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Well I’ve Done It.

30 March 2016

I signed up for a triathlon. I am immediately scared. Not for the fitness elements. I can do all that. It’s the technical stuff I’m worried about. Having the gear down. Knowing the rules. The transitions. Bike maintenance. I don’t know how to change a tire, etc.. Luckily, I have lots of friends who have done triathlons, and so I’ll have good information going in. And BB can teach me how to change bike tires.

I signed up for the New Jersey State Triathlon, in Princeton. It’s a tiny bit short compared with other Olympic-length triathlons. There’s no official distance, I don’t think, but the sport seems to be settling on the 1.5km swim, 40km bike, 10km run. The NJST has a 37km bike but is otherwise the same.

Of those distances, the 1.5km swim (a little short of a mile), is far and away the most daunting. I’ve recently ridden more than 37km on the bike, and should be able to do it in less than two hours with no trouble. I routinely run further than 10km, basically every weekend. (For the metric impaired, 37km is about 23 miles, and 10km is about 6.2 miles.)

From what I’ve been told, an Olympic triathlon is somewhere between half-marathon and full-marathon effort level. But it takes a lot out of a lot more of your body than running does. Most people are most challenged by the swim, and I respect that. I need to find a pool and start swimming. And do a couple of open-water swims as well.

But I was born in the water. I literally cannot remember a time I couldn’t swim. I’m not fast, but I’m comfortable, and I’m a strong swimmer. I know swimming in a crowd will be different, and swimming in a lake will be different from swimming in a pool. But I’m confident in the water and while I’m a bit anxious, I’m not afraid.

I don’t know if I’ll like the triathlon. And even if I do, it’ll never be an event that will be my standard event. The half-marathon will remain my go-to race. I just love it. But this is a fitness challenge that I want to set for myself. I’d like, maybe, one day, to do a half-Ironman. It appeals to me emotionally.

But I can imagine a world where I do one triathlon, and one full marathon (this year we’re running the Philadelphia marathon), each year. And then 3-5 half-marathons. That keeps me running, keeps me collecting medals, and keeps me healthy and moving forward. And prioritizes the best thing about the racing: running with BB.

So. I’m way out of my comfort zone with this. But I like the idea of the challenge. Who knows. Maybe I’ll hate it. Maybe I’ll love it. Maybe I’ll fold up and crash and not be able to do it. But I’ll find out, rather than just dreaming about it.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Chris permalink
    30 March 2016 09:04

    I did one tri with an open water swim, but I never swam in open water before the event, and I have never done it since. I could swim the distance without much of a problem. But when the race started, I stuck my head in the water, couldn’t see more than 3 inches in front of my face, and panicked. It completely wrecked my race.

    Doing multiple open water swims before the event and training in the elements is exactly the right thing to do. Good luck!

    • 30 March 2016 09:12

      I have not, traditionally, been someone who panics. I have more of a “melt down later” kind of stress-response. And while I can’t train for the crowd, I can certainly train for the lake.

  2. Aimee permalink
    30 March 2016 09:35

    Id be worried about the swim part, too. Open water swimming is not at all like swimming in a pool. Not at all. What will the water temperature be like? And does swimming come first, middle, or last? First, I hope.

    • 30 March 2016 09:39

      Swim is always first, yes. It goes swim-bike-run (probably because that’s the order where if you pass out, you’re least likely to die). As you know, I’ve done plenty of open water swimming in salt water. A lake is harder, but I’ve done some there too. Though nothing significant for many years.

      The water temperature will likely be 70-80 degrees. And it’s been as high as 90. A July 24th race in New Jersey will not be cold.

  3. 30 March 2016 21:46

    I read this this morning and then registered for a tri this summer! Thanks for the inspiration. Triathlon is my favorite sport. You will be fine in open water as long as you train at least a few times in open water. You won’t need a wet suit and a thats a real,plus. Oh, I’m so excited for you!

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