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  1. #1
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    Call for first tri stories?

    I have my first sprint triathlon in a little over a month, and Iím really nervous as I watch the time slip away (have i trained enough?? Do I need to train more? I can't do the swim! etc.).

    Iíve found that it really helps calm me down to read the posts about other peoplesí experiences in their first triathlonsÖ.so does anyone have any stories to share about their first tris? Thanks!

  2. #2
    i believe in me evanyc's Avatar
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    alright! the race is done and i'm pretty pleased with how things went. here's a summary i wrote up for some friends who don't race, so it might be a little oversimplified for this forum. oh, and it's long! sorry for being windy.

    so my first triathlon is out of the way and i had a great time.

    i tried to go to bed around 11 last night but didn't nod off until around midnight. i then managed to wake up every 30 minutes or so for the rest of the night, until 4am when i stayed awake until the alarm went off at 4:30. got up, michele put some coffee on, and i had a pb&j on an english muffin with a banana. then i began to worry about pooping. on a normal day i poop like clockwork, about 15 minutes after i wake up. when i wake up this early though, who knows when it will happen. of course this isn't a big deal on a normal day, but that was some extra weight i didn't wanna have to worry about needing to drop in the middle of the race. i danced around a bit, drank the coffee, and still didn't have any luck. after a final check for everything i needed we descended the stairs.

    on the way out the door one of the tenants from the 3rd floor was sitting in the stairwell, at 5am, on her laptop. she looked up and said "you're doing to ride your bike, now?" i didn't point out that she was sitting in the stairwell on her laptop at 5am and simply said "i have a triathlon this morning." "oh, good luck."

    we were out the door on time and headed to long island. traffic at this hour was of course minimal so we were out there by 5:45 easy. now, my cycling exposure to long island up to this point was riding along the south shore at to montauk so i expected this to be a totally flat course, nice and easy for my first race. as we neared the end of out directions though it became more and more hilly. crap. just about a quarter mile away from the race site there was what seemed to be around a 9% grade descent. i knew they'd send us up and down that during the race and wasn't looking forward to it.

    so we get to the site and it's around 6am. not too many people are around yet and i'm looking around and everyone there seems very serious about things. i based this evaluation on a few things: the expense of their bikes, the number of bike/run/swim/tri related stickers on their cars, and the tightness of their clothes. we rolled over to the transition area and i set everything up. then i shuffled everything around. then i shuffled it all around again and decided everything was in the perfect order and the transitions would be as smooth as possible.

    then... it was finally time to poop. that out of the way i decided to warm up and did a quick little run followed by a short bike. as i went to re-rack my bike after warming up i lifted it to put the seat over the rack and the rear wheel fell off. guess riding a track bike exclusively for the last few years has made me pretty rusty with the quick-release. i turned to the guy next to me with the very very expensive quintana roo and said "oops, glad that happened now." he gave me a look of contempt and went back to rubbing bodyglide on himself.

    it was getting close to 7:15 and all the racers were called to the beach. i wanted to try and get in a warm up swim but as soon as i got the water they told everyone to get out. the swim was in a harbour of the long island sound and the water was very calm. despite the huge industrial facility looming over us and my thoughts about the chemical make up of what we'd be swimming in, it seemed like it'd be a nice swim. i was in the 4th wave of 8, so i stood back a bit and watched as the first three waves went. each wave seemed to have about 100 people, and as they each began people were swimming over each other, face first into each other's feet, and a few people in each wave went totally astray, heading west or east instead of north. a few people got about 100 yards out and called it quits. one person was missing a leg below the knee, and i realized i couldn't complain regardless of what happened. the beach was mostly composed of shells and rocks, and i cut my big toe and the arch of my foot before even entering the water, but i couldn't complain.

    as my wave was called up i decided to hang to the back initially, as i'd been advised by a few people, and let those up front sort out the insanity before i got to em. the got the whistle and a surge of green swim caps spilled forward. i ran out waist deep and the dove in. the swim is my strength and i was tempted to go all out, but i this being my first triathlon i wanted to ensure that i'd have enough gas to get me through the run, my weakest leg, so my game plan was to conserve as much energy as possible on the swim and bike. i focused on my form, made sure i was going straight, and just did my own thing. i wasn't going to worry about the other racers. as i closed on the first bouy though i noticed that there were very few people around me. i looked back and most of my wave was a good bit behind me which was a nice confidence boost. it seemed like i was to the first bouy in no time and i made the turn to the second bouy. about halfway to that boy my goggles began to fog and i started having trouble spotting the bouy but thought i was holding a pretty straight line. again, i felt like i was to that bouy pretty quickly, and about halfway there i was surrounded by pink swim caps - i'd caught the third wave.

