I did it! I completed my first triathlon! It was the hardest thing I have ever done – but I did it – and I will certainly be doing another. Let’s re-cap, shall we?
SheRox Philadelphia: All-women’s triathlon in Fairmount park consisting of a .37-mile swim / 15.5 mile bike / 3.1 mile run. “She swims, she rides, she runs, she rocks!” I loved that my first triathlon was a women’s only tri that really catered to first-timers. It was the perfect environment. Everyone was friendly and helpful and had a lot of the same nervousness that I did.
Wake-up call: 4:15 am. Not really ideal. I don’t think the 4am wake-up calls will ever get easier. Especially since I get pre-race anxiety about over-sleeping. I seriously had a dream that I missed the whole event. I didn’t.
Arrival: It was still dark, but there were hundreds of people & bikes & craziness. I got intimidated really fast, especially when some girls had bikes that were more expensive than my car. I’m not joking. There was a long walk from the parking lot to the transition area, and when we got there, I was shocked at how much went into it all. Everything was really well organized and looked awesome. It really got me excited, and everyone was so helpful that it really calmed my nerves. I got there really early, set up my little area, drank some Skinny Water… and walked around for a while to warm up. I didn’t feel like running or biking or anything, I just wanted to soak it all in.
Swim: Well, I’m a swimmer – so I wasn’t really worried about the swim. It was 600 meters (so about 24 lengths of a high school pool). I always envisioned the start to be a mass start where everyone runs into the water and starts swimming – but it was actually really well organized into waves and we started in the water. When it was my turn, my wave entered the water and treaded in place until the horn went off. The water was 78 degrees, so it was perfect. I got a spot right in the front too, so I didn’t have to fight anyone right off the bat. Once the horn went off, I was shocked at how fast some girls went out. They were like all-out sprinting, which isn’t what I anticipated. But I joined right in and swam really hard. I also swam off-course quite a bit, given that this was my first open-water swim ever… and I only breathe to one side – so I never looked the other way. Once I looked around and decided I swam pretty far out of my way, I wasted a lot of time & energy getting back on track – but oh well. Next time I know to look both ways. I also noticed near the end that my cap had fallen right off my head. I don’t understand why this always happens to me! I wanted to keep that thing as a memento!! Ugh. Luckily, my hair was tight enough that it didn’t really affect my swim. My swim time- 13:30 (32nd overall)
Transition 1: I kinda took my time here so I could have a little bit of rest before the bike. Plus, I wasn’t trying to win the event, just have a good time finishing my first tri. I dried off my feet the best I could, grabbed a quick drink, turned on my Garmin, put on my socks & shoes, snapped on my helmet, grabbed my bike, and jogged to the bike start. No big deal. My T1 time- 2:16 (211th overall)
Bike: I’m so glad I was in one of the first waves for the bike because the course wasn’t very crowded at all. It was so refreshing and beautiful. I originally figured I’d try to maintain 15mph (4 min/miles) but I quickly decided that I could go a lot faster – so I sped it up significantly. I felt crazy strong on the bike because I kept passing all kinds of people. I crushed the hills. I was feeling great! What wasn’t great was my shoes slipping around the pedals because everything was wet from the rain. The course was a 2-loop course – and the 2nd loop was a lot more annoying because more people were on the course at that point. I still felt like I was passing way more people than were passing me though, so that was positive. Obviously, some girls in like USA jerseys & bikes with the tires all filled in zoomed past me, but whatever. I’m not pro. I saw Steve a few times on this portion and I loved it. I waved & smiled & was just having a grand time. My bike time – 56:11 (16.6MPH – 289th overall)
Transition 2: Well, this should have been an easy transition, because I didn’t have to change my shoes or anything – I just had to throw on a shirt that had my bib on it. Unfortunately, my shoes were soaking wet. Yuck. I re-racked my bike, ditched the helmet, threw on my tank top, and wearily jogged to the run start. My T2 time – 1:45 (253rd overall)
Run: Never in my life have I had a harder run. I forgot to save energy for this part of the race. Plus, my shoes were soaked so they were heavy, squishy, and just insanely annoying. The humidity was also horrendous. It must have been about 90% humidity. I had my Garmin with me, but I refused to look at it, because I was convinced that I was going about 12 minute miles. I actually stopped completely at the first aid station (mile 1) and drank my Gatorade while walking. It was necessary. Shockingly, not too many people passed me – granted, people were definitely passing me – but I guess everyone is pretty worn down at this point, so no one was sprinting on by. I kept it going as strong as I could, and just tried to push through, even though I felt like I was going nowhere. I finally saw the crowd pick up and could see the finish line ahead… so I started speeding up, and when I was super close, I tried my best to sprint to the finish. I saw Steve & my little brother at the finish line & heard the announcer saying my name and it was just glorious. I MADE IT. My run time- 28:24 (9:10 min/mile, 267th overall)
My official time – 1:42:06 (9/61 age 20-24, 109/933 overall)
Thoughts looking back: I’m really proud of myself for finally signing up & doing a triathlon! I’ve always wanted to do one, I was just too nervous. Now I know there’s nothing to be nervous about. I think that 109 out of 933 is awesome for my first-ever attempt at a triathlon. I know I can do better, but I can’t complain. What makes me mad looking back is how amazing I did in the swim, but how poorly I did in the other two events. I know I can swim faster. I just have to stay on course – I probably wasted a solid minute just going in the wrong direction. I know I can bike faster, I just need to practice. I also really wanted to run 8 minute miles… which didn’t happen. I definitely died on the run. I think the humidity played a huge factor, but so did my soaking wet shoes. Next time, I’ll use cycling shoes and have dry shoes for running. But otherwise, my tri tank & tri shorts worked perfectly. I’m glad I bought them, even if they were crazy expensive and I didn’t wait to buy the tank in pink. One day I will have a hot pink tri outfit. Just not today. Overall, despite wanting to die on the run – I had a lot of fun, and I definitely can’t wait to do more so that I can do even better!
Advice to myself for the future
- Learn to use cycling shoes with the clip-less pedals. My shoes slid around way too much on the pedals.
- Bring extra socks. My socks were so wet from the bike. I wish I had a dry pair to run in.
- Make sure running shoes are dry. This would have happened if I wouldn’t have biked in my running shoes.
- Do more brick work-outs. I need to train my body to run after I bike.
- Don’t use a water bottle with a screw-on top. You don’t have time to screw off the cap of your water bottle while biking. I need the thing where I can put a water bottle on my handlebars and just drink right out of a straw in front of my face.
- Bike faster. I felt strong on the bike, but obviously I can improve a lot here as I finished 259th overall. I do a lot of spin classes, but I need to incorporate more outdoor rides to get faster.
- Faster transitions. I took my time during transitions because I wanted to recover, which I’m fine with for my first triathlon – but in the future, this is an easy way to cut off some time.