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May 28, 2021

After a year of shutdown and no racing, it looks like racing is happening again with some variation. Today's guest is familiar with all the new protocols, especially, in triathlon racing. I’m Hilary Topper, and this is Hilary Topper on Air. Today I have the great pleasure of speaking with Tim Delss of CBMultiSport. Tim is also the head coach of WeREndurance. Tim, Welcome to the show. Let's talk about the return to triathlon racing.

Tim - Thanks for having me, Hilary.

Hilary - So can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?

Tim - Sure, I am the owner and coach at CBMultiSport, which is a company that I operate here in Maryland focusing on coaching age group triathletes of all ages. My specialty is people like you and me, that work normal jobs and have lives and families and things to schedule work around. In addition to that, I am the head coach for you guys over, WeREndurance. I'm also a business partner with AJ Baucco coaching. And then I also helped the first time Ironman athletes at iron man Maryland, and do the secrets to success clinic and help with race staff there as well.

Hilary - So, can you talk to our listeners about what to expect from Iron man and other long courses, this racing season 2021?

Tim - Yeah. First of all, it's great that we're seeing transitioned back to racing. The return to triathlon racing is very exciting. Last weekend I was actually down at a race in Virginia, the kinetic triathlon festival that had sprint Olympic at 70.3 distance. So, it was fun to be back at a race and see what was going on. There's a lot of variables and what's happening because, obviously, CDC guidelines are changing, each state they're managing their guidelines and their standards all individually. And then, below that, it funnels down to counties and local jurisdiction. So there's no real, set protocol. It depends on where your races are, but, the most important thing is racing is coming back. And from what I've seen, what I've heard, as races are taking off is that the race organizations, the race directors and the staffs are they're putting a lot of time and effort into making things as safe and reasonable as possible. I know, and this may change since the guidelines were just changed by the CDC. But, prior to this weekend, races were requiring you to wear masks, to pack and pick up their space and people out to maintain social distancing.

I know for Eagle man, 70.3, which is our first Ironman branded race. Now this season here in Maryland, we are going to be having people call or schedule their packet pickups. So that'll be coming soon. For those athletes, and their return to triathlon racing, they will be getting an email to schedule when they actually want to pick their pack up to try to minimize crowding. And will be doing the same for bike racking. We'll see how that progresses into the year with other races like Maryland or things like that, but that's just one of the things that Angie and the staff is doing, for Eagle man to make it as efficient, as easy as possible, but, I'm sure you noticed that so many things are in flux right now, especially with the new revisions by the CDC. So, pretty much everything I thought we were going to talk about when we set this up last week, it is about to change. I find it's changing. So, being an awesome podcast, I'm going to give you a lot of “I think” as opposed to “I know”.

Hilary - Yeah, yeah. I know. It's just, it's crazy. Every day something comes out that's completely different than two days before. And, in that vein, what do you think about triathletes? I mean, should we all get vaccinated? Let's take politics out of this and just what do you think in terms of these long races and that type of thing? Should we protect each other and ourselves in order to return to triathlon racing?

Tim - Sure now there's a lot of things to consider there. Some people have cultural beliefs, religious beliefs, their own opinions. Right, and I'm never going to tell someone what they should or shouldn't think. And, unfortunately, in the climate we have here, almost everything is being politicized and the vaccine is… Those are waters that nobody really wants to wait into and rightfully so. But, from a pure triathlon standpoint, if you have access to the vaccine, if you can go get it, like I know here in Maryland, mass vaccination sites are walk up now and we bet we're actually getting to the point where in a lot of places we have more vaccines and we have appointments being filled. Because the initial rush kind of over, everybody can get one versus you have to be a certain age or have a certain predetermined health issue or things like that. If you have access to it, unless you have a very specific reason not to get it, then I don't really see why you shouldn't. I can't tell you not to, but from an endurance sports standpoint, triathlon, especially a long course, it's very hard on the body with the training and the racing, it wears you down, it makes you more susceptible to illness and injury and things like that, and so yes, we are that small percentage, generally of the most healthy people in the country, right? Because we're incredibly active and most people are pretty decent about their eating in some form. And we generally take care of ourselves, which, on the surface, makes us less predisposed to get an illness than someone who smokes two packs a day and doesn't take care of themselves or whatever.

