On Sunday, I competed in my first triathlon! It was so much fun! I'm ready to race again!
So here is my recap, words of wisdom and points to ponder!
1. Plan ahead and TRAIN!
While it may seem like I just decided to do this on the spur of the moment, I've really been thinking about this for about 13 years! In 2001 we lived in an area that had a gym and an indoor pool. I started swimming there and worked up to swimming about a mile a few days a week. One day, a woman was swimming laps next to me and when we were finished, she asked if I had ever thought about doing a tri. I said no, that I couldn't run. Ever since then, it's been in the back of my mind... if I could run, I could do a tri. And well, now I can run. :) So over the last year my running friends and I have talked about tri's, but I didn't have a bike. Nor did I have a good place to swim. Then one of my friends loaned me a bike, a GOOD bike! And then at the end of March, since I'm a mentor teacher for our local university, I got a faculty card that gives me pool privileges. So with all of the obstacles out of the way, I decided to DO IT! Finally.
Thankfully my fitness level allowed me to really enjoy participating in the tri, but I have to say, if I hadn't had marathon experience to draw on, it would have been difficult. My time has LOTS of room for improvement, but because I am in good shape, I wasn't sore! That really does help the overall experience! :)
So all that to say...if you want to do a tri, I suggest getting a training program! I swam some, I ran more and I biked a little. Because of that, I had an okay swim, a great run and a bad bike time. Lesson learned!
2. Get GOOD clothes!
I am so very thankful that a friend of mine loaned me her tri clothes! I don't know what I would have worn if I hadn't had her pants and shirt! I'll be purchasing my own Pearl Izumi tri clothes now. Even with the moisture wicking fabrics and all those fancy names, I was still wet when I finished the race. Granted the humidity was crazy high and it rained on me during the bike portion, but I was damp the entire race. If I had been wearing a regular running tank, I would have been miserable! I did wear my own sports bra and compression shorts under the pants and shorts. I wanted a little more structure.
3. Know how to use the GEARS on the bike!
The race course for the tri was hilly! In fact, it was ALL hills. Lots of little hills, some bigger hills, and one big hill, but lots of ups and downs. If I had known how to use the gears on the bike, I really could have capitalized on the downs. Instead, I coasted down the hills and labored on the ups. It's completely my fault. The borrowed bike is really nice and a good one. It has 3 gears on the left side with a lever (gear?) on the right. I only knew how to use gear 2 on the left and I knew how to go up and down on the right. So... going up the hill, I'd click to a smaller number. Going down I'd click to a higher number. On the flat-ish parts I'd be somewhere in the middle. No wonder my time was a good 30 minutes slower than the fast people in my age group! My average mile per hour was almost 12, the fastest ones were at 20. ouch.
4. DON'T buy Wal-mart pedals!
One of the reasons my biking time was so slow... my right pedal fell off TWICE!! EEK! Crazy stuff. So, I had to circle back pushing the bike until I got to the pedal and then had to put it on the bike. Great. Prior to the next tri, I'll be hitting a bicycle shop and purchasing some better pedals! I didn't like the idea of clip-in pedals as I am claustrophobic and can't stand the idea of my foot getting stuck, but I think I'll deal with it to not have to deal with a pedal falling off and my foot moving to forward on the pedal.
5. Understand the rules of the TRI!
Triathlon rules are hard-core. Lots of rules compared to running. So if you are competing in a USAT official tri, be ready to adhere to them. For me, it was a shock to not have electronics on the course. It was cool, but weird! And no littering! That's why I ran in with my cup from the last water stop! I was still drinking when I passed the last place to put my cup and I was NOT going to in trouble for "abandonment" so I ran in with the cup!
6. CHANGE shoes!
After the swim, I did as suggested and dried my feet off before putting on my shoes. This is done to get your socks and shoes on faster. This does not keep your feet dry! When you are cycling, all of the water that is in your clothes works its way down your legs into your socks and shoes. Your feet will be soaked. Then if you did like I did, and cycled in your running shoes because you don't have cycling shoes, you will be running in wet socks and shoes. I had to stop about a mile in and retie my shoes as my shoes were slipping so much because they were water logged. Next time, I'll bring separate shoes for the the running section!
7. No finishers medals.
Ouch. I didn't realize that. I wanted a finishers medal. We get them for running almost every distance, but not for doing 3 sports in one morning! Wow. Only the age group winners got medals. I guess that is motivating? The top 3 time for my age group were 30 minutes faster than me! Guess I'll be buying my own medal!
I truly enjoyed this tri. The distances were great for me as a newbie. 300 meter swim, 13 mile bike and a 5k run. The course was hilly, both the bike and the run portions. It was windy and it rained. The pedal issue was a problem, but one that I will fix. I had some GI issues, but given that I have ulcerative colitis, that's not anything new and with a new experience I expect to have issues.
The biggest downer of the event was that I didn't know anyone at the event, so none of the 400 photos taken by the sponsors include me. Thankfully Doug was there and got a couple! The biggest highlight of the day, I ran the 5k at the end of the tri in 29:30!
Will I be doing this again? YES! Sign me up!