About four years ago I decided to try a Sprint Triathlon. It was here in my city and the proceeds went to a good cause, prevention and care for victims of domestic violence. I have been running for over 40 years and that posed no problem and had been swimming for a few years so two sections were established. As for riding a bike, I had learned as a kid and rode periodically so I didn’t even bother to practice, just air the tires and headed to my event.
This first triathlon consisted of a third mile of swimming, a 16-mile bike ride, and a 2-mile run. Starting at our local pool, we were carefully lined up in lanes with multiple flights and a lap counter manned by each of us. With only 50 participants the swimming part was organized. Since we started in the pool, we also had a dressing room to change and then run to the bicycles that were waiting for us. Being familiar with our city, I understood the route, but anyone from outside the area was quite confused as only intermittent sheets of paper taped to a variety of posts indicated the twists and turns. Although we started on city streets, these led to a bike path on the shoulder of a busy 2-lane highway, and at mile 5 we were on a 6-inch shoulder, with goat heads lined up on the right edge and approaching cars. left. I felt isolated and in danger and I’m sure others did too.
Finally, we rounded a main road where we passed red lights while police officers stopped traffic. Speeding into the park, I literally fell off my bike while jogging, my legs twisted and wobbly. I walked and ran as best I could and made it home with a time of about 1:50. I was happy and satisfied and excited for a future event. This never came until my niece, nervous about turning 50, encouraged a niece-daughter-aunt to participate in the Valley Girls Triathlon. Of course, I readily agreed.
The bath this time was in a lake and after unusually warm temperatures, it was kept at 80 degrees. Divided by age groups, my niece and her daughter left ten minutes before me. I watched with enthusiasm as their pink and green bathing caps swayed toward the sea. Soon it was my turn and as I jumped into the water with eager anticipation, I was greeted with a jungle of underwater ferns, weeds, and terrifying growth. It passed over my eyes, around my head, over my shoulders, between my legs, and between my toes. Freestyle became terrifying when I looked at the murky mess below me and terrible fears ran through my brain. Panic began to take hold of me and luckily I had the wisdom to paddle out into a kayak where I could hold on, catch my breath, and regroup my brain. 15 seconds later I was ready to continue, asking the kayaker to keep an eye on me for a minute or two just in case.
Once I got to the furthest buoy, I circled it and swam the stretch to another buoy, and then turned towards shore, my confidence was resumed and in an instant I was on the beach, running towards the street and my bike. My wonderful nephew surprised me by waiting by the fence to cheer me on. My spirits skyrocketed.
I had been a bit intimidated before by the professional, powerful and competitive stance of many participants. With waxed skin, fancy clothes, and expensive bikes, I looked strange in my usual bathing suit, jogging clothes, and folding travel bike. They shot over huge tires as I rode my “circus” model, a charming, rugged, and dependable Dahon. Unfortunately when unloading and setting up my bike, a bungee had wrapped around the rear gears and became a mess when I got out of the pen. My walk came to a standstill. I frantically tipped it up and started tugging and tugging. Volunteers came to rescue me, but no one had scissors. Again this was lucky as I was finally able to untangle the mess with a still working bungee and it was pedaling away.
Frustrated at wasted time, the next 10 miles turned into a delight. My bike may have been small but it buzzed forward and only one person passed me and that was on a downhill where I felt like I was going fast enough and at a controllable speed. On one of the hairpin bends, I caught up with my niece and great-niece who were suffering from a puncture. Knowing that it was Lisa’s birthday event and that my time was really inconsequential, I calmed my competitive drive and waited until the tire was repaired (by a rather snooty race troubleshooter criticizing almost everything about us) and then the three of us. we continued: passing a family who was also very concerned about our delay.
Leaving our bikes behind, we started our race through shady streets and down a bike path. They were both tired and I was full of power but I stopped him and we walked / jogged to the finish line with a powerful trio crossing the line. Happy, strong, invigorated, we started planning our next Sprint Triathlon. These events are really contagious.
You too can accomplish a feat like this. Some people worked in teams with each member completing a section of the triathlon; we prefer to compete individually. I highly recommend lots of practice before the event and as I learned lakes can have creepy crawlers so be prepared. I think if I had known about weed grabs and grabs, I wouldn’t have been so scared. Also work on transitions: wet bathing suit to riding gear, especially drying off sandy feet and in socks and shoes; exchanging pedaling legs for running legs. They are different but can be brought together with a little preparation and realignment. Determine if this will be a group effort (like when I reminded myself that this was for my niece, not me) or individual. This sounds silly but it is very important. And above all have fun! You will be exhilarated by this great achievement.