Karla’s First Triathlon

Karla Burgess’ experience training for a triathlon was life-changing. I am so proud of her accomplishments and her commitment to fitness. In my previous job as a trainer in the South Bay near Hermosa Beach I had the joy of coaching and training Karla in her triathlon. I held her accountable and she was very responsive and dedicated as she began seeing results quickly. It drove her to become very motivated. She is a true inspiration to everyone out there looking for an amazing workout.

Karla’s  First Triathlon Experience

This event raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. The 2008 Kings Trail Triathlon, hosted by the non profit Maui Multi Sports Club was in the 8th running of the only road triathlon on the island of Maui!

The swim portion of the race was 1.5k (1 mile, or the equivalent of half way around Naples Island) in the clear blue waters off Makena. The bike portion was 40k (roughly 24 miles) through the manicured resorts of Makena and Wailea. The run is a 10k (7 miles) following the ancient Hawaiian Kings Trail down into the area of the last volcanic activity on the island of Maui. How much better can you get for your first triathlon 🙂

WOW…what an experience.  I have so many stories to share about the last five months…but I did it! I cannot believe I finished a triathlon. Who would have know? Certainly not me.

Below are some pictures of those affected by cancer. I raced in honor of them:

Why I Did It

I went to our ICU Christmas party in December and sat next to someone who would become a great close friend, Andie. She talked on and on about Team in Training and the triathlons she had competed in. Somehow we kept sitting next to each other at the party. As few hours went by, I found myself fascinated by her stories. Being competitive by nature the thought of joining a team to train for a triathlon was intriguing. I hesitated to tell my husband Joel about it…knowing he would think I was crazier than ever.

The next day was Sunday. I awoke with plans to talk to Joel about it. Now, you have to understand the past years we have had together have been so difficult…as our desire to start a family has not happened with 2 failed in-vitro fertilization. My body was thin, tired, still had the heavy hormones circulating, and the emotional turmoil was too great to describe. I was depressed, losing weight, uninterested in life. The last thing I figured he wanted to hear was this idea of joining an endurance sports team.

I approached my husband with caution…and as always he was right beside me as we walked hand in hand and hour later into the gym to sign up for a membership. He even agreed to a full time physical trainer. He continues to amaze me.

So It Begins

And thus started the process. I met Jack Nunn, my trainer, and we proceeded to set a plan for the triathlon in June. He is a former National Team Rower and just completed his first Ironman in Nice, France, so you can imagine the workouts he had set up for me. I was astonished at the intensity of each workout.

Even at the height of my swimming workouts in high school I had never trained this hard. We even did the infamous sand dunes in Manhattan Beach. I started to take creatine and glucosamine to gain weight and help with muscle strength. I also had to take 1200mg of ibuprofen daily just to get out of bed. The team had official workouts every Tuesday and Saturday. I have a fear of two things in the world: honey bees and open water swimming. Both were in my near future…

Our first ocean swim was tough…we had wetsuits on which are great for buoyancy but tough to breath in. The Friday afternoon before our first ocean swim there was the San Diego shark attack on a triathlete training with his team in the open water. Need I say more about my anxiety? Joel was up north with his family at the time and I must have called him 10 times crying on the phone, so nervous about the next day. It took everything I had, every ounce of strength and pure guts to get into that water.

We swam in Long Beach in the bay, so we were told no marine life could enter the bay, so it was safe. I was a 1/2 mile into the swim when I saw it….the sun hit the slimy back of something in the water, I couldn’t quite see what it was other than it was close, big and coming closer. That was it. I was done. I stopped breathing, started to hyperventilate, couldn’t move a muscle. I could hardly get out the words about “something is in the water.”  Then it decided to show itself, it was a seal. But by that time it was too late for me, I had gone to shore to regroup.

