Triathlon Training, Take 4—The Practice Tri


Credit: Jodi Bennet

I’ve come to the conclusion that doing a triathlon is a little like childbirth. (Although, please keep in mind that I have no children, so I’m not really comparing them. You’ll see what I mean.) I know that, during and after other sprint triathlons, I’ve thought to myself, “Man, this is tough.” I remember thinking that the swim was incredibly hard, and wow, I can’t believe I keep putting myself through this. But, by the end of the day, or maybe a few days later, all I really remember is the rush of endorphins I felt and how proud I was to finish—and look at how cute the pictures of me on my bike are!

Umm, well, it’s still hard. I did a small, sprint distance (half-mile swim, 12-mile bike, 3-mile run) triathlon on Sunday, and I won’t lie—there were times during the swim that I thought, “Seriously? In two weeks I’m doing this again, and going twice as far? Do I have to?” (Yes, I do, for the record.) The water, while not super rough, was enough to have me worried about getting seasick, and I’ve got a couple pretty good scratches on my arms from when people tried to swim past me. My issue with the waves wasn’t so much trying to power up and over them, but the fact that I found myself a little dizzy after getting tossed around. But they were probably on par with what I’ll face at St. Anthony’s. Maybe even smaller than what I’ll see there.

(Am I making you want to sign up for a race yet?)

My transition was abysmal. I mean, I don’t even know what I did, but I sure took my sweet time doing it. I tried to clean off my feet, and couldn’t, so I went digging through my bag for another towel in an effort to do a better job. My helmet felt funny, despite the fact that I’d tried it on earlier that day—I’m guessing the water and the swim cap moved my ponytail around. I nearly forgot my bike gloves, and almost got out of transition before I remembered, running back with my bike to grab them.


Credit: State of Mind Sports

Once I got on my bike, despite the fact that I’d somehow managed to tighten my left-toe cage to the point that no human foot was ever fitting in there, things started really looking up. I had no right to enjoy the bike ride the way I did, considering I’d dreaded it with such conviction all this time. But I did. I passed quite a few people and was only passed by a few who were going at least 100 mph (or something like that), and almost all of them were on Serious Triathlon Bikes with Fancy Helmets, and for the time being, I’m okay with them passing me.

The run was where my training really showed. I kept a strong, if not terribly speedy, 10-minute mile pace. I didn’t walk at all, which is huge for me, especially in a triathlon. And while I was tired at the end, I didn’t feel completely spent—I think that, when I have to run 6 miles in St. Petersburg on May 1, I will truly run 6 miles. Well, most of them anyway.

Now, here’s where I have to make a confession—I was feeling okay, but not great about the swim until the splits were posted and I learned that I tied with one other woman as the first female out of the water. Not in my age group, but out of everyone. You guys, I’ve got this. Here I thought I’d had my ass handed to me, and it turns out I did just fine. Better than fine, even! I’ve totally got this.

I was going to end this with a big “moral of the story” bit about how you can only train for certain things, because, you really can’t train for swimming in open water unless you, you know, live on the beach and can swim in open water. (And if you do, can I come over and go swimming? I’ll bring the PB&J sammies!) But it looks like my training and hard work truly paid off in all three legs, and now, while I’m certainly nervous about St. Anthony’s, I’m also really, really excited.

Between now and then, I’m going to get in a couple of killer bike-to-run bricks. I’m going to swim hard and fast, and afterward, I’m going to focus on stretching and taking care of my muscles. I’m definitely going to practice my swim-to-bike transition, too. And I’m going to sit quietly and visualize the entire race, and come race day, I’m going to rock it and leave everything on the course.

I can’t wait. —Kristen

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  1. Congrats on doing better than you thought, that’s always a bonus. I’m excited and scared for my first tri in June and hope to be pleasantly surprised as wrll. I have so much work to do to work out wrinkles and practice the transitions. I’m sure you’ll do awesome in St Anrhonys and good luck in your final bit of training before the big day!

  2. Leslie says:

    Awesome! Congratulations!

  3. Kristen says:

    And thanks Sean — I’m excited for you, and not nervous at all. Although I’d definitely say practice those transitions 😉

  4. vicki says:

    Congratulations! Yes, that picture of you & your bike is really cute. What kind of bike do you have? I’m curious because I’m going to buy a road bike soone. Thanks!

  5. Kristen says:

    Thanks Vicki! My bike is a Salsa, and I’m very happy with it, but I know my friend just bought a Giant and is loving it as well. I purchased an older model from a cyclist I know, so I got some of the high end components and stuff, but at a little lower cost, so I would say that once you have an idea of what you want, put out the word that you’re shopping and watch for deals! Or, if you get to know the folks at your local bike shop, see what kind of package deals they give. The friend I mentioned above got a killer deal on her new bike, and though she spent a decent amount of money, she got tons of great stuff for her new toy.

  6. Nan says:

    Sounds like you had a super race but for faster transitions, remember to take your TMAT. These bright colored neoprene mats not only help you find your spot, but keep you organized and you can easily wipe your feet on the mat.