    making the turn after the second bouy it was time to head to shore and i was feeling strong, but as i looked up to spot the bouys marking the water exit i couldn't see a damn thing. i decided to just put my head down and swim, and swam up on top of a few pink caps. oops. as i got closer i had a bit of a better idea where i was going but realized my lines weren't nearly as straight as they had been. i finally reached the shore and stood up. now, every time i swim, even if i don't tire myself too much, i lose all balance when i stand upright. as i began to walk up the beach and pull off my wetsuit i was dizzy as hell and thought i was going to faceplant onto the beach. i took it slow, looked back and saw a good bit of pink and lots of green behind me, and walked to the bike transition. michele says i was the third or fourth person from my wave out of the water and everyone else looked like *this* (michele flexing and looking tough).

    on went my socks, shoes, hat, helmet and shirt and i was on my way. no big hang-ups. i started spinning to loosen up my legs and then made the turn onto the roadway and geared up a bit. now, everything i had read and everyone i had talked to about tri-training advised me to do a brick work out (bike-run) once a week to adjust to doing these two things back to back. for some reason though, i had never gotten around to doing one. thus, i wasn't sure how that would go so i wanted to err on the side of caution and decided to take it pretty easy on the bike to make sure i had some legs to run on. the only real pace goal i set for myself was to not get passed by anyone who wasn't on a fancy tri-bike.

    as the ride began i looked around and saw no one with race numbers near mine. i seemed to still be out in front of most of the pack of my wave. i rode off down the street we had entered on and feared the hill that i knew loomed in front of me. as it neared, i didn't see anyone climbing it, and just as i reached the base of the hill the cones marked a turn around. saved. the bike course wasn't flat though. it consisted of rolling hills and two steeper, but not too steep hills. i spun a pretty low gear and passed a good number of people. my rear wheel falling off after my warm up was in the back of my mind and i expected at any minute for something to fall off of my bike. these road bikes have a lot more parts than track bikes, and i'm a simple minded person. the sound of what seemed to be a belligerent cricket coming from my rear wheel didn't offer any comfort. i need a tune up.

    every couple of minutes i would hear a whirring hiss flying up behind me, and someone on a full carbon frame, tucked low and riding carbon wheels, would zip by me. i was keeping my goal of not letting anyone other than these sorts pass me until a hulking beast on a track bike zipped by. DAMNIT! for one, there goes my race goal, and two - i had thought about riding my track frame but figured they wouldn't allow me without a rear brake. this guy had no rear brake though, and i realized that with 800 riders it was very unlikely anyone would notice such a thing. i couldn't be mad though and had to give this guy his props. he was moving too!

    i realized i probably could have been pushing it a bit harder on the bike when i was able to strike up a conversation with a woman about her beautiful custom frame. it was a steel road frame built by chris _________ (a little help here?), a guy who had built under his own name before building for serotta then retiring. i spent a large amount of time during the ride and during the whole event gawking at beautiful bikes. we talked for about 6 minutes about her frame and racing in general, and then i finished my second loop of the bike route and pullled off to begin the run.

    i pulled into the transition area, at a cliff energy block (the margarita ones are foul!), sipped some gatorade, and was off. the run was along the concrete path along side the beach, through the parking lot, out to the sidewalk along the roadway, and then we did it all a second time. about halfway through my first loop i realized i really had to piss. i began to look off into the woods, wondering how far back i'd have to go to make sure i didn't offend anyone. i contemplated pissing in my pants, mostly just to be able to say i did it. then i figured if i just held it, it would make me run a little faster. my legs were feeling good, and my breathing was steady. i knew if i stopped to take a leak i'd get lazy, so i pressed on. people passed me, i passed people, but i was feeling good and was happy with the way things were going.

    soon enough the finish line was in sight and i picked it up a little bit. i saw the clock above the finish line and initially, through burning sunscreen laced sweat in my eyes, thought it said 1:13! my goal going into this was to finish somewhere near 1:30. 1:13 was much better than that! then i got closer. 1:31. damnit! still, pretty close to my goal and not all that bad. i crossed the line and didn't even feel the need to collapse! i made my way to the refueling area and grabbed a bagel and some water and found michele. soon the began posting results, and i headed over and found myself on a piece of paper. it was official! i finished! and not only that but my time was 1:19:56! better than 1:30! i realized that the 1:31 i had seen on the clock was the total time since the race started, and that since i was in the 4th wave i started 12 minutes after that, so i'd beat my goal by 11 minutes. i was happy about that.

    in the end my times were:
    swim: 14:54 - i could drop several minutes off of this in easy water without much problem. my best pool time is about 10:45 and this water wasn't much different than the pool. i'm definitely pushing the swim harder next time, and not getting in the water without some anti-fog goop on my goggles

    bike: 37:15 (20.9mph avg) - again, i can do a lot better than this and i'm gonna push it harder next time, and also make sure i wire my cycle computer to this bike as i feel that would have helped me set a decent pace for myself.

    run: 23:33 (7:35 min/mile avg) - this is where slacking on the swim and bike paid off. i suck at running, and when i started running in january i couldn't do a mile continuously, much less 3. i'm really happy with this time.

    i finished 12th in my age group for males and 20th in my age group overall. i finished 189th out of 694 finishers. i can definitely live with these results, and i'm looking forward to my next triathlon!

