After years of signing up for the race but never showing up, after months of training, last Sunday was D-Day: my first triathlon! (and not the last, I believe ;)) In the days leading up to the event I was a ball of nerves, questioning my reasons for singing up for this race, hating myself for not going swimming more often… and being afraid I was going to forget to bring something on race day. Now that the race is done and over with, here’s my first ever triathlon race report!
It was cold, rainy, windy. Not the kind of weather conditions I was hoping for my first race, but I just had to deal with it. This also meant I had to read up last-minute ‘racing in the rain’ tips online. I packed some plastic bags to protect my gear in transition, and hoped for the best! I signed up for the super-sprint distance, 250m swim / 10km bike (which turned out to be 11.5 km according to my Garmin) / 2.5km run.
From the start it was clear I wasn’t going to finish the swim quickly. I stayed at the back of the pack, but I lost a lot of energy trying to keep up and somehow panicked a bit. About half-way, I was ready to call it quits, I was dead tired, out of breath, out of air. But I decided to keep going. I switched to a backstroke to get my heart rate to slow down, but also to calm myself down. I came out of the water several minutes after everyone else, under a thunder of applause from the spectators – so it is true that the people finish last always get the biggest cheers!
T1 went pretty swiftly, but I was still struggling with catching my breath from the swim. I just decided to take my time. I was happy I protected my biking shoes and my helmet/Garmin/headband from the rain!
The bike is my strongest and I was quite proud of myself when I managed to catch up with the girls before me, and even pass three of them! I gave everything I had on the bike, I rode an average of 27 km/h — I never kept such a high average speed ever during training!
All was not lost, I could still avoid finish DFL (dead effing last) so I did as fast as I could in T2. I had trouble putting my running socks on. The combination tight socks/wet feet isn’t a good one. I have to reconsider my strategy for next time…
I wasted a lot of energy in the swim, gave everything else I had on the bike, so there wasn’t much left to give during the run. I had to alternate run/walk a couple of times, even though I’ve run the distance very often in the past without the need to walk. And unfortunately, the girls I passed on the bike passed me swiftly during the run, confirming my finish in the last place, MINUTES after everyone else!
It’s clear I need to learn how to swim, and I also have to learn to pace myself and keep some energy for that pesky run at the end! But it was a FUN day, despite the rain, and it only motivated me to train harder for next year. This is my first triathlon, but not my last. And as some athlete friends rightfully reminded me:
DFL (dead effing last) is still better than DNF (did not finish), which is still better than DNS (did not start).
So yes, I’ve earned myself the title of triathlete. Regardless of how slow I was.