Yesterday I completed my first triathlon! It was so much fun. Of course I have to recount my experience for you (if nothing else to memorialize it for myself), as well as what I learned about triathlons. And yes, you get to see an rare photos of the elusive Sally. First, here is the wonderful medal/charm that all finishers got. Yeah, I’m wearing it all day today!
It was an unseasonably very chilly day (in the 50s!), so I was a little nervous after training in warmer weather to wake up to a cold, dreary day. I had prepared to do the race in my tri top and shorts, but had to pack a short-sleeve and a long-sleeve shirt in case I needed it for the bike ride. I was handling my nerves really well until I was about a 1/2 dozen people away from entering the pool. That’s the “omigod-I-really-have-to-do-this” moment, as well as the “there’s-no-backing-out-now” realization. When it was my turn, I just got in the water and pushed off the wall. Probably because of nerves I was having some trouble regulating my breathing the first couple laps, but got it under control and even passed a few swimmers!
Once out of the pool, I ran barefoot while pulling off my goggles and swim cap to the very cold outdoors and onto the gravelly pavement to the transition area. First things first, wipe off my face, adjust my ponytail, and clip on my bike helmet! I rinsed off my feet and put on socks and shoes. I felt ok enough to forgo the extra shirt and decided to chance it in my wet tri top. Took my bike off the rack, grabbed my bike gloves and sunglasses, and tossed a few Sport Beans in my mouth. Then, I ran carefully with my bike to the mounting area. Once on my bike I was on my way. I was easily moving along at a good clip and shouting “on your left” to several other bikers! I was feeling really good. I managed the hills and sharp turns well and didn’t get too winded.
Returning to the transition area, I ran my bike back to the rack, removed my helmet, gloves, and sunglasses. I clipped on my race belt with my bib number and put on my running hat (hello swim/sweat/helmet hair!). Grabbed some more water and popped a piece of gum in my mouth and ran out the transition area. A couple volunteers shouted that I looked really strong, so that really helped boost me as I took off into the park. Two laps, that’s all I had to do. After the first lap, I realized I was running faster than I ever have. I joked with myself (runners have crazy thoughts while they run) that I was going so fast because I was trying to safely skirt the dozen Canadian Geese on the path (geese are mean little creatures). As I headed into the finish I realized I had enough steam to sprint to the finish line. They announce your name and that you’re a “triathlete” at the finish and it really feels good!
What I learned…
- When people find out you’ve done a triathlon, they are immediately impressed and call you things like superhuman and a machine and inspiring. Enjoy it!
- It doesn’t matter how bad or good you are at any part of the race, it’s the total time that matters. You can make it up in other areas.
- You actually have 6 different times: Swim, T1 (first transition), Bike, T2, Run, and total overall time.
- A lot of other people out there don’t know what they’re doing, or at the very least don’t know their swim times. You’re not the only one.
- It is a totally achievable goal! Pick a small sprint race like this one and go with it.
- Things are going to go wrong. You can let them control you or you can just ignore them and power through.
- Seeing a familiar face as you’re pushing through the course is really reassuring. Beloved showed up and it was nice to see him smiling!
- This is truly an individual sport. You most likely will not see the same people at any point in the race and will have no idea how well someone is doing based on where they are in the course. Just focus on yourself and finish the best that YOU can.
- You will get body marked. But, the day before the race at packet pick up, they put a big fat 4 on my hand with a sharpie to indicate my swim group. Just as I expected, I woke up on race morning with a faded backwards 4 on my face. (a little rubbing alcohol will take that off)
- You won’t want to wash off the body marking after the race, because it says “hey, I’m a badass, I did a triathlon!”
- Your age according to the USAT, is whatever your age is on December 31st of that year. Therefore, I am always a year older because my birthday is 3 weeks before the cutoff. Also, they mark your age on your calf!
- You will have to put a sticker on your bike and your helmet. But don’t worry, it’s a sticker that’s easily removable. Now why can’t the rest of the world use stickers like that?
Here are my results:
My total finish time was 1:01:56. (66th overall, out of 227, and 7th in my age group of 30 women)
Swim (250 meters): 6:25 (99th overall, 10th in my age group)
Bike (8 miles): 32:58 (60th overall, 8th in my age group)
Run (2 miles): 17:09 (46th overall, 5th in my age group)
This race was an incredible first race. It was for women only, so that made a great environment for the nervous beginner. Also, women athletes are usually much more supportive of each other and more likely to be polite to each other in competition. The race was excellently organized. I was never unsure about where anything was or how the race was going to run. The course was clearly marked and all of the race officials and volunteers were more than available to answer questions and help. The excitement and support on the course were amazing. It was great to see women of all ages and abilities out there, but also to see all their friends and families out there to see them on that very early, very chilly morning. I would do this race again in a heartbeat, or any race that the race director and their organization puts on. If they come back again next year, I’m definitely doing it again. I know that the bar has been set high for my next triathlons (the next one is in 2 weeks), so here’s hoping I enjoy those at least half as much as I enjoyed this one.