    you can check out some pics that michele took here

    and overall race results are here

  3. #3
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    Mine was quite hard, it started with a horrible swimming experience, but it got fun afterwards and overall it was an awesome day! So here is the detailed story:
    Race
    Black Bear Sprint Tri on Jun 3rd, 2007, at Beltsville State Park in Lehighton PA
    Distance: 750y / 18mi / 3.3mi

    Background
    I discovered the world of sports and exercise less than 3 years ago and got hooked immediately. At first, I couldn't even run for 5 minutes, then I built up to a first Marathon before I got 30. I did a second Marathon and pretty much all running distances up to that. So I was basically a runner until this year I decided to diversify and train for a triathlon. I didn't know how to swim competitively, other than splash in a pool, so I had to learn that. Never scared of the biking since well... it's something you do sitting down, but I have just a hybrid bike, to which I added thin tires and clipless pedals.

    Pre-race
    I did the bike course about 2 weeks before and it was scary. All rolling hills, including 2 long exhausting climbs and a few steep "walls". Overall climb is 2700ft. So we went to the park the day before to get my packet... the competition seemed pretty high-tech, all cool bikes, many very expensive ones, and a lot of fun people who looked like they'd done this before. I felt a bit funny with my city bike so I realized that there should be two different categories: race bikes (road or Tri), and amateurs. I was at least hoping to be able to pass as many amateur bikers as possible.
    My goals for the race were, in order, to finish, not to finish last, not last male, not last age group and finally, most important, to enjoy it and want to do another one.
    The morning of the race I woke up at 5am and drove the short distance to the park (we stayed pretty close to it over the weekend). I'm not a morning person, so it was quite painful, especially since I went to slip around midnight, and couldn't actually sleep very well. After setting up my transition, first challenge came up. Well, I had never worn my wetsuit before the race, except when I bought it and I had never swam in OW. Putting the wetsuit on was a struggle and I finally made it to the water about 5 minutes before practice was over. I was really scared about this, but the few minutes of swimming were surprisingly good, I was able to swim smooth and didn't get freaked out about the stuff in the water (I'm usually a wimp when it comes to live seafood). I also had to listen to DW and my two friends comparing me to Aquaman in that suit, and then to a condom commercial once I put my swim cap on (oh yes, first time wearing a swim cap).

    Swim
    I went in the water in the last of the 4 waves. I started swimming and after less than a minute, well... I can't explain what happened. I couldn't do anything. Nothing I've learned in the pool was working. I had swum the distance twice in the pool, and swam up to 1500y, but here everything was wrong. I couldn't breathe, I was hyperventilating and there was no way I could keep my head in the water. Just try to run as hard as you can for a minute, and at the end you'd know what my breathing was like. It's weird, this never happened to me before, but I think it was kind of a panic attack. So all I could do was this awkward breaststroke with me head up... A few times I had to go to a backstroke, and still I couldn't breathe. It was like a nightmare, everybody was way ahead of me, only 4-5 people stayed back around me, but except for one guy, they were going very smoothly, even if very slow. I have to try and figure this out before my next Tri, it was definitely psychological. Maybe it was the fact that I was swimming in deep waters, or that I felt unable to keep up with the other people, or just the fact that I could see so far before to my next target. Oh, and the wetsuit was kinda constricting me while the swim cap squeezed my head. I'm not claustrophobic, but it really felt that way. I barely made it around the buoys, several times the kayaks pulled next to me to make sure I'm fine. When I tried to get in my swim rhythm, I couldn't manage more than 10 continuous strokes, and that was with breathing on each stroke. I was so glad to get to the beach.... Took me 28 minutes but surprisingly, I wasn't the last one, 7 people had worse times than mine. Well, I know that I passed at least two people with different colored caps.

    T1
    Taking off the wetsuit was a lot easier than I thought. But I learned a lesson here, nobody ever told me this. Bring some sandals to the beach! Here it was quite a long run to the transition area, through the sand, on asphalt and then on grass. Many people had the sandals waiting for them, for me it was not pleasant, especially when I tried to clean my feet to put the socks on.

