On Sunday, June 5, 2011, I competed in (and “won” – I’ll explain later) my first triathlon. As you may have read on the About Me page, I was supposed to be chronicling my life and training for this event over the past 6 months…
Back, just before Christmas 2010, I started thinking to myself “I’d like to compete in a triathlon.” I regularly participate in local 5k races and have done the Cooper River Bridge Run 10k for the last four years as the highlight of my “race season.” For the majority of my running career, I’ve been a middle-of-the-pack, 10-minute pace runner who doesn’t always look like she’s having a blast. That all started to change when I enrolled in the local Fleet Feet store’s “6-Weeks to Speed” running class (trading in my golf lesson birthday present from my hubby).
The class focused on intervals, hills and strength. At the end, I was still a middle-of-the-pack running, but now with a 9-minute mile pace and a much happier disposition. I started to understand what it felt like to be fully prepared for a race and to be “comfortable” while running. On Thanksgiving, I broke 30 minutes for the first time in a 5k and in early April I broke 1 hour in the Bridge Run.
At that point, I knew I could do it. So my husband and I joined the gym where I’d worked out during the “6-Weeks to Speed” class and I continued to run while adding spin class and strength training to my workout regimen. Then, Christmas rolled around and I received a whole bunch of gear to “help me on my Triathlon way” the most notable of which was a hybrid Trek bike from my hubby. Then, my birthday rolled around and more gear came my way. Before I knew it, there was only a week before my first Tri!
I was definitely prepared but I’ll admit, I wasn’t the most fun to be around that week. I was anxious about doing something new and about the potential to complete a goal that I’d set months ago. I was also anxious because I knew that multiple Ironman finisher would be starting the swim just 15 seconds behind me. However, I could rest easy knowing that I was the only 20-24 year old registered for the event (remember how I said I “won,” I didn’t mention my competition).
Regardless of the anxiety, the race day rolled around and we were up at 5am so that I could be sure to have plenty of time to set up my transition area and to learn all of peculiarities of race day. I set up my transition, warmed up in the pool and then set around to relax until it was my time to swim.
The swim went well, though I was more panicked than I would have liked. I did manage to keep my place and not be passed until running to the transition area. It was a pretty smooth transition to the bike, but I was surprised by how tired my legs were at that point. My time of the bike passed more quickly than I expected and soon it was time to run. It felt like slow motion at first, but I soon fell into a good pace. The second mile was completely gravel which was less than friendly for someone running in FiveFingers. I kept running until the MASSIVE hill that began mile 3 of the run. The hill warranted a few walking steps, but I was soon jogging again and then the finish line was in sight. I couldn’t believe I was about to finish my first tri and to complete the first goal I’d “formally” set for myself since deciding that I’d be the Drum Major of my high school marching band. Before I knew it, a towel that said “finisher” was being thrust into my hand and I’d done it!
Granted, it wasn’t too long of a race (300m/20k/5k) and with the amount of training I did, it wasn’t especially difficult, but I did what I’d set out to do. And on top of that, I had a blast!