Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The Practice Tri

I completed a very short triathlon in my town a week ago as part of some July 4th festivities.

I figured it would be a way to see what it would be like to do a triathlon before the official one I'm doing in July.

This shorter one was a 1/4 mile swim, a 2 mile bike ride, and a mile run. I competed with many kids who did the same lengths, but did half the swim that I did.

I came in dead last at 56:48.

My husband wondered where I was after he saw yet another five year old cross the finish line.

So why was I so slow?

1. I started out swimming with the group of adults in my category, and tried to do the freestyle (crawl) as I'd been training to do. Weirdly, I ended up gasping for breath and had to switch to the breast stroke so I could get adequate air intake.

2. The breaststroke is a VERY. SLOW. STROKE.

3. I've since talked to a few coaches on the tri team I'm training with and they tell me that it's really common for stress to kick in as you jump into the water, even if you think you're ready and well trained.

4. In the transition from the swim to the bike, I learned a few time-saving tricks: wear unpadded bike shorts in the water. Put a low (not a high) ponytail in your hair to get the bike helmet on easier. I also tested my blood at this time and was 222. I probably should have bolused a unit here, but I didn't.

5. Know the race course. Although it was short, I biked for a minute or so down the wrong road before being told I should have taken a turn. Don't rely solely on people organizing the race to point you in the right direction (particularly when you are last and there's no other athletes around you).

6. Have the best bike you can afford. I am training and plan to use a mountain bike that's about 20 years old and frankly, pretty heavy. It's fine, but it's not the greatest bike out there for going fast. Shifting gears is always a trial and error process. Once this season is over, I am likely going to get a new bike if I decide to continue biking regularly. But knowing when to shift gears so that you're using the bike most efficiently is key.

7. The run itself is my weakest sport, since up until recently, I was running on the balls of my feet. This made for a really uncomfortable experience. Who knew I ran wrong? I was evaluated by a physical therapist who videotaped me and I could see that I was doing things all wrong. This would lead me to develop pain in my calves, my shins, one hip, the other knee, and to top it all off, I wasn't even fast.

8. Due to the extra stress, I have tended to walk more than run because it's easier. This, however, also slows things down.

9. When I finally crossed the finish line, my husband, the event director and the woman timing me all cheered. This was great to hear, as the rest of the spectators and athletes were already gone from the area.

10. My blood at the end was still in the low 200s. I felt fine during and after the race, but I wonder if I compete better when my sugars aren't so high.

11. In the week since, I've noticed that I am running better and therefore, can run a bit longer than before and with less pain. My swim workouts also seem to be showing a bit of endurance improvement, meaning, I huff and puff a little less than before.

12. The truth is, I think I am enjoying the workouts and the bragging rights of saying "I'm training for a triathlon" more than the actual competing. I am working out more consistently than I have in a long time, my arms are getting firmer, and while I am really not losing weight, I am looking a bit better in my clothes this summer. My sugars are pretty good, the 200s notwithstanding, but I don't think the training is making my averages any different (my A1cs are respectable as they are).


Flmgodog said...

Wow - I am really impressed with your triathalon training. I wish I had that kind of motivation and determination. Who cares you came in at the end. At least you are doing it!!!
Keep up the awesome work!!!

Anne said...

Congrat's!! You finished it and learned a lot in the process! Who cares how you place. You are ahead of all the people who didn't sign up! :)

There are "tri shorts" that are designed for triathlon, if you are interested. They dry quickly and have a little padding for the bike, and are comfortable for running.

I have a friend who had the same issues swimming. Was the water colder than you are used to? It takes me some concentration when I start the swim to really relax. Everyone is so excited and nervous and it can really get me wound up if I'm not careful.

When you can afford it, get a newer bike! Or maybe you can borrow one and try out a newer model. You might find it so enjoyable that you decide to get one early, if that is an option for you. I don't think it matters at all how fast you are, but you might enjoy cycling more with a bike that shifts better, and consequently you may decide to ride more! :)

Congrats on finishing your first tri!

Watson said...

Wow, you are SO my hero right about now! Congrats, you are Super Woman for doing that!

passingwindows said...

I always enjoy being able to say, "Oh, I swim a kilometre every Saturday," much more than actually getting up and schlepping off to the pool to actually swim the kilometre!


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