My First Triathlon

This morning I competed in my first triathlon. Being my first, the main goals were:
#1- To finish!
#2- To learn!

I accomplished both my goals. It was a sprint triathlon and, being a relatively flat course, a good one to start with. The triathlon began with .3 miles of swimming, then 16 miles of biking, then 3.3 miles of running. My proudest accomplishment was completing the running part without stopping at all. Other than that... it was a total learning experience for my next triathlon in October!

The lessons that I learned are:

  • You have to have a license to participate in the race. They sell them at the race, and they can be bought either for a single race or for a year.
  • Athletically, the swimming was the easiest (by far). But frustration wise, it was the worst. I spent the whole time trying to find a spot where I wouldn't be kicked by the person in front of me or groped by the person behind me. I literally have scratches on my legs and arms from other people's nails. Next time, I'm starting at the front of the pack, even if I'm not the fastest.
  • Swimming goggles are a must. Fortunately, I had mine. Next time, I'm going to make sure I spit in them first so they don't fog up though. And, although they're important for protecting your eyes from the yucky, salty river water, in the river you can really only see about 2 feet in front of you.
  • I didn't need to spend money on water shoes. No one wore them, so I didn't either. Same thing with the nose plug.
  • If you have to pee before the race, you can skip the port-a-john and just go in the river. :) Don't judge.
  • Have your running (or biking) shoes untied and ready to go at your transition station. I probably wasted at least 45-60 seconds during my first transition just untying my double-knotted tennis shoes. Also, for some reason my helmet strap needed adjustment. So, be sure to test your helmet before the race starts. During my transition I really unnecessarily took my time, which resulted in a really bad transition time. Next time I'll step it up.
  • Even though I would think it would make sense to put on some deodorant during the transition between swimming and biking, no one else did it.
  • In a triathlon, you get 3 numbers to display. One written on your body, another to put on your bike, and another to attach to your clothes. For some reason, I didn't think to put the one on my bike or my shirt until during the transition.
  • The BIGGEST lesson that I learned should be a big DUH! But, for some reason, I needed to learn the lesson the hard way. I didn't train much for the biking, and when I did I usually rode my cruiser bike with the kids or rode the stationary bike at the gym. So... the lesson is... be familiar with the bike that you're going to ride in the race. I borrowed my friend Carla's bike, and I've only ridden it once before, and that was quite a few months ago. I wasn't familiar with gears then. Now I know that the lower the gear, the easier the petals turn. So... Carla's bike apparently has 2 sets of gears... and I didn't notice that until after the whole race was over! I rode the entire race in gear 7, the hardest gear, on a totally flat road race! While the race was going on, I continually noticed everyone, even women who had a good 70 lbs on me or people in their 60s, whizzing past me! I know I didn't train for bike riding much, but I knew I had to be in better shape than that! I just kept attributing it to the fact that I was riding a "fat tire" bike (that's another lesson) and that it would only go down to 2nd gear. The set of gears on the left handle was on 2, and when I tried to put it down to 1st gear, the bike would just make clinking noises so I would return it back to 2nd gear. I rode the bike for over an hour and somehow never noticed the 2nd set of gears which were in 7th! No wonder everyone rode past me so freakin' fast and it looked like they were working so much less than I was! Big, big SIGH!
  • The "fat tire" category refers to the type of bike you ride in the race, not your weight. The men have a "Clydesdale" category for larger men, so I assumed "fat tire" was for larger women. I should have been in the fat tire category, but I wasn't. But, next time that won't matter because I'm never going to do another triathlon with a fat tire (aka "mountain") bike. I'm going to start checking craigslist and garage sales for road bikes.
  • Use a drink container that actually fits your bike's drink holder. Mine was in there so snug, that I would have had to stop to get it out and put it back.
  • The running part wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I'm sure it made a HUGE difference that the running course was totally flat. However, I was able to run the whole thing without stopping. I wasn't fast, but I wasn't too slow either. My running time for the 3.3 miles was 31:16, which works out to a 9:28 mile average and placed me in the top half of running times for my age category!
When I finished the race nearly 2 hours after starting it (my final time was 1:57:40), I was obviously exhausted, but felt good. I wore my leg sleeves for the running, so I never had any leg cramps or anything. I had to keep treading water during the swimming portion to either slow down to avoid being kicked or to look for a new spot to swim in, during the bike portion I stopped once early on to adjust the seat height, and I didn't stop during the run. I am ready to really train for the next race in October armed with these learned lessons, and hopefully finish much better in my category! :)


ljkolumbus said...

Keri Doll, We are so proud of you!! Your first triathlon .. sounds like you learned a lot of valuable lessons for the next one! Hope that we can be there to cheer for you at the finish line in Oct! You are awesome!

Sally said...

Well done, that's fantastic!

Nikki said...

Congratulations! Can't wait to find out your time for the next one. You are going to rock it.

Super impressive that you ran the entire 5k, but not that surprising. Your fitness level, without that much training, blows my mind. :)

Nicole4FLDU said...

Kewl! Sounds like it was a good experience either way! Go Keri! Hey - when u go do the IronMan in Hawaii, I'll come along to cheer ya on!

Anonymous said...

Good job! Congrats! I'm still not sure I want to do a a Tri, but I am planning on doing a marathon this year...yikes :)

Christina said...

Wow...that is totally amazing! Goo job!

Christina said...

Did you watch the Biggest Loser last season. I bet if you were on it, you'd be like Tara. She won every challenge and pushed herself harder than everyone else combined.