Saturday, February 4, 2012

Thinking about Tri-ing?

There is no question about the growing popularity of triathlon. Just google it...

just google it....
You'll see page after page about the growing popularity of the sport. So what is it about what we runner's refer to as "The Dark Side"?

I'm here to tell you that it is exciting, challenging, and grueling! The Fun Trifecta! Just like running, you say? Yes. I'll agree. BUT it is exciting, challenging, and grueling THREE different times, in one race!

Not convinced? Not your thing? That's ok, it's cool....We can still associate, mingle, even be friends! I wont hold it against you but I will forever think you are missing out on at least one thing that would serve an excellent purpose on your Life's Bucket List.

So, how does one get the courage to show up to their first triathlon? Honestly, I have no idea. My first tri was in September of 2008.  It was hard for me, literally. On the way out of the parking garage, in the dark, I slipped on a wet spot on the sidewalk and landed on my rear. I thought it was a sign I should turn around and go home. But I didn't.

Parking garage and notice everything bagel there....bad idea.
I stood, amongst old timers and newbies like me, ankle deep in the water, shivering. My stomach had butterflies and I had to pee.

The thing with tris is that you start in waves. Depending on the size of the race there are usually a lot of waves. In my first race my wave was about 30 minutes after the first wave. So I stood. And stood. And stood. And got more and more nervous as the time ticked by....One woman must have smelled my fear and offered advice, "Don't kick during the swim. Save your legs for the bike." Ok. WORST ADVICE I HAVE EVER, EVER HEARD IN MY LIFE ABOUT ANYTHING. Clearly, she was not a strong swimmer. Frankly, I wish I could go back just to watch her swim the 750 yards with her arms only.....Priceless.
Me and LB pre-race...swim caps are so flattering.
Long story short- my first tri was a disaster. I hadn't trained. I swam half a mile in the pool to make sure I could. I purchased my road bike two weeks before the race and rode it a total of 15 miles, ever. I believe the race distance was 15 or 16 miles. I knew I had the run. No sweat....

In the water up to my belly button, my friend AN the RB and I looked at each other, near tears, we could turn and walk away, right now.....who cares? Then BAM! They said go!
In that sea of arms and legs....somewhere.

We didn't have a chance to back out. AN the RB, the collegiate All American swimmer, was long gone....out of the water in barely 10 minutes. I on the other hand took about 21 minutes to complete the 750 yards. I came out of the water as proud as momma bear with three healthy cubs.
Yeah, this is me proud AND exhausted...

Then it was time for the bike. The bike has always been my weakness. I was so scared I took 7 min and 50 seconds in transition 1. My Official Race Crew (OFC) and Paparazzi: Jessica, snapped some utterly embarrassing pics of me dancing out of my shorty wet suit, drying off, sitting down, taking my time and shimmying into my running tights. This was WAY before I had any official Tri apparel.

Putting on Capri tights is HARD when you are wet...
Off I went on the bike. Scared to death. I didn't have clip-in shoes, I had cages. I didn't even put my feet in them. The cages scraped the ground with each peddle. I had NO clue how to switch gears, shifting was a foreign concept. My first tri happened to be one of the hilliest tris in the area. It was so hilly that I had to get off the bike and walk, yes WALK, it up a few hills. As I was walking up a hill, head low, one nice race volunteer ran along side me, "Watch the riders around you. Look at their chains and listen for them to change gears. When they shift you switch yours to match." From that point the name of my game was watching chains and listening for gear changes. His advice got me through the bike part of the race.
Finishing the bike. I'm kind of waving. I couldn't ride with one hand...

I rolled in to T2 (transition 2) and parked my bike. I was thankful to be alive. Off for the run....

It was not as easy as I had imagined. My legs were so dead! I was dying, I knew it. Not to mention my choice of Everything Bagel for breakfast was a bad one. I had been tasting that thing for an hour and a half. The run was an out and back. If memory serves me it was a mile and a half up a hill, turn around and a mile and a half down. People were walking left and right. I felt good about the fact that I was running. Yes, I got passed by a snail but still, I was running.

Nearing the finish, I was so stinking happy! I waved at my OFC with the biggest grin across my face. It was awful and amazing at the same time.

Look at this cheese!!!

So, the moral of the story is this: I did not win this triathlon. Nor did I really do good, at all. I finished in 2 hours 12 seconds. I wasn't afraid to try, or at least too afraid to try, and I wasn't afraid to fail. I wouldn't trade that experience for anything. Here I am today, still not an expert. Still making mistakes and learning from them. But I have stuck my neck out there so many times and that, my friends, is fun to me. The excitement of the race, the pain, the butterflies, the thrill of the open water, the arms flailing, the kicks, the wind in my eyes flying down a hill, the heaviness of my legs....the pain, the way I cant wait to be out of the water on my bike, I can't wait to be off my bike and on my feet, I can't wait to cross the line so it's all over.....the way I CAN'T WAIT until the next's a crazy cycle that I can't get out of my head!

