My First Triathlon Is Completed

I picked my first triathlon based on several factors – it was only four weeks out when I registered, the day after I bought my bike; it was a pool swim and not open water; and the bike portion was only seven miles. Seemed like a great first tri.

And it was. The 33rd annual Huntsville Sprint Triathlon was a great introduction to the sport. The local club putting it on were friendly, the event was very “newbie” friendly, and the weather was great.

Here’s me sporting my first-ever leg chip.
Spandex makes everyone look so nice

It began with everyone giving their 100 yard swim speed when registering, and then the swim was to be a “criterion” start in the pool. But a lot of people either had no clue what their speed was, or just didn’t care, but you jam two slow people in one lane, and bottlenecks occur. I had read people saying they though open water swims were easier than pool swims, but couldn’t believe them…until now. I know I can swim 400 meters in 9:15-9:30 (slow and steady, that’s me) but could only get out with a 10:45 time.

My T1 was quick, mostly because I was biking in my running shoes. I just didn’t feel like I had enough time to get comfortable on the bike AND comfortable with clipless pedals. But clipless pedals are going on the bike this week. So with running shoes I averaged 17.1mph on a mostly flat course with a bunch of turns in a neighborhood before getting to the main road. I was happy with that.

T2 was quick, and then then run began. It was advertised as “rolling with a challenging cross country and pathway type of elevation gain and loss” but what looked like a long section of sidewalk on the back side was in fact all gravel. So it was a 5k trail run, complete with narrow wooden bridge, really skinny sidewalk next to a main road with traffic, one section with large rocks and badly patched asphalt, and one 20 foot steep grass descent. Oh, and it was a two-lap course, so rinse and repeat all those conditions. But I loved it! (have I mentioned this was my first tri?)

I only ran a 33:26, after going sub-30 my last two 5k races, but between the trail run and this being the last of three events, I am OK with it. Looking on the bright side, I set a PR with plenty of room for improvement!

I’m already signing up for my next sprint tri in early August, the Mountain Lakes Triathlon. It’s a lake swim 300 yards out and back, a 15 mile cycling course billed as mostly flat and fast, and a 5k run on streets and not a trail.

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National Running Day

Today is National Running Day in the US, and they have a link on their site to create a personalized running badge, which is shown below. It’s now just a couple weeks short of 10 months since I started working out – as a matter of fact my very first Sprint Triathlon on the 22nd will be a ten month anniversary.

My first recorded “run” was 2.5 miles at a 12:46 pace, and I could not “run” another step. My first lap swim, the same week, was 350 yards at an 8:31 min/100yd pace. I made huge progress the next swim, going 500 yards at a 5:41 min/100yd pace, and then it just got harder. I was sore in places I didn’t know I had, but I kept at it.

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This is my reason for running, and why I went out this evening and ran 3.65 miles at a now slow training pace of 11:00 per mile…when the temperature was 91 and heat index said “feels like 96”. I was doing about 10:15 splits but by 2 miles thought I was going to die. I’ve been running in the morning when it’s cool. I’m going back to running in the morning! So for everyone who is still trying to get over that first hill, it does get better, and becomes enjoyable, peaceful, and frequently painful out on the road alone.

Of course once I got over that first hill I found that there is another, bigger, hill in front of me. And I know that if I can improve enough to get over it, there will just be yet another, bigger, hill past it. But I’m not running to get over the hills, I’m running because I love the view from the road.

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