Yesterday I learned that sprint triathlons are not scary.
Sunday, I finished my first triathlon. I completed my first half-marathon in 2011 and my second in 2013. The result? Knees and hips like an 80-year-old; I was done. For recovery, I started cross-training by cycling and swimming. Naturally, the next step was a triathlon. I think i might be hooked.
Previously, I wrote that I had more questions than answers related to sprint triathlons, which involves a 1/4 mile swim, 10 mile bike and 3.1 mile run. Today, I have the answers.
Am I wet the entire race?
I’m guilty of having a freak out moment when I stepped out of the pool, dripping wet, and into the low 50 degree temperatures to run to my bike, but as soon as I got into the transition area, I got tough. I dried off my legs and feet and opted to wear shorts and a long sleeve tech shirt with a tank top underneath. While it was a little chilly at first, I was dry by the time I finished the ride. It definitely wasn’t as dramatic as I thought it’d be.
Will I be able to find my gear?
Absolutely. Ok, to be fair, the Carmel Sprint Triathlon wasn’t very large, but in my experience, I had no issues finding my stuff. There were rows of racks for the bicycles organized by your bib number. I got there early and put my bike on the end of a rack so I could access it easy and find it quick.
What do I eat?
I was nervous about the race so I just acted like it was just a regular workout. With that in mind, I ate what I always do, cereal! I also had a banana about an hour before the race because I read that that helps settle your stomach. They gave us gel, but I skipped it. My race had one water station half-way through the run and I had a water bottle during transitions.
Will someone steal my bike if I have to stop and pee?
Ha. I’m weird and that was a weird concern. The answer is no, no one will steal your bike; especially if you have a 15-year-old bike like I did. Additionally, I never had to stop to pee. This sounds silly, but it’s always a concern for me when I race. In a half-marathon it takes two hours for me to finish. Nerves get to you! But in all of my races, I’ve never had to stop.
What swimsuit should I get?
I have no idea. That was a stressful decision for me. I ended up with a black Nike one-piece that was under $50. I tried on some suits in the store, but thought I could get a better deal online. The swimsuit I ordered online was WAY too small. Even though it was the same size as the one I tried on in the store, it was a different brand and the two suits were very different sizes. I highly recommend trying on multiple brands in the store and ordering the exact same one online.
Why are swimsuits so expensive?
It’s so annoying because triathlons are so expensive. You need a swimsuit, goggles, bicycle, tennis shoes; basically a lot of gear. Consider it an investment, especially the tennis shoes.
Do I get to listen to my iPod?
No. The race I did was USAT official. They told us no less than 10 times that headphones equal a disqualification. I didn’t think I would be able to handle biking for 45 minutes with no music, but it went by faster than I thought. Plus, I didn’t have to worry about breaking my phone during the race or having it stolen.
Can I wear the same shoes for running and biking?
I did! I don’t own a bike with clips so it was the only choice I had. As people with fancier bikes and fancier cycling shoes passed me I couldn’t help thinking that it was their equipment that made them faster, not their strength; who knows. I beat some people and some people beat me. I bet my transitions were faster because of it!
How do you do a turnaround the right way in the pool?
I watched a lot of videos and still cannot do a flip turn in the pool without drowning. Luckily, I didn’t have to. The swimming portion was eight 50-meter lanes. We started 5 seconds apart, but the lanes were wide enough that if you needed to pass someone, you could. I figured out half-way through my swim that pushing off at an angle into the next lane was faster than dipping under and then pushing off.
Other things I discovered during the race and training that I wish I had known:
- Coconut oil is a miracle oil to combat chlorine on skin and hair.
- Good goggles are very, very important. Don’t be cheap. (guilty)
- If you train inside, make sure you incorporate hills even though they are the worst.
- Wear a swim cap. It helps keep the chlorine out and your hair dry-ish.
- Swimming is actually the easiest leg of the race while running is the hardest. Mile one of run=So. Much. Pain
The more I reflected on the couch Sunday afternoon, the more I realized I actually had fun in this race. Unlike the half-marathon that crippled me for 48 hours, I was actually able to walk to the grocery store and function like a normal human in the same day! Training didn’t take up a lot of my time and my body didn’t ache after I finished.
See, sprint triathlons aren’t scary! Do you have any questions about sprint triathlons? I’m a veteran now!