First Triathlon Takeaways

First Triathlon Takeaways

I finished my first ever sprint triathlon over the weekend and I feel amazing. I completed the sprint event, which consisted of a 500M swim, a 20KM bike ride, and a 5KM run. I have written about training and preparation on here before, so I wanted to follow up with how I did.

Note: before I started this journey I was a total couch potato, and with turning the big 4-0 this year, I wanted something physical and fun to do. I happened upon this event thanks to a free sponsorship from my employer. The event was the St. Elizabeth Triathlon in Grant County and was held in the area in and surrounding Williamstown Lake, here in Kentucky.

Swim

The swim is what I spent most of my time training on leading up to the race. This played out well because it ended up being my best event. Being able to go from someone who could only tread water to full on lap swimming to tackling open water was unbelievably rewarding, and a little scary.

It was different swimming in a lake as this was the first time I have been in one without a life jacket on. One notable was the water. It was so green I couldn’t see my hands in front of me. This made concentrating on my form a little difficult because I tend to watch my hands to make sure I’m being efficient. Eventually I ended up closing my eyes when I put my head under water because the dark green underneath me freaked me out too. On top of that, a slight chop made it difficult to get into a rhythm and I swallowed a lot of water on the outset. There was a few moments there where I almost panicked, but I had prepared myself mentally for this portion and eventually I got into my zone.

What helped was being able to stay calm and talk myself through this leg, and when I hit the last turn I felt terrific. Completing it gave me a big emotional boost that carried me through the day and is what got me across the finish line.

Bike

Overall it was a pretty ride that went through the country on a beautiful day. Two horses ran along side of me and that was pretty cool. A few issues that I wished I had worked out before hand though so my ride would have been more enjoyable.

The first was that my seat post was too low so I did not get the most out of my down pedal. I also don’t use clips or a toe cage so I did not get much help on the up pedal. I also cramped pretty bad, and drank both bottles of Gatorade on my bike half way through it to hydrate. My original plan going into the race was just to persevere and not worry about time, but I admit with my good swim I found myself wanting to ride faster and actually be competitive.

Run

This was the part I worried about most, but given that I had completed both of the first two legs and was still alive, I decided to make a push and finish strong. My legs had different plans, and they felt like bricks, but eventually loosened up after the first kilometer.

My run time was not very good, but I finished it without walking. That was very important to me. I did not want to cross the finish line looking like I was quitting, so I put on a smile and bore through it. When I finally did cross, people cheered very loudly for me and that overwhelmed me emotionally. I am very thankful they took time out to do that for me.

Overall

My goal going into this was to get to the start line. I just wanted to get to the event without quitting. Finishing it was my stretch goal, and I’m glad I got across that line within the three hour window.

I got so much positive support that day and it helped tremendously. I have never been around that type of environment and I’m kind of hooked on it. You’re around all of these really great, positive people but at the end of the day you’re competing against yourself. It was great to set a goal and accomplish it, and I’ll more than likely do one of these again. I am thankful for the opportunity and looking forward to next year.

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