A beginners guide to triathlons Well not sure if its a guide so much as, this is my experiences undertaking my first triathlon
6 months ago I would have never even thought about entering a triathlon. I was not the most active person, I hated running but had just discovered cycling. As luck would have it I blew my rear tire out whilst cycling with friends in the Ourimbah state forest. This was early January, it was only the November before that I had a friend ask me to come out and try the course. I must have been 1500m in to it before I hit the first hill and sat half way up trying to vomit for 15 minutes.
I was standing out the front of a local bike shop waiting in earnest for it to open so I could buy a new tube. Whilst I waited another customer turned up and joined me in waiting for them to open. We ended up talking whilst we waited and the conversion was surrounding bikes and he asked if I did anything else. I said just mountain biking but would like to try road. He mentioned that amongst other things he did was triathlons. Now this was something I had always wanted to do but they always seemed to be longer then I felt capable of.
He then told me about CCTRI and how they offered shorter locally based triathlons and did the “try a tri”. After waiting for nearly an hour to no avail, I drove around till I found an open bike shop and was finally able to replace my tire. However this did give me more time to think about doing this…
When I got home I looked up their website and low, just as he said they did offer the try a tri option to give you a go. 200m swim, 10k bike and 2km run. I thought, “I can do that”. I was unable to make the next one but this gave me about 7 weeks to train. I had been cycling quite hard for the last couple of months and felt that 10k would be straight forward. The run would take some work, but how hard would a 200m swim be right?
I had planned on doing it on my mountain bike but was lucky enough to secure a Scott Speedster s20. This made a massive difference to my training but took some time to get used to the position, riding style and lycra. But before I knew it within a few weeks I was pushing out regular 30k rides. Even did 50 on one day.
I started my running training on the treadmill. I think this gave me some false hopes but either way it did allow me to believe I could run the 2k. As I got closer to the event I ran outside more which was hard at first but got better as the days went on.
I was silly to think the swim would be straight forward. I knew I would not excel but I figured I would be ok. So I took myself down to the local pool and didn’t even make one lap! I only needed to do 4! I think my pitfall here was that even though my overall fitness had increased, I had (and still do) have poor technique. I was only able to do swimming training twice more but I elected to do “dry” training. That is focused upper body training on land similar to what I would undertake swimming. For this I used a TRX
Leading up to race day I just decided to ride one day and TRX and run the next. On the weekends when I had some more time I went on a 30km+ ride. A couple of times I did all 3 in the weeks leading up, ie TRX then bike 10k and then ran 2k. Whilst it was tough, mentally I knew I could do it. Even if I had do breast stroke or walk for parts of the run.
I had read varied ideas surrounding nutrition when it came to the race. As it was short I did not want to overdo it, nor did I see the need for any food whilst I was out. I did have some breakfast 2 hours before the race, a banana/choc smoothie and some peanut butter on toast. I then got everything prepped and set of with the family in tow.
We arrived at the event with a friend and his son that had agreed to join me for our first Triathlon. His son was in juniors and we were in B-grade which had 22 competitors.
After the juniors had completed thier short swim we ventured out into the lake. It was 100m to the buoy, go around an then swim 100 back. Sounds easy right? The water temp turned out to be great and we all lined up along the markers. As the sirens went I had a brief hesitation but it was more that I did not want to get in the other competitors way. After a few moments and some bumping into the nearby swimmers I was feeling ok. It suddenly dawned on me that we had a slight current towing us along, so when we passed the marker buoy we were heading back into the current and the wind. This did become somewhat harder and I must admit to swimming a good part of the return leg doing breast stroke. There was a noticeable loss of time doing this, but I was here to complete, not compete. A rogue wave caught me as I came up for breath and I copped a lungful of salty lake water, thankful I was very close to the marker and could start to walk.
I made my way from the water tired yet glad to have completed the stage that from the outset I knew would be the hardest. I emerged from the swim 19/22. Not the best but was just glad to be out. The transition to the bike went smoothly. I have not purchased any “clipin” shoes so I just used the ones I would be running in, this would also save some time later. Donned my helmet and race number then walked the bike out to the area in which I could now start the next leg.
I passed my friend almost straight away, even though he had over a minute on me coming out of the swim he had lost time during the transition. It took a longer time then I expected to find me groove with the bike. Primarily due to some straining in my quads/glutes. I’m putting this down to the lack of kicking in the swimming training and my workouts not having squats. I was able to work through it but the hills were tough. Normally I would try to get out of the saddle but my legs just did not want to help!
However I was able to set a good pace and got past a number of competitors of my field. I sucked it up and pushed the last hill as much as I could. By this stage the “A grade” and “Sprint grade” competitors had caught me and were overtaking at a fast regular pace. I completed my 3 laps of the circuit and return to the transition area. I was really stoked here by the encouragement given to me by all of the officials. I was really starting to feel like I was going to finish. I came out of the cycle much further up the field in 4th spot!
I racked my bike and dropped my helmet. As I turned to run down to the timing area I heard cheers from my wife and children. Nice to have some support! I got about 500m into the run when both my legs started to cramp up, but I was able to push. The run itself felt slow and was difficult to muster the energy I needed but I pushed on slowly. The turn around mark was a very welcome sight and did feel a renewed energy knowing that I only had 1k to go. Now I must admit at this I figured out that I was further ahead then I thought and my “complete not compete” mentality did go out the door. I knew to kids in my grade had passed my and whilst I was very tired I was determined to not let the 2 people behind me past.
I tried to set a regular pace just to keep 50m or so in front. I started to catch the competitor in front and as we approached the line he too picked up his pace and we finished within side a second of each other.
I finished with my family cheering on, well expect my 4yo daughter who had the poops because she wanted to go and play on the swings!
I had come in 6/22 and the 4th in mens. Overall very happy with it and very tired.
Whilst I had initially undertaken this to see if I could do it, I actually had quite a bit of fun and found the training to be quite varied. There is one more race for the summer season, I think I just might become a member.