Learning to Tri - The Tinfoilman in Tuscon Arizona

author : eclaire
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Newbie blunders teach the mind to overcome the moment, and always have fun!

By Emily

October 17th, 2004.

This was my first attempt at a triathlon and considering all the newbie blunders I encountered I feel really proud about my performance. I worked all day Saturday at Lucy (a women's active/fitness apparel store) and was feeling super pumped/nervous/anxious/excited all day. I finally got home at 10 that night and put together my transition bag. I was so exhausted I didn't even clean my bike. With the adrenaline already coursing through me, I didn't get in bed until midnight and 4 1/2 hours later I was jumping out of it to the sound of my alarm.

I arrived at the pool parking lot and set up my area only to discover that I had somehow only grabbed the number for my bike and left the one for my race belt. - lucky me (that's blunder #1). So I jet home and I'm back before the 1st wave even starts. At this point I'm really wishing I had bribed someone else to set up my bike for me, because now I have to wait around until wave nine. The suspense is killing me! I wander around and talk to people - some I expected to see, others who surprised me like meeting Amanda Beard, all this while trying not to expend all my energy stores before I even entered the water. The bathroom and I became well acquainted. At least I was hydrated! That much I got right.


It's after 9 am, wave eight is in the water so I finally jump into the diving well, which feels like a Jacuzzi, to warm up a bit. They're on lap 20 something so I get out, only to discover (why now?!) that I'd gone to the dyslexic number marker! I run over (heart now thumping) and a volunteer helped me look more like 310 (I had 301 all over my body). That's blunder #2. I then jump into lane 11 with a girl  who I learn is at least a minute faster than me in the swim! What am I doing here? Thirty seconds to start! I slip on my goggles and snap! The nose piece has broken. I was prepared with a spare pair....in my transition bag! Ha! 10 seconds....go! I'm off, consoling myself that this is fine, it's just like when I was 12 and couldn't dive with goggles, so I'd swim races without, (granted that was 2 laps and not 33) but it'll be okay. Blunder #3. I'm swimming along, the girl in my lane already out of sight (she took off like a bat out of hell!) when I feel my cap begin to slip. About 6 laps into the race and it's off. It's okay, I tell myself. Thank god I have short hair! Blunder #4. The swim goes alright I suppose, considering I can't really see well and the fact I'd been expending all my adrenaline pre- start. I'm hurting though, and I have to stay positive. I do. I finally see that kick board (last lap!) and I haul to the other end and struggle out of the pool (damn that gigantic gutter!)


I'm out! I run to the rack---where the hell is my bike? (blunder #5) ---next rack over! Sunglasses, helmet, shoes, bike and I'm off! I'm pushing from the start, passing people out of the start area and into the first turn onto Campbell. The wind is bad at times but it feels great to now be flying on the bike and out of the chlorine-burning-my-eyes water! Oh the freedom! On the start of the third lap I catch the fast girl who passed me twice in the pool and after the incline to Broadway, we turn and I'm off. The bike feels good, my legs are burning and I have to remind myself to utilize my full pedal stroke and not just power out the push. It might help if I get shoes that actually fit. I'm a bit peeved because, of course, my computer isn't reading (blunder #6). I catch a few people, but then these ultra-speedy men fly past me one after another. It was amazing! Blunder #7: I had filled my water bottle with half Gatorade - bad idea!! My insides started feeling funky and I only drink about half the bottle. I get to 6th and slip my feet out of my shoes - I should have paid more attention because I slowed down way too early thinking I had to dismount right as I enter the parking lot. Silly me. I'm feeling pretty delusional now, and as I attempt to jump off my bike my right foot catches the top tube, my bike falls to the asphalt and I nearly go down on top of it (#8). As would happen, I again run to the wrong rack (#9), and again I am running to the next one over, only this time I'm also carrying my bike. I rack it, off with the helmet, on with the shoes, grab the race belt and I'm running!


Or am I? I can't feel my body. I grab some water as I head out of the transition area. Now I'm beginning to feel the full effects of my choice of beverage on the bike and it's not good. My whole insides feel like they're twisted up and having a big tug-of-war in there. I push on, but finally right after the turn around I don't think I feel I can take any more. Nearly doubled over, sure I'm about to yack and also wanting to cry because I'd worked so hard for this moment, I slow to a walk. I go about 50 yards, while cursing the name of Gatorade I then decide that no! - I will not give in. I'd just seen my competition pass me by, and I could not let that happen. I start running. The anguish of my insides has lessened and at this point I don't care, I'm going to finish and I'm going to finish running! I do.

I finally got my legs back, and I grabbed that second cup of water and threw it in my face. I'm awake, I'm angry and I'm going to go as hard as I can. We're back on the mall, and I know there's only 1/2 mile to go. I start kicking - maybe a little much a little too early, but I don't care. I'm starting to smile on the inside knowing I'm about to finish my first triathlon! I can't believe it! As I turn past the football stadium, I am turning those legs as fast as I can. That's all I wanted to do. Finish and do so knowing I gave it my all. I think I did. There is certainly room for improvement (isn't there always?) and now that I got every newbie mistake out of the way - it can only get better, right? Congratulations everyone! We did it!

I can't wait for the next race! I came in 2nd in my age group (20-24) and 11th overall for this sprint! I had a ton of fun yesterday at my second race-- the SOMA 1/2 IM in Tempe, AZ. I did the swim portion of a relay, and I now understand the full benefits of a wetsuit! I didn't have one, and I'm still feeling a bit chilled. If you like the feeling of having feet, don't swim cold open water without one!



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date: November 14, 2004


Reading, thinking, counting the stars, yoga, playing with animals and creating beauty.


Reading, thinking, counting the stars, yoga, playing with animals and creating beauty.

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