My Triathlon Experience

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Success!

Tanya and I finished the Cypress Sprint Triathlon last Sunday. We’ve been training all summer and crossing that finish line was such a rush…an amazing feeling of accomplishment.

Any time I finish a race, whether it’s a 5K or a marathon (I ran the Hawaii marathon in 1999), I celebrate the fact that I finished. While I always aim to better my time, just being in the race and finishing is the most important thing to me.

This is especially true with triathlons. With three different events combined in one, it’s the chance to exercise many muscles and mental strength. I love the challenge! Even though I participated in a Sprint Tri (Towne Lake) for the first time last year over Labor Day, I had my doubts about whether or not I would be successful this time. The swim was 550 meters, 150 meters longer than the race I did last year. Plus, I didn’t spend a lot of time running during my nine-month work contract from September 2013 (right after my first triathlon) to June 2014. I did cycle a bit in the spring (Ed and I trained for the Houston to Austin MS150 but we didn’t end up participating because the event date conflicted with our trip to Disneyland) but I didn’t exercise much between April and June.

With only a short time to train, I really focused on swimming. It’s my weakest link and the part I fear the most. It took a bit to build my endurance in the water back up. Since I don’t have a strong freestyle stroke, I end up swimming breast stroke for a lot of the race, which is fine but a lot slower than if I was able to do an even freestyle. After we attended the pre-race clinic the weekend before the race, I was more fearful of the open water swim then ever before. I’m not sure why, but I got in the lake and choked. Eye-level with the top of the water, the distance between me and the last buoy seemed an ocean length away and I felt exhausted before I even started.

I spent some more time in the pool the week before the race and while waiting in line for my wave to start, I was nervous, but a little more confident. It helps me when I concentrate on getting to each buoy (this course had one at every 100 meter mark) instead of focusing on the swim finish. I like that it’s the first part of the race so I can get it over with and not spend time worrying for the entire race!

While I had some people lap me from the wave that started after me (waves started every four minutes and there were four waves after mine), I held my own. While people swimming over you can be a little unnerving, knowing what to expect helps calm your fears when it happens!

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I look pretty serious in this picture, but I was very happy that the swim was behind me when I got out of the water. I was concentrating on catching my breath and making up time during transition. I love to cycle and I was gearing up for the ride in my mind already.

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After I finished the 14-mile bike ride, I started the last leg of the Tri…the 5K run. I didn’t do any brick workouts this year (i.e. alternating between running and cycling in one work-out) so my legs were like lead. It took me about a mile to work out the heavy filling in my thighs, so I ran a little slower than I normally do. The crowd support was so good at the end of the race, I was inspired to sprint to the finish line even though I was completely spent.

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For me, training for running and triathlon events keeps me focused on staying active everyday. It’s so important for me to have a goal so I can keep motivated and keep moving forward! Since losing a lot of weight two years ago, it’s so important to me to stay as healthy as I can.

I’m already looking forward to my next Sprint Tri! I’ll be working on bricks and swimming to try to improve my time as well as re-focusing on nutrition for overall health.

I highly recommend participating in a Sprint Triathlon. While there are incredible triathletes at these events, the community is very supportive of first-time folks and those, like me, who have a goal to finish the triathlon, not win. There are athletes of every shape and size (although at 4’10” I’m usually one of the shortest!) and ability level. I’m a pretty competitive person, but with triathlons, I truly believe that everyone who finishes is a winner.

There’s a great Tri coming up in Clear Lake that I wish I could attend. The 7th Annual Clear Lake International and Sprint Triathlon is on August 23, 2014 in League City, Texas at South Shore Harbor and Resort. It offers both an International Course with a 1.5K Swim, 28.8 mile bike and 10K run as well as a Sprint Course with a .5K swim, 14 mile bike and 3.4K run.

The Sprint course has a shorter run, great for those who are new to running or not as strong in this area. I love that this event takes you over the Kemah Bridge and provides views of Clear Lake and NASA Space Center. It sounds like so much fun and I’m definitely putting this event on my list for next year! Who knows, by then maybe I’ll be ready to take a stab at the longer course?!

Is participating in a Tri on your bucket list? What are your fitness goals this year? Do you participate in running, cycling or swimming events? Do you have any tips for training? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Thank you to New Creative Media for sponsoring this post and supporting my health and fitness goals. While I was provided compensation, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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