August 27, 2019
August 27, 2019
This past weekend I competed in my first ever triathlon, completing the Sprint distance at the Chicago Tri. The past few months of training and race day itself brought me an entirely new love for fitness and what it can do for you beyond physical appearance. On paper, waking up at 5am on a Saturday for a 4 hour workout or having a mile-long packing list of gear doesn’t sound all that appealing, but it resulted in knowing things and being able to do things that I didn’t know or couldn’t do before, which is an incredibly empowering feeling.
For a little back story, you can read about my decision to try a tri and the beginning of my training here.
In the last month of training I continued to swim twice a week, run twice a week alternating interval runs and a 5k distance, and biking once a week. Plus I incorporated yoga and light strength training for some cross training and recovery. On weekends I met up with the FFC Trimonster team at Foster Beach for their tri clinic series, which included open water swims, brick workouts, and a full mock tri, depending on the week.
The day prior to the race I rested up, feeling much less nervous than expected. By training intentionally for the 2-3 months leading up to the race, I felt very prepared. I did some restorative yoga, foam rolling, and made sure to hydrate as much as possible. I also packed my bags for the next day, laying out everything I needed for each step of the day in groups. This is where my type A personality really came in handy! Race day would have been much more chaotic without a certain level of organization.
As an athlete in the second event of the day, I was lucky to not have to wake up quite as early as the international distance runners. So at 5:30 am I got up to the most gorgeous sunrise. Unfortunately, despite what appeared to be beautiful weather in the forecast (blue skies and 75 degrees), the wind had other plans and the swim portion was canceled, turning the triathlon into a duathlon (run-bike-run). I was so bummed to not be able to complete the whole course as intended, but as I joined the other athletes at the race I could appreciate the adaptability and positivity of those around me. In the short run that would replace the swim, some runners playfully took off wearing swim caps and creating a swim stroke motion with their arms as if they were in the water.
That positive energy was carried throughout the day as I watched and waited for my wave (the second to last wave of the day). When it finally came time to walk over for our wave, I felt so ready and excited. I took off in the short .75mi run and quickly got to the bike portion, biking along lakeshore drive through the city, a rare opportunity. My excitement dwindled a bit on the second half of the bike leg as I turned back into the strong wind and what felt like an uphill journey the rest of the way. This led me into the run much more exhausted than I had planned, but despite being very sure I was going to throw up in the last stretch before the finish line, I achieved my only goal at that point and finished the run without walking. The conditions of the race required much more mental toughness than I had anticipated through all my training, but it made it that much more fulfilling when I crossed the finish line.
One of my favorite aspects of the triathlon experience was the friendliness and support of the other participants and experienced triathletes. On race day plenty of strangers were spending time together waiting for their wave, easily talking to one another and overall it created such a welcoming tone for first timers.
I also experienced this amazing community fully by being a part of the FFC Trimonster team. Not only did I spend a month of Saturdays training with them and obtaining advice leading up to the big day, but having them there on race day was worth every penny of the membership. Being surrounded by the other athletes and coaches I was familiar with calmed any jitters I might have had. Plus having a team tent where everyone could gather in one place and team volunteers who generously moved our bags from the starting line to the finish was so convenient and appreciated. Most importantly, supporting and cheering each other on really enriched what could have been a completely solo sport.
Beyond everything, triathlon training has made me comfortable getting outside my comfort zone. Continuously (and anxiously) entering unfamiliar situations reassured me that trying new things never turns out to be truly terrible, no matter how unsure I am going into it. As I first learned about the FFC triathlon training programs, I remember attending my first small group swim class. It was a 6am class at a gym I had never been to. After finding my way through the locker room and to the pool, I awkwardly introduced myself to the coach since I had no idea what to expect and wanted him to know that ?. With no way to turn back, I approached the first lane, the many swim training tools, and chicken scratch of drills on the white board that meant literally nothing to me. Once I decided to not take myself too seriously and just ask every question that came to mind, I enjoyed a fun and incredibly helpful hour of swimming. Basically every situation related to triathlon training went like this, giving me newfound confidence and excitement regarding unfamiliar situations, fitness related or not, going forward.
This is most definitely not my last tri. I absolutely loved the training and the experience I had this past weekend and am already planning race goals for 2020. Definitely showing up for Chicago next summer at the international distance, and maybe even Miami in April (fitcation, anyone?!)