When you're going out there and training hard and racing hard and doing all that stuff, you compromise your immune system, that's why recovery is so important. You know, and that's why triathletes and during south fleets come up sick within, oftentimes, a couple of weeks of a race cause their immune system's down or they're immunocompromised at that point. So to return to triathlon racing, the vaccine can be a tool to help in that regard. I personally got my second shot, last Thursday. So, after my two weeks lapse, I was fully vaccinated and I was never worried about myself. I'm 36 years old. I'm a healthy guy. I don't have, I wasn't worried about me getting COVID, but what I was more worried about is me giving it to someone else or, you know, something like that. So, that for me was an easy personal step. So it's, unfortunately, it's something that everybody has to decide for themselves most Americans have at least one shot at this point, the majority of people that are eligible, right? Not, it's not accounting for children who aren't yet eligible or things like that. And I think that's why we're starting to see things open up and seeing more racing coming back. And, you know, we're getting towards that level of herd immunity that people have been talking about for so long. And, but we're doing it more by vaccine than we are by you catching it and me catching it and everybody else catching it. So that's why things are starting to open back up. I know that's why the CDC relaxed their guidelines because we hit some percentage that they wanted to see. So things are on the up and, hopefully, within a year or two, it's going to be kind of like the flu. In that, they understand more about it. And every year they have a shot that people can get if they want to get it, based on what the strands are doing and the evolution and all that stuff. And it'll just become a small, but normal part of our culture, like the flu.

Hilary - Do you think, sorry to interrupt for a minute, but I just, I'm curious to know your thoughts about whether or not race directors should require either negative test or proof that you got the vaccine in order to return to triathlon racing, is that happening?

Tim - Not that I know of, I know some people in the industry, not necessarily race directors, but bike fitters like chops, stuff like that that are requiring things like that for like bike fittings and stuff like that. As a small race team, if you're a local race director or anything like that, you run a private business and as private business, you're allowed to allow to require those things and request those things. There's been debates on whether or not someone asking you if you're vaccinated to violation of HIPAA laws or whatever, and I'm not a lawyer, I don't study medical law. But I was like, well, I mean, you have to provide proof of vaccination that your kids have had a their measles, mumps, and rubella if they're going to go to school, and that's not a violation or, you know, at the same time, I've read a couple of things that were like, well, there's a, if you're a business owner, race director, whatever, you have an obligation to keep your employees and volunteers safe, that's kind of a counter argument, so to speak. But I don't know of any race directors doing that to return to triathlon racing. The couple of running races that I've done during COVID time has been, you have to wear a mask until the race starts, they're spacing out, starting times. The race I was at this past weekend, they did the same thing. Everybody had to wear their masks in the corral. And then they did like time trial start. And as you were going up to the edge of the beach, they had a trashcan there for you to throw masks. And they also provided two masks to the athletes, and then once you finish, before you lead the finisher shoot, you had to have a mass back on, so I think that race directors are in a really sticky spot because it's, it's a business. Everyone has personal opinions there, but they're also trying to be as safe and welcoming as possible. They're really in kind of a situation that they can't win, so they're kind of trying to balance everything to allow us to get back to racing. And I certainly don't envy the position that they're in with having to make their decisions. But the few that are the ones I know that I've talked to in a couple of races, I've seen, they seem to be doing a pretty good job of doing the best they can.

Hilary - Before we move on, I have to say that I am so appreciative of our sponsors and must take the time out to thank them. Please support our sponsors and tell them that you heard about them on Hilary Topper on air. Special thanks to the Russo law group, the Profit Express with Tim Healey, Pop international galleries, Gold Benes L L P and the Pegalis law group. Now back to you, Tim. So we're talking about racing and triathlons and the return to triathlon racing. Can you tell me if you think this year is a good year for a newbie to race? Why or why not?

