For over nearly a year now I have been saying I want to do a triathlon, but I’ve been somewhat scared of taking my endurance racing to the next level. I have done Tough Mudders, half marathons and other road-running races but I really wanted to try something new and more challenging. As a former athlete, I really miss that intense drive to compete and that feeling of pushing your body to the next level. I signed up for the Ulman Cancer Fund Iron Girl Sprint Triathlon back in March, telling myself I was going to train for it…which I didn’t. Luckily, I teach a lot of spin classes and do quite a bit of running and training in my daily workout regime. One of my biggest fears of triathlons, and probably the main reason I avoided doing one until now, is the swimming portion.
Needless to say, I didn’t step into the pool once…which was a hugeeee regret at the race. BUT I made it and I crossed the finish line on Sunday around 1:58:56! I am super happy with my performance but there is definitely room for improvement and better prep. Here’s a recap of my experience for those who are thinking about doing a tri, and/or for anyone who’s experienced one and wants to share.
Saturday was the prep day for me. I went to Race Pace Bicycles where I rented my racing bike. I currently own a mountain bike that is not recommended for racing because of the tire tread and its weight. The Race Pace team was extremely helpful! They gave me a brand new bike to rent for the day for $75. I even brought Franklin in with me, who really enjoyed it too 🙂 Also, I ended up buying a bike rack for the car and new helmet. Happy shopping!
They helped me get fitted properly and talked me through the gears. I decided not to do the clip ins but in hindsight wish I would have done it because my power would have been stronger – just like indoor spinning. I ended up buying a new Scott helmet. After that went to Columbia for the packet pick up. Smaller venue but did a little walk through. I decided to pick up a 2xU tri-suit which I highly recommend. Yes, I looked a little ridiculous in a one piece but it was perfect! Didn’t bother me at any time which is clutch! There is padding right on the rear, built in bra shelf, the uniform was totally breathable. Once I was finished at the expo, we went over to the course to drop off my bike. Of course, I had to make a pit stop at the Whole Foods Columbia which was amazing!! Picked up some essentials for dinner and breakfast.
For dinner before a big race I try to find foods that are easily digestible and that make me feel light but also give me energy. My friend Emily and I grilled out with chicken, sweet potatoes, and a kale pasta salad(Emily needs to send the recipe to share…delish!)
After dinner, I went through my checklist of things and made sure everything was all laid out and ready for the next morning..which was an early one– woke up at 4:30AM and we left at 4:50AM.
Prime essentials here:
1.) Tri-Suit: I bought the 2XU Tri-Suit with a built in sports bra and supported padding in the shorts. It was half off…who doesn’t love a clearance sale, right?!
2.) Energy: I went with VegaSport Acceletor that you drink 20 mins before performance, Clif hydration and energy pack for duration.
3.) UA Running Shoes: Went with the Speedform Gemini’s on race day.
4.) UA Sunglasses: Didn’t think I would need this BUT THANK GOD I packed for the bike.
5.) Swim Cap: they give you a swim cap so they can identify which age group you are. They bumped me to the 30 year old age group..I am not 30 until October. I try to stay in the 29 year old group.
6.) Waterbottle: have it ready for the bike. I added in the mix and water before we started.
Items that I did forget or not pictured here:
- Racing belt to put your bib on: Helps with transitioning so you don’t have to pin it on before you run. You don’t wear it when you swim and bike so it’s not added on there.
- Sunscreen: Thank god for buddies who had it.
- Watch: totally forgot my Garmin watch. Just would have helped keep track of timing.
- Swim goggles: I borrowed a pair. Towel is clutch for wiping down real quick after the swim and laying your stuff out.
And now race day:
Early rise my friends, 4:30AM. Gotta be there early to avoid the traffic and to get set up. Breakfast(forgot to take a pic) but my go-to is egg whites with a half avocado and half of a bagel with almond butter. Yes, I have to sip on some coffee when I wake up, along with lots of water with Nuun in there. Nuun is a great replacement for Gatorade. I am not a Gatorade lover and Nuun is a better taste for me.
