De Soto mother, daughter train for, compete in first grueling triathlon
Battling boredom and needing a change, Linda Jokisch set out to find a sport that would fulfill her craving for running and provide her with new challenges.
The answer was simple. Competing in triathlons would allow Jokisch to fulfill her love to run, plus add the challenges of swimming and biking all into one lung-burning, leg-tiring and heart-pounding event.
"I have friends that look at me and tell me that I'm nuts," she said of her new hobby.
But Jokisch doesn't care. All she knows is when she broke the tape to end her first competition at the 2005 Topeka Tinman Short Course Triathlon and Duathlon she felt a true sense of accomplishment.
The 43-year-old De Soto resident finished the 200-meter swim, nine-mile bike ride and three-mile run with the14th best time out of 16 competitors in the women's 40 to 44 age group in a time of 1 hour, 22 minutes and 51 seconds. Not bad for a first-time competitor.
Jokisch, who was coaxed into the sport while talking with fellow triathlete Jane Jarboe, said the toughest part of the grueling triathlons was the transition from biking to running.
"Your legs are real tired," she said of having to run three miles after biking nine. "They feel like lead. You kind of get used to it and then after about a half mile your legs begin to work themselves out of it."
She also discovered swimming in a lake didn't compare to the comforts of training in a chlorine pool. Jokisch could see clearly during her practices, but she struggled through to see in the grainy water of actual competition. It was a challenge just to maintain her line.
There is no rhyme or reason for Jokisch's training pattern. She just goes with the flow. One day she may swim and the next day go for a run.
Because she's been running for 13 years, Jokisch began training for the Tinman last fall by swimming two to three days a week. During the long hard months of winter, Jokisch would bundle up and run with the assistance of a flashlight.
She often awoke at 5:15 a.m. so she and Jarboe could arrive at the Bonner Springs YMCA by 5:45 to begin a portion of their workouts.
Jokisch said she received plenty of encouragement and support when she arrived in Topeka for her debut triathlon. Many of the same athletes she would soon be swimming stroke-for-stroke with took the time to give her tips and helped her set up for her different transitions.
Preparation for the inaugural race included attention to diet. Jokisch ate pasta the night before the race and then consumed a banana, a granola bar and drank plenty of water the morning of the event. Jokisch packed a half bottle of ice and Gatorade for the trek. She also included another granola bar just in case she needed a little extra energy.
Linda wasn't the only member of the Jokisch household to compete at the Tinman. Her 18-year old daughter Sarah also endured the 12-mile short course.
The younger Jokisch is a swimming instructor at the Bonner Springs YMCA and a lifeguard at the De Soto swimming pool. She used her water experience to gain an early edge over many of her fellow competitors.
Sarah finished the event in fourth place in the female 17 to 19 age group with a time of 1:26.30 despite very little training. For her, too, the toughest part of the race was the transitioning from biking to running.
"You use different muscles in each event," Sarah said. "I was very wobbly to start out the running part of my race. But it went away after about a quarter of a mile."
The 2005 De Soto High School graduate said she would try to talk anybody considering such a feat into going for it.
"I would even talk them into training with me," she said. "It helps to train with others."
Endurance events run in the family.
Jokisch's father, David, completed the Chicago Marathon with Linda five years ago, and has aspirations of enduring another 26.2-mile course in the near future. Her boyfriend, Tanner McNamara, is also a very competitive cyclist.
Linda summed up the whole triathlon experience this way.
"You have to be willing to not give up," she said. "You have to keep working at it even when you don't think you can go anymore. Keep pushing yourself. Keep going. It gets better and better. Anything you work on you can do if you work on it a little bit every day."