Today I completed my first (maybe only) triathlon, the Seafair sprint triathlon. I haven’t had time for mountaineering training this year, but I still I wanted a physical goal to work towards. Just running for running’s sake can be…boring. I’d started open water swimming after I started dabbling in the WIm Hof method. I’d always kind of wanted to do a triathlon, and it seemed like this was the time to go for it.
Training for the Tri
I was pretty time-constrained, so I wanted a training plan that would have me working out regularly but not eat my life. The 12-week training plan from Women’s Running seemed to fit the bill. I didn’t need to do well, I just needed to finish. There was definitely a week in early June when it seemed like work and this training plan were too much, but I remembered that it’s better to under train than over train, and tried to calm down about missing a run here and there. The plan also got a little messed up when I thought I had covid (just very bad allergies!) and did a rest week and had to move things around. I was definitely able to be more chill about not following a training plan to a T when there wasn’t a summit on the line.
I don’t like swimming. Seeing things under water makes me freak out and inhale water. I get bored. It has helped me understand why some people don’t like exercise. If I felt the same way about running and biking that I felt about swimming, I would be in very bad shape.
I figured out pretty early on that for a half mile swim, I would need to do the breaststroke. I used to get a lot of water up my nose in the crawl, but even after I got over that I would feel really winded and need to recover after a lap. The breast stroke was just easier to breathe with, and has the added benefit that you can look around, which I really appreciate in open water.
This was the easiest to fit into my schedule. I had been biking one way to work (10 miles, 730 feet of elevation gain), taking light rail to the nearest light rail station to my house, and then biking the 3.5 miles home. But after some problems with elevators at the station and trying to find a train car with space, I just started biking both directions. It took the same amount of time anyway. The way home requires even more elevation gain, around 800 feet, so I was definitely getting a work out. I’d usually also go for a longer ride on the weekend with my husband, who has noticed me getting faster!
I like running, but running doesn’t always like me. My Achilles has been flaring up from time to time, and then gets better with a week or so of lighter activity. I’d been running 3.5-5 miles at a time to train for the tri. I’m definitely going to shorten the distance and go back to run/walk until it’s consistently better. I managed to fit this into my commute by running home from the light rail station. I would run to the pool occasionally, during which it usually rained. Like, three Thursday evenings in a row of massive downpours. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
The Big Day!
My goals for the actual triathlon were twofold: to not drown and to not finish last in my age group.
I actually did pretty well in the swim (for me). I quickly got left by my age group and overtaken by the 25-29 men (why they started AFTER us 35-39 year old women I do not know). Apart from having to kick off some guys grabbing around my ankles, and giving a diagonal backstroker a wide berth, it was fine. I dealt with a lot more drama in the medium speed lane at the pool.
I managed to finish the swim in around 23 minutes, which is normally how long that distance takes me in the pool. Before then, my open water 1/2 mile time had been around 36 minutes, but I would spend a lot of time wondering what I was doing with my life, whether I was going to drown, and whether my GPS was accurately tracking my distance so I knew when I could turn around already. During the race, I just had to follow the course. The conditions were also perfect- the water was still (apart from us swimmers), the sun was out, and the water was warm. It was definitely the best open water swim I’ve ever had. It was fitting to finish my swimming adventure in the same place it started, with my first cold plunge back in December.
The bike was really fun. I biked 14 miles in 53 minutes, which is the fastest I’ve ever biked in my life. There was a surprise uphill around a corner and I had not geared down enough and almost didn’t make it up, but biking 10 miles uphill to work each way paid off. I managed to pass people on both of the longer hills too. It was really fun to bike fast as I could without having to stop for stop lights, cars, pedestrians, etc. I was a little concerned I’d gone too hard, but I knew I was better on the bike than the other two disciplines, and any advantage I had would come from the bike.
The run was OK. It was on an uneven grassy trail. I had jogged it the day before so I was aware of conditions and was grateful I’d worn my trail runners instead of my road running shoes. After about a mile my quads felt really tight, and I was worried I’d pushed it too much on the bike. Then I realized I was running under 10 minute miles, which was very fast for me, so I just slowed down. I managed to do the whole run without walking. It would probably be better for my Achilles if I walked some, but it would wound my pride.
Overall, I was pretty happy with my performance. I was much faster at the transitions than I was worried I would be. Not wearing a wetsuit definitely helped.
My work schedule is starting to calm down, so I’m looking forward to getting back to climbing and hiking and not swimming!