This past weekend I crossed doing a triathlon off my bucket list.
I was feeling rather nervous and edgy the evening before the race when I went to pick up my race packet. I was not familiar with the town, only having been there once before the race. The lake was a lot bigger than I remembered it being. I was afraid that I would have to swim across it. A few people told me horror stories right before the race about people grabbing legs and dragging you down while swimming. I spoke to the coordinator of the event who put my mind relatively at ease. The race was capped at 150 participants. I was starting in the last wave with my age group.
It was hard to sleep the night before. I set several alarms around the house for 5 AM. Honestly, I was up before 5 at the first crack of dawn. I was really worried that I would forget something or that I would have problems with my bike. But all was well. My friend Cori and her daughter were also in the race. Cori is a half iron finisher so she gave me a lot of advice and a tri outfit to wear. She showed me how to position my gear to make for a faster transition.
Then Cori told me that it was a swimming tri. Instead of doing a normal sprint tri of 400 meters, this race was a 750 meter swim almost a half mile. This was a concern of mine since swimming was my weakest link. I started swimming a month before the race. The only experience I had before that were a couple of basic swimming lessons when I was a kid. I got a lot of swimming advice from Cori which was probably a mistake.
Cori told me to swim in open water to train. But Cori is terrified of swimming in open water whereas I am not. So I practiced swimming in open water after training for the marathon when the weather was nice. I don’t have a gym membership or a wet suit. What I did not practice was lap swimming. This would have helped me strengthen my core and swim in a straight line. The swimming course veered to the right. I am left handed with a stronger left arm that took me away from the course into deep water. I had a hard time swimming in a straight line and ended up zigzagging across the course with my head out of water to see where I was going. Big no no. I had a sore neck afterwards which really tells you that I was doing it all wrong.
I was not the last swimmer in my age group, but was close to the end. The distance was twice as far as what I was practicing for. I did not have good technique or form. It was my biggest area for improvement. I decided that I will start learning technique and will practice lap swimming over the winter. All in all I was satisfied for the amount of training I did.
I don’t think that I really needed to practice the water to bike transition as much as I needed to practice the bike to running transition. It took several times before I got used to the wobbly feeling after biking to be able to run like normal.
The biking part of the tri went fairly well. I didn’t see a lot of people for this part at all. I passed one person and one person passed me, otherwise it was pretty lonely. For awhile there was no one on the road in front of me or behind me. At times I thought that I was on the wrong path until I came across an empty Gu packet. On the route, I did slow down a bit when three deer crossed the road in front of me. I started off the biking going pretty fast until I rounded a corner, hit a bump, and lost control of my bike. I flew into the ditch but was able to get back on the road before falling or crashing. It scared me a little, enough to slow down a bit. Thankfully no one was around to see my show. It was hard to stay motivated until I saw someone up ahead that I could pass.
I think that I was pretty average as far as biking goes. I need more confidence which will come with experience. I am still not sure how to easily switch gears and sometimes would put it on the wrong speed. I also have to work on my balance and keeping control of my bike while staying in my lane. Oh, then there is the chafing. I wasn’t quite expecting that.
Last came the run. As I was biking in, I saw a lot of walkers. Running is my strong suit. I left my bike running. I ran fast and hard. I was able to pass about 15 people on the running. This is the first race that I ran without music. It was fun to hear the people cheer. I was worried that getting my music on would slow my transition. I also saw in the rules that it was not allowed and I didn’t want to be disqualified on my first tri. Lol. I also stopped at stop signs which was a bike rule although others didn’t. The tri was so small that they weren’t able to close down the roads. Although there were times I didn’t see a car for miles. It was mainly on scenic wooded back roads.
Overall, I was able to complete my first tri around the two hour mark which put me right in the middle of my age group. My goal was not to place or even finish. This time I wanted to learn everything I could. Then take that knowledge to go further, improve myself, tri something new, push myself towards new goals, and to have a fun time competing.