Today, I am the proud holder of 8 Ironman medals but it didn’t start out that way. My first triathlon experience was amazing as well as awful. Training for a sprint triathlon was foreign because I didn’t have a clue what I should be doing. That being said, I did what I thought was best. This led me to going through a journey of discovery and growth. Eventually, I would get to the start and finish line of 140.6 miles but my first triathlon experience would not have suggested that I was a natural. As a matter of fact, it was the opposite.
Finding Community: Joining a Co-Ed Beer League Softball Team
When I first moved to Dallas and knew nobody, joining a co-ed beer league softball team was my way of finding a community. Little did I know that a casual conversation about triathlon would push me to sign up for the Paddle, Peddle and Pound sprint triathlon. I, the former athlete, thought it couldn’t be that hard. And so, my journey began.
The Journey Begins: Preparing for My First Triathlon Experience
Preparation started with a simple idea – apply my running training to swimming and cycling. I threw myself in a pool, swam between 25 and 100 yards, and hoped it would be enough for the 300-yard event swim. Needing a bike, I purchased a $500 dollar used bike and rode around my neighborhood streets. My understanding of fueling to avoid dehydration and heat stroke from those half-marathons, was incorporated.
Challenges were everywhere, especially finding time for training. I would squeeze in swims and runs at the gym whenever I had time. The bike rides were mostly on weekends. As I approached triathlon day, I was armed with my used bike, running gear, swimming goggles, and heart full of determination.
Race Day Jitters: Navigating the Unknown
The race day was a whirlpool of emotions. With no idea how to set up my transition area, I followed others. The nerves were palpable, but so was the excitement. As I stepped into the pool area, I got a glimpse of a world beyond my current knowledge.
The Roller Coaster: Triumphs and Struggles During the Race
The race itself was a roller coaster. I started out strong in the water but quickly exhausted my energy. I found myself walking and hoping for disqualification. But I pressed on, walking a bit, swimming a bit, until I was done. The bike ride was a breath of fresh air, literally, as I experienced the exhilaration of flying downhill with the wind in my face. But the run was where I found my happy place. When I crossed the finish line, I realized I had done something I had no clue about just a few months earlier, and I wanted to do it again.
Lessons Learned: The Power of Progression and Perseverance
I was surprised by the difficulty of the race, having underestimated it at the start. But what surprised me more was the exhilaration of finishing and the desire to do it again and again. This experience taught me that I can do anything I set my mind to. It showed me that I could take on challenges and accomplish them by progressing slowly and steadily.
Embracing the Unknown: Encouragement for First-time Triathlon Participants
For those considering participating in their first triathlon, remember, you’re going to be nervous, maybe scared, but do it anyway. Don’t worry about the finish time. Just focus on the journey to the start and subsequent finish line. You’ll grow as an athlete but more importantly, you’ll grow as a person. My first triathlon experience laid the groundwork for what has followed. Your first triathlon experience can do the same for you.