Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Triple The Fun in 1:49

This past weekend I completed my first triathlon at the sprint distance. This is a three part race that featured 750 meters of swimming, 22K of cycling and a 5K run to the finish. For those stuck in English standard units this is approximately a 1/2 mile swim, 13.7 mile cycle and a 3.1 mile run. The race was really fun to participate in, the training was a nice break from my normal running routine.

Starting out I knew I could do any one the three events right away, separately. As my friend Greg indicated, I was wrong about the swimming. My first trip to the pool I was able to do 1.5 laps before stopping to catch my breath, then I did 1/2 lap at a time, stopping each iteration. Within four swims I was up to 18 laps straight, more than the distance for the triathlon, so that skill improved quickly. The running was not a worry at all, after all I ran at least 5K almost every morning this summer. More on the easy 5K in  a bit.

What I did not realize would be so hard was the cycling. Not necessarily riding 14 miles, but making time to train. The bike is the most time consuming of the three events, and I trained far to little in this skill. Now that I have my first triathlon under my belt, I will approach training entirely different the next time. Lots of cycling, a good weekly run, and 1-2 swims per week. The bike, while "only one third" of the race, is the biggest target for time improvement. My 16 minutes of swimming can be improved by maybe a couple minutes, same goes for the 5K, but the bike I could save 15 minutes or more with better training. I will also train going straight from the bike to running more. The feeling of this transition is weird, and not comfortable at first. Your legs feel 200 pounds each, and it take a decent stretch to get your legs under you properly. The first time I ran after a bike I thought I was going to eat the sidewalk.

Transitions are also a bigger part of the over all race than I thought they would be. The transition area is where you switch from the swim to your bike, and later drop the bike off and start running. I took my time the the transition area. Next time I will lay out my area a little bit better, and spend as little time in there as possible.

All said and done, I really like the triathlon competition. Like my friend TJ said, be careful, you will want to do more, he was right. I now want to do one more sprint tri in the spring/summer and significantly improve my time, Then double the distances and compete at the Olympic length race by next fall.

My biggest takeaway from the triathlon is never, ever let someone, or yourself tell you that you cannot accomplish something. I would have laughed a year ago if I was told I would finish a triathlon in 2014, but I did. Lots of work, lots of commitment and mostly I believed in myself. Now I am back to training for a couple more races in 2014, and my first half marathon in the spring.

Find your finish line, and get it!
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