I have been a runner for 15 years competing in distances from 10k to ultra-marathons. Until recently, I have enjoyed running for hours at a time through the woods in pure bliss with no desire to change it up. Then…. I got a sweet road bike for my 30th birthday and suddenly triathlon was much more of a reality for me. The decision to sign up for Nation’s Tri was an easy one. I love a new challenge and why not make my first one an incredible race in one of the best cities in the world?
Like most other runners, all we like to do is run. As such, adding both cycling and swimming to my training routine was a big adjustment. On one hand, my training experience has been exhilarating. I am an endurance junkie who just added two new drugs of choice! I love the new challenges of figuring out how far and fast I can go on the bike and hitting the pool hard each time. This is part of the fun that I think any triathlete can understand.
On the other hand, my training experience has also been humbling and therefore incredibly valuable. First, there is a whole new world of equipment, terms, and training techniques that I need to learn. “Did I mispronounce Cervelo? When am I going to graduate to clip-in pedals?” and, most importantly, “Does this swim cap make me look fat?” It can be easy to feel like the new kid at school especially when you see tons of expensive gear sporting, typical type A Washingtonians crushing it out on the W&OD every weekend.
I am also realizing the differences in recovery time between swimming, biking, and running. I can run 20 miles easy, but after a mile in the pool, I just want to eat and nap immediately. And boy am I starting to see and FEEL changes in my body by working muscles through swimming and biking that remained dormant with years of running.
My biggest area of unknown is what to expect on race day. This is something that can only be achieved through experience. The swim is a huge question mark for me. I know that I will be prepared for the distance but I have never been thrown in the water with that many people at one time. I am worried about the frantic start and getting kicked or pushed under.
The ‘crowd factor’ also causes some concern for me on the bike. Most of my training rides are solo or with one other person. I have never been in a race atmosphere. I don’t want to take a fall or have any mechanical issues.
Another big difference between running and tri is that you have to prepare a LOT more gear. I am worried about packing everything that I need and preparing everything for transition in a smart way. Though I will spend hours mentally tweaking my race plan, as a newbie, you just don’t know what you don’t know.
Most of all, I am excited to get the first one under my belt so that I will know what to do better the next time. Pushing myself out of my comfort zone has already been hugely beneficial as a runner and a person. Thanks to Nations Tri for hosting this amazing event which is so much more than just a race.