Nation's Tri blog

Heather running small

Sometimes I think back on just how much I’ve learned about participating in multi-sport events and it blows my mind.  In triathlons we have three events, each one greeted with varying levels of skills and experience.  I came to triathlons as a former runner.  I had completed a few marathons, but the years of pounding on my feet were taking their toll.  The last straw happened after a difficult 20 mile training run.  My feet just said “no more.”  At the time I thought I would still be able to run the race, and I just needed to rest my feet. So when my second 20 mile training run came up, I decided to cross train.  I went to the gym and got on the bike for an hour, elliptical for an hour, and capped it off with an hour swim.  When I finished I realized I had done a gym based triathlon and thus a new chapter in my life began.

Triathlons have allowed me to still partake in endurance events without the heavy pounding of straight running. I love endurance events because they give me a goal to shoot for, and I work well with an end in mind.  Endurance events also push me into uncomfortable places that I wouldn’t normally do on my own.  Each one of these places teaches me something important about myself, and informs me a little more about life.  This doesn’t happen with every swim, bike and run I complete, but it does happen every season.
As I was thinking back to what I learned, I think the biggest lesson I keep close is to make sure to keep it fun.  When hobbies become a source of pain or misery they stop being hobbies and become chores.  I have enough chores in life already just living day to day.  So in an effort to keep it light, I’m sharing a top 10 list of things I learned the hard way in my multi-sport life.  Smile, take a look, and let us know which ones you relate to!
1)    Make toilet paper a regular addition to your race day kit.  Porta Potties run out.
2)    When you pull out your reserve toilet paper you will be everyone’s new best friend.
3)    Sunglasses don’t just protect your eyes from the sun, and bugs can be deceptively hard to remove.
4)    When out in the Southern sun for a long day of racing, make sure to apply sunscreen to the back of your calves. Turns out they get a lot of exposure.
5)    Always check the weather the morning before a race/training. Even if you checked it before bed. I once went on a 40 mile training ride in shorts and a tank…the weather was 38 degrees and raining. I still shiver from that.
6)    For out of town races, secure lodging early.  Very early. Even if you aren’t sure you’re going to sign up for the race yet. You can always cancel the lodging later.
7)    Cab money isn’t just a back-up plan for getting home; it’s also great for purchasing extra hydration on a deceptively hot day.
8)    There will always be someone faster and better. Focus on yourself.
9)    Cheer for the slow people.  You may just be one of them at some point, and it means a lot
10) And finally: The post-race shower is the sure way to discover where you missed on the pre-race body-glide application.

Heather Butler

Heather is starting her 5th year engaging in triathlons. She has completed over 20 multi-sport events, including two half-ironman events. Her love of triathlons makes up for her lack of speed, and she subscribes to the philosophy of keeping it fun.