1st Triathlon

Posted: April 21, 2011 in Uncategorized

Three months ago I could barely swim 25 yards without stopping- this past Sunday I swam ¼ mile en route to completing my first triathlon. After I finished a 125  mile charity bike ride last fall I realized I needed a new goal to reach for, and I decided a triathlon would be the ultimate challenge since I could hardly swim, much less think about doing it competitively. In January I finally began my swim training- waking up at 5am & heading to the pool several times a week. I spent hours clumsily splashing around the pool, inhaling water, and watching people literally swim circles around me. Over the weeks my form slowly improved- helped in part by a local triathlete who also trained at the same pool, YouTube videos, and later, a swim instructor.

By the time I slipped into the pool for the swim start I only had one goal- to complete the swim & hopefully not come in last! Adrenaline probably caused me to go out faster than I intended in the first 50meters, so I made a point of trying to settle into a more relaxed rhythm- and not pay attention to those around me- including the the ones I saw illegally pushing themselves along the bottom of the pool! By the mid-way point I was definitely starting to fatigue, but I just swam through it, only focusing on 50meters at a time.

After what felt like an eternity- just under 14 minutes later- I finished my last lap and was beat- but had logged my best swim to date.   To my disbelief, as I exited the pool someone said to me “nice stroke”- the last thing I ever expected to hear. As I headed to T1 (transition 1) I wasn’t sure how I was still going to bike and run, but I kept moving. It turns out that instead of saying “rolling course”, the organizers would have done better to say “very hilly” As challenging as it was though, I considered cycling my strongest out of the three sports, and really hammered it to try to make up for time I lost on the swim. When I came in for T2 my legs were pretty shot, but I quickly dismounted and prepared for the run.

As I headed out on the hilly course for the 5k, I kept glancing at my Garmin, not really sure if the pace reading was right- it consistently was sub 8:30 miles, and often dipped under 8. I felt like I was shuffling, but I guess through muscle memory, I was keeping the pace I normally run- about 8 minute miles.

About halfway in as I came up an incline, my left quad started to cramp up. I realized I probably hadn’t drank enough, even though I had made a point of drinking Gatorade during the bike. I knew the cramp would only tighten up if it stopped, so I ran through it, and eventually it subsided. As I came up to the final mile, I picked up the pace, and at some points was actually running sub-7! Brisa and Jayne, who were cheering me on throughout, gave me my final motivation near the end, and I sprinted to the (uphill- who does that?!) finish.

As psyched as I was to a) complete the swim, and b) complete the triathlon, I was pumped that my overall performance was actually competitive- I didn’t finish anywhere near the bottom as I had anticipated. It turns out that I finished #121st overall out of a field of #279. (results) While my swim ranking was predictably low (#256), my bike was much better (#93), and my run was surprisingly high (#56). Overall I finished the event in 01:19:40- a full 10 minutes better than my goal!

Although I was surprised at just how tired I was at the finish, and two days later my quads still ache, I’m definitely pumped for my next triathlon in June & my first in open water- the Patanella’s Flat as a Pancake Sprint Triathlon on Raritan Bay in Staten Island, NY.



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