Reservist learned to love triathlons|
by Christopher Kratzer
Air University Public Affairs
4/23/2012 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- For the last two years, Lt. Col. Madalyn Marlatt, commander of the 908th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, has enjoyed competing in triathlons. Now she's ready to spread that joy to others by becoming a certified triathlon instructor.
Triathlons are multisport endurance events that include three components, most often swimming, cycling and running.
To become a certified instructor, one must become a member of USA Triathlon, pass a background check, become certified in CPR, attend a clinic and pass a certification exam, she said.
Marlatt hasn't always been the athlete that she is today, though. She decided she needed a change in her life after almost failing her physical training test.
"Three years ago I barely passed my PT test, and it was a wake-up call that I needed to work on my running," Marlatt said. "I signed up for a 5K in my community for motivation, and I figured if I could run a 5K, then the 1.5 would seem easy. It was so much fun that I signed up for another one the next month and ran a 5K every month until they got easy."
Little by little, she discovered the appeal of long-distance running. "Once the 5K's were easy, I wanted a new challenge to keep me motivated and discovered sprint distance triathlons," Marlatt said. "I was hooked after my first one."
The goal for her is not to win every race she enters. Any time she sees personal improvement, she feels she has achieved her goal.
"I'm not fast in any one of the three components of triathlon, so I rarely place in the top three in my division," Marlatt said. "My goal is always to race better than I did the last time. When I cross that finish line, it is a huge rush of adrenalin, and it makes me feel like I can do anything."
Competing in triathlons has brought her many new experiences, some incredible and some not so great, but she said each one has made her stronger.
"My biggest challenge so far has been an XTERRA triathlon that I did last summer," Marlatt said. "XTERRA triathlons are done on trails and on mountain bikes. The terrain was super challenging, and I got stung by a bee during the bike phase. I really wanted to quit at that point, but I stuck it out and finished the (miles.)"
She said there are events for every skill level for people who want to try triathlons but don't know where to start.
"Most people have heard of Ironman, but there are shorter distances of triathlons that are perfect for trying out the sport. There are super-sprint, sprint, Olympic and half-Ironman distances," Marlatt said.
Though super-sprint distances vary, generally the swim portion of the event is 250 meters, the bicycling portion is 6-8 miles, and the run is 1 and a half to 2 miles. "Most people can be ready for a sprint distance triathlon with six to eight weeks of training if they set that as a goal for themselves," she said.