The fourth annual Sampson County Super Sprint Triathlon is tomorrow, and for local participant Frank Brinkley, owner of Bessie Burger and seven Subways, the day is an anniversary of sorts.
“I ran my first triathlon, which was the one here [in Clinton], just last year,” recalled Brinkley who was then 42 years old. “I wanted to take that challenge, to see if my body could do it.”
Pushing his body to do more was very important to Brinkley, who had gastric bypass surgery in June of 2009. “I started running a year after the surgery. A friend of mine got me involved,” said Brinkley who weighed 320 pounds pre-surgery and is now down to 185 pounds. “I have found that a lot of people who have the surgery take it for granted. You have to make a major change. Even though you have the surgery and it helps you limit your portion sizes, you still need to exercise. That’s something I have really learned over the past four or five years. Exercise is the key. It helps keep you from reverting back to your old habits.”
Old habits are a thing of the past for Brinkley who now regularly competes in triathlons. Last year, he competed in 13 sprint triathlons, all in North Carolina.
This year, Brinkley’s goal is to compete in the Beach 2 Battleship half iron distance triathlon that is held in Wilmington in October. “I also want to do more international and Olympic events,” added Brinkley, explaining that those events are about an hour longer than the sprint triathlons he has been doing and include a 1500 meter swim, a 10k run, and a 15 mile bike ride.
As he looks forward to these new challenges, Brinkley stresses how important it is to train regularly. “I’m at the gym four to five days a week, training for about 10 hours a week,” noted Brinkley. “I’m a member of the Center for Health + Wellness where I swim about 2500 meters in the pool a week, bike 40 to 60 miles a week, and run 10 to 20 miles a week. I also lift weights twice a week.”
“Training is hard and it takes a lot of time, but to be successful in the events, you have got to be consistent in your training,” continued Brinkley. “I would advise people to take it slow and easy. Push yourself to do more each week, but don’t try to take huge leaps. It takes time. You’re not going to see immediate results. It’s taken me three years to get to here where I am, where I can consistently run a 10 minute mile.”
Brinkley also believes that setting goals is an important aspect of training. “Goal setting is huge. Without something to strive for it’s going to be really hard. I find that people get to where they don’t really care when they don’t have goals to work toward.”
And goal setting for Brinkley is a continous practice. “My first triathlon, the Sampson County Super Sprint, was good but the run was a struggle,” remembered Brinkley. “It’s gotten easier but I still say that running is my weakest event, the bike is probably my strongest. My goal for this past winter was to have a stronger run and I have done that. I don’t stop until I reach my goals.”
As he looks forward to tomorrow’s triathlon, Brinkley is excited to compete but he also shares some of his other favorite aspects of the event. “I think that anything the community can do to promote exercise and wellness is great. It also helps the local community and economy. It brings lots of people in, brings business and money into the community, and it’s an opportunity to get to meet a lot of different people from a lot of different places.”
The Sampson County Super Sprint Triathlon begins at 9 a.m. tomorrow, March 23, at the Center for Health + Wellness and 200 people have already registered, shared Robin Palmer, programming manager for the Center for Health + Wellness.
There’s still time to register though. “People can still sign up Friday from 3:30 to 6 p.m., and they can even sign up on Saturday from 7 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.,” said Palmer.
As usual, the race consists of a two-mile walk/run, a five-lap pool swim, and a seven-mile bike ride, and “we would love to have lots of people come out and cheer,” Palmer added.
Proceeds from the event will go to Fitness Renaissance and Sampson County 4-H.
For more information about the triathlon, please contact Robin Palmer at 596-5406.
Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 117 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.