By Peter Holmes on 08/10/09 at 5:45 pm
Jean Draper is the mother of two children, Heyden 7 and Abigail 4. A car accident four years ago meant that her right leg was amputated below the knee, but this didn’t hold her back. The 2009 New York Triathlon was her first standard distance race and she finished third in the TRI5 division (for athletes with moderate leg impairment including below-knee amputees), qualifying her for the ITU World Championships on Australia’s Gold Coast where she took the bronze medal.
What made you decide to compete in triathlon?
My husband was the one who initially got me into triathlon. He was already competing in races and persuaded me to try some.
What does your typical training week consist of?
This year was my first time competing over a standard distance race, before then I had done a couple of sprint races and didn’t do a whole lot of training other than running and spinning. This year I trained six days a week trying to do three run days, three swim days, and three bike days, usually combining my swim and bike days.
Many triathletes use a training log. How meticulous are you in preparation for your training?
To get started for the standard distance I used a very basic training schedule. It was three days of running, swimming and biking and all based on time and building as you go. I believe it was a 16 week training program. I must admit I was not that meticulous as I have two young children, work part time and have a husband who is training for long distance triathlons, so time gets limited! For the most part I followed it pretty well.
What adaptations have you had to make to accommodate your disability for triathlon?
Really the only changes are the swim start and having to start in the water, and then help getting out of the water and having a handler ready to hand me my leg so I can run to transition. The transitions for me are now a bit longer and a little more preparation goes into making sure I have all my legs. liners and socks to have a successful race.
Can you describe any special equipment that you use for triathlon?
I have a running prosthetic and another prosthetic for the bike.
What is the highlight of your involvement in triathlon so far?
For me it was the New York City Triathlon this year. It was the national championships for paratriathlon and it was my first standard distance race. I had signed up to do a standard distance race before I lost my leg in 2005 and never got to complete it so this race was coming full circle for me since my accident. I not only finished my first standard distance race but I qualified for the ITU World Championships with a time of 3:09.
What are your goals for next season?
My goals for the upcoming season are to work on the bike and swim. I have been winging it thus far and would really like to work with a coach to improve these two areas. I think if I put some work into the bike and swim I could achieve my goal of finishing under three hours. I guess a goal time would be 2:55.
Do you have any advice or words of encouragement for individuals thinking about competing in paratriathlon?
Definitely give paratriathlon a try!! As a 36 year old mother of two and a below the knee amputee, I would have never thought I would be where I am today, competing in paratriathlon. It truly has been exciting and wonderful. With a little hard work and dedication anything is possible!