    Bike
    I started strong with my bike, since I had already lost a lot of time. Soon after I started, a guy on a road bike passed me (a bad swimmer, of course), and that's the only guy that passed me over the 18 miles. I started to pass other hybrid bikers one by one. Well, I'm slow and unexperienced, but I'm still very competitive. In all my races I fight for every position as if I'd fight for the lead. The rolling hills were criminal but at the top of each hill I had the satisfaction of having passed another 2-3 bikers. Well, soon the top half-iron bikers (which started their swim 15 minutes after my wave...) started flying by, but I won't count them. They had really cool bikes, though. Then the first huge hill came and it was a big struggle, since I had tired my legs quite bad in the beginning. But I saw the first people on road bikes ahead and I pushed real hard to pass them. It was unbelievable to me, even if they were in my swim wave, they must have had quite a big head start on the bike, and they had actual race bikes.
    After passing more amateur bikers, I got to the second and biggest bad hill and by here, people were walking their bikes, even two ladies with aero bars and all the good stuff. It was killing my quads, and the switchbacks were going higher and higher, like they'd never end. I really thought that running with my bike would be faster than my slow pedalling, but I said to myself that I won't get off the bike. I made it to the top and soon a long downhill started. Here it was exhilarating. I was all alone, and for two miles I didn't see anybody else but the volunteers. I went faster than I ever went, and I think the maximum speed was 38mph. So fast that at a tight turn I almost went off the road, and that would've been a very nasty spill at that speed. Then with about 3 miles to go I see my cheerleaders at a turn close to the finish line. Good confidence booster, but not as good as taking that turn on to a short but extremely steep hill. Something like a 30% incline for about 2-300 feet, and it was full of people walking their bikes. Amateurs, road bikes and Tri bikes all together. DW told me that they'd seen a few people actually falling off their bikes as they tried to downshift, and a few smarter ones who avoided the fall by turning back downhill and climbing back. And again, I managed to climb it in my seat. At the top I couldn't feel my quads anymore, but so were the other riders too, so I kept passing and passing. I was sure there are no more hybrid/mountain bikes ahead of me, since I was going past very competitive bikes by now. The final 2-3 miles were the best part of the race. It was all unbelievable to me how I was flying past bikes which looked so much better than my crappy ones. Two more turns, one at a high speed, inside a group of bikers, where I actually felt my rear wheel sliding away and I managed to unclip my left foot to put it down and avoid the fall. Then it was the final flat mile, where I was supposed to start resting my legs. But I saw a group of 3 riders in aero position ahead of me and I guess they were resting, so I took advantage of this and flew past them. I hit about 22mph and I don't remember ever doing that before in a flat road sprint. I felt the end is near and only the run is remaining, which is my strongest sport. I felt a tear and I'm not sure if it was from the wind blowing at my face, or from the joy of getting the swim and bike out of my way.
    On the bike, I was 188 out of 277 which was well over my expectation. I was 270 of 277 after the swim, which means I was faster than 82 other people. And by looking at the transition area before the race, I don't think there were more than 20-30 non-race bikes over there.

    Run
    I obviously pushed way too hard on the bike, so the run was far from my potential. I did many bricks before and I got to the point where this was not an issue, but however the first mile was an ordeal. Everything was cramped up, especially calves, quads, lower back and that bad stitch in my abs. On that mile I passed only a few people, and got passed by the only runner who went by me over the 3.3 miles. Very scenic course, through the woods around the lake and then to the end of the big dam. After a mile, everything got better and I was again flying past other racers, especially on the uphill. I had a half mile battle with a very Kenyan looking guy and I used all the race tactics I knew until he finally dropped back. But I had nothing in me for a final kick and finished only 155 out of 277 with 8:55/mile.

    Final comments
    Even if the run was worse than I expected, I justify it by the extra efforts I put on the bike. And well, the run pace is about what I was able to do in a 5K race less than 2 years ago. The swimming was the biggest disappointment but at least I know what to expect next. My transitions were reeeeally slow, but after the swim I was winded and had to rest for a few minutes while after the bike I had to stretch a bit, plus I forgot my race belt so had to run back from the exit and grab it. The bike average is very slow, but the course was extremely hilly. I heard comments before the race from two people who did the IMLP and they said it compares to that...

    Results
    Overall: 2:19:02, 222/277, AG 15/24
    Swim: 0:28:47, 270/277, AG 22/24
    T1: 5:20
    Bike: 1:12:42 (14.6 mph), 188/277, 12/24 AG
    T2: 2:46
    Run: 0:29:27 (8:55/mi), 151/277, 11/24 AG

  4. #4
    Senior Member enamore22's Avatar
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    Here's a writeup of my first tri that I did for my website. It was a couple months ago, but seems like just yesterday. I've since completed my second tri (an olympic) and I've got my first half-iron next weekend. The half has been my goal for the year, so I'm pretty excited. Anyway, check it out:

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    It's funny how training teaches you to know your body so well that you can predict, within almost 30 seconds, how you're going to perform in an hour long race. I did my first triathlon on Sunday. The 7th annual Triathlon by the Sea.

    It was awesome.

    Dee and I arrived about an hour before the race. I found my way to the gym and looked up my number on the registration board. Athletes were assigned race numbers based on their predicted swim times. I was 40, which meant that the time I submitted (3:50) was expected to be faster than 210 other people (or slower than 39, depending on how you look at it). I picked up my race packet and got marked. Or more accurately, I got attacked by ladies with gigantic black markers who promptly wrote a a large '40' on my right calf and bicep.



    Being written on with marker has never made me feel so cool as it did at that moment.

    I changed into my superhero outfit... err... tri-suit and got outside just in time to see Mark and Julia arriving.



    While Mark went to check-in, I made my way to transition to set up my stuff and discovered that being number 40 had some advantages. One of which was having a spot right near the exit. Booyah! It was here that I also realized the only thing I hadn't gone over a million times in my head was how I was going to setup my transition area. I must have moved my shoes around ten times while trying to find the perfect spot for everything. Once that was done, there was nothing left but to wait.

