With only one month to train, I wasn't expecting to do very well. I had become very good at road biking, and I knew I could run the 3.1 miles, but I had never tried swimming a distance over 100 meters. I spent only one hour a week training for each discipline, and another few hours researching tips for beginner triathletes.
My max swim was only 500 meters, 200 meters short of the race distance, but I knew I could push myself come race day. I successfully completed the total distances for the bike and run multiple times, each time trying to better my times by a minute and a half.
The day before the race I did a short workout of about 20 minutes, and stretched for another 20 minutes. I ate a big dinner of spaghetti and meatballs that night. I laid out what my transition area would look like, then packed it all in one bag.
The race started at 8:00 am. I woke up at 6:00 to eat breakfast, then double checked my bag to make sure I had everything. I arrived at the race area at 7:15. I did a short warm-up while listening to my I-pod, then set up my transition area. We grouped at the swim start at 7:50. Only five people were entered in the race, it was the first time it was being held.
It was a deep water start so I had time to get accustomed to the water temperature. Luckily, the water wasn't cold - even though it was early in the morning in late August. Being a beginner, I didn't feel the need to invest in a wetsuit yet. We started the swim, and all my nerves went away. All I wanted to do is get out of the water as fast as possible. I took the lead soon after the start, but after 100 meters, the stronger swimmers were evident. I finished the swim in third, but was second to get onto the bike. I knew I could wipeout the gap between me and the leader, but I didn't know just how big that gap was. I didn't end up taking the lead until the last mile. I held the short lead until T2, but I was slow on the transition, and lost a place.
Starting the run, I was tired, but wanted to finish no matter what. The lead group consisted of only two people: me, and the girl in front of me. The distance between me and the leader was about two minutes, I knew I could close the gap to make that up. After a quarter mile, I was three steps behind the leader. I pushed as hard as I could to get the lead. And, ten seconds later, I had it. I just needed to keep the same pace for the remaining 2.75 miles, and I would be the winner. But I wasn't convinced I could. At the turnaround point, I was still feeling good. The course was very hilly, and the long uphills were on the return. I slowed a little due to fatigue, but still had a two minute lead. As I neared the finish, the excitement welled inside if me. Five more minutes of sustained effort, and I was there. I had competed in, and won, my first triathlon! My time was 1:10:34. I sat and cheered as the remaining competitors reached the finish.
After the run, I had a splitting headache. Next time, I will definitely drink more on the bike.
I didn't spend any money on equipment for this triathlon. I swam in a regular bathing suit. I had previously purchased a road bike and bike clothing, so I already had those. And I wore my regular running shoes that I attached sliding clips. I took the clips from bags that I no longer used. Oh, did I mention I'm thirteen? Anybody, no matter age, fitness level, or lack of training time, can complete, and even win, a sprint distance triathlon.