On First TRI

A few weeks ago, I participated in my first triathlon.  It was such an enriching experience!

On race day, my emotions varied from misery in the morning (due to nerves finally hitting me) to elation at the finish line (even though I messed up a few times along the way).

I had trained for it so I was fairly confident that I would finish. The only uncertainty was around the craziness of the mass swim and whether I would fall of my bike (I did not get enough road time on my new hybrid bike thanks to our Wisconsin winters).


I lucked out!  I was in the last wave! A little less chaos.  Once I started, I glided through the water from buoy to buoy.  I was relaxed and focused. Before I knew it, the shore was within sight!  I felt a huge victory right there!!


I knew I was going to be one of the slowest but I didn’t expect to be the slowest! 😀.  But I didn’t mind…as long as I didn’t fall of my bike. I am sure the lack of clipless pedals and aerobars played into some of the struggles here. I own clipless pedals now. 😀


I knew I was home free once I got to the run.  I think I got a little complacent though…I forgot my race belt and had to turn back to get it (adding another 0.5 miles…call it getting my money’s worth 😀).

My family cheered me on as I crossed the finish line. Completing the event was rewarding! All the hard work had paid off.  I had overcome so many fears (including falling off my bike). I never gave up.   I had fun with it (even when I messed up).

It was the first time I felt that I could call myself an athlete.  Not an elite  athlete, but an althlete nonetheless!




Training for a TRI

For those of you who may not be familiar with the term, TRI refers to a triathlon (swim, bike, run).

Back in May, I completed a marathon…completed being the key word.  

I had trained for about nine months straight to get there.  I certainly had a feeling of “workout burnout” after getting my prized finisher medal.  

Some of the thoughts that went through my head were:

  • “Gosh…I am done with these looong runs!”
  • “I need a break from religiously working out!”
  • “I am not doing anything more than a 10K!”

For the most part I went with those thoughts.  My runs were limited to 3 miles, 4miles at the most two to three times a week.

This summer, every time I went on a bike ride with my husband, I would jokingly talk about prepping for an Ironman, the ultimate distance triathlon (yeah right) just to get him in a panic…much like he experienced when he watched the last 6 miles of my marathon.  There was really no seriousness to that statement though…at the time.

As summer progressed, and with every additional bike ride, I started to think, “Why not?”. In my mind though, the timeframe was somewhat qualified. Specifically, when both the kids  would have “left the nest” (and I would have all the time on my hands to enter into such a crazy endeavor!). So it was about a 7 year plan…or so I thought. 😀

When I casually mentioned this to my veteran Ironman teammate, he broke it down for me on how to get there; Sprint triathlon(16 miles) Olympic triathlon(32 miles), half-Ironman(70.3 miles) and Ironman(140.6 miles).  I had no idea that smaller distances were even an option, so this got me a little excited.  After the marathon, I did not really want to train for a super long event, but the Sprint and Olympic seemed like a fair goal. As the saying goes, “The rest was history!”.


Did I know how to swim?  I guess…enough to move around and not drown.  But definitely not anything that would cut it for a race.  

I had to seek help in this area. But I had to get past some hang ups first:

  •  Expose my weaknesses to a total stranger?  Luckily, I am at a point in life that I am totally comfortable with that.  
  • Go swimming any day of the week or month?  I said to myself, “If I want to be a triathlete, I have to go swimming ‘rain or shine'”!
  • Wear a swimsuit despite my minor body image issues? Too bad so sad…get over it!

I am pretty sure that after the first swim session my trainer must have thought to himself, “My goodness,  I have my work cut out for me!”.  But it has been 6 weeks and we have made a tremendous amount of progress in that area.  

See, you can teach an old ‘dog’ new tricks! 😀


 A few spin classes introduced me to a couple of unused leg muscles.  “Well hello there…have we met before?” I asked.  Now, we are quite familiar with each other.

The best or worst part, depending on your perspective, when training for an athletic event is the investment in “stuff”.  What stuff you ask?  I had a 20 year old department store mountain bike that I needed to replace. To put that into context for the young ‘uns…I bought the bike at a time when smartphones did not exist and digital cameras hadn’t taken off yet…you had to use ‘film’!  I needed a lighter weight bike that would not make me feel like I was doing resistance training every time I rode it.  I got one that had thinner wheels and a different braking system. 

The first step was to overcome the fear of falling off the bike.  It took me a few weeks to get used to its dynamics, but I finally got to a point where I did not fear climbing the bike (yes I can be wimpy at times).


I have run a whole “wonderful” marathon.  Old hat right?  Not really…unless running like a turtle is an option (okay, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration).  I really wanted some guidance in this area.

In addition to the swimming, my trainer and I work on strength training.  That doesn’t just mean lifting a bunch of weights (which used to be my definition strength training prior to working with him). Of all the types of strength training we do, my favorite is the ‘Box jump’!  It actually makes me feel like an athlete. 😀. The result of the strength training though has been faster run times (yay!), better swim endurance and more muscle tone (of course).

So you could say, there’s no turning back now.

I will try to triumph at the TRI but more importantly, I will enjoy the journey!