Anyone else suffering from triathlon withdrawal?
Here is the race report I wrote after my very first triathlon on June 6, 2010, a try a tri, with a 375m swim, 10k bike, and 2.5k run. Clearly, I was hooked!
“As you probably know, I have been inspired over the last few years by Alasdair and the other amazing athletes taking part in the Subaru Triathlon Series. I have watched many many races, cheering on first Alasdair, then Doug W. in his duathlons (equally inspired – he started running again for the first time since high school… and that was, well, more than a few years ago). I saw people of all shapes, sizes and ages, including a one-legged competitor, and men in their 70’s, and I figured if they could do it, I had no excuse!! At the end of last summer, I finally decided to do something about it, and at the beginning of September I started training seriously.
First step: learn how to swim! Okay, so I did know how to swim but I didn’t know how to swim and breathe… or at least, not properly. I could breaststroke no problem, but it isn’t the quickest stroke out there. So, I started hitting the pool, and while it was incredibly frustrating at times, I eventually managed to breathe without gasping, albeit only on the right side. Learning how to swim by reading – books and on the internet – is, well, interesting. Thankfully I had some pointers from Alasdair and Kevin, and a few in-pool sessions with Alasdair over Christmas. I plugged away at it and eventually was swimming twice a week for an hour at a time, covering 2 km. But I was still breathing unilaterally. Last week I had a breakthrough and was able to breathe bilaterally. Woohoo! I also bought myself a wetsuit and managed to try it out twice for some open water swimming practice at Christie Lake. It was there I realized that the hardest part of triathlon may very well be swimming in a straight line.
Next step: increase running distance. Yes the try a tri run is only 2.5 k, but to get to sprint distance I will have to be able to run at least 7 k. I’m now at just under 16, when last fall I had only ever run about 5.
Next step: switch to upright bikes! I used to always ride the reclined bikes at the Y, but I switched to upright, then eventually got myself a brand spanking new road bike (a first road bike for me)! Thankfully, I wouldn’t have to ride my mom’s old mountain bike for the triathlon after all! Also key was crashing my bike while barely moving on loose gravel, just to remind myself of how dangerous biking can be. I got the message, and remember every time I see the hole in my bike shorts.
And so, the day of my very first try a tri finally arrived. In the night I awoke to wild wind and heavy rain, and wondered what today would have in store for us! Alasdair and I loaded our gear and bikes and headed for Kelso Conservation Area in Milton, arriving just after 7 am. We parked the van and headed for the transition zone, teeth chattering as we went! It was cold and pouring rain. I racked my bike, then registered with Alasdair for our races (he did the longer sprint). We got our race numbers, had our body markings done (bib # on arm, age on leg), got our goody bags (including t-shirts), and headed for the try a tri transition zone. I prepped all my stuff (keeping it all in a garbage bag), and made a new friend – Laurie, also doing her first triathlon. After a final pee (this is me, after all), Laurie and I headed to the water for a warm up swim.
I was surprised to find that the water was warm! Warmer than the air, and since we were cccccold we just stayed in the water. And before we knew it, the horn blew for the first wave of the try a tri. We were in the second wave, starting 3 minutes after the first. I deliberately started back a bit, knowing that I would not be one of the fastest swimmers (I did just learn to swim, remember!). Of course, by the time the race started, I already had to pee (this is me, after all). I started and got a few strokes in before quickly deciding to forego bilateral breathing and stick to my old friend – right side only breathing. I had a mini panic attack where all of a sudden the water and splashing and people and everything made me stop and think “OH MY GOD WHAT AM I DOING?! I CAN’T DO THIS! THOSE BUOYS ARE SO FAR AWAY!” Thankfully, I took a few breaths, did a few strokes of breaststroke, and was okay to continue. By the time I got to the first buoy (there were 4), I was fine, swimming pretty smoothly, and only occasionally got whacked by other swimmers (or kicking/hitting someone myself). Amazingly, swimming in a straight line was the least of my worries! One swimmer from the first wave was rescued by a kayak just a few metres after starting. Doesn’t help one’s confidence! In the end, I ended the swim before some of the swimmers in the wave ahead of me, so I knew I couldn’t have done that badly. Time limit for the swim was 20 minutes, after which you are out of the race. I knew that I could swim it in 10+ minutes in the pool, so figured unless I went WAY off course I could do it in less than 20! Unfortunately, I had forgotten to start my watch timer so had no clue how I was doing!!!
I walked the first few steps out of the water then lifted up my goggles and started running to the transition zone. By the time I got there my wetsuit was halfway off. I bent over to take the rest of it off and quickly got lightheaded. Stood right up, grabbed the bar that my bike was racked on, and removed the wetsuit one handed. Put my shorts on backwards – didn’t feel right – took them off, put them on again!
Put on my shirt, socks, shoes, helmet, race bib, took a sip of water, and I was off! Did I mention that I had to pee (more so than before)? I briefly considered taking a pitstop, but knew I’d be so annoyed with myself if I didn’t come in under 1 hour because I stopped to pee.
I had done the bike/run portion of the race in April with Alasdair so I knew what to expect. I passed LOTS of people on the bike, even going uphill! Apparently I’ve discovered my strong point.
I came in from the bike and according to Alasdair, had an incredibly fast transition to the run. All I had to do was rack my bike, take off my helmet, and go! I don’t have clip in pedals, so I didn’t have to change footwear. By the time I was ready to run, I was seriously considering the bathroom! But… I kept on going.
So off I went, straight up the hill. What a way to start the run. I passed a few people on the run but mostly I was passed by others. I started out slowly (it did start with a hill) but the last 500 m I picked up the pace. I was happy to see Alasdair at the finish line – I knew that if I took much longer than 1 hour (my goal time) he would have left already to start his race. He told me to look at my time. I couldn’t believe it when I saw that I was under an hour – by at least 10 minutes!! Turns out my total time was 49:52.
And later, when I went with Myra to get food and check out the race results, I couldn’t believe it when I saw that I finished 3/31 in my age group – women aged 35-39!!
Wow! What a way to finish my very first triathlon!!”
What happened to you during your first race? Any wardrobe malfunctions like mine? Swim panic attacks?
It’s hard to believe that 2016 will be my 7th year of triathlon! Craziness!