It was quite the weekend for Tamara Tabeek at the Snowbasin Resort near Ogden, Utah.
On Saturday, she placed second in her age group at the XTERRA USA Championship off-road triathlon. The very next day, she went out and won her age group for the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship.
"I always say I don't have enough sense and don't know any better," said Tabeek, who resides in San Diego, California. "For me, the back-to-back physical efforts are a good training workout, especially the running. Sometimes it's tough to get in a good long-distance run, so in this case, with XTERRA having a trail race the very next day, I said why not take advantage of it?"
Never mind that Tabeek is 52. Or that she was the only female from the triathlon field to even attempt the trail run the next day.
"Age is just a number," she said. "I think a lot of folks, as we start to get older we probably think too much about the number and what society says we should be doing at that age. Some people take a laid-back sedentary approach after they reach a certain age. I say phooey on that. I say live each day like it's your last."
(Tamara Tabeek pictured, courtesy www.brightroom.com)
To appreciate her accomplishment, take a look at the numbers. The Saturday triathlon consisted of a 1,500-meter swim, a 28-kilometer mountain bike, and then a 10K trail run. She finished that course in 3 hours, 38 minutes, 4 seconds. Ironically, she said her toughest stretch of the day came during the run course.
"I had a good swim and a good bike - actually bettered my bike time by five minutes," Tabeek noted. "But for some reason just had a tough time on the run. I don't know if it was the altitude, or what."
She said it only fueled her desire to compete in the Trail Run National Championship 21K race the next day. "I had already signed up for it, and once I commit to something, I don't back out," she said.
Tabeek completed the Sunday 21K Trail Run in 2:08:00, which was 29th best among all females, and over an hour faster than the next runner in her age group. The end result was her first XTERRA Trail Run National Championship.
"XTERRA is about pushing yourself to the limit, whether it's in the triathlon or the trail run," she said. "I feel like that's what I did. I didn't have a great run on Saturday, but I wanted to push myself the next day and give it another try, and I felt great."
It helps that Tabeek keeps elite company in her San Diego training circuit. Lesley Paterson, the 2011 XTERRA World Champion and 2012 National Champion, is her main training partner.
Tabeek actually taught Paterson the ins and outs of mountain biking more than a decade ago, and then Paterson introduced Tabeek to XTERRA triathlons.
"Obviously, she's the best in the world at what we do," Tabeek said. "So when she wants to drag me around to train with her, who am I to say no?"
After the whirlwind weekend, Tabeek said she returned to California and took one day off before returning to work (she owns a packaging design company). Her training never stopped. In fact, she said the 21K trail run championship race was part of her training for the XTERRA World Championship off-road triathlon on Maui next month. She is a defending world champion in the women's 50-54 division.
"For me to push myself in tough situations like that is good physically and mentally," she said.
If given a chance, Tabeek said she'll do another double-event weekend next year … or anytime, really.
"As long as I can keep doing what I do, it keeps me young and young-minded," she said. "I'm having a blast and I feel fortunate, so why stop?"