During that first swim practice back in June, when Coach Garrett said “Do 200 yards to warmup”, and I responded with “I’m not that far along yet…maybe I can do 50.” I am not sure Garrett knew what he was in for. After swimming 50 yards, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to swim 400 yards at once in just 3 months.
Well I did it, and not only swam it, but felt comfortable doing it, in a crowded pool with people splashing and passing me. I ended up doing two Triathlons in September, both were short, the first one really short.
That first one was the Great Buckeye Challenge in Ohio over Jen and I’s anniversary weekend. There were 4 different distances offered, I choose the shortest because I didn’t think I could handle a long swim. It measured 250 yd swim, 7 mile bike, and a 2 mile run. I started out in the water too fast and too excited, but was able to find a groove about halfway through. As I ran out of the water toward my bike I tried to keep my heart rate low. The bike was a pretty flat course. Went hard and was getting a little worried I was going too hard, but after that mile came in slower than I wanted I pushed it hard for the rest of the route. After the high cadence bike ride my legs kept wanting to go fast, so I let them. Had a really nice time on the downhill first mile, and mentally kept focused on passing people on the uphill. Had a sprint finish but wasn’t able to make the last minute pass. However, the race had a staggered start, so I ended up beating him according to the watch. I got first in the small field in my age group. But the race I had really been training for was 2 weeks later.
I am also super proud of my wife. She had done her first triathlon a few years ago but for the Great Buckeye Challenge, she choose the “Olympic” distance which is almost a mile swim, 26 miles on the bike and 6.2 miles running. That doubled the distance of her previous tri and she did great!
Two weeks later, on a cold dark morning back in Lexington the nerves really started to hit. As I walked my bike to the setup area, I could see the steam rising off the pool. This was the morning I had been training for, for four months. A 400 yard swim, 13 mile bike and 3 mile run.
The morning started out cool but because it was a staggered start I got to wait an hour so I was able to keep long sleeves on until just a few minutes before my swim and at least the sun was emerging behind the trees by the time I was left with nothing but shorts on. The swim went really well, I felt confident. Did get stuck behind a log jam once or twice and I was able to get out of the pool with plenty of energy left. For the bike portion I managed to keep the same pace as my mini Tri even though the bike portion was twice as far and hillier. As I dropped off my bike and headed out for the run, I still had my helmet on. Luckily, a volunteer stopped me, before I got too far along. For the run I barely squeaked under my goal time. I didn’t know how realistic that was, because it was the same pace I try to keep for a standalone 5k. I didn’t win any awards among the bigger field but felt well prepared and very satisfied with my times.
All in all, my first two triathlon were a ton of fun. Really enjoyed them and they definitely won’t be my last.