Try-a-tri

Workout: 5 easy miles with an 8:39 min average, followed by a sprint triathlon in 1:02:57

Yesterday morning I did what’s called a “try-a-tri”, put on by the local University.  It’s where you try to do a triathlon.  Perfect for someone like moi who has only participated in running races and is curious, but too chicken, to branch out to something other than just running.  So it’s mostly used as an opportunity for first-time triathloners {made-up word?} or those who don’t want to feel the pressure of an official race and just want to have fun.  Oh, and it was free.  Sign. me. up.

I found out about the event on Thursday and figured it would be easy enough to go into it with zero swim training and only a few spin classes done in the last few months.  After all, I run, so I’ll be fine, right?  HA.

Due to the nature of the event, the swim portion took place in the university’s pool, bike portion was where the spinning classes are held, and we ran on the indoor track.  It was the distance of a sprint triathlon {600m swim, 12 mile bike, 3.1 mile run}, which was perfect for a beginner like myself.

Let’s start with the swim.  I knew it was 12 laps…but I didn’t know until seconds before starting the race that one full lap was a ‘down and back’, so it was actually two laps according to my definition.  I went from being nervous about swimming 12 laps without stopping, to swimming 24 laps without stopping.  Oh the stress of a first-time triathloner.  If we’re being honest {and we are}, I think I told myself at least 9 times that I wished I could just stop swimming.  It was dang tough.  I choked on water more times than I want to admit, got discouraged over and over, backstroked it out {no joke}, and managed to finished without drowning in 13 minutes and 9 seconds.

The transitions for this try-a-tri were atypical to say the least.  Each event was timed individually and you had to get to your next station and start it within five minutes of the previous event.  Awesome and unrealistic are perfect descriptions.  This means I had time to change out of my swimsuit, dry my swimsuit in the spinner thing, change into clothes, and start the bike portion with no consequence to my time.  I wasn’t concerned about the bike because a) it wasn’t a road bike with emaciated tires b) there was no chance of hills or wiping out and c) I chose whatever resistant I wanted and stuck to it the entire time.  Now, I love cycling classes.  They’re tough, upbeat, sweat-enhancing, fun, calorie-burning, fun music listening workouts {assuming you have a fab teacher}.  For this reason, I had no concerns about biking those 12 miles.  Each time I glanced at my RPMs, they were about 135 and I finished with a time of 24:58.

The final event was a 5K on the indoor track.  The track we were to run on was 5.5 laps per mile.  So – you had to be careful with your speed around those curves if you were trying to avoid agitation to your inside leg, which I was.  My husband says the outside of his outside leg feels the strain on sharp curves, but I swear I feel strain on the outside of my inside leg.  I didn’t have any real expectations or goals for this 5K, but if I had to say a range I was shooting for, I’d say about an 8:00 min avg, for sure less than 8:15.  Although, I really didn’t know how my legs would feel post-morning run, swimming, and biking.  I wanted to run by feel without pushing it and irritating my IT band–more on that later.  The run went well, all things considering.  My quads were sore, but bearable.  After I finished, I felt like I probably could have pushed harder, but I had fun and felt good so there were no regrets on my end.  I finished with a time of 25:15, an 8:09 min average.  Sometime last week, when I had no time to run before an appointment, I ran 3.1 miles with a 7:51 min average without feeling like I was racing.  What I’m trying to say is, I’ve never raced a 5K because it scares me more than I can describe, but I’m guessing if I was really trying I could maybe race a 7:15 min average?  When I find out, I’ll let you know.

Now to mention my fueling:  I started my run at 7am on an empty stomach.  When I got home I stretched, foam rolled, ate toast with peanut butter, and half a banana.  I was in the 9:30am heat for the triathlon.  After beginning the biking portion, I chewed on 3 energy blasts (powerade brand, 1x the caffeine) from the packet I had and sipped water every few miles.  I didn’t take in anything else until finishing the 5K when I had water and a mini size granola bar.  Once I was home, I made a protein shake of skim milk + 24g whey protein + 1 small spoonful of peanut butter + 1 frozen banana + a few ice cubes.

Overall, my first triathlon experience was above and beyond.  I was so glad to be in the noncompetitive, laid-back,and beginner-friendly environment that I was.  It made me not so ‘ohmygosh triathlon, ah!’…as long as I don’t have to swim in a lake or anything.  Baby steps.  It was somewhat stressful to think about more than lace your shoes and run, but the change of pace, scenery, and activity was exciting.  I’m looking forward to possibly incorporating future triathlons with my running schedule.  Now about purchasing a bike..

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What was your first triathlon experience like?

Or if you’ve never done one, do you have any desire to?  I was curious, but thought I’d be content with participating only in running races.  Now that it’s all said and done, I’m so glad I did it!

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