My First Triathlon: A Tale of Mishaps

19 Aug 2012

You’ll notice that it says; “complete” a triathlon instead of “participate”.  That’s because I’ve already participated in my first triathlon, just never finished. It’s a bit of a funny story of mishaps…

It’s Sep 13, 2008 and I’m in Montreal with my amazing Ironman girl friends to participate in the Esprit Triathlon. I’m registered for a sprint, and it’s my first ever.  I borrowed a wetsuit, and a bike from friends.  The bike has clips, and I’ve never ridden it before, nor have I ever swam with a wetsuit.  The girls help me get organized in the transition area, and one takes me out on a short bike ride so that I can practice clipping in and out of the bike. 

Feeling pretty confident, I grab my bike, strap on my helmet and follow her.  Some of Ottawa’s elite are here too, and I’m feeling proud to be hanging around the cool kids! Just then, my girlfriend turns around, laughs, and says; “Oh you’re so pretty.”  Apparently, I put my bike helmet on backwards and looked like a Star-Trek Klingon for the world to see. LOL

When the swim starts, I’m the only one with an orange cap, everyone else has white…hhmph, they must of known I’d need special attention! I also don’t know how to swim very well, so I spent the entire 750m doing the breast stroke with my head above water and chatting with the safety kayaker. (Soooo, volunteer here often? Nice day isn’t it? Am I really the last person?)

The bike ride was loops of the formula one track.  It was smooth and easy, and I remembered to put my bike helmet on the right way! YAY! What I didn’t remember was to count how many loops I’d been doing, and managed to squeeze in an extra two.

Realizing this, I went back to the transition area, put my stuff away, walked over to the chip stand and ordered fries.  Might as well enjoying watching everyone else at this point! I knew then that triathlon wasn’t quite for me, and sometimes you just have to laugh at yourself! 🙂

This year, I was determined to complete my first triathlon!  I’ve been keeping fit with marathon training and HIIT workouts, however that doesn’t equate to proper triathlon training (proper training highly recommended). With that in mind, the aim of the game wasn’t to make stellar times, just to make it and have fun!

I signed up for it months ago, when I figured out I wasn’t setting enough fitness goals from my life list this year.  On that day I signed up for the triathlon, the Color Me Rad run, and the Dirty Girl Mud run. Those along with the Marine Corps Marathon slated for October, made me satisfied that 2012 was going to be a fun fitness year!

So I show up in Brockville, Ontario for the triathlon…a bundle of nerves. Sure, I signed up for it, but I haven’t specifically trained (I highly advised that everyone trains properly under the direction of a trainer, with approval from a doctor prior to undertaking a fitness feat of any kind) and I don’t exactly know how it’s going to play out today.

First of all, my guy tells me my tires are low…how can that be? I just filled them with air yesterday! I feel them and they seem fine to me, but when we take my bike over to the air-pump tire guy, he laughs a little at how low my tires were! Phew, glad someone was on top of that or else I would of biked 20kms on flat tires!

Then I go to set up my gear in the transition area.  My old hybrid bike, worn in runners, and chewed up bike helmet (looks like a dog got at it!) looks worse for wear against everyone’s shiny new cool gear and expensive bikes! Oh well, just here to have fun right? Right 🙂 Thankfully, there was a bunch of first time triathletes and we giggled at the craziness together.

I borrowed a girl friend’s wetsuit, not because the water was cold but more for the buoyancy, I wanted all the help I could be in the water! Thankfully, with all the tips I received, it was fairly easy to put on this time (wetsuits kinda make me feel like a super hero…).

At the swim start I kept looking at the buoys that mark our distance…ok, this will be interesting – I don’t even know how to front crawl! I managed the whole 750 by doing the breast stroke (with my head above water), a few moments swimming on my back to catch my breath, and yes, there might of been a dog paddle or two in there. Ha ha ha! Oh my!

Second last out of the water, I couldn’t catch my breath long enough to realize…man, this is only the first part! I already wanted a burger and rest time. 😉

Hopping on to my trusty hybrid bike, I scooted out for the 20 km loop.  Originally I thought I’d catch my breath, but it’s not easy doing 20 kms on a hybrid! To make it more fun there was constant rolling hills (in my mind they were mountains, in reality, barely inclines) and a crazy portion of the route was grated to be re-paved! It reminded me of when we were kids biking over gravel going “aaaaaaaahhhh” so that you sound like “ah ah ah ah ah ah” with the bumps.

That’s where I met my pace bunny for the race, Gillian. She was awesome!  Super motivated, fun, and maintaining a steady pace.  Actually I met her at the swim start, this was her second time doing the Brockville triathlon, so I loved that she new the routes and what to expect!

The whole bike ride I kept repeating my mantra “be the cheetah” and “it’s just for fun” over and over again to stay motivated.

At one point I saw a woman zoom by us with the number 76 on her right calf…that’s where we marked our age! She’s 76 years old and literally just sped by and left me puttering along in her dust. Jeeeesh, I WANT TO BE HER when I grow up!

What I loved, absolutely loved was the constant cheering from spectators and other racers.  It didn’t matter if you were a professional or just starting out, everyone cheered you on!

Gillian finished the bike ahead of me, and I caught up to her during the run. Her goal was to not walk/run like she did last year…to keep running not matter what, and she did just that!

We chatted about mantras, mine was “be the cheetah” and hers was BAMF (which stood for ‘bad ass mother ——-‘ ! AWESOME.  One cheetah and one BAMF completing the triathlon together!

It’s easier to keep the pace and stay motivated when you’re running with good company, so I stuck to her like glue and we finished the race together.  Crossing that finish line felt amazing, I was so happy to have completed the entire race!

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My First Triathlon: A Tale of Mishaps

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