swimsuit” and explained that this sort of thing is no big deal and happens all the time.

I learned that my goggles really are watertight as the tears filled them up while I was questioning my future as an Ironman. By 7 p.m., I got over the humiliation, a mere 11 hours later (Note: I could have finished an Ironman 70.3 in that amount of time), and texted Matt. He was so relieved that I had gotten over it and that we could laugh.

The next day I bought a “more athletic swimsuit.” I call it “Fort Knockers: The Goods are Safe Inside.”

Another example of Matt’s extraordinary training:

I have had tons of fun participating in many different athletic events because I embody Julie Moss’ (famous for crawling across the Ironman Kona finish line second in 1982) advice to the Santa Barbara Triathlon Club to “do you.”

The Goleta Valley Athletic Club’s 6 a.m. crew includes, from. left, Tammy McCarthy, Jon Goodman, Allison Moehlis, Catherine Gloster, Julie Klapp, Gina Clements Nisbet, Valerie Tyler, Viju Mathew, Pete Knappe and Julius Deleon Tuvilla. Click to view larger
The Goleta Valley Athletic Club’s 6 a.m. crew includes, from. left, Tammy McCarthy, Jon Goodman, Allison Moehlis, Catherine Gloster, Julie Klapp, Gina Clements Nisbet, Valerie Tyler, Viju Mathew, Pete Knappe and Julius Deleon Tuvilla. (Christopher Petrosian photo)

That is until this year’s Ojai Metric Century, which was a catastrophe for me. I approached it as a race until my bike broke down (graciously fixed by volunteers), then I got lost twice (Notice a theme?), at which point I decided to abandon the event.

With time to wait while being transported and repaired, I reached out to Matt, who was right there for me, encouraging me to turn the music up in my mind and press on. Then when I ... well ... got lost a second time and gave up ... he understood and clearly explained that this was important because, during my Ironman 70.3, it isn’t going to be bliss the whole time, and that I have much to glean from hitting a low.

Matt believed in me and continued to give me support that day and well into the evening until I reached mental fortitude. I will be forever grateful to him for that.

Training for the Ironman 70.3 Santa Cruz has exposed my weaknesses (in addition to other parts). Most important, it has also shined a light on my inspiration, my home base, my 6 a.m. nuclear family and my trainer.

When I cross the finish line, it will be them carrying me.

Noozhawk contributing writer Allison Moehlis is proud to have earned many participation medals for completing half-marathons, metric century bike rides and triathlons. When she is not basking in the glow of her medal collection, she is a working mom of two bright and talented daughters and a happy wife of 17 years. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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