Tim - Every year is a good year to try something new. In my local tri club here in Maryland, I actually run a beginners program, where I provide a group focus training plan, they're not individual fully customized, like I do my normal day to day work, but, kind of a group focused plan that leads towards a race that our tri club. And it's a way to welcome the men, give them a little guidance. It allows me to be there to answer their questions and, and kind of help them on their journey. Like someone helped me when I got into this sport. It's never a bad time to try something new and to get in. I don't know how long you've been in the sport, but you know, if we go back 10 years ago, when the triathlon exploded, there were always new people coming in. There was always a rush of excitement. Like there was an atmosphere in the sport that was pretty amazing. And everything kind of settled in the sport retracted a little bit, like most things do after they boom, to what it has been the last few years, which is good, has been steady. Races are still selling out and things like that. So that’s great. It's not like it's just falling off a cliff, but there is something that new athletes bring to the sport that the anticipation, the anxiousness, the nervousness, the excitement that they bring that really kind of excites all athletes, even people that have been doing this a long time. And so I love seeing new people in, the other thing that's happening is with COVID, with the pandemic, the race directors have had to get very creative in trying to figure out ways to bring race and back last summer, fall, and now for 2021. And so, the new athletes can actually use that as an advantage. There are more races popping up. There are different formats popping up, they're now spreading races, instead of having one big race on one day, they're spreading it out over two days. So there are things that are happening that kind of take a little bit of that entry pressure off.

Cause like when I got into this sport, you had to sign, you had to commit to something a year in advance, sign up right away, know everything sold out fast. You had to jump in the deep end just to guarantee that you could get to a starting line. Then you had to work your way back, no matter what distance you were racing. But now there's so much more variety and variability and option that an athlete can really kind of way into the water instead of jumping in or immersing ourselves at kind of their own speed. And after a year off of racing, the seasoned athletes and experienced athletes, they're all really just kind of happy to be getting back to racing. And so the dynamic it's reminding me more of when I first got into it, the atmosphere in the sports, a little different. So, it's more inclusive and it's less, the pressure is less intense. Like people are just happy to be back racing. And so I think that's a great atmosphere for beginners to come into.

Hilary - Absolutely. Now let's just, I just have a question about the pandemic. How should triathletes be careful during racing? I mean, you know, is there anything that you think, advice that you would give a triathlete or an athlete when they are racing with hundreds of other people?

Tim - Well, the biggest thing is, and this we're talking about the pandemic, but this is always going to apply in or out a pandemic is don't do something that you're uncomfortable doing. There's a certain level of discomfort in triathlon. Whether it's tackling a new distance or your legs are tired or lungs are burning, right? There is a saying in triathlon that you get comfortable being uncomfortable and that's very true. What I mean is don't do something that you fear, don't put yourself in a situation that you're worried would be harmful to you. So it's one of those people who has an underlying medical condition or has older family that you're really worried about while everything's still happening with COVID or whatever, then wait a few more months and see how things progress, right? Like there's no reason that you have to just rush into something that you're unprepared for. As far as the racing standpoint goes, the truth is like, I could tell you, make sure you're staying away from people, make sure you're legally not drafting, right. That's more than six feet, right. That don't run close to people when they're sweating and breathing and all that stuff. And I can say all those things, but I think for most of us, once we get into a race, you're not really thinking about a lot of those things. You're kind of you're in the race. So it's like, you're thinking about making sure you get your water and you get your nutrition and you're staying on your pacing and there's so many you just kind of do when you're racing, and for the most part, like being in the water is not really that concerning of an issue right. On the swim portion, on the bike portion, you're not actually supposed to be close enough to really have any issues. So, the biggest sticking point would be the run from a safety standpoint.

