In January, a race management company I had recently raced with announced a new race for 2014, their first half-distance triathlon would be held in October, less than an hour from my house. I had been wanting to do a triathlon and decided to just go for it and sign up. I later learned that most people go for shorter distance for their first race.
Throughout the spring I focused on running, including my first ever running streak for the month of April. By May, it was time to start triathlon training. This coincided with my anniversary of owning a road bike for one year. The first weeks of triathlon training left me pretty tired, but I was (mostly) enjoying the new challenge. As a kid, I had done swim team, where I was proficient at best. I did not win races, I did not swim in the fast lane. I had the basics. My first swim workouts left me perplexed. How could I run for multiple hours at a time with little difficulty, but swimming just two laps of the pool had me huffing and puffing with no house to blow down?!?!? After just a few weeks, I learned to regulate my breathing in the water and continued to increase my distances. As a relatively new cyclist, I enjoyed significant improvement in that sport as well. I also found that I really looked forward to the rides around small country roads surrounding my house, discovering roads or appreciating scenery I never had before. It is safe to say, I was quickly learning to love triathlon training.
Through the summer I got in most of the prescribed workouts, read obsessively about triathlons, gear, advice, etc and planned my race schedule.
I decided that a practice triathlon would be a good idea before my ‘A’ race. Luckily that same race management company was hosting a triathlon 3 weeks before the big event, either sprint or olympic distance. Better get as close to the goal distance as possible, Olympic distance- here I come!
Then this horrible thing happened, summer ended! Back to work for this teacher, two new classes to prepare for each day and an increase in my kids’ activities. My training was not what it had been and not what I would like it to be, but I tried to at least maintain the progress I had made over the summer.
Olympic tri weekend began with my first open water swim to practice during packet pickup. It wasn’t as bad as expected and I quickly determined that the wetsuit may be the best purchase I ever made.
Saturday evening- drive back home and begin to get nervous. Turns out there is a lot more preparation involved in a triathlon than running races. My garage became the stage to set up each transition. I probably spent a solid hour packing and checking my belongings.
Sunday morning- Wake up at 5:00 A.M. Thankfully this is a local race, I can’t imagine waking up earlier than this. Also, according to accuweather on my phone the current temperature is 41 degrees. What was I thinking!!!!!
5:45 A.M.- leave the house with a packed car! My husband and a friend who was also doing her first triathlon and I chatted nervously on the drive.
6:30 A.M.- Arrive and figure out how to carry all of our gear from the car to transition area. So thankful for my husband to help out at this point! Also wondering how seasoned triathletes streamline this process.
Set up transition area, have a stranger write in sharpie on me and figure out a way to wiggle into my wetsuit.
7:15- Head down to water. Nervously do arm swings ala Michael Phelps in Beijing and wade into the water.
7:30- Race start! I navigated my way to the edge and began swimming. The fear of veering off course was much more significant than bumping into people or drowning, so I settled into breathing every other stroke, even though most of my swims I breathed every four strokes. I wasn’t panicking, but I knew this wouldn’t be my favorite leg of the race. Like in Finding Nemo, just keep swimming! Then this funny thing happened, I kept passing people. As I made my way past buoys, I realized I felt like the swim was going pretty well. Even though I swore that the swim was going to be at an easy pace, passing people was a big ego boost that I didn’t want to let go, so I tried to find a balance between controlling my breathing and effort and still staying competitive with those around me and not losing any places. Getting close to shore, I remind myself that I read to swim as far as possible before standing up.
Out of the water and crossing the timing mat at Swim:
At this point I heard my husband and my friend cheering for me and knew I had to finish strong, and made it in just under the 3 hour mark!!