Are You Ready to Become a Triathlete? | Nutrition Fit

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About four years ago I decided to try a Sprint Triathlon. It was here in my town and proceeds went to a good cause, prevention of and care for victims of domestic violence. I have been running for over 40 years and so that presented no problem and I had been swimming for a few years and so two sections were set. As for biking, I had learned as a child and ridden periodically so I didn’t even to bother with some practice, just aired up the tires and headed for my event.

This first triathlon had a third-mile swim, 16 miles on the bike, and a 2-mile run. Starting at our local pool we were carefully lined out in lanes with multiple flights and a lap-counter in charge of each of us. With just 50 participants the swim part was organized. Since we began in the pool, we also had a dressing room for changing and then dashing out to the awaiting bikes. Being familiar with our town, I understood the route but anyone from out of the area was quite confused as only intermittent sheets of paper taped to a variety of poles indicated the twists and turns. Although we started on city streets these led to a bike route on the shoulder of a busy, 2-lane highway, and by mile 5 we were on a 6 inch shoulder, goat-heads lining the right-hand edge, and zooming cars the left. I felt isolated and in danger and I am sure others did as well.

Eventually we circled a main road where we buzzed through red lights as police officers held up the traffic. Speeding into the park I literally tumbled off my bike as I headed out for the run, legs askew and wobbling. I walk-ran to the best of my ability and rounded into home with a time of about 1:50. I felt happy and satisfied and revved for a future event. This never arrived until my niece, nervous about turning 50, encouraged a niece-daughter-aunt participation in the Valley Girls Triathlon. Of course, I readily agreed.

The swim this time was in a lake and after unseasonably warm temperatures it hovered at 80 degrees. Divided by age groups, my niece and her daughter stroked away 10 minutes ahead of me. I excitedly watched their pink and green bathing caps bob out to sea. Soon it was my turn and as I lunged into the water with eager anticipation, I was greeted with a jungle of underwater ferns, weeds, and scary growth. It swept over my eyes, around my head, across my shoulders, between my legs, and amidst my toes. The freestyle became frightening as I glanced at the murky muddle underneath me and terrible fears circulated my brain. Panic began to seize me and fortunately I had the wisdom to paddle toward a kayak where I could hang on, catch my breath, and regroup my brain. 15 seconds later I was ready to continue, asking the kayaker to keep an eye on me for a minute or two just in case.

Once I reached the farthest buoy, rounded it and swam the stretch toward another buoy, and then turned toward shore, my confidence resumed and in a flash I was on the beach, dashing toward the street and my bike. My wonderful nephew surprised me by waiting by the fence to cheer me on. My spirits soared.

I had felt slightly intimidated earlier by the professional, powerful, competitive stance of many participants. With waxed skin, fancy clothing, and expensive bicycles, I appeared odd in my regular swimsuit, jogging clothes, and folding, traveling bike. They rocketed away atop huge tires while I jumped on my “circus” model, a lovely, sturdy, dependable Dahon. Unfortunately, in the unloading and setting up of my bike, a bungee had wrapped around the back gears and became a jumble as I exited the corral. My ride became paralyzed. Frantically I tipped it up and began to yank and pull. Volunteers came to my rescue but no one had scissors. Again this was fortunate as I was eventually able to untangle the mess with a bungee that still worked and pedaled away.

Frustrated at the loss of time the next 10 miles transformed into a delight. My bike may have been little but it whizzed onward and I only had one person pass me and that was on a downhill where I felt I was going fast enough and at a controllable speed. On one of the tight bends I caught up with my niece and great-niece who were suffering from a flat tire. Knowing that it was Lisa’s birthday event and that my time was really inconsequential, I calmed my competitive drive and waited until the tire was repaired (by a rather snotty race troubleshooter who criticized just about everything about us) and then the three of us continued, passing cheering family who were also very concerned with our delay.

Dropping off our bikes we started our run through shady streets and along a bike path. They were both tired and I was filled with power, but I reined it in and we walked/jogged to the finish line with a mighty threesome crossing the line. Happy, strong, invigorated we began planning our next Sprint Triathlon. These events really are contagious.

You, too, can accomplish a feat such as this. Some folks worked in teams with each member completing a section of the triathlon; we preferred to compete individually. I strongly encourage lots of practice before the event and as I learned, lakes can have creepy crawlers and so be prepared. I think that if I had known about the grabbing, grasping weeds I would not have become so scared. Also work on the transitions: wet swimsuit to riding gear especially getting sandy feet dried and into socks and shoes; exchanging pedaling legs for running legs. They are different but can be pulled together with a little preparation and realignment. Determine whether this will be a group effort (like when I reminded myself that this was for my niece, not for me) or individual. This sounds silly but it is quite important. And above all have fun! You will feel exhilarated at this great accomplishment.

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Source by Gini Cunningham