Wednesday, July 8, 2009

First Time TRI

This year's CapTex race brought back so many memories for me -- mostly doing CapTex as my very first triathlon in 2001! It was really fun to think back about where I started and how far I've come since that first race. For some reason, I've noticed that I've been asked about this story a lot lately, so I thought I'd share it with you below. Don't laugh!! (ok, you can laugh, but keep in mind I was only 19 and didn't know a single thing about triathlons..)

I was home from college during the summer of 2001, coaching the neighborhood swim team as my summer job. One of the dad's was telling me that he was training for a triathon and went on and on about how fun it was. I was like, "what's a triathlon??" He told me that it involved swimming, biking and running -- all in a row. At that point, I was playing water polo on the UT Club Team, had just finished running competitively in high school, and everyone can ride a bike -- so why not try it! While I was home for the summer, my friends and I would always do these super long workouts together for fun, always a combo of riding bikes, rollerblading (again, don't laugh!), swimming, lifting weights, tennis, running, etc. We would go for hours, although not super serious and always incorporating snow cones or something fun. Anyway, I decided that I should try out this "triathlon thing" and started to incorporate more swimming, biking and running