And this is The Dark Side......

My FIRST tri medal!

Are you ready????


  1. I'm so ready! After my half marathon at the end of the month I'm moving on and starting to learn to bike in an attempt to start training for a sprint tri this summer!

  2. I have butterflies just thinking about it!! yipes! Thank you for sharing!! I love this post!!

  3. Dang you and your perky, inspiring blog! Here I am, gimpy, just beginning week 2 of the C25K, trying to get back in the game... and now you've got me all interested in a triathalon. (I clearly have self-pacing issues.)

    Can I just come spectate, and live vicariously through you?

  4. OH my gosh you are downright adorable!! Look how little LB was!!! Holy cow.

    You'll never get me to do a tri - but I'll cheer you on for sure :)

    Miss you lady!

  5. "the way I cant wait to be out of the water on my bike, I can't wait to be off my bike and on my feet, I can't wait to cross the line so it's all over.....the way I CAN'T WAIT until the next tri"

    SO TRUE! Best post! Love it...Really, no kicking...I doubt that lady has done many more Tri's! That's funny! Don't breath either!

  6. I am torn on the tri. I have done 3 now (and not one stinkin' medal I might add!) and I am so discouraged because the swim leg is the only leg I am really good at...and it doesn't matter at all. All I hear for the entire bike leg is "to your left". It is depressing.

  7. Stupid google - comment take step mom at 60 went from overweight, depressed and unhealthy to reaching out and joining her local tri group in Texas. 2 years later she won her age group in a full tri series and completed her first half iron man. She is my inspiration! I am getting back into the running thing post baby and have some races on the books for 2012 but want to start "tri - ing"... I just emailed my local all moms Go Mama Go tri team to get some info. I cant seem to get the breathing of swimming down though.

  8. Great post, thanks so much for sharing! You've come such a long way in the world of triathlon. Its encouraging to know where you started and where you've gotten to for a lot of first timers and a newer girl like me. Thanks so much for this post!

  9. I'm not really afraid. I just don't like the fact that anything with swimming right up front will easily put me dead last. I plan on doing them eventually, but it's going to be a year when I have some time for swimming.

  10. Great post A. I felt like that before my first half, never have been a "runner", while training for it I swore I was never going to run more than 3 miles again, HA! When I finished I said to my friend, let's do another one!

  11. Thanks for sharing! Sounds like you've come a long way.
    Did my first one last May and signed up for this same one this year - I plan to CRUSH my time! And if I don't, I'm going to run over my bike with my car. Seriously though, I've now done a whopping two tris, but I'm definitely hooked.

  12. So...I've done a tri. But it was a million years ago when I was in the 8th grade. I thought I'd been there done that, but Jill E. and I were talking the other night at Greek ... and well ... she's planted the damn tri seed in my brain!

    So I'm thinking about it. I even told Mr. T yesterday that I'm thinking about it.

    But just a sprint. I can't afford a road bike -- I just have my mountain bike.


  13. I am definitely thinking about doing a tri this summer. I'm looking to start with one where the swim is done in a pool (I'm not a good swimmer). I also don't have a great bike. Any recommendations for what type of bike I should look at for using in a triathlon?

  14. I like multisport training. While I admit that it is easier to concentrate on one sport, adding variety helps to break up the monotony. Not to mention that you get to work out different body parts.

    Btw, when is your next tri?

  15. Thanks for sharing!! I'm not quite ready yet, but I have incorporated more swimming and biking into my cross training, so maybe soon!

  16. Great post! Thanks so much for sharing your story. I really admire how you overcame your fear and didn't back down from the challenge. It's also refreshing to hear that you finished even without real tri gear. I really want to do a tri someday, but it seems so daunting to figure out how it all works and I don't want to stick out as an utter newbie.

  17. i seriously one day want to do a tri...just need to learn how to swim... :)

  18. Laughing at Mel's comment. There's so much to prepare for to train for and compete in a tri! I have all the respect for those that do!!

  19. Great post! I am a covert to the dark side too and love it!! One of these days maybe we'll cross paths at a race in the NC/SC area. I did Augusta last year and have great things to say about it!

  20. Awesome post... You got me thinking about adding this to my bucket list...

  21. I tried it twice and for some reason I am one of the very few people who didn't like it as much. During my 2nd tri I realized I'm a runner! Triathlon is such a great way to cross train, I wish I would enjoy more the swimming and biking part.


You're pretty much awesome!!


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