This past Saturday I completed my second triathlon!  It’s been three years since my first triathlon and I was eager to have something to train for again. 

During my training I enjoyed rediscovering my love of swimming.  For me, I find my flow in swimming even more than running because when swimming laps you truly are in your own little bubble with your thoughts, all excess noises muted by the sounds of the water and your own breathing.  My running workouts were more enjoyable with the company of my pup, Kua, who especially loves our trail runs on the Borrego Bear Wallows trail.  The biking was probably my least favorite aspect of training as I prefer to bike for pleasure and not speed, but I got through it and distracted myself from my sore quads by admiring the beauty of the mountains around me.  

Kua is training hard.

"Trail running is exhausting."

Old Reliable

In addition to swim-run-bike, I incorporated strength and sprints into my training, as well as an occasional yoga class, and I really notice a change in my muscle tone as a result.  I absolutely despise doing ab workouts, but I forced myself to do about eight minutes twice a week (just two songs from my workout mix) because I know too well the importance of core strength for preventing injury.

Initially I was nervous to start running competitively again because I’ve had some knee problems lately (well, for six years actually) that I’m convinced are a result of lumbar spine issues, a tilted pelvis, abnormal ankle positioning resulting from previous sprains, and mild IT band syndrome (I apologize for the physical therapy lingo), but I started light with my training and listened to my body.  Unlike every other training program I’ve done in the past, this time around I allowed myself more rest days and easy workouts, without obsessing over completing each and every scheduled workout.  And it paid off!  I completed the race injury free!

So enough about training.  Onto the race…

The race began with a 5K run at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday.  All age groups started together, but the pack spread out quickly as everyone assumed their own pace.  I challenged myself to keep up with two women ahead of me whose pace was faster than mine, and by the first turnaround I not only maintained their pace but had passed them.  The last half of the run was mostly uphill, and I recalled my hill repeat workouts in high school cross country and my recent uphill trail run that prepared me for this.  There was a lot of encouragement and camaraderie during the run portion of the race.  I cheered for the leading female runner as she turned around and made her way toward the uphill section minutes ahead of any other females, and I mentally sent my energy to the runners behind me.  My goal was to finish in less than 30 minutes, and I completed the run 28 minutes 38 seconds.

Sunrise over the mountains before the start of the race.

I thought the bike would be my weakest event, but I seemed to be functioning on pure adrenaline as I whizzed through the course, barely noticing soreness or fatigue until two uphills in the last half of the route.  I passed several people on the ride – some of whom eventually passed me again – and felt stronger than I did on any training rides.  I was breathing hard by the end, but I finished the ride in 47 minutes, 25th place overall for the females.

After the ride I made my biggest mistake of the race – I sprinted from the transition zone to the pool, arriving in the water very short of breath.  This mistake, combined with the insane number of people in the pool at the same time as me (many of whom splashed excessively with their kicking or had absolutely no clue how to free style swim at all), set me up for a very miserable 11 minutes in the water.  I thought the swim would be my strongest of the three events, but it was quite the opposite.  I struggled to pass people because of the splashing and crowding, and felt trampled by those trying to pass me.  I clung to the lane divider several times and took long breaks at the end of each length.  Eventually I was able to find my rhythm and swim a few strong laps before the end.

I finished the race in 87 minutes, achieving my overall goal.  I placed 6th out of 10 in my age group.  My boyfriend – a first time triathlete – rocked all three events and finished 6th out of 14 in his group.  And my good friend Shelly, who endured weeks of dedicated training despite her loathing for running, finished strongly in her first triathlon as well.

Now that my training is over I look forward to getting back to yoga and hiking again, although I hope to keep up with running at least one a week.  Next time I train for a tri I plan to do a shorter training program (6-8 weeks), which I think is definitely realistic if I keep up my running year round.  I also need to practice swimming while out of breath.  (Or, to better simulate the race, maybe have 8-10 people attacking me in the pool and splashing non-stop while I try to swim laps and breathe…just a thought.)

Overall, though, I think my training program went well and I was happy with my results!  I’m a triathlete!

Everyone's a winner!


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