'Try a tri': Land trust, Cape Elizabeth mother, extol benefits of swim-bike-run

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CAPE ELIZABETH — As a mother of three boys under 7 years old, Julie Devine knows how important it is to find personal time to recharge, relieve stress and stay healthy.

She does it by swimming, running and riding a bike – all in less than two hours.

Devine, 42, participated in the Tri for Preservation on Aug. 21, her fifth triathlon in two years.

“I never ran a day in my life before 40,” she said. “But as a mom who needed to find her sanity, I used the training as a healthy outlet.”

As a part-time recovery room nurse at Maine Medical Center, wife, mother and active community member, Devine has a lot on her plate. After she discovered she had high cholesterol, she decided to combine the need to get healthy with the need to carve out some personal time.

She started walking, then running, then decided to “try a tri” in 2009.

“I was woefully under-prepared, but wanted to get out there,” Devine said.

After an injury kept her from participating in any triathlons in 2010, she started again in 2011 and completed the Polar Bear Triathlon in May, the Tri for a Cure in June, the TD Bank Beach to Beacon 10K on Aug. 6, and the Tri for Preservation last weekend.

She trains with two groups, sheJAMs and the Triers. Devine said sheJAMs was founded by three friends who wanted to encourage women to participate in outdoor activities. The Triers is a group of women in Cape Elizabeth who get together to motivate each other and train together.

“There is no downside to training,” Devine said. “The groups are filled with wonderful women of all ages and sizes who are non-competitive and non-judgmental.”

The Tri for Preservation is a sprint race with a 500-yard ocean swim along Crescent Beach, a 14-mile bike course and a 3.1-mile run along the shore to Kettle Cove and back along Route 77.

Ted Darling, race director and president of the Cape Elizabeth Land Trust, said CELT has held a triathlon for seven years, but this was the first one at Crescent Beach.

Changes for the inaugural triathlon included the ocean swim and the time of year. Darling said having the swim in a pool restricted the number of participants to about 144 people and holding the race in September made for unpredictable weather, usually rain.

“And, by September, participants have completed a lot of races and it is considered late in the season,” he said. “This year there were over 300 registrations and 31 teams, so about 350 to 360 people participated in the Tri for Preservation.”

Participants ranged in ages from 15 to 70 and came from New England and Canada, California, Texas, Colorado, Michigan and Maryland, he said.

“The event is organized by four people and made possible with the help of about 60 volunteers,” he said.

For those who didn’t want to compete in each leg of the triathlon, there was a relay portion and an aqua-bike event that excludes the run, he said. And the triathlon was a qualifying event for the Maine Senior Games.

Darling said preliminary numbers showed CELT raised about $17,000 for land conservation.

“With such positive feedback, we are looking forward to using the same layout next year,” he said. “The parking is convenient, the course is beautiful and it is compact for transitions.”

“One runner who has been doing triathlons since 1982 said he has seen a lot of courses, but the Tri for Preservation was one of the best run, most scenic races he has ever participated in,” Darling said. “That kind of feedback is great to hear.”

Devine said she finished the Tri for Preservation in 1 hour 47 minutes, and reached a personal goal of completing it under two hours. She said if she can do it, anyone can.

“I want to tell everyone who thinks they can’t, to just get out there and try,” she said. “It is worth it, you are worth it. Get a babysitter and get outside. Join a group, plug in your favorite music in and just take a walk. It will make you a better person, a better mom and more healthy.”

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net. Follow her onTwitter: @amy_k_anderson.

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Julie Devine, wearing an orange swim cap, runs out of the ocean after a 500-yard swim off Crescent Beach in the Tri for Preservation on Aug. 21. She reached her goal of finishing the triathlon in under two hours.

Crowds line Crescent Beach to support participants in the Tri for Preservation on Aug. 21. More than 300 people participated in the event, which raised $17,000 for the Cape Elizabeth Land Trust.

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