I’m 10 days out from my first triathlon. I’ve been SOO excited during all of my training and have really enjoyed it. Now that race day is almost here I am starting to panic! How did you harness all of your nerves before your first tri? – Kathleen, Facebook
On Monday I put a post up on Facebook asking if anyone had any requests for blog posts this week and Kathleen left the comment above. Since I’m in the process of training for my first Ironman, I thought it would be fun to talk about my first triathlon.
I still have no idea why I registered for my first triathlon. I think it just seemed like the next logical step with racing. I’d already done a half marathon, was in the process of training for my first marathon, and thought it would be fun to throw a triathlon in the mix. Never mind I didn’t have a bike or even a clue of what I was getting myself into. I don’t put a lot of thought in things before I do them, I just do them.
I talked my sister (who was at college in Tallahassee at the time) into registering for the Moss Park Triathlon with me. The March(!) race happened to fall on the same weekend as her spring break so it worked out perfectly.
The first thing I did was buy a bike. I knew NOTHING about bikes at the time and ended up buying “Blue” out of someone’s garage off of Craigslist.
My “training” was non-existent. I like to joke I trained for my first triathlon in a weekend because, well, I did. The weekend before the race, my sister and I drove to Lucky’s Lake for our one and only swim. For some reason it didn’t occur to us that the water would be cold. We were the only ones without a wetsuit, we also didn’t have (or own) any swim caps.
Looking back, I really had no idea what I was getting into at Lucky’s Lake. I had zero open water swim experience, but had it in my mind I could swim 500 meters to one side of the lake, then 500 meters back. I was nervous, but I knew I wasn’t going to back out. I just jumped in and did it.
My sister and I also did a bike ride and run together that weekend. We were both feeling good about the upcoming race. Not really nervous, just excited to do it.
Then it all changed.
The day after our swim together, I got the one call that no one ever wants to get. My sister was hit by a car on her bike and was being air lifted to the nearest trauma center. All thoughts about the race were out of my head and all I cared about was my sister.
Kelly was a miracle. She walked out of the hospital that night with just some scrapes and bruises – no broken bones and no permanent damage. Heck, even her bike was okay!
So the week before the race all of my nerves and energy were geared toward my sister. My sister made a full recovery, but unfortunately had to back out of the triathlon. Instead of toeing the starting line together, it was just me, with Kelly cheering from the sidelines. There wasn’t a question of whether or not I would do this race or finish it, I had do this race, I had to cross the finish line.. for my sister.
The race was definitely an experience.
After swimming in the cold water the weekend before, my mom bought me a shorty wet suit at Costco. At the time I had no idea there was a difference between a triathlon wetsuit and a surfer one. I didn’t really have a problem wearing it, but it’s funny to look back at.
I was one of the last ones out of the water and one of the last one’s back on the bike. Did I care? Nope. I was just happy to be out there!
I did make up some ground in the run. The run portion is – and will always remain – my favorite part. This was when I learned that A LOT of people walk on the run. I was so happy to not be in the water or on the bike, that I was happy to keep the run going.
My best advice when it comes to ringing in your nerves before your first triathlon is to not think about. You’re going to be GREAT. I can promise you that you won’t be the only newbie out there and it’s okay not to know exactly what you’re doing. You’ll be surprised how naturally it comes on race day. Good luck!
Do you have any advice for first time triathletes?