So I participated in my first triathlon on Saturday! In the spirit of completing race reports long after the race is finished — here goes.
As you may remember, I hurt my leg last winter and spent a lot of time swimming while I couldn’t run for ~6 weeks. I’m not new to swimming; I was on the swim team for a few years in high school, but I hadn’t really done much since college.
I think I got better this winter than I ever was in high school. More consistent practice + cross training with running (when I could again) helped a lot.
So when some of my co-workers asked in April if I wanted to join their relay team for the Norway Triathlon this summer as their swimmer, I jumped at the chance. It was a way to stick my baby toe into triathlons. And it was also a fun thing to do.
But then life happened. When I set my sights on an early summer marathon, my swimming frequency dropped to about once a week. And when I moved at the end of May, I stopped swimming pretty much altogether for lack of a new habit.
Things I worried about:
- Was the water going to be so cold I would die without a wet suit? (No. It was 73 degrees and perfect.)
- Am I going to be the last one out of the water? (No.)
- Am I going to totally fail at swimming in a straight line? (Yes.)
- Is my team going to hate me for being super poorly trained? (No.)
- Am I going to be able to get up at 3 a.m. to drive my ass down to Norway for this race? (Tony, I could not have done this without you!)
Because of other commitments, we had to head down to the race on Saturday morning. At least I remembered my googles and swim cap. I did not remember to bring a complete change of clothes. Or sneakers. I’m surrounded by all these lithe sporty people in athletic wear and I’m wearing girly sandals and sweatpants. Oh god.
I set a goal for myself of 30 minutes. I had no idea what to expect (it was a 1000 meter open-water course).
23 minutes. (and 14 seconds)
So, the race director explains the course and we head down to the water and wade in. It’s perfect. I even have time to swish around a few strokes and get warmed up. The gun goes off and we head out on a triangle course.
I had heard horror stories about swim starts at triathlons. Face kicking and arm smacking an the like. This really wasn’t so bad. I had to swim around a few people because I placed myself at the back (sorry!) but the starting wave was so small (maybe 30 people?) that crowding wasn’t an issue.
My strategy was to keep my head down and come up to sight every 12 strokes or so. This was not a great strategy. I overshot the path to the second buoy and back to the beach, in part because the swimmers were so spaced out that I couldn’t hear their splashing or follow their bubbles.
In the pool, when I was at my peak swimming fitness, I could do a 500 in about 9 and a half minutes. This course had a 150 meter run after the swim, and I know I added some distance overshooting the buoys. So truth be told, a 30-minute estimate was probably pretty high.
And 23 minutes. That was it. That’s the shortest athletic event I’ve participated in in my adult life. I found myself looking at the cyclists leaving the transition area and wishing I could join them.
I find it hard to really push myself swimming. I have two modes — I can do this forever mode or I’m gonna die mode. I didn’t know what to expect and next time I know I can push harder.
So when am I going to do a triathlon all on my own? Not sure. I’m still bike shopping, waiting for that perfect one to come across my IFTT alert on 52-54cm road bikes on Craigslist … as long as it’s in my budget .