I won’t lie. Participating in my first sprint triathlon, the Tri-Indy, wasn’t easy and it sure wasn’t pretty but I had to start somewhere. After making the decision to tackle my first event where I had to swim, bike and run, I turned to good old Pinterest to find a training schedule. The main problem I had with following these schedules is that I wasn’t always able to swim on days I should have because of the limited hours at the pool I was using. But I did my best to fit the workouts to my schedule.
The best part of the training process was having people to train with. I couldn’t imagine doing it by myself. Having friends with me motivated me more to make sure I got my workouts done. We held each other accountable and that was really important.
I think it’s fair to assume that everyone will have a weak area when it comes to a triathlon. For me (and many others), that was swimming. Most triathlons have the swim take place in open water, which is very different from swimming laps in a pool. If I could go back and change one thing in my training it would have been to swim more and try swimming in open water.
As far as biking and running, I felt more confident training for these parts. Biking in downtown Indianapolis is a bit difficult with a lot of stopping at intersections so I trained to go farther than the necessary 12.5 miles of the race. I have also run in plenty of 5Ks but never immediately following a 500 yard swim and a 12.5 mile bike ride. Knowing it would be difficult to switch muscle groups quickly, I felt it was really important to practice the transition from biking to running. Even if I only ran one or two miles after a bike ride it was still good to get my legs used to the change.
Probably one of the most interesting parts about Tri-Indy was that the swimming took place in the downtown canal. I received two responses when telling people. “That’s pretty cool,” and “That’s disgusting.” But it really wasn’t gross at all. I mean, I definitely swallowed my fair share of canal water and got trapped in an abyss of green growth at the bottom!
The officials let each individual jump in and begin their race every two seconds. Even with this staggered start, it was still crowded as people were passing, splashing and bumping into each other. This section, I HATED. About three minutes into my swim, I felt under prepared. I should have definitely trained more but it was a little too late. I finished the swim…slowly…but I did it! Then I wobbled out of the water giving a thumbs up to my friends cheering me on.
I had already laid out my towel, shoes, socks, shirt and shorts next to my bike, but let’s be honest, this was my first triathlon. I was NOT going for time, just completion. I got myself put together pretty quickly as I think I was just excited to be done with the swim!
My legs definitely felt a bit like jelly at first from the water to cycling transition but everything was fine once I caught my breath. The biking was only a bit of a struggle when the wind was against us going uphill.
Finally, the last part of the race. I put my bike and helmet up and started to jog to start of the run. I felt like (and probably also looked like) a newborn baby giraffe so I paused to stretch a little bit. Trying to get a better time isn’t worth pulling a muscle. When I started to run, I realized just how worn out I was. I was EXHAUSTED. Even though I didn’t feel like it, I grabbed water from every station because I knew my body needed it. This run was probably the slowest I’ve ever ran, which was okay because I didn’t quit. I kept running – or shuffling would probably be more accurate.
One thing that is truly amazing during races like this is how positive and friendly everyone is. If I passed someone running or someone passed me, compliments and words of motivation were always exchanged. “Keep it up.” “You got this.” “Almost done! You can do it.” It was so great to see everyone so supportive of each other.
I crossed the finish line and almost ran right to the water table where I immediately downed three cups. The worst thing to do after a race is to immediately stop or sit down. I kept walking around the transition area for about 10 minutes before going to get my bike and talk to my friends that came to support me.
Yes, at the end I was tired and I couldn’t wait to shower, eat and take a nap. But an even greater feeling I had was pride. I was and still am so proud of myself for setting a goal and completing it. I may have finished 409 out of 417 but I FINISHED.