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The "Try" in Triathlon

A couple of weeks ago I competed in the Belews Lake Triathlon. I have always wanted to complete a triathlon because it just sounds cool. I walked a marathon in 2003, and I wanted to see if I could do a triathlon.  

Now, the marathon was a long six hours and seven minutes for me. I moved like an old man for a week afterward. My feet were chewed up. I am not sure I want to sign up for that again.    

My triathlon took a little more than two hours. I swam 750 meters, biked 14.7 miles and ran a 5k. This sprint event was just my speed. It was close to home and fit my schedule.  

It all was a learning experience, of course. Here are some of my takeaways.  

It can be fun to be a rookie. I did not know what I was doing. I was immersed in this sea of expert athletes, competing for qualifying times for bigger events. They had their tri-suits, designed for speed in the water on the bike and on the run. They had special helmets, camel packs, gel packs and sleek street bikes. I had some very non-sleek bike shorts and the only mountain bike at the event. But in spite of all the feeling of inadequacy, I was thrilled. I reveled in being the rookie.

It helps to have the right equipment. When it came to the bike leg, everyone whizzed past me. I had borrowed a road bike for the event. Unfortunately, the bike’s front tire popped on the night before the event. With no time to fix it, I had to go with my mountain bike. It takes more energy to push those fat tires around the block, so I was slower and probably worked harder than everyone else.

Encouragement helps. As people passed me (and there were plenty) they often spoke words of encouragement to me. “Good work.” “Good job.” “Looking good.” “Hang in there.” “Nice job on that hybrid bike.” Even though they were leaving me behind, I got some more energy from their cheers.

Goals are fun. The triathlon was originally scheduled for April, but was postponed when tornadoes ripped across NC. So, I kept in shape all summer and trained hard in September. I was reasonably ready on event day. The goal of completing a triathlon kept me working hard. When I push myself, I can do hard things.  

I am not ever going to do an Ironman, but this was fun.  I might even do it again…with the right kind of bike, of course.


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