And, in that case, it's like, well, don't grout around an aid station. You know, things like that. I haven't raced yet this year, so I can't say personally, but like when I've done running races during COVID we've been required to carry a mask in case we needed to stop at an aid station for the safety of volunteers. I don't know if that's some race directors are requiring that for triathlon aid stations or if they're going self-serve and you know, some of them are doing self-surveyed stations. You know, where someone pours the water and puts it on the table, and then they stay out of the way so you can just run through and grab it, but it's pretty, for the most part, it's pretty easy and triathlon to maintain a reasonable distance. There's been very few times that I've ever been shoulder to shoulder with someone on a run or something like that. Like most things, common sense serves you best, you just have to, you just have to think about it. And unfortunately, it doesn't really seem so common anymore, but, just practical, common sense will serve people well.

Hilary - Absolutely good, good advice. Could you talk a little bit about how you personally help triathletes grow and develop?

Tim - Sure. Triathlon is a sport that rewards two things: time and consistency, and by consistency, I mean, whatever your distance, whether you're a sprint athlete or an iron distance at one 40.6 athlete, or the more consistently you can train over a longer portion of time, the better you will be. It takes years to reach an aerobic peak and things like that. It’s a sport that rewards consistency. So, whether, if I'm coaching an athlete, then obviously I'm managing their day to day training schedules and things like that. So we're shooting, my job is to make sure that they're consistently training, hitting their progressions in their training plans, things like that. If I'm not, if we're just having a conversation and I'm talking to some new athlete at a race venue or something, then usually the advice I give is to find a training schedule that fits your life. You know, it has to fit within your life. I could build the best training plan on earth for you. For example, you know that they'd be like, oh man, we're going to blow some things out of the water and, in a year, you're going to be awesome. But if the schedule doesn't fit into your daily life, it's really helpful to you at all, cause you're not going to do it as it was intended, so you're not going to see the improvement. So there would need to be revisions made, so they need to pick a schedule that fits. The second thing is don't be afraid to take your time. There's been kind of a rush of athletes that come into triathlon and they jump in and they want to get right up to do an iron man because they saw on TV in December when NBC aired it. And you know, it becomes a bucket list item. So they jump in and they want to do it. That's fine and good. And that's a great goal and a great ambition. There's also an extremely high likelihood of injury. If you come from not doing this to try to jump in and do 140 mile race. So don't be afraid to take your time. It should take a few years for you to get to the point of doing an Ironman and then the last thing is don't take it too seriously. Like generally we're kind of type a people, right? We care about data. We care about the numbers. If you use training peaks, you want your work out to be green at the end of the day you don't want to miss stuff, we want to improve. We want to get better. And, and all those things are good traits and there, it can be good and positive. But you still have to remember that this is supposed to be fun for 99.9% of the people. This is a hobby and so while it is good to want to be better and to focus on getting better, don't beat yourself up if you have a bad race, they happen. Or if things don't go the way you want, or, there's always going to be another race on the horizon and it's still supposed to be fun. So enjoy the fact that you're able to do it and take in the experience because if you pay attention to the experience around you while it's happening, it, it really is. Triathlon is an amazing world to live in.

Hilary - Totally. I totally agree. And coach Tim, can you tell our listeners how to get in touch with you to learn more about your services?

Tim - Sure, guys can reach me just about anywhere, you can find me on Facebook, my coaching pages CBMultiSport, or you can look me up by my name. Tim Delss, you can find me at or . For my partnership with A.J. Baucco Coaching, you can also find me roaming the grounds at most triathlons in the Mid-Atlantic area, you can join the WeREndurance team. You can find me there and you can find me on Instagram at CB multi-sport or you can if you don't remember any of that stuff, you can contact Hilary and she can get you to.

Hilary - Absolutely. And I just want to thank you, Tim. This was a great show as always talking about the return to triathlon racing. You're always an amazing guest. I also want to thank our sponsors, the Russo law group, the Profit express, Pop International Galleries, Gold Benes, LLP, and the Pegalis law group. And last but not least, I want to thank you our listeners for tuning in. If you want more information on this show or any other show, you can find us at or you can find us also at Spotify, iTunes, apple podcasts, Google play, even Amazon Alexa, have a great week and we'll see you next time...