Sometimes I find it easy to get stuck in a rut of sorts. I know how to run inside out so there is something so safe and cuddly about filling my weeks with intervals and long slow distance runs that I forget what it’s like to be scared and out of my element.
Enter my summer challenge to try a new sport every month, which is quickly turning into 2 or three! In June alone, I took up golfing, beach volleyball and the triathlon.
I wanted to share a bit about my first triathlon as an absolute newbie to the sport and what I learned.
I was scared for this race, I am not going to lie. I did not have sufficient training time for the swim and as I lined up at the shore of Guelph Lake with all of the jacked triathletes and looked out at the open water, I thought “What did I get myself into?!”
The Swim: I was in the second wave and it was less scary than I thought. What I was not expecting was to panic a bit after getting kicked in the head about 250 m into the swim, especially as I normally remain quite calm in racing situations. As a result, I swam with my head above the water for most of the time and ended up with a nice, sore neck the following day.
T1: The transition went fairly smoothly. I had raced the day before so my legs didn’t feel fresh as I ran back to the area to slip on my cycling shoes and clip on my helmet for the ride portion. I found my hands were too wet to put on my cycling gloves so I just left them.
The Ride: Honestly, this was one of the most fun portions of the course for me. I had put in a ton of training time on the bike and even though my legs were hurting from my trail race, I was able to pass quite a few people and had a decent speed, considering I certainly do not have a tri bike! This was probably the most fun, memorable portion for me.
T2: This was my fastest transition. I kicked off my cycling shoes, pulled on my running shoes, grabbed a swig of my nuun water and headed out on the 5 KM run.
The Run: I found my legs were fine. They did not have that familiar dead feeling that occurs after a long ride, but it could have been that the bike was only 20 KM and helped flush out some of the fatigue from my race on Saturday. I kept a decent pace and kept watching for Angela because I was expecting her to join me at any moment. All of a sudden, I heard her beside me saying something like “We’ve got this”.
Ok, guys. I am not a sentimental person, but this was probably one of the most meaningful moments for me in race history. We had signed up together, trained together and even though she was doing a completely different race, we got to finish the race together. I won’t post a picture, because that is stealing, but you can see my race photos here.
One thing I did before I took on the triathlon was ask for help from my Nuun team. I am so fortunate to belong to a community of such accomplished athletes and there sure are a lot of triathletes in the mix.
Here is a list of some of their top advice for first time triathletes:
If you don’t use socks, put lots of baby powder in your run shoes to help avoid blisters. – Holly
Since it’s your first one, it’ll be a PR no matter how you finish. Take the time to enjoy it! And don’t go out too fast on the run or you’ll be sorry in about 1/2 mile. – Lani
Leave something for the run, don’t use all your energy up on the bike. – Kevin
Open water swims can be scary on the first one. Just relax and focus on your breathing when your face is in the water. Clear your mind and if you start to panic, get to the side and flip over on your back and take a couple deep breaths and remind yourself over and over “just another pool swim!” – Amanda
I think the hardest part is getting my head in the water to swim with the adrenaline of the start so just focus on getting your face in the water even if you have to breathe every stroke. Oh and if you have a chance warm up in the water before the start you will get used to the temp and be more calm when the gun goes off. – Charlene
If you are afraid of getting kicked in the face, swim using a catch up – one hand always out guarding your face. Don’t be afraid to doggy paddle if you panic or get caught in a crowd. – Kevin
My biggest tip is to know your plan when you get to transition. What will you do 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. Follow that plan or else you’ll lose time really quick. – Megan
When you set up transition, either count the racks or find a landmark, so you know where your spot is when you come in. Make sure you know which way you will come in and out of transition for both T1 and T2. – Kevin
Put your sunglasses and bib number belt in your helmet then hang helmet from bike handlebars (helps them not get knocked around/stepped on and you don’t forget to put them on in transition- I find it faster/easier to just wear bib number belt on bike even though not always required). Remember helmet on before unracking the bike! – Holly
I found the advice absolutely invaluable, especially for the swim and transitions as those were both new to me. If you are a triathlete and have additional advice for me for my future races, leave them in the comments!
What I ate:
Dinner (Nike Run Event): Hotdog, baked potato, corn, cookie. (Can you say carb loading?)
Breakfast: Sprouted toast with peanut butter and nutella. Banana. Coffee. Nuun lemonade.
What I wore:
Saucony tri suit
New Balance 1400s
My next race is Creemore Vertical Challenge! What is yours?