Warmup Tougher Than Race

For the second year in a row, MacNiven, a personal trainer and youth swim coach here, placed second in her 55-to-59-year-old age group
Maidstone Park’s terrain is not a whole lot different from that at The Hague in the Netherlands. Jack Graves

   Annette MacNiven, on her return from the recent world cross triathlon championships held at The Hague in the Netherlands, said that the swim warmup in the North Sea had proved to be far harder than the swim-bike-run event itself.
    For the second year in a row, MacNiven, a personal trainer and youth swim coach here, placed second in her 55-to-59-year-old age group. As a result, she was one of six members of the United States team to win medals. “I couldn’t have caught the other girl even if I had had a motorcycle,” MacNiven said, with a smile, during a recent conversation.
    She came late in life to swimming, and though quite proficient now in a pool, her experience in the ocean has been minimal. Before leaving for the Netherlands, she swam with her husband, Tom, from Indian Wells to Atlantic Avenue, but only under some duress.
    “The first time, I just dipped my feet in and retreated, but then I saw that’s what they had the junior lifeguards do, going out a little bit farther each time before returning to the beach. One step at a time, little by little, bit by bit, you don’t need to charge in. The second day, I swam from Indian Wells to Atlantic, and felt pretty good about it.”
    “But the day they had the warmup in the North Sea was quite different. It was a 1K, not all that long, but the conditions were terrible. The wind was blowing 20 knots, the waves were huge, the water was cold. Tom told me to ‘get beyond the white stuff.’ I really didn’t think I’d be able to get out, but, somehow, I did. Frankly, that was a real accomplishment. A lot of people bailed out that day, and there were only a couple of lifeguards in sight. Tom said he couldn’t believe I did it. After that, I was ready for anything.”
    The 16-mile bicycle leg and the 10K run, she said, reminded her of the Walking Dunes of Napeague. “We did four loops on the bike course, running with our bikes on the soft sand in the dunes and riding on the hard pack on the beach. The run was like running through the Walking Dunes, three 2-mile loops. The first two were okay, the third was horrible.”
    The woman who bested her, MacNiven said, “turned out to be on Wikipedia!”
    “I’m not on Wikipedia,” she added, with a laugh.