I Finally Did It!

author : mpk
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I went down to the beach the day before to scout out the course, and it was glorious...the sun was out, the sea was as smooth as glass, and only a hint of a breeze was blowing. “Perfect,” I thought.

Well, after a little over 10 weeks of training, I started and finished my first tri on Sunday.

I'd put in a fair amount of training over the last 10 weeks, followed Joe Friel’s "First Triathlon" book fairly well, and yet on the day I was still standing there thinking, "What the hell am I doing? Did I train enough? Hmm, no one else looks as unfit as me...I'm screwed!!"

I signed up for the novice category of the Brighton triathlon in the UK...375m sea swim, 10km ride and 2.5km run. This is how it went:

One of the first things mentioned in the book is "Don't do an open water swim for your first event." I obviously thought I was above this, since it was only 375m--How hard could it be? I went down to the beach the day before to scout out the course, and it was glorious...the sun was out, the sea was as smooth as glass, and only a hint of a breeze was blowing. “Perfect,” I thought. Then I went down on Sunday, and it was a completely different story. The wind was very strong, the water was rough, and my stomach sank! “Why did I decide to do an open water swim,” I was thinking, “Surely Joe's 20-odd years of experience was better than my 10-minute decision, yet I still ignored it... that will teach me.”

It was so rough that even the lifeguards told the event director that they wanted to reduce the swim course to 300m for the novices. They had already had some of the guys from the Olympic and sprint distances pull out after a few minutes. “Great,” I thought, “Just what I need...”

So the hooter went off and I ran in. After a few minutes and half a liter of salt water, I was already at the first buoy and on the return leg. Then it hit me—I started to panic! I was swimming but not moving, my suit was too tight, I couldn’t breathe...” What am I doing here!!” I thought. I calmed myself down and got on with it. Next thing I knew, I was out of the water....woohooooo! I did leg one.

T1 was tough. I had no energy to get out of my suit as well as I had rehearsed a dozen times before in the back yard. Finally I got out and was tearing through to the road.

The bike was brilliant! Well, I thought so, anyway! I jumped on my bike, and before I knew it, I was finishing and coming into T2.

T2 was fairly straightforward, but with so many people and bikes in the transition area, it made it a bit difficult to get through.

Then came the run. My legs were tired, and they really didn't want to carry on. All I could think of was that there were so many people backing me (family and friends, and I'd just got through that killer swim—there was no way I was going to stop now. So I kind of half walked and ran for the first few hundred meters while trying to convince myself that I could do it. Then I looked at my watch and realized that if I started running, I could come in under an hour. That made me smile, and I started to run.

Then I saw it coming toward me...like a ray of light shining from the heavens...the finish line! Woohoo! I was getting closer with each step, and without even realizing it, my pace increased over the last hundred or so meters. I did it! I had finished, and due to the man standing with a HUGE camera taking photos of competitors crossing the line, I even did it with a smile on my face.

Total time was 49:54... 6:54 for the swim, 22:51 on the bike, and 15:10 on the run. The rest was transitions (3:00 for T1, and 1:00 for T2).

Did I enjoy it? More so after the event than during. Would I do it again? Yes!  I've already signed up for two more next year, and I’m looking for more. I'm hooked.

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date: November 19, 2007

mpk