Getting up at 6am on a Sunday to go swim in the ocean, ride a bike and then run with jelly legs, alongside hundreds of strangers, probably doesn’t sound appealing to most people. It is however more fun than you would think and a pretty cool accomplishment. This is what I did two Sundays ago on a sunny morning in Elwood. A triathlon was something I had talked about doing for years without actually doing anything about it. On New Years Eve, I wrote down on a piece of paper that I was going to do just that in 2018. Writing it down then encouraged me to take the next step and sign up to do one.
I chose the ‘fun’ tri length. It really doesn’t sound fun but it kind of was! It was a 250m swim, 10km bike ride and 3km run. Swimming is probably the part most people are intimidated by. Not having any walls to kick off every 25m was my biggest fear. So I decided to take baby steps by starting in a pool, practicing my breathing and the feeling of pulling through the water. I then practiced once or twice in the ocean, with my exercise pal by my side telling me when I was veering off to one side (it happened a lot). With someone there, swimming in the ocean wasn’t as scary. Cycling and running are a bit easier to practice. I am lucky to live close to awesome bike tracks which I feel safe to cycle along. And running is good to do when you have nice surroundings and someone to run with who is just a little bit faster than you.
The day before the triathlon, I joined in to a free ‘tips and tricks’ info session, run by Tri Alliance. It was on at the same place I could collect my race pack and was definitely worth heading along to. They gave tips about each stage and how to do transitions. I have highlighted the stand out tips below. They also walk you through the track so you know where to start, where to put your bike and gear, as well as see what wave you start in for the swim (pardon the pun…?). The morning of was pretty nerve wracking but everyone there is in the same boat and there to tell you where to go and what to do. I had time to suss it all out, get into the water and put my head under before I started (one great tip!). It was really good to be racing against myself and being able to go at my own pace. My aim was to finish it, and that’s what I did! The swim seemed to go on for a lot longer than I expected and I did have an “Oh my god this is hard!” moment, but once everyone spreads out and I got my breathing under control, it was OK. I was lucky that the water was pretty flat. It didn’t stop me from swimming at an angle but I got there in the end. The transition from water to bike is a bit funny because it was longer than I expected and it feels weird to be running in your swimmers and barefoot! The bike ride was good, as I had plenty of room around me and I could enjoy the view as I went. The shuffle running with your bike to drop it off again felt a bit weird but then I was excited that I was on the last stage. The run was a bit tricky as my legs felt like jelly for most of it, but I decided that I didn’t want to stop so I just kept chipping away. The last part of the run was exciting because I knew I was almost there! I had my biggest fan waiting at the finish line to snap the moment. A triathlon done and dusted all before 9am!
• Check your bike tyres aren’t flat before you start (something I did not do)
• Get there early so you don’t miss the transition closing before you put your bike in place (also something I did not do)
• Get your head and body wet before you start – this will stop the initial shock of the water
• If you swim slower, you end up swimming faster in the ocean. Don’t rush, take your time, and give yourself time to breathe.
• Every so often, pop your head above the water to make sure you’re on track
• Put a colourful towel next to your bike so you can see where it is from a distance
• Your legs will feel very funny getting off your bike for the run but keep going!!
• Have a dedicated photographer in your cheer squad so you can show off your accomplishment
• Enjoy a yummy breakfast after – you did it!!
Next step, sprint distance triathlon……… 750m swim, 20km cycle, 5km run.