Written by Christy Hinko Friday, 27 August 2010 00:00
Being a part of any Rotary club is usually associated with charity, and good deeds within the local community as well as on a worldwide scale. Rotarians tirelessly lend their time and service to helping others. One local Farmingdale Rotarian is no exception. Yasuo Usui has been an active member with the Farmingdale and Massapequa Rotary clubs for 20 years this fall. Usui’s local contribution is through an ongoing project that he started three years ago, the Rotary’s Triathlon Project. Each year, Usui participates in the Tobay Triathlon; he chooses a local cause to support through pledges received for his participation in the event. This year, Usui has selected Hope for the Future Ministries in Farmingdale as the beneficiary of his pledges. A building fire financially and emotionally devastated the ministries back in November.
“They were struggling to come back to an operational level, but they need all of the help that is available; maybe that will be a worthy cause,” said Usui. “Because of Rotary, I have a sense of what I can do to help the community.”
Usui, 63, has completed this Tobay Triathlon three times previously as an individual, and once as part of a relay team. He has completed the NYC Marathon at least six times in the past also. Throughout the year, he regularly swims, bikes and runs each week and he attests to not having a rigid training or diet program. His fitness is simply a lifestyle choice.
“Exercise has become a daily routine; I am not doing much in the way of training per se or anything special,” said Usui. “If anything, in terms of training, I increase the frequency each week to four plus days a week, but I am not crazy about the weights or really any other kind of exercise.”
A native of Japan and measuring in at five feet tall, Usui also practices moderation and reasonable healthful eating habits.
“Since I’ve been in this country, back in 1970, I am used to all of the delicious foods that are bad for your health; I have indulged in all of them, even gaining 20 pounds at one time,” said Usui. “I believe in moderate proportions and intake; once in a while it is okay to indulge in chocolate or ice cream.”
Usui stresses that the work put into being fit has to be enjoyed in order for it to have longevity. Usui said, “I am doing this to keep my health in check, that is the reward; I want to finish the race in good condition.” During such events, he is conscious of not overexerting himself, enjoying the event and competing safely.
Usui reduces his exercising to two times in the week leading up to the triathlon to ensure top performance on race day.
Although he suffers from chronic asthma, he is well aware of his own physical limitations. “Just the same way you would get to play at a place like Carnegie Hall, you have to practice, by knowing your abilities,” said Usui.
He does admit one of the things he finds most challenging about competing in a triathlon is going from practicing swimming in a pool where he is able to use pool markings to maintain his bearings, while in the open water it is easy to deviate from the course. He relies heavily on his sense of direction.
Another Farmingdale community member, owner of Priestley Chiropractic, Walter Priestley is also a returning competitor in this year’s triathlon. His son is also participating in the Junior Triathlon again this year.
“I participate in the triathlon because it is fun to have a defined goal that you can aspire to,” said Priestley. “Aerobic activities such as swimming, biking, and running release endorphins that make you feel good naturally.”
Priestley prepares for the triathlon, practicing swimming at an indoor pool throughout the winter, and cycling and running in the hills on the North Shore leading up to the race. He recalls having participated in the triathlons years ago when he worked as a lifeguard. “When I was in my twenties, I didn’t have to prepare; I just did it,” said Priestley. “I fell out of it for a long time, and put on weight. I knew I had to do something radical to get myself back in shape.”
The 23rd annual Tobay Triathlon is being held on Sunday, Aug. 29 starting at 7:30 a.m. at the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park in Oyster Bay and is hosted by Runner’s Edge of Farmingdale and the Greater Long Island Running Club.
Participants, aged 14 and older, will swim a half mile, bike 9.3 miles and complete the race with a 3.1-mile run. Registration to participate is now closed, having already reached the 1,200-entrant limit. Similarly, the event is host to a scaled down Junior Triathlon for participants ages 8 to 13 years old to be held on Saturday, Aug. 28 beginning at 8:30 a.m.
Donations and pledges can be made in support of Usui’s triathlon participation by sending a tax-deductible contribution to: Farmingdale Rotary Club Foundation, P.O. Box 575, Farmingdale, NY 11735. One hundred percent of the proceeds benefits Hope for the Future Ministries. Sponsors of the overall triathlon event are also engaged in various fundraising activities, donations can be made online or at the event. Additionally, at the time of print, Runner’s Edge in Farmingdale is still accepting volunteers for both days of the event. Volunteers should contact Mindy Davidson at (516) 349-7646.