I recently finished my first triathlon sprint, 1/2 mile swim, 10.8 mile bike, 3.1 mile run.
The executive summary of this post… it was an amazing experience and I look forward to more Sprints, Olympic Triathlons and building up to being called an Ironman. If, in the back of your mind, you have the wacky idea to being called a tri-athlete, go do it! You will feel such a sense of accomplishment! Anything is possible once you reach a previous crazy goal.
I did my fair share of research and training before the event and I would like to share with you a few of my take a ways from the event. While there is so much to share and to keep your attention I will touch on a few of the key items I learned in hopes of helping jump start your triathlon goal.
Before I get started…let me tell you a few things about me as this could maybe help and show that anything is possible. One key day sticks in my mind when I lost my breath after climbing “one” flight of stairs. That stays in the back of my mind. I kept telling my doctor that I am working on my weight, but each check up saw the weigh go up and I was squeezing into a 38″ pair of pants. I was a true founding member of the bike group, team fat bastard.
Now onto the fun…go figure I am referring to physical activity as fun.
This was going to be my first triathlon and referred to as a sprint with the following ahead of me, 750-meter (0.47-mile) swim, 20-kilometer (12-mile) bike, 5-kilometer (3.1-mile) run.
First up…the 750 meter swim
I have been swimming for as long as I could remember and would consider myself a strong swimmer however open water will prove to be a new thing. When I would race a 400 IM in a pool or lake you had to turn around at some point and a continued 1/2 mile swim was new to me. But I got this…ha. I did not get the pre-race nerves that my sister said I would have while standing on the beach. The energy on the beach was contagious, we are all going to do this together. (remember everyone is freaking out just like you on the inside.) The first 2 waves started and it was our time to enter the water and I was relaxed the water was warm compared to the brisk morning air. The bumps and kicks in the water did not bother me, maybe my scuba training was coming up and helping me realize I have been in worse situations in the water. Yes you get kicked from time to time, but someone was behind me getting what I was receiving up front. I was feeling strong at the first marker but appears my nerves had been making better time than me and found me at the first corner. What am I doing…most of my family and friends are still sleeping. While I was only in the first of three sections in the swim and with a bike and run ahead of me, the race all of a sudden turned to a mental one. I will not go into all of the fun we had in the water but we made it to the beach and wow, I felt great!
t – 1 (Transition one)
Before the race, I connected with a few people who really helped me during the race. One thing that sticks in my mind…the transition is not a place to rest. I will tell you…after the swim all I wanted to do was lay down and take a nap. I was tired, both physically and mentally. I placed all my gear on the ground next nicely in the order for a nice transition. But anyone watching me could tell I was tired when I put on my helmet and could not figure out why my jersey would not fit. I am going to start with the bare essentials for the next race, maybe dropping socks and gloves. A tri-suit will help since those items will already be on me. The only possible item to contend with will be a wetsuit down the road.
Another thing that I have been doing for as long as I could remember is riding a bike. The bike leg was fantastic. I spent many hours prior to the event riding in the gym and on the road and this helped pay off for the leg. I found a couple good hills around my house to train and did them several times, always trying to provide a PB. During my research I heard of people giving so much during the bike that they had nothing left for the run and that was a worry since my weakest link was up next. I need to work on the nutrition during the ride and I will push harder in the next bike leg as I felt there was plenty more still left to give when I stopped at t2.
t – 2 (Transition two)
While the time does not show it, this was much smoother as compared to t1. I was more relaxed but still tired. Now I just completed leg 2 and just one more to my goal. I will invest in quick elastic laces and this will help with my time in t2. I found myself dropping several nutrition bars on the ground that I had planned to consume during the ride. Again nutrition will be a big part of future training.
Now the dreaded 5-kilometer run. This was, in my mind, the weakest of the 3 legs. I did a lot of training for this portion and I feel it helped. I am not a runner, but over time I trained for this portion. When I had this goal just getting 10 minutes on the treadmill was rough but over time you could find me running for 45 – 60 minutes on the treadmill. Set small, obtainable goals. Wow, what a sense of accomplishment for me and what I was able to do. During the triathlon I maybe stopped to walk once or twice but come on, I ran the majority of the distance. During the run I was feeling good and surprised that the previous fun in the water and on the bike just left my mind and was replaced with a feeling of you are almost done. This is what I heard about…the kick you get, knowing you are almost done. I knew the finish line was not too far away and I could hear the crowd and the announcer. I am not one for crowds or attention and now as I came down the hill with several eyes on me. Could I remember how to run… left…right, left yeah the other left do not trip, do not trip. There was a sign the helped bring the joy I felt on the inside to my face. Smile if you peed in the lake. LOL. I could see the time board and the finish line just a few more steps to go.
The next few moments are captured in pictures as I was tired and when I crossed the finish line I saw the smiles on the faces of my mom and dad, it made it all worth it. It was almost like being a kid again and hearing them congratulate me after a race or trying to pick me up after striking out. I am so glad they could make it and see me reach this goal.
I know these times are not going to win any awards, but this is a baseline for the next event.
- Swim – 18:59
- t1 – 2:09
- Bike – 41:59
- t2 – 1:38
- Run – 32:27
So what do I want you to take away from this? First…you can do anything you put your mind too. My goal was to finish and that is done, now I want to improve on those times for the next race. Set a goal to finish a triathlon and I will tell you the feeling of accomplishment is well worth the hours training and pain felt after the race. The pain is only temporary, but the satisfaction will last forever.
A few other possible quotes could help you. The race does not get any easier, just your times better. Never stop moving forward, you do not know who you are motivating.
Make sure to tell me when you set your goal and finish your first triathlon!