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Adventures in Swimming, Part 3: First Triathlon

Posted Mar 29 2009 3:38pm
Last week when I went to lunch with my friend K, he handed me a bag of goodies to help with my swimming.

He did the same thing when I initially took up cycling last year.

I love that he encourages my athleticism.

Maybe its because he's known me for 13 years now and knows that this is a big deal for me. Maybe its just because he's a triathlete too. And triathletes, at least the ones I know, always want to encourage other triathletes.

My favorite item from the bag of goodies were these hand paddles. You actually attach them to your hands, much like fins, and they encourage proper stroke technique.

Proper stroke technique is always a good thing, no?

(For the record, I'd caution against Googling for images of Stroke Master Hand Paddles....unless you have a spanking fetish. Ooooo, my stats will be fun after that!)

I tried my new paddles last Thursday night. I could've easily swam for hours. Like fins for your feet and used correctly, they help push you along faster. I swam many laps with calm, relaxing breaths.

I felt confident I'd do well in the triathlon I had scheduled for Saturday.


The triathlon was, thankfully, an indoor time trial triathlon.

I say thankfully because the wind was something fierce that day and the temperatures were in the 40's. I couldn't imagine attempting my first tri under such conditions.

The goal was to swim for 10 minutes, bike for 30 minutes and run for 20 minutes.

Each participant would be scored according to what they could accomplish during the time allotted. The idea was to see how your body handled three athletic activities in a row and to adjust to the transitions between the activities.

The transitions...

I felt pretty happy knowing that I'd have 10 minutes to transition from swimming to cycling. Five minutes between cycling and running seemed fine too.

I was excited and nervous but knew that I'd do just fine.


My mom, my brother and my friend Gem came out to encourage and support me. I felt much more comfortable, knowing they were there.

Gem and I noticed all the hot men. Holy crap! I think I may be able to talk her into doing more triathlons with me after that!

The triathlon was broken down into "waves", with each wave consisting of 10 people. I was in the 2nd wave.

I stood with my little support team and watched the first wave of people swim. I didn't feel so bad... noticing others taking breaks, using the breast stroke to get them through their laps. I was happy to see that I wasn't the only one trying this for the first time.

I was put in a lane with a big football player of a guy named Matt. He talked my head off until the whistle blew. I suppose he was experiencing as much nervous anxiety as I was.

I started my laps and actually felt pretty good. I'm never able to count laps as I'm swimming since I'm concentrating so much on when to breathe and what my body's doing. I did run out of energy at one point, stopping in mid lap to rest.

Matt swam by at that moment.

"Are you..." as he took a breath... "Ok?" his face went back in the water..."Do you need... help?"

I had to laugh. What a gentleman! Asking if I needed help right in the middle of his lap. I told him to just keep swimming. I'd be fine.

I did have to flip over on to my back at times or switch to breast stroke. I think I may have been too anxious, breathing too shallow, with others swimming around me, splashing, legs kicking underwater. This was good for me.

This is what the big triathlon in June will look like. But it will be in a lake.

I have never been so thankful to hear a whistle blow.

Ok next, get changed for cycling.


I love cycling. I knew that it would probably be my strongest part of the event.

What I didn't anticipate was how long it actually did take me to get ready for it.

I thought for sure 10 minutes would be plenty of time to get out of my swimsuit, into my cycling shorts and shoes.

By the time I made it up to the spin room, the coach yelled, "Wave 2, you have 1 minute!"


My brother, thankfully, had already scoped out a bike for me. Some bikes had the Shimano clipless pedals for my cycling shoes but others didn't. I nearly missed out on the exact bike I needed.

Ugh! Then I had to adjust the seat! They had the tension set the same for everyone (high) so that was one less thing I had to worry about.

I was only just starting to pedal when they said GO!


They did have some fun "spin class" type music playing and the large video screens were broadcasting footage from the scenic Nice leg of the Tour de France.

I kept a good cadence throughout the cycle portion but with the consistent high tension, my legs began to feel like jello. I know that my distance was 1 mile short of the highest distance for women at that point. I guess we'll see how the scores fall.

As I stepped off the bike and made my way towards the treadmills, I wondered if I'd be able to finish the thing.

My legs were feeling weak and now... I had run?


Thankfully, as I changed shoes and began walking, I felt a little life returning. This was almost over.

Then I heard one of the coaches yell,

"You have one more part of this and you will have finished a triathlon. How many people can say that?"


As soon as I pushed the Quick Start button on the treadmill, I was off to the races!

The only thing I will do different next time it make sure I get in a bathroom break. Oh my...

I held a good steady pace until the last 5 minutes. Then, for some reason, I felt a giant surge of energy and kicked up the speed even higher.

I felt glorious... imagining the finish line, until the coach yelled, "TIME!"

Woohoo! What a rush!


I haven't seen the results yet but I'm still proud.

Yes, I still need lots of time in the water. Those transitions need work. But still... WOW.

I would have never thought I could finish a triathlon and I did. And I have a t-shirt to prove it!

Heh. Yep, I've been wearing it all day...

Now... to prepare for the next one.

**Pardon the blurred picture. Rose hasn't had photography lessons yet!**
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