Feeling like a failure and being so competitive by nature,  I talked myself back into the water. I told myself “this is my strongest leg of the race, get it together, show them you can do it.” Jack was also confident in me and my abilities on the swim section of the race knowing that I was a swimmer in college he told me that I would have to be disciplined and train my breathing techniques.

Jack told me how easy it was to have difficulties breathing while swimming with hundreds of people next to you. After thinking about Jack’s experiences and knowing I had the confidence to swim, I zipped up my suit and got back in the ocean to  join three other swimmers and together we completed another mile. I never swam better in my life and that day was the easiest day of the training.

More to Conquer

Conquering the Malibu hills on the bike was a whole other story. Our first day out there I got through the first two hills (lovingly known as the ‘3 bitches’)…and then I experienced the worst pelvic cramps of my life. All I could think about in the back of my head was Jack telling me “Legs, push, breathe….” over and over again.  As I got to the top of the hill I just wept. I continued to cry all the way back to the car.

The workouts, pain, cramps, it all came crashing down like a ton of bricks. I felt buried under it all. I got into the car and for the next hour cried my eyes out to mom and Joel. Why did I sign up for this? I can’t do this?! I can’t do this!!! I was crushed when I finally made it home. That night I realized the hormones and the emotional experience of it all was just too much that day…again, with Joel at my side I got up the next morning and went to the gym to visit Jack and go for another training session. It was a great workout that day…and I never looked back after that. Hills, hormones, sore muscles…I was going to conquer them!

Then my knee went out! I was on the treadmill at the gym when I heard a ‘pop’ and severe pain to my left knee. Jack thought it was a torn ACL, and our TNT coach benched me from practice. I rushed to the doc, he twisted my knee in ways I didn’t think was possible. Offered an MRI, an ortho consult…again, being aggressive and competitive I declined and asked for the quickest road to health. So everyday I iced my knee, I wore a brace, increased the ibuprofen, rubbed topical medication on three times a day, did anything to help it.

It seemed as though it took forever to heal. I was depressed, thinking great, I am now behind all the other athletes on the team. But then one day it just didn’t hurt anymore and I was on the road again. With the help of Jack, he introduced me to the indoor cycling classes ‘Spinning,’ and I got back on track with my training.

The Big Event

April arrived and my parents surprised me by telling me they were coming to Maui to watch the triathlon! I was so excited…but I knew mom was holding something big back as her expression couldn’t lie! Then my sister Julie called while I was at mom and dad’s – – they were coming too…and little Emma and newborn Noah!  Now, they just had a baby, were trying to save money, have a ton of things going on…and they were coming to watch the event. I sat on the couch and cried. I knew my family was supportive and loving, but this was just too much. I was overwhelmed. I knew I couldn’t let them down…and so I began to train even harder.

May came and the fund raising was in high gear…not only did we have to train but we needed to raise $5400 each to enter the event and help the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society raise money for research. We ended up raising over 300k as the Westside Team…which will pay for 3 research grants….what if one of those finds a cure? It’s amazing just thinking about it.

All of a sudden it was June. What happened to the year? As a family boarded the United flight to Maui and I felt so honored to have them all there. It was amazing and I tried to slow time to savor every precious moment. Click here to read the rest of Karla’s story


Jack Nunn’s Final Thoughts

Bodies in motion, stay in motion. A body at rest will stay at rest! Make sure you move your body and get some type of workout in at least 2-3 times a week. Whatever your goals are, I want to get them for you sooner 🙂 If you are interested in training for a triathlon or extra sessions, please contact me at powerhousefit@gmail.com

Please refer this to a friend on facebook and become a FAN. We will ROW! ROW! ROW! through the holidays. Thank you for all your support and here comes many exciting changes and a whole new energy to Roworx in 2011 ! Row Hard ..Have Fun!!

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Jack Nunn

Jack Nunn is the head trainer and owner of Roworx. Jack is a former national team rower who has competed in more than 100 triathlons, including 9 full Ironmans. He has created a system of rowing that prepares the whole body for both competition and fitness longevity.

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