Tiger Tri: Things I Learned

Yesterday marked my foray into the world of triathlons. It was crazy, fun, scary and exhilarating. Unlike anything I had ever experienced. Something I want to experience again soon. I trained hard for this and yet I could’ve trained harder. There were some things you cannot train for. Here’s what I learned.

1. Do not underestimate how long it will take you to swim. This triathlon was a snake swim and we lined ourselves up based on how fast we thought we would be. This was known ahead of time. Myself and others timed our training swims in order to make an educated estimation. Others did not. This lead to pile ups and angry swimmers in the lanes when someone thought they could swim much faster than they could. Be courteous to those around you and be real with yourself. Nobody is judging if you are in the 8 minute swim group instead of 6 minutes.

2. Get there early. Triathlons start early. As you have a transition area to set up, you’ve got to get there even earlier. Some events set up the night before, but if yours sets up the morning of, get there at minimum an hour and a half early. Earlier if your race is particularly big. I had to get my timing chip and body markings in addition to setting up my station. Leave yourself plenty of time to poop relax, because you WILL need it.

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3. Do not judge your abilities or equipment because of others. My morning started out with serious bike envy. Starr Trek is nothing in comparison to elite triathlon bikes that cost more than my car. But she’s a good bike and I do well on her. I set my transition station far away from others because I was immensely intimidated. Standing in line to swim, I also psyched myself out. Many of my training swims were in the 9 minute for 300yd range. Not terrible but I’m not winning the Olympics. I completed a couple around 8 minutes but was convinced those were a fluke. Others around me said I would be fine but I wasn’t sure I could compete with their 8 minute flat times. Therefore I convinced myself I would have to swim my heart out so they wouldn’t pass me, which lead me to my next issue…

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4. Do not panic in the swim. Nothing, and I do mean nothing short of doing lap swimming through a crowded public pool, could have prepared me for what it was like to swim in a pool filled with 30 other athletes. Though it was a snake swim not open water, there was still the added element of swimming with others before and behind you and waves being made in the water. Part way in, I caught some water in my mouth and started to choke. I told myself I wouldn’t use the breast stroke at all but I HAD to keep my head above water and calm myself down when I started to panic. By the end I was fine but for a moment there I considered screaming for help.

5. Have Fun! This event was challenging and so rewarding. I’m so lucky to have had people there to support me and cheer me on. I met tons of wonderful people who were so willing to help and give advice. It’s easy to get caught up in the craziness and forget to enjoy the day.

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Other notables:
– I met a really cool lady in line for the swim who had done many open water swims and she helped me feel way better. What a cheerleader! I also saw her and her adorable son running a nighttime trail race the same night.
– Some people relax after a triathlon by smoking a cigarette. To each their own.
– POWERADE.
– If your bike isn’t a beach cruiser, you’re miles ahead of some.
– Taking transition time to set your GPS could cost you a place in the medals (I almost placed!)

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jesse - Questionably Texan
    Aug 12, 2013 @ 10:46:09

    Great job on your first tri! I’m pretty sure that I’ll have some serious bike envy too when I rack my bike (that I use for commuting) up against all the tri bikes.

    Reply

  2. olivetorun
    Aug 13, 2013 @ 19:52:47

    Woot Woot! I loved reading this… and love that you met someone who helped calm your nerves and be your little cheerleader while you were preparing. I think that lady should come to North Carolina when I am ready to embark on my first tri journey!

    Reply

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