So here is the break down of the race:
SWIM: Like I mentioned before, my fear has been the water so I had to just go for it. Oh boy did I panic like no other. Multiple moments like, “I can’t do this”, “I can just stop”, “How about I just rest at that kayak”….yeah it wasn’t pretty and I couldn’t see the finish so I freaked out even more. I just couldn’t get the breathing right and chocked on some water. Needless to say, once I got more than halfway in I eased better into it. So lessoned learned for me here…TRAIN or SWIM beforehand. Duh! I just kept telling myself I will make it up on the bike. Just get me to the bike!
I finished around 32 mins here. The transition out of the water to the bike, whoa! Legs and mind were a little out of it, but made it to my bike. Threw my shoes and helmet on, chugged my Clif Energy pack, and BOOM off on the bike we go!
All I can say is, I AM SO LUCKY to teach at REV. All the classes totally set me up for success on this one. 16 miles just you and the road! Felt incredible. I had to get used to the gears a little bit but settled right into it. I just kept telling myself the cadence of 1,2,1,2..meaning the revolution of your push around to pedal. Once it gets longer, then you need to change gears. If you are on the flat road, you want the stronger gears on so you are’t out of control and if you are going up a hill, then you want the easy gear on so you keep to the cadence. Now, this is were the sunglasses helped..BUGS! Good shield to keep those little guys out of your eyes. My water bottle was a little tough to get in and out but managed. The route was gorgeous, a little hilly for sure but it was just the country side and fresh air. So amazing! I finished around 56 mins at this part. Next transition–drop the bike off and start running! Like I mentioned the race belt would have been helpful but just pinned on my bib and there we go. And now legs really hate me….ek!
Oh wow legs, they were a little sore. The trail around the lake was hilly it’s self but it was shaded which was helpful. Running with no music was different and very hard for me. Normally I have my tunes in and ready to go. Or just to help me get through those rough hills. Just you and the pavement at this time. I snagged a powergel in the middle of the run that really helped! However, the support of other women running and cheering each other on. Incredible! High fives, cheering, pushing each other. So motivating. But I still missed my music. The last 400 yards were tough because it was up hill then straight shot to the finish! DONE!
Felt incredible to finish and went immediately looking for my friends and find food and water! The post race was nice because it was condensed into one area with some food and shopping vendors.
Special shout out to my ladies Sammy, Sarah, Shannon, and Emily for killing it with me. They really help ease my thoughts and nerves going into this. So I highly recommend going with a group! It truly helps.
One last shout out to Sandra who is a coach/trainer at the UA Performance Center. She is a tri/running coach and personal trainer. She gave me some extremely helpful tips going into it and tried to train me..but I resisted and made excuses. But you can believe I will be working with her now. Just training fully and improving myself could help me get so much better.
Happy to say I finished 94 overall and 14th in my age group. Very happy with it but I would love to improve. You can say I am hooked 🙂
Thinking about doing your own first triathlon?
Don’t be intimidated by hardcore triathletes — anyone can do one! Here’s proof…on my bike ride I was passed by a 13-year-old girl and on my run a 43-year-old woman passed me (I know because our ages were Sharpie’d onto our calves). Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Find a training plan. An internet search will turn up lots of options, so I recommend following something from a website or magazine you trust, not one you’ve never heard of before. Other option is to find a coach! Like I mentioned, Sandra Gallagher-Mohler (firstname.lastname@example.org) from the Under Armour Performance Center. She is a certified USA triathlon coach. She was extremely helpful. Another group I recommend is City Coach, they will give you training plans even if you are not based out of NYC. Their group is amazing.
- Read up on gear. From the outside, triathlons seem to require a lot of gear you might not have lying around. Some you’ll definitely want to invest in, like a helmet. Others, like a wetsuit, you’ll probably be able to rent or you might not even need.
- Buy some bike shorts. This is one piece of gear you don’t want to skip!!
- Find support. Find friends or others who may have competed before. Get their advice and thoughts! Nervous doing it yourself, find some other friends who are interested and set it a goal together.
Have you ever done a tri? Which one?
Want to try one? Let us know!
With fitness love —