It’s been more than a month since I have completed my very first triathlon The Women Only TRI put together by Total Body Fitness. To my great delight, I finished third in my age group mainly due to my strong 3-mile run at the end, when I passed more than 20 women. The running was definitely my forte, but I loved the swim and biking, too. The best part about The Granite Beach Triathlon held close to my home was that my body felt stronger and not too tired all throughout the race.
I did not read much about preparing for my first triathlon (read some great tips), but have received free training and amazing advice from Dusty Dustyn, the head coach of Women’s Cycling Program at Total Body Fitness, Bill Driskill , one of the owners and founders of Total Body Fitness, Tiffiny Ferrell, one of the awesome swim coaches , and running coach Henry Hawkins, who gave me the best and hardest track experience that included squats, lunges, push-ups, and dips in between our 400-meter repeats.
During my training for the triathlon, I have practiced my swim more than the biking to feel confident in the water and not too slow. Once my swim portion started, the Folsom Lake waves lifted and cradled me against them. My swim turned into a negotiation with the lake and its brownish water. As I chopped the waves next to other triathletes’ arms, legs, and bright swim caps, I realized that less was more, so I relaxed into my strokes. Soon, my elation grew when I realized that the swim felt effortless.
My body turned into a vessel of joy, hope, and determination. My arms were in unison with the underwater world, carving and parting the water, as if slicing a cake in even portions. The waves made by all the women swimming around me turned into my self-propelling device, which made my swimming relaxed and easier than I had expected. My only worry was the second white buoy and the turn towards the shore. After I passed the buoy, I deviated a little, but made my half a mile swim in 24 minutes. I used my slippers to run faster to the shore, just like Total Body Fitness experienced trainers taught us when we practiced our transitions. I still could not believe how fast and effortless the swim portion had been. Was my swim a levitating, floating dream, or was I really done? The cheers from the spectators and the calling of my number by volunteers meant that I was done and that it was pedal time!
The transition to biking took a little longer than 2 minutes, because I quickly changed into my running shorts to avoid chaffing. I used the towel as a shield, while avoiding any wardrobe malfunctions. I also put my racing team T-shirt on top of my wet bra after which I quickly put my socks on last – they were already rolled up, which was great advice from one of our Total Body Fitness instructors. I was trying to get out of the transition area as quickly as possible. I still managed to take a bite of my banana that was in my small triathlon bag and grab a fruit bar to eat on the bike . It seemed that everyone around me just hopped on like grasshoppers hunched over the handlebars of time on their super fast bikes. Finally, helmet on, I took off and promised myself to catch some of these fast transition women on the hills.
I started to pedal and felt the rush of freedom that comes from having a good clip on your bike. The hills showed up fairly quickly. I knew that they would be my friends and that I would pass a few women on the hills. Although I felt stronger than many women on the hills, I still felt nostalgic thinking of my dear father who bought me the first bike and taught me how to ride it when I was seven years old back in my home country Romania. Soon, I was riding and crying not because of the hills curving and bending in a maddening rhythm that cooler September morning. I was crying when I realized that the gaping hole in my heart was still there along with my longing for my dear dad, who once again was smiling upon me from Heaven. I started to sob when I realized that my father was there with me, guiding me gently upon the hills that seemed to multiply, especially because we had to do the same loop twice. I even worried that I went too many laps, but when I reached the volunteers the second time, they flagged me towards the finish of the bike portion. Yay!
After I set my bike on the rack, I dumped the clip-on shoes and put on my Nike Wild Horse trail running shoes with elation and renewed energy. I took a quick bite of my banana and ran as quickly as I could. My legs were not tired, or sore, so I knew that I had to catch up with as many women who were already running as possible. One of my friends and volunteers took my picture while speeding towards the trails. I needed to push hard, since the running portion was only three miles. Soon, I heard myself saying: “on your left,” quite frequently. By the time I reached one mile and some hills came up, I had already passed more than 10 women who were ahead of me. I kept going strong and focused on passing as many runners as possible. I felt great and so happy to finally get to my favorite portion of the triathlon. My feet felt the dirt, the earth, the roots, the rocks, and they were happy. By the time I reached the finish line of the run and the triathlon, I knew that I had done fairly well and that I had chances to finish in the top three in my age group.
I was right! I finished third in my age group during my very first triathlon. I knew the run had been my forte, but my swimming and biking have also come together for me. I had conquered a new challenge and discovered a big secret: triathlons are much gentler on the body than racing a half marathon, for instance. The body gets worked differently during the three events. As long as one has enough determination, grit, and positive attitude towards triathlons, there will be a successful and happy ending.
To TRI, or not to TRI, runners? That is the question! You guessed the answer: to TRI for stronger bodies and minds, to live life in a challenging and meaningful way, and to say that you tried the TRI and have succeeded!
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