Triathlon for newbies – Seriously, it really is fun!

5 01 2012

Yesterday I was reading through the blogs that I follow, and I came across this:  It’s never too late to give it a Tri… « endurancegal.  I started to think about how much fun I had during my first triathlon, and since I am going to be adding triathlon training into my weight loss efforts I thought it might be fun to talk about my first tri.  Triathlon is great sport, and it’s really not as tough as everyone thinks it is.  If you have ever considered giving a tri a try, I would highly suggest you knock it off your bucket list.

Wood River Traithlon Transition

Transition One

I remember my first brush with triathlon like it was yesterday.  I was watching the Ironman Triathlon World Championships in Hawaii.  Every single athlete was in amazing shape.  Maybe it had something to do with training for a 2.4 mile swim, 126 mile bike, and a marathon all at the same time?  It wasn’t really the closest of races, but everyone was pushing their limits, and the crowd was just as excited about the guys finishing a minute before midnight as they were for the winners.  As someone who had put on a few pounds, I thought this would be a great way to take off some weight, and not worry about finishing last.

I trained for about 3 months for the event.  I swam more than I had ever swam in my life.  The first few workouts were brutal, but while I swallowed a little water, I didn’t drown so that had to be a positive.  I biked often enough to finish the race (and not much more).  I’m not quite sure what changed, but I grew up on my bike and it was one of things I remembered loving about childhood.  This biking was VERY different.  It was like work, and I was doing this to have fun. I ran a couple of 5K’s, because I figured the run would be my strength anyway and I should be ready for at least one part of this race.  I am certainly an oddball when it comes to this, but I loved to run.

My first race was scheduled!  I was going to compete in the Wood River Triathlon in Wood River, IL.  This was getting real now, and I was starting to get really nervous.  I already had two daughters at this point, and I was wondering if I was going to turn my wife into a single mother.  It’s really funny how irrational your thinking can be before an event that is foreign to you, regardless how pedestrian. I couldn’t really die on my birthday, could I?

When we arrived at the start, there were a good number of people getting ready for the event.  People were setting out their transition gear, and checking bike tires.  It looked eerily similar to the Ironman with a few major differences.  There were no 5000 dollar Kestrel triathlon bikes in the lot.  There were BMX bikes, mountain bikes, comfort bikes, and a few triathlon and road bikes.  I found this a bit odd, but figured that was a good sign.  Once I had my transition point set up, I led my cheering section (my wife and our 2 girls) to the pool deck where I would begin my event.  I was still fairly shaken by this whole ordeal, but at least I figured I would survive.

My entire viewpoint changed when we reached the pool deck.  The pool was set up differently that anything I’d ever seen.  People were starting at one end of the pool, and snaking their way up and down and left to right.  The start was staggered, so one swimmer would start every 30 seconds so there wouldn’t be too much traffic.  I thought this was great, because while I was a great swimmer, I didn’t need to drown in the washing machine-like atmosphere that I’d seen on the TV.

English: Kailua-Kona, Hawaii (Oct. 15, 2005) -...

Ironman Triathlon Swim

That was NOT going to happen in this pool.  I never expected to see what was coming next. There was a gal walking the swim!  …let me repeat that, she was WALKING the swim.  The pool was 4 feet deep throughout, and she was taking her good old sweet time sauntering up one lane and down the next.  I’ve seen faster movement at Denny’s during the early bird rush.  I knew at this point that this would be the event for me.

I got through the 450 yard swim fairly well, keeping in mind that I’m more rock than fish.  I head to transition, and toweled off.  My group was there cheering me on.  I hopped on my bike, and went around the 2 mile loop 6 times for a total of 12, and came flying back into transition.  I was moving really well here, and there was nothing that could possibly stop me now.  I head out of transition, and I hear my wife screaming behind me.  I turn around to find out why she was going so nuts, because its not like I was winning this thing.  She gives me a big hug and says, “honey, take off your bike helmet, you don’t need it anymore.”  …and now I’m back down to Earth.  I turned back to the course with my tail between my legs, and started to run.  The only problem is that my legs were used to the bike, and seemed to have forgotten how to move.  I limped, then walked, then jogged, and then finally after about a quarter of a mile started to run.  The rest of the 2 laps were fairly uneventful, and I came in at just under 1 1/2 hours which I think was fairly respectable.  Not only was I not last, but I even beat a few guys in my age group.  WOOD RIVER – 2000 – OVERALL.

Wood River Triathlon Bike

Wood River Triathlon Bike

Looking back on the event, it was an overwhelming success.  I didn’t drown, I got through the bike, and I stumbled through the run, but I finished.  I had done a sprint triathlon, and trust me when I say, if I can do this anyone can.  There are some really cool things that come along with finishing a triathlon by the way.  People at work tell you that you are a complete nut job, but with a look of respect in their eyes.  They will say they could never do that, even though you realize it was actually fairly easy with just a little training.  And the best thing of all, you will be able to consider yourself a triathlete.

I will say it again, if you have ever considered the sport of triathlon, GIVE IT A TRI!




2 responses

7 01 2012

On the last loop of the bike, stretch your legs when you can – when one foot is at the bottom of the pedal stroke, push your heel toward the ground, then switch. That will get your legs limber for the run (it really works).

7 01 2012
The Show-Me Cajun

I will certainly try this. Thanks!

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