I am turning 50 this year and I have always wanted to do a triathlon to keep myself fit. But the thought of having to do all three sports one after another without resting was just too much for me to stomach. However I was still very keen to do it and I began to read and research about it and found Beginnertriathlete.com which was really helpful. I read the site with great interest, especially the column ‘Beginners.' All of the stories about their 1st triathlon experience really inspired me to do my 1st Triathlon. With the support of my wife, Mei, and my children, I begin my training at the beginning of 2012.
The greatest concern I had is my running. I had knee operations on both of my knees a few years back because of the meniscus plica and since then I have not been doing too much running as I am afraid that the pain might tear the plica again. I checked with my gym trainer, Fredrik Carlswärd, and he began to do devise a plan for me to strengthen the core muscle and the muscles around my legs. This really helped me in my running and biking.
I set my target on doing at least one triathlon in 2012 and, as I am based in Cambodia, the nearest race is in Malaysia – the Port Dickson International Triathlon. As a beginner I just wanted to complete in a sprint distance to test my stamina, endurance and strength to see if I could finish it.
The night before the race, I could not really sleep. I told my wife that I was nervous of the swimming. I have been swimming in the pool all this while. Swimming for 1500m in the pool is not a problem for me and swimming 750m in open water will not be a problem for me, or so I thought initially. In March I participated in the Mekong River swim which was about 800m. This was my first open water swim and I was in for a shock. I almost gave up halfway through the swim. I found out the hard way that swimming in open water is so much different from a pool swim. This also opened up the opportunity for me to realize that I need to train in open water.
When I woke up early the morning of the race I packed all my stuff in a plastic bag and rode to the registration area and had my numbering done. I arranged all my stuff in the transition area, then off I went to warm up at the beach.
The night before there was heavy rain and the organizer told us that this morning the water will be rough as it will be high tide and the current will be strong. That makes me really nervous as this is my first long distance open sea swim. When the swim started, everyone rushed into the water so I took my time to walk to the water and then started swimming. I was kicked and punched by swimmers in different directions so I decided to slow down and let them go through. I then started swimming at my pace and finally completed the swim. When I came out of the water my family and relatives were there to cheer me on.
Moving through T1 took more time than I should have as I had to put on my HR monitor, gloves, helmet and shoes before I started the bike race. I really enjoyed the biking. It was just 20km and the organizer and police did a good job in opening up the roads for the biking. The course was simple with a few slopes up some hills.
Coming back to T2 and continuing into the run was fast as I did not need to change shoes. I started running in a pace that I was comfortable with. However my shin began to get painful. The run took place partially on the road and partially on an off-road track with some slope which made it a little bit more challenging. I stopped and walked twice due to the pain in my shin before continuing to complete my race.
When I came into the finishline, my family and relatives were there to cheer me and my wife gave me a big kiss saying "You did it." I just said, "Praise the Lord" that I managed to finish it in below two hours which was my target. I am also proud of myself for completing it. My next target is to train for an Olympic Distance race next year.
The thing I learned from all the training and the race is to listen to your body and keep the consistency in your training to be better prepared for the race. And lastly, the support of your family and friends is also very important and invaluable especially to your mental preparedness.