Having done the Tri for the Cure Sprint triathlon last summer without any training, I decided that an Olympic distance would force me to train and challenge me a bit further. The Boulder Sunrise Triathlon olympic distance includes a .93 mile swim, 26 mile bike, and 6.2 mile run. As a runner, I knew that the swim would be the most challenging part. I got in the pool about 10 times in the past 2 months, swimming a mile each time, but even that didn’t prepare me for the swim on race day.
The morning of the race, the weather was absolutely perfect. I had my ritual bagel for breakfast with an energy drink a few minutes before the start. I zipped up my wetsuit and floated around in the Boulder reservoir for a few minutes, getting used to the tightness of the suit and the freezing cold water on my face. The gun went off and I began my swim. Every time I put my face in the water, I felt like I couldn’t breath. I was constricted on my neck by the suit and the water was so cold it took my breath away. Rather than giving up, I swam the entire distance on my back. Slow and steady, it was then that I realized I wasn’t racing others, but I was challenging myself.
The transition to the bike was smooth. However, about 2 miles into the course I realized I had a flat tire. I pulled over and looked around and there was no one there to help me. Suddenly someone from the store Tribella magically appeared, replaced my flat, and I was back on track. At this point, everyone I was racing with was minutes past me and it was just the road and I. The saying “run your own race” became even more apparent to me.
The final transition to the run was smooth as well. It was an out and back course with a turnaround for the Olympic distance participants. That meant after running 3 miles and approaching the finish line, I had to run the entire 3-mile course over. I felt extremely strong while running, especially considering how much my body had already endured. Crossing the finish line was one of my proudest accomplishments, along with running the Chicago marathon.
For my first big triathlon, I learned a lot of lessons that I will take with me to the next one:
1. Always have a spare tire and know how to change it. (Tribella offers free clinics on this)
2. Practice open water swim with a wetsuit
3. Time is not important, but how you feel about your time is
I placed nearly last in my division, but at the end of the day, I am extremely proud of myself. I completed the course in 3:37 and felt great when I was finished. I had fun while doing it, I gave each leg 100%, and I was able to walk when I was done. I look forward to the next one, which will probably be a half ironman next summer.