New and Nervous: First-Time Tri and Dealing with Nervous Tension

author : trvw
comments : 0

The challenge? The accomplishment? I want to do this because it is an opportunity to live life. The event is an indoor sprint triathlon. I get to experience the challenge on a safer scale.

Typically, I deal with nervous tension like many of you might: exercise. Stretch, walk, run. Well, if I want to pull off this "swim, bike, run," thing I had better hold off on the extra stretch, walk, and run. In three days I am going to attempt to conquer a sprint triathlon event. I can't swim well, I've not been on a bike in months, and while I run religiously, I have not done a race or speed work in forever. So why on earth do I think I have any business putting my name on an entry form for a tri? Perhaps you can answer that better than I can right now.

The challenge? The accomplishment? I want to do this because it is an opportunity to live life. The event is an indoor sprint triathlon. I get to experience the challenge on a safer scale. In the past I have attempted to ease into the multi-sport world by entering a small duathlon event. It didn't really excite me. There was too much hassle with the bike, and I hated the transition. I figured that I had scratched the itch. Plus, swimming is a huge obstacle for me. Running was my thing. It’s simple and less complicated. So why on earth is this tri thing so intriguing to me? I had to look into it - again.

I found this event and I want to tackle it regardless of my lack of tip-top training. You see, too often I get so wound up in training "right" that I don't enjoy races or I won't even participate. This time I want to just finish. I want to take advantage of the body that I keep well conditioned and do an event for the plain sake of just finishing the challenging race.

My inspirational friends have faith in me, so I must, as well. Many people have completed the sprint tri challenge without rigorous training. They have done it for the pure pleasure of finishing the event. Please don't misunderstand me, I am not saying just they go out completely unprepared. But they also have confidence in the body that they exercise and maintain. If you know that you take care of yourself, you can do the things that you want to in life.

"Go Tri Time"

Inhale, exhale, breath-repeat. Inhale, exhale, breath-repeat. “What have I done?” I thought to myself. I was about to dip into a pool of passage. When this was all over, I would have a TRIATHLON under my belt. Yes, I’ve done 5Ks, 10ks, half and whole marathons but this was different. I needed to do this. I was not sure why I had to do this. I can’t swim well. I really enjoy bike rides, not bike races. And recently I’ve been running for pleasure, not PRs. If I would have practiced swimming as much as I waffled about whether or not to sign up for this gig, I could have moved through that water like a motorboat! The week of the tri I decided that I would regret it more if I did not do it; I finally shut up and committed my mind to finishing my first triathlon.

Sparks Indoor Sprint Triathlon was perfect for a scared first-timer such as me. There was no hassle with the bike gear and no worry about the weather. The best plus was that I got to swim in a pool - no open water swim! (Yeah, I know – why did I question it in the first place?) Sure it sounds like a breeze because of the fewer hassles, but there was still the physical ability involved.

I stood and gazed at the body of water in front of me before I shed my sweats. My eyes were wide and I looked like a frightened fifth grader, but I tried to focus on how happy I would be when I finished. “You can do this, you can do this,” I kept repeating to myself. When it was go time, I got in the water and my volunteer told me how she would count my laps and keep me informed. She left out the part about being my personal cheerleader--she was great. I flopped on my back and gasped my way through with chants of “keep going…almost there” to “one more…you’re done!”

I might have been the last one in my heat out of that pool, but I didn’t care. I did it, it was done and I was off to the biking portion. The rest was not as nerve-wracking for me as the swim. I had a bit of a confidence buzz going once I got through something that I was really unsure about in the beginning. My endorphins were ready to carry me through the rest.

Ten miles on a stationary bike gave me a chance to take a look around the gym. I watched other participants, supporters, volunteers, and regular folks getting their routine workout in for the day. I finally hit mile ten and got the “GO!” to start my 53 laps around the indoor track. Off I went with an indoor smile. I knew after this was over I would have done a triathlon. Physically it was probably one of my slowest three mile runs ever, but mentally it flew by. The spectators were wonderful as they cheered for everyone. Rounding that last curve I kicked in what little I could and crossed that finish line wearing a great big, outdoor grin. I did it! It might not be the fastest, longest, or hardest race in the world, but in my world it was a challenge that I had to conquer. So I did. Now…I have done a triathlon!


Trina Rachelle VerSteeg Wilcox
Trina is a two-time Boston Marathoner and has a Bachelors of Science in Computer Information Systems from Missouri State University. She is a certified Fitness Professional through FiTour. Although she has managed rheumatoid arthritis from childhood into adulthood, Trina has stayed active in a variety of ways. She has completed six marathons, participated in multiple races, is a former aerobics instructor, and is the director of the JRA 5K. You can E-mail Trina at [email protected] and visit her Web site at 


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date: April 1, 2008