My first tri experience was initiated from watching The Biggest Loser tv show. I saw one of the contestants participate in an Ironman triathlon after competing on the show. However the real story started about eight years ago.
I have battled with my weight throughout my life and as a senior in college I topped out at 368 lbs. I was lucky enough to have a girlfriend at the time that cared enough about me to help me realize that I was strong enough to make a change. I began exercising 3-4 times a week and in just a month I lost over 20 lbs. I continued to work out gradually building up my workouts and eventually got down to around 215 lbs.
I got married to that amazing girl who helped save my life and continued to exercise. While I have not kept all of the weight off I have continued to live a healthier lifestyle that includes exercise 4-6 times a week.
Now back to the triathlon story. After watching the contestant on tv complete an Ironman I told myself that I needed a challenge to help keep me motivated. The next day I signed up for a local Olympic distance triathlon. I had run quite a few road and trail races during the past eight years but had never biked or swam competitively. Nevertheless I had committed to my first triathlon.
I had no idea how to begin training for my new goal so I did some searching and came across the Beginner Triathlete website and latched onto the Olympic distance tri training plan. I started the training in January. Shortly after I convinced my wife and a few of her closest friends to join in on this amazing journey.
We trained as a group as often as possible which helped a lot with keeping motivated and making the workouts FUN! I developed a newfound love for my wife and the friendship of those who were training with us. There is something about going through a challenge like this with someone that creates a bond that can never be broken.
The morning of the race was one that was full of nerves. Our group had taken advantage of the open swim session practices provided since we lived around the race but as amateur swimmers this was the most concerning portion of the race. The night before when we dropped our bikes in transition we saw the swim course laid out in the water and those buoys looked SO FAR APART! We were up and at 'em around 3:45 am to get to the shuttle to take us to the park where the triathlon started at 6 am. As race time quickly approached the race staff came over the PA and said that a severe weather system was headed right for us and for everyone’s safety they would be shortening the amateur race to a sprint distance. I was both relieved and disappointed, the nervousness about the swim portion was gone as the new distance was 400m versus 1500m but we had worked so hard for six months and now we would not get to put our training to the test.
With little time to dwell on the race changes, I was in the water in a matter of minutes. The swim went off without a hitch and I was out of the water with a time of 12:21, this was much slower than most but swimming was, by far, my weakest event so I was just happy to make it out without having to stop and rest. Then it was on to T1 and the bike portion. The transition took longer than I expected but I had never been through this before so I learned what works and what doesn’t for future reference. The shortened bike course was very flat with only one real challenging hill on the out and back course. Even though I was relatively new to the sport of biking it was the most enjoyable and had quickly become my strongest event. I quickly realized that my strongest event was also a strong point for many of the others and I did not gain as much ground as I had hoped too. I finished the 20k in 40:22 or 18.4 mph avg speed. After the bike I jumped headed out on the 5k run. I had the typical brick feeling for the beginning portion of the run but after about the first ½ mile I started to feel great and ended up finishing the run in 28:39 or 9:15 min avg.
Unfortunately soon after the race the imminent weather did arrive and put a damper on the rest of the days planned activities. As a result, instead of staying around to watch the professionals and soaking up the atmosphere we were forced to huddle in crowded tents and eventually opted to head home instead of sticking around.
Overall I was very happy with my performance in my first tri. I had a blast training with my wife and great friends. I have already been searching for the next tri and look forward to continuing to challenge myself and hope to complete the full Olympic distance in the future.
Thank you Beginnertriathlete.com for all of the insight that you provided to me and the encouragement of fellow beginners that I could tackle this challenge. To anyone who is reading this considering participating in their first tri, I encourage you to do so as the feeling that you get when you cross that finish line for the first time is amazing!!