I’m not sure what possessed me to do a triathlon. I didn’t own a decent bike, and I don’t like to swim. Regardless, I decided to do the Wood River Triathlon, a sprint triathlon, set for August 2015. I had been the runner on a triathlon team in 2013, but this time, I was going it alone.
This triathlon featured a 450-meter swim, a 12-mile bike ride and a 4-mile run—long enough to challenge a newbie, but short enough that I didn’t need to spend months preparing.
Training for a triathlon is a bit like juggling. You’re trying to keep three activities going without dropping the ball on any one of them. If you do slack off in any one area, it will show in the race. The most common schedule is to rotate workouts: Swim, bike, run. Repeat. You can also do some bricking—combining two or more activities in one workout. It’s good practice for how you’ll feel on race day. Be sure to include a rest day in your training. I was still doing CrossFit three days per week, so with adding the tri training, some days I was training twice.
In spring I signed up for swim lessons. I swim well enough to avoid drowning, but I don’t like getting my face wet. I wanted to increase my comfort level and learn the crawl, the most efficient stroke. By race day, I had improved a bit, but not to my satisfaction. I’ve signed up again to learn to do open swims.
It’s true that you never forget how to ride a bike. I hadn’t been on one in years, and I procrastinated getting out on the
“old-man bike,” a road bike featuring fatter-than-normal tires, even equipped with a bell. By the time I got motivated to train on the bike, I had only about two weeks left until race day. An experienced triathlete advised me to ride for time, not miles, to practice endurance and get used to being in the saddle. Because I was particularly concerned about cycling in a group, a cyclist friend took me riding and gave me some pointers, such as staying out of another rider’s draft zone—an area around each biker that’s actually against the rules to enter.
Hitting the Pavement
Since I’ve been running for a few years, this was fairly simple. I had heard running after cycling would be challenging with already fatigued legs. It’s true. The first time I cycled 6 miles then went to run a mile, I felt like I was running through mud.
Race Day Results
This particular triathlon is popular because you’re allowed to walk the pool if you don’t want to, or can’t, swim the stretch. I ended up just striding across because the other walkers didn’t stay on the sides and it was easier to walk rather than swim around them. Still, I felt disappointed in myself for taking the easy way out after agonizing over swimming.
The balance of triathlon training definitely challenged me, but the variation of workouts actually prevented the monotony that comes with focusing on one sport. And I was excited that I beat my two-hour goal with a time of 1:50:50. In fact, I’ve already signed up for 2016.