Oh, so I did a triathlon today.
Here are my terribly important thoughts on the race and triathloning in general.
Triathlons – The Bad:
Triathlons seem to be a fun enough thing, but I have one serious gripe with them: they’re pretty exclusionary. I had the perception that triathlon was a predominantly rich white person sport. Taking part in one confirmed that suspicion. The financial investment to do one of these things at an amateur and competitive level is ridiculous. The entry fees are way higher than a 5k, 10k or 10 Miler. Then there’s the bike portion of the race. I think this is my biggest gripe with Tris.
You need a good bike. Yes, you can compete on anything and just finish, but if you want to go fast you need to ride something fast. A good road bike is going to run you at least $500 for something five or so years old. Never mind a Tri specific bike, you’re talking at least $800…for something old and made of aluminum. Then you need shoes and a helmet, at least another hundred bones. Again I want to assert that you can race on anything but I’m a competitive asshole, I want to race not just finish. I think that’s why I love running. All you really need to be competitive are some shoes. Yes, you can also drop $500 on a GPS watch/heart rate monitor and you can buy a batman belt to hold your gatorade and you can waste $160 on a pair of Newtons (the ugliest running shoes known to man.) But, you don’t need to and most of the people who do this are slow gear freaks.
Swimming: This was the leg I was most worried about. I knew I was way undertrained for this thing, starting maybe four weeks ago, and my swim workouts were always my most draining. Turns out I didn’t have much to worry about. I finished second overall in the swim, finishing in 6:11 (I think.) My goal was to come in at 8:00, so I was pretty stoked. Open water swimming in traffic was way more fun than I thought it would be. I was worried about sighting often enough and the effort of popping my head up straight mid-stroke. But, it was way easier than I thought it would be and I only went off course once. I also managed to sight off of some other swimmers while I passed them. Turning was weird, though.
Biking: See earlier comments about biking. My bike is a piece of garbage. I bought it before I really knew much about bikes and I had some ridiculous notion that I wanted a new bike instead of something used. Dumb, dumb, dumb. I was woefully unprepared for all the hills on the course. Christ, so many hills. I dropped my chain at about 12k. I shifted onto my big wheel and heard a grinding sound, looked down and saw the chain hanging by a few teeth on top of the crank. I stopped pedaling, prepped to pop out of my cleats and swear a lot while putting the damn thing back on. Then I thought “Hmm, I bet I could just pedal this thing back on.” So I did, and it wound itself back on. This all happened in like a second, so it was actually much cooler than it sounds. You had to be there. Anyway, I sucked ass on the bike, got passed a bunch and came in at 44. I wanted to come in at 38. I was not pleased.
Running: I was definitely ready for the run by the time I crested the last godforsaken hill into the the transition area. I slipped off my shoes, grabbed my hat and bib belt and, you know, started running. I was expecting this leg to be my best, since I’m a runner by nature. Not so. I couldn’t get my breathing under control for the first mile. I also couldn’t feel my legs, which actually wasn’t a big deal because I’ve done plenty of runs on legs I only sorta knew were there. What I could feel was the enormous cramp climbing up my right side. I managed to get a rhythm going with my breathing and started exhaling when my right hit foot the ground, really the only thing you can do for side stitches. Well, you can stop running too I guess, but I prefer to exhale when the effected side’s foot hits the ground. It worked and I ran up and down some more damnable hills. I came in at 22. I was pretty pissed about that and realized that I’ve got to get my smoking under control asap.
I think my total time was 1:16 and change. Respectable for a first Tri, I guess, but not what I wanted. I did get a shiny medal for winning my age group and got to stand on a podium and everything, so there’s that. I don’t know if I’ll do anymore. I think I may just be a runner. Buuuut, there is part of me that wants to pick up a Tri bike and really put some time into this. I have no doubt with more miles on the bike, some decent wheels under me that I could actually be pretty good at these things. And the frantic pace of switching disciplines is kinda fun. I dunno….