    At 7:50 I headed into the pool room for the meeting with the race director. I walked down the long string of athletes looking for my place in line. It wasn't until I say number 90 before I realized I had walked too far. I walked back and found my spot between 38 and 41 (39 must've seen me and got scared), which felt quite a bit closer to the beginning than I had expected.



    Pools always have a strange echo that makes it hard to understand what someone's saying. Especially when you're standing 15 feet from them and they're facing the other way. I heard what sounded like, "blah blah blah... 3 laps, blah... to the right blah blah... don't dive into the pool... blah." And before I had time to process what was going on, everyone was cheering and I saw number 1 swimming down the first lane of the pool. Then 2. Then 3. Each 20 seconds apart.

    While the next 30 people started, a number of thoughts went through my head. But mostly, I remember thinking that this is the moment I've been waiting to get to since December 2004. From my initial failed attempts at running and swimming to the thousands of miles I put on both my bikes. I worked hard to earn number 40 and here I am. A different person than I was two years ago.

    There was only one person left in front of me waiting to go. I reached into the pool to wet my hands and rub my face with the water. She's gone... my turn.



    "Wait here... you go at 9 minutes even." The clock says 8 minutes 30 seconds. Great, an extra 10 seconds to think about thi... "GO!"

    I jumped into the pool and took off. Halfway down the first lane, I took a breath and out of the corner of my eye I noticed the line of athletes in their green caps and goggles staring at me. In some ways, it was like a bad dream. The kind where you're naked and everyone's looking at you funny. But this was different. I know I'm a strong swimmer. Months of training has taught me that. So I told myself they were looking at me and thinking "Damn, this guy is fast!" It worked.

    Two laps later, I started feeling the burn. Had I gone out too hard? Were my nerves acting up? I felt like I was going to puke. And then on third turn I saw a few people standing in the pool along the wall, likely catching their breath. I hit the wall and flew away from them. First blood... I just passed someone. Two someones! My stomach instantly felt better and I chugged on. With each turn, I noticed I was getting closer and closer to the girl in front of me. By the end of the last lap, I was so close to her that I swimming through her bubbles. There's the ladder. It's over. I climbed out of the pool. Without a thought, I ripped off my cap and goggles and went running through the front door of the building. I crossed the timing mat. "Beep."



    Swim Time: 3:54. Right on target.

    I ran across the pavement and down the big hill to my bike, muttering "ouch, ouch, pavement, ouch" under my breath the whole time. I guess it was louder than I thought, because the girl who was running in front of me replied with, "Yeah, no kidding!"

    Transition 1 was pretty much a blur. But I do know that I was quicker and more efficient than I expected. I kept up second for second with the more experiences triathletes on either side of me. I grabbed my bike off the rack and ran to the mounting line.



    I had ridden the bike course a few weeks before and studied my logs, memorizing turns and elevation charts. I knew what to expect. A couple of small hills and an overall easy ride. I knew I could go all out and still have enough left for a good run. So as soon as I hit the road I got on my aerobars and started pedalling for all I was worth.

    When I began training this year, I knew one of my weaknesses was maintaining a good, fast pace on flat stretches of road. I spent most of my hours on the bike working to fix that and it was showing. I kept my cadence up and focused on keeping a straight line, making sure not to waste energy. A quick glace down at my GPS watch had me doing 27 mph across the causeway.

    I was flying.

    Almost immediately, I started passing what seemed like an endless stream of people. On the first big hill a couple miles in I passed the girl who finished the swim right in front of me. She apparently did not like that. In fact, it was very much like accidentally kicking a beehive. Seconds after reaching the top she went cruising by me. It took everything I had just to keep pace with her without drafting. I decided not to try and pass her again.

    At the end of the first lap, I checked my average pace. 20.6 mph. Not bad! But I knew I could do better. Whatever adrenaline was still in reserve kicked in and my legs took on a life of their own. They turned into two hydraulic pistons, over which I had no control. The hills didn't seem to exist anymore, and the only reminder of the actual work I was doing was the back and forth swishing of the race number on my bike with every pedal stroke. I had pinned it too loose and it was tapping my knees with the cadence. Tap, tap, tap, tap... for the entire 10 miles. A hypnotic rhythm keeper.

    Lap two, 21.1 mph. Lap three, 21.4 mph. I was negative splitting the course.



    As I shot out of the final lap onto the causeway, I shouted to the volunteers, "That's three!" They replied with such enthusiasm that it was as if I had just passed a group of my closest friends. I put my head down and hammered home, passing one more guy in the final stretch.

    As I rolled back into transition, I took one last look at my computer. 21.5 mph. My fastest 10 miles ever, and I was still feeling fresh. I jumped off my bike at the dismount line and ran it in. Excited by the strong finish, I yelled "21.5" to Dee, Mike and Julia as I ran by. I would later find out that they had no idea what I was talking about and thought I was telling them I finished in 21 minutes, 5 seconds. Not wanting to disappoint me, they made a pact to keep quiet about my 'mistake'. Thanks, guys.

