Lessons For Your First Olympic Triathlon

author : smeeko
comments : 0

Drafting, open water swimming, hydration bricks and aero bar tips for your first Olympic triathlon race.

On Saturday June 26th I ran my first Olympic+ race triathlon. I say plus (+), because the bike ride is longer than that of a standard Olympic race.  Here are the distances: 1.5K swim, 29.5mile bike (or 30mile?), 10K run. It was the Loveland Lake to Lake Triathlon - the Rocky Mountain USA Triathlon Regional Championship.  My result are: 2:37:30 divided as follow: 27:30 for swim (including ¼ mile run to transition), 1:24:53 bike, 42:14 run + about 2:40 in T1+T2. 20th in Age Group, 83 overall. If you look at the results posted it reads 2:39:30 (102nd overall). Why?


Lesson #1 - Watch out for drafting penalties!
I discovered today that I was penalized 2 minutes for drafting. I did not notice I drafted ever, but I think I know how it happened…so here is the first lesson I learned. If you race in a USAT race, watch out for the race officials: just a mile out of the transition area, I was riding in a group with 4 other people, we had ½ a lane to share. How do you avoid drafting in such a situation?

Lesson #2 - Open water swim practice.

I swim open water regularly during the summer but it is always in the designated swim area at the local lake. I go back and forth until I am “dizzy”. When I got to the race start and saw the buoys way out there, I started panicking: “That is far! I am not sure I can make it all that way out there”. After about 100 to 200yards, I relaxed and started swimming normally. So if you can and if you are scared of the water like me, try to simulate open water race conditions as close as possible during training. (But swim with a friend when you do open water or a support boat/canoe. It is safer.)

Lesson #3 - Hydration!

You will drink more than you think during your race. Even though I had ridden 30 “milers” before Saturday with only one water bottle, during the race I ran out of liquids 5 miles to the end. This surely affected me during the initial part of the run. Next time I will not give up my second bottle trying to save some weight.

Lesson #4 - More Bricks.

You never do enough long bricks! I am used to run sub 40’ 10Ks pretty easily. Still, I did not realize that 30 miles on the bike would pay their toll. I have done quite a few bricks during my last few months of training, but only a couple as long as the race and probably only one at race pace. I paid the price during my last 2 ½ miles of the run. Even if I can run sub 6minute mile repeats on the track, I still need a lot of brick work.

Lesson #5 - More Aero bar time.

The racecourse was flatter than most of my long rides. I probably stayed on my aero bars for 20 miles or more. This usually never happens during training as I live right next to the mountains. My body was not ready for this. My back ached for the first couple of miles during the run. So, next time I will spend more time doing strengthening exercises and hopefully riding the race course so I know what to expect.

Overall my experience was very positive. My runner’s ego was a little crushed by the run result but I am grateful to God who gave me a body able to accomplish something that most people will never even tackle. It may not be an Ironman, but it is worth celebrating, before my dedicated body and mind starts thinking and preparing for the next race.

Until next time…

Enrico in CO
Triathlete and ACE Certified Personal Trainer

Lakewood, CO

[email protected]



P.S. All information in this article is provided freely with the only goal of educating athletes accessing the beginnertriathlete.com website.  The article/workouts above are not meant to be exercise and/or personal recommendations, but only examples of workouts that I and/or other athletes have completed in the past. Enrico Contolini will not be responsible or liable for any injury, illness or death resulting from the use of the information contained in this article. Please, always remember to consult your physician before starting any exercise program.


Click on star to vote
33273 Total Views  |  27 Views last 30 days  |  7 Views last 7 days
date: August 31, 2004


God, family, mountains, geography, travel, running, astronomy, mission work, pro-life work


God, family, mountains, geography, travel, running, astronomy, mission work, pro-life work

View all 16 articles