Before I was a runner I complained about runners all the time. I thought they were stupid, I thought running was stupid, the whole thing seemed pretty ridiculous to me. But I was interested in doing a triathlon someday, if it wasn’t for all that running.
Fast forward to February 2012, after I finished my first 5K and saw a postcard for Penny’s Pieathlon. This sprint triathlon took place the week after graduation and the distances seemed easily doable to me. I found a training schedule online and tried to follow it as well as I could (sometimes that meant I failed miserably and sometimes I was incredibly exhausted).
I’d been training since February, but when I saw all of these people walking around in their tri suits I could feel a knot in my stomach. Was I ready for this? I wasn’t so sure. I had tested myself physically over and over again in the weeks prior, so I knew I’d be able to complete every leg of the triathlon… but itself. But would I be able to transition from swimming to biking to running? The transitions were really what had me nervous.
I was thinking about all of this up until I jumped in the water, and then everything was like clockwork. Well, basically. They had us start based on our projected swim time, so I got in line with the 9-10 minute people. I ended up swimming the 400 yards in just over eight minutes, but I wasn’t sure how my swim time would end up when transitioning between lanes in a pool. I ended up pulling away from the girl behind me quite a bit but there was always plenty of room ahead of me. It was over before I knew it and I jumped out of the pool and ran, in my bathing suit and swim cap, to the transition area. This was the worst part of the triathlon because I had to put my biking clothes on over my swimsuit and it took forever.
The bike is where I killed everyone. I passed at least eight people, which made up for some of that time I wasted in transition. Even with a headwind at my face I was moving, about 20 mph average for the 10 mile bike. I would have liked to have gone faster– but then I always want to go faster. When I looked at the results I saw I was one of the fastest females on the bike.
The run was a little brutal. I didn’t feel tired, but it was the first time I’d ever run without headphones and there were no mile markers on the out. I felt like I could have pushed a little harder on the 5K but I was worried I’d run out of steam.
The clock in the photo says 1:25, but I actually finished in 1:17. Throughout the whole training process I said I wasn’t sure I would ever do a triathlon again, but I had fun and did well. If I got a triathlon suit I could be pretty competitive because my improved transitions times would take at least three or four minutes off of my total race time. I’m actually thinking about doing another triathlon in a few weeks.
I like the sprint distance, and during the run I thought to myself, Triathlons, the sport for people who are pretty mediocre at lot of different things. This sums me up well. I’m not a great swimmer, but compared to a lot of other people I’m average or maybe a little better than average. I will never, ever be the fastest runner, but I have endurance and have gotten quite a bit faster in the last six months. I think I could excel a lot in cycling, but right now I’m just a slightly above average cyclist, and not great when compared to people who race frequently.
I was so hard on myself throughout my training in regards to my swimming. I got mad at myself for not being fast enough, not training often enough, not training hard enough. I discovered that most of the triathletes around me were the same way, and in reality we were all doing just fine. It’s not like we’re Olympians and getting paid for this.
I will say that training for three sports is a lot. It’s tiring and requires a lot scheduling on the athlete’s part. One awesome benefit is built-in cross training. If my knees or feet were ever bothering me I would just do more swimming that week and less running. In some ways it’s harder on your body because you’re exercising at least six times a week, but in some ways it’s a lot easier on your body because you’re increasing your range of movement.
Why I think I will probably stick to triathlons, even though I complained about it so much: Well first of all, I had no reason to be freaking out as much as I was and I know that now. The bigger reason, however, is just that I know I’m going to be biking and running for a long time. Those are the two sports I really care about. If I swim once or twice a week on top of it then I can easily continue competing in sprint triathlons and see where I want to go from there.
The most amazing thing about all of this though? That I went from just trying to lose weight to becoming an athlete.