Per a reader’s request, I thought I’d do a little post on triathlons.
If you’re a newer reader, you might think I’ve always been all about the running, but I’ve actually done several cycling events and triathlons:
- Moss Park Sprint Triathlon that became a Dualthon – June 2008
- Echelon Gran Fondo Century Bike Race (100 Miles) – May 23, 2010
- Breakaway to Sugarloaf Metric Century (100K) – April 18, 2010
- Wildman Olympic Triathlon – March 14, 2010
- Moss Park Triathlon Relay – June 2009
- Miles for Matt Metric Century (60 Mile/100K) Bike Race - June 2009
Like many runners, I got into swimming and cycling because I developed an overuse injury in my knees. I was NOT very good at swimming when I first started and actually have a pretty intense fear of lake water, especially in Florida. As I child, I was taught to assume that there is a gator in every body of water. And a gator actually attacked a man in the same lake that I did my triathlons in – FACT.
My first attempt at a triathlon was actually a Sprint Triathlon, which was a 750 meter swim, 12 mile bike, and 3.1 mile run. I had never swam in a lake before the event, and the moment my face hit the water, I absolutely FREAKED OUT. I couldn’t breathe, my heart was racing, and… I quit. I quit the swim portion, rode my bike, and ran. I was so embarrassed that I quit; it was heartbreaking. You can read my recap here.
(Side note: Damn. My 2008 guns are awesome. I need to start doing push-ups again.)
Anyway, after my first marathon, I decided that I really wanted revenge on my failed triathlon. I trained diligently in the pool for my first Olympic triathlon, which was a 1,500 meter swim, 24 mile bike, and 10K run. However, I never made it into a lake for a practice swim. As a result, once I got into the lake water for the race, I had a massive panic attack all over again. It was pretty terrifying.
The Race Recap is really descriptive of my crazy water breakdown, but the Race Video is even better! I always tear up at the 45 second mark when the Husband starts to run beside me. Plus, my Dad actually caught an epic bike crash on tape (I had a sweet scar from the accident).
Anyway – long story short, I finished the swim, but I was literally freaking out the entire time. I was the last one out of the water, and I have to say I was SO PROUD OF MYSELF. I didn’t care I was last! I had finished my swim! I ended up passing a few people on the bike (despite my crash) and during the run and finished in 5th to last place.
I hope to do another triathlon this summer – I’m thinking that I’ll be calmer in non-gator waters. I really want to conquer my fear of open water swimming. I’d love to do a tri and NOT panic.
Here are some very introductory tips to triathlons:
- Start with a sprint or even a super sprint triathlon to get used to the idea of transitions.
- Practice open water swimming if possible.
- If you need to learn how to swim, here are some tips.
- If you need to learn more about cycling, check out my tips here, including how to buy a used bike and how to ship your bike for travel.
- You can rent a wetsuit from Wetsuit Rentals. Check with the race director to make sure wetsuits are legal.
- Practice back-to-back brick workouts at least once a week. So swim and then bike, or bike and then run.
- Practice your transitions! This website includes a list of gear you’ll need to bring. I also recommend bringing a bucket filled with water and a towel so you can dip your feet into the water and rinse off all the sand during T1.
- If you don’t have a trisuit, you can wear a sports bra and bike shorts for the swim – it will dry out. I actually wore a bikini bottom with strings under my wetsuit and pulled my shorts on over it, untying and slipping off the bottom once I had my shorts on. It worked!
- DO NOT FORGET TO PUT YOUR TIMING CHIP BACK ON IF YOU TAKE IT OFF DURING T1. I did this; it was terrible!
- Don’t forget to put your helmet on before you exit T1 or you’ll be disqualified.
- Be prepared to have people crawl over all you during the swim. It can be scary if you’re not ready to get kicked in the face. Start in the back or the sides if you’re super nervous.
I asked two experienced triathloners to provide links to their favorite posts about the subject, too. Here are some great resources:
No Meat Athlete:
- What Every Runner Should Know Before Becoming a Triathlete
- What New Triathletes Need to Know About Safety
- Triathlon Training—The Good, The Bad, The Ugly
- How to Buy a Bike for Your First Triathlon
- The Triathlete’s Guide to Racing Etiquette (Or Why I’ll Never Pee Myself on the Bike)
- How to Start Swim Training Without Embarrassing Yourself
Are you interested in triathlons? Have you done one? Would you be scared of the swim or would the bike or run freak you out more?