    But I knew what it really meant. I just had one of the best swims and bike rides of my life. And I was hoping the run wouldn't be much different.

    Bike Time: 31:31 (including T1 & T2).

    As I racked my bike at T2, the last guy I passed came rolling up next to me. It was number 41. While we changed into our running shoes, he took a moment to say "Nobody ever passes me on the bike. Except for you, today." A quick glance at his dedicated tri bike and disc wheel made his comment all the more encouraging. He also said, "Whoops, I guess I don't want to go running with my helmet on." Which is a good thing, because I was about three seconds away from taking off with mine still on.

    I ran out of transition and hit the course. 3.5 miles... no problem. I started to settle into a rhythm when number 41 made one, final appearance. And with it, came another bit of encouragement: "Come on, we've got people to catch!" At which point he blew by me so fast, I swear there was a doppler-like quality to his voice. He was gone. It was just me and the open road.

    The course was pretty flat, making it easy to hold a constant effort and pace. A couple of minutes in, I took the first look at my watch. An 8:02 pace. Exactly where I wanted to be.

    Off in the distance, I saw a group of green shirted volunteers. It was the first water station. As I passed by, three or four people held out cups. I wasn't particularly thirsty, but before I could tell my hand "no" I had grabbed a full cup of water. I spent the next 30 seconds spilling it all over myself as I tried, unsuccessfully, to figure out how to get some of it into my mouth without stopping. In a somewhat comical frustration, I took charge of the situation and dumped the remaining liquid directly onto my head. If I can't drink it, I might as well stay cool. Great, but now I was left holding an empty cup! Too far away from the water station to feel good about throwing it down, I held onto it for another half mile until I passed by a house with an open garbage can on the sidewalk. Two points!

    My rhythm completely destroyed, I soldiered on, passing one person and being passed by another. Surprisingly, these were the only other athletes I'd see until I crossed the finish line. For a race with 250 entrants, it felt pretty lonely on that run course. At points, it felt like I was way out front, leading the race. Other times, it felt like I wasn't racing at all. Like I was just doing an everyday workout on a beautiful spring day.



    I had adjusted my race belt a little too tight the night before, and it's constricting elastic band kept creeping up my towards my chest. I had to push it back down every so often to keep from looking like a complete noob. Beyond that, I just tried my best to stay relaxed and comfortable. I was hi-fiving and joking with the volunteers every chance I got. I even managed to actually drink some water from the second water station. I felt great... that is, until about 2.5 miles in.

    I turned one of the final corners and yelled at a volunteer for putting the hill I was now staring at in my way. We laughed and I started up it. Just a few feet from the bottom, my side started to feel funny. Nothing new. Pains like that come and go all the time. But this one didn't go. It just kept coming. Until eventually I was in the midst of the worst stomach cramp I had ever felt.

    Any sense of competition was gone. I was in survival mode. I slowed down to a 10:00 mile and even then it took everything I had to not stop and walk.

    On the other side of the hill, I heard, "Half mile to go!" Ok, just a half mile left. I can kick that. I dug deep and started to sprint. I slowed back down 50 feet later. I was done... mentally and physically. I had put out my best effort and prepared to cruise across the finish line on the fumes I had left. I zipped up my jersey and focused on enjoying the rest of the run.

    Luckily, my stomach cramp subsided just in time for me to come down the homestretch without a pained wince on my face. As I made the last turn and saw all the people and the finish line, a huge wave of relief washed over me. Not because I could stop running in a few seconds, but because I had done it. Everything I had worked so hard for was coming to fruition. I was about to complete my first triathlon.

    For a moment, I considered throwing my arms up and cheering my accomplishment with a loud "Yeah!" In a more subdued celebration, I ran across the finish line and simply thought it to myself instead. "Beep." I was done, but I didn't really want to stop. If it wasn't for the guy who knelt down to remove the timing chip from my leg, I might not have.



    Run Time: 29:30.

    After finishing, I was somewhat disoriented. I didn't really know what to do with myself. I meandered over to my people just in time to learn that Mark was currently in transition and about to go for his bike ride. In the span of 15 seconds, I went from participant to spectator and did my best to cheer him on just as hard as everyone had cheered for me. After Mark left, I walked back inside to see the last of the swimmers start. As they got out of the pool, I cheered for them the most, since I now understood how much it helped.

    Because I am now, officially, a triathlete. I've got the t-shirt to prove it!



    Total Time: 1:04:54

    Age Group: 3rd / 13
    Overall: 27th / 250

    Swim Time: 3:54 (8th overall)
    Bike Time: 31:31 (11th overall)
    Run Time: 29:30 (93rd overall)

  5. #5
    Senior Member fueledbymetal's Avatar
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    Date: June 2, 2007
    Event: Pax River Anual Sprint Tri
    Distances: .5 mile swim, 13.1 mile bike, 3,1 mile run

    I'm a long time runner & weightlifter and decided at the last minute to enter this tri. I hadn't biked in 7 years or swam in 11 years, so I knew I wasn't going to get much training done in the two weeks I had before the tri.

    I had planned on using my old maountain bike, but when I pulled it out of the basement it was in much worse shape than I remebered. One of the derailers was busted and the tires were severely dry-rotted, so I knew ther'ed be no way it would work. I had been thinking about getting a road bike for awhile, so this prompted me to go ahead and pick one up. The LBS didn't have anything I was interested in, so I had to drive an hour to the next closest shop. I ended up getting an '06 cannondale R700 for a good price, but since I was on somewhat of a budget, I had the bike shop install the old pedals off of my mountain bike onto my new road bike, figuring that I would come back in a month or two to buy proper clip-in shoes/pedals. I ended up only having time for one long ride and one brick to prepare for the tri.

    I had time for two training swims. I swam .5 miles the first and 1 mile the next. I swam breaststroke becasue I've never been good at freestyle and my goals for my first tri were just 1) finish 2) not come in last place.

    Otherwise, I treated the tri like any other 10k running race. I ate a huge Italian dinner early the night before and got up at my reglular 5:15 AM race day and and had a big carb-heavy breakfast. The race was at 9:00 so I showed up ~30 minutes early to get situated.

    Since I was on a budget, I decided to use my 11 year old biker shorts for all three legs of the race rather than buy dedicated tri shorts.

    The swim started and I was 61st out of 66 coming out of the pool. I scarfed down a banana and half of a bottle of water to fuel me for the rest of the race. Next, since I had regular pedals, I just put on my running socks & shoes then started the bike leg. I passed two people but was passed by two other people. I took occasional sips form my water bottle. The bike & running courses overlapped near the transition area, so I was a bit disheartened by the number of people I passed running while I was still on the bike. At the transition area I hopped off my bike and started the run with legs that felt like lead, but at least the one brick I had run had prepared me for the feeling. I knew running would be my strongest part of the race, but I wasn't expecting it go as well as it did. I end up passing nearly 30 people and ended up finishing the race about mid-pack.

    The greatest feeling was passing people on the run that I had seen running while I was still cycling


    On a side note, the weirdest part was that towards the end of the ride I felt like I had to pee. The feeling intensified as I started the run, but then went away about halfway through. I ended up not needing to pee for over an hour after the race. Will your body re-absorb the water if it's needed? I've never had this happen before.
    Last edited by fueledbymetal; 06-26-07 at 07:52 AM.

  6. #6
    Tri Coach/UltraMarathoner kosherdave's Avatar
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    Man I love reading these stories.
    Nice pics too.
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  7. #7
    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    Awesome. My first was in 1987. I didn't know anything about training except that to run lots, ride lots, and swim lots. I was most worried about the swim so I did that nearly everyday. At the time, I was an undergrad at Berkeley so I'd go down to Spieker Pool for open lap swimming in the afternoons. They had signs marking the lanes: slow, medium, fast, fast fast, fast fast fast. I guess this is where the Matt Biondis and Mary T. Meaghers swam.

    Anyway, on race day, I was the first guy out of the water and the first guy out of T1. And about 500 m down the road, I thought "I'm gonna win! I'm gonna win!"

    And then, guys started flying by me like they were on motorcycles. Turns out that my Schwinn World Sport was not exactly a race bike.

    I did hang on for third in my age group. And to this day, it is the only medal I've ever won in a triathlon.
    Cyclists of the world, unite! You have nothing to lube but your chains!

  8. #8
    cycles per second Gonzo Bob's Avatar
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    I had had my first road bike for about a year and I heard about a new triathlon that would take place in my home-town. So I talked to my brother and even though we both had minimal training (mainly just cylcing) we agreed to head home for the weekend and give it a go. This was 1985 and I think there were a total of 25 people in the race.

    The water was "frickin' freezin'" and I didn't think I would ever finish the swim (1/4 mile). My arms were so tired and sore I could hardly hold myself up on the bike. But I hammered really hard in the big ring, and after a few miles I found myself in the lead! Then after the 10 mile bike leg came T2 and my first lesson on what it's like to run after cycling. My legs did not want to move! I almost had to look down to see if they were still there. After jogging a little, I ended up getting a severe side stitch and I had to walk a lot of the 4-mile run. Quite a few people passed me (including my brother) but I still had a blast!
    Last edited by Gonzo Bob; 08-01-07 at 12:26 PM.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Slothman's Avatar
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    I've written about my first tri (this past weekend) on my blog at www.gonnatri.com. It's pretty long, and I don't know if it's very exciting, but there it is.

    Thanks for all the other first tri stories - they really helped me prepare for mine!

    EDIT: Apparently the blog looks horrible in Firefox and Safari. Looks fine in IE, though. Sorry!
    '06 Giant OCR 2, '12 Surly LHT

  10. #10
    Senior Member slim_77's Avatar
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    loved this post...

  11. #11
    Senior Member Slothman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tissuedigester View Post
    I have my first sprint triathlon in a little over a month, and Iím really nervous as I watch the time slip away (have i trained enough?? Do I need to train more? I can't do the swim! etc.).

    Iíve found that it really helps calm me down to read the posts about other peoplesí experiences in their first triathlonsÖ.so does anyone have any stories to share about their first tris? Thanks!

    Have you done your sprint yet? How'd it go?
    '06 Giant OCR 2, '12 Surly LHT

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    Thanks for all the stories!!! They really helped me see how things could go!
    I just finished my first sprint yesterday! I think I did okay, considering my company sent me to England (for two weeks) three weeks ago, and I didn't have time to train while out there except an occasional 15 minute run. My only real goal was to not drown

    The open water swim went better than I thought it would. I hung back and waited for everyone else in my wave to start so I wouldn't get swum over, but then I started catching up to the other stragglers and ended up getting kicked a few times anyway. So I'd stop and hover for a bit, get my bearings, and start swimming again. I briefly began to panic when some of the stronger swimmings from the next wave caught up to me and started swimming over me, but I made it out in 22 minutes, which was better than I thought I'd be able to do, even if I still had absolutely no problems finding my bike...lol.

    The bike part was the best. I was only passed by two people, and one of them I passed back pretty quickly, and the other one I kept passing on climbs, but kept getting overtaken by on descents. I slowed down a little bit to look for my friend, but I finished in 38 minutes.

    And finally the run just sucked. I hadn't had much time since my last minute trip to england to practice the bricks, so I ended up walking a bit in the beginning before I found my legs. Time ended up being 30 minutes.

    I was really slow in the transition areas as well, but i wasn't really concerned with my time since it was my first tri. My total time was 1:40. And I'm now done! And can call myself a triathlete!!!
    Last edited by tissuedigester; 08-06-07 at 07:40 AM.

  13. #13
    Senior Member tjspiel's Avatar
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    My first triathlon was something of a disaster and there wasn't an official swim so I'm not sure it should count. It was in 1987 and I was in college. The triathlon was in April and the water is still too cold in MN for swimming so the first leg was in a canoe.

    We dumped our canoe about 100 yds from shore so we went for a swim anyway and had to drag the water filled canoe along with us.

    The run went better and we made up some ground.

    Then came the bike. I had a slow leak in one of my tires which made the biking leg pretty miserable. It seemed like hundreds of people people passed me. All I can say is that the after race party was fun.

    I'm counting this past weekend as my first "real" triathlon. It was a sprint distance so it was short enough that I wasn't worried about finishing. I wanted to finish faster than my brother and I know he wanted to beat me, so that was my unofficial goal.

    The swim went well and I was out of the water shortly before he was. The bike course had more hills than I was used to and one of them was right at the start. I felt a bit nauseous but eventually got into my groove and put a little distance between myself and my brother.

    Toward the end of the bike, my right calf started feeling a little tight. When I got off the bike, both calves were screaming. I ran through it as best I could and by the end of the first mile, I was feeling better. I had imagined that I had a pretty good lead and could keep it as long as I maintained an OK pace.

    I was wrong.

    At about mile two I hear: clomp...clomp...clomp coming up behind. My brother is 6' 2" and about 5' of that is legs. His stride is like a 1/2 mile long. I thought to myself it can't be him. As the clomping goes by to my left I take a look and sure enough it's him. I couldn't quite stifle the "eek" that came out of my mouth.

    Not feeling the freshest I thought about just letting him go on his merry way and concede victory. I didn't really want to try and keep up as he would likely pick up the pace and make me more miserable.

    On the other hand, his stride looked a little labored. I couldn't quite give up and decided to hang back about 20 to 30 yards and keep within in striking distance if I could. It was a long mile and there were a couple of times where he started to open up a bigger lead but each time I inched my way back to where I wanted to be.

    As we got closer to the end, I started feeling a little stronger and after rounding the corner to the finish I made my move. Someone yelled at me "nice kick" which I did not appreciate as I had some ground to make up and didn't want to spook my brother.

    The crowd started cheering and he instinctively sped up, either just because he wanted to finish strong or he sensed someone was coming. I caught up and moved slightly passed him. Once he realized it was me he let out an "Oh you...!" and hit the gas. He may have gone a bit ahead of me at this point and we were nearly at the finish. I was midly surprised but in hindsight, I should have realized he was not going to give up easily.

    I looked straight ahead poured on everything I had left which was not much since I had been close to a full sprint (as much as I could manage anyway) for the last 50 yards. I concentrated on making sure I ran through the finish and passed the orange pad that registered our electronic sensors.

    At this point I honestly couldn't say who finished first and he didn't seem to know either. After another 10 or 15 minutes my wife came across the finish looking happy and as fresh as a daisy. Damn her.

    Eventually, my brother wanders over to where they had posted the current results and then looks away dejectedly.

    I had edged him out by 1/100th of a second.

    Truth be told any number of his appendages could have crossed the line before me but in the end the sensor on my left angle registered before his.

    It may have been better if it had gone the other way. I think I would have been content in the knowledge that I didn't give up when I thought I was beat and made a race of it at the end. From my brother's perspective, he thought he had a victory and it was stolen from him. I'm sure that in time he'll view it with a sense of humor, - after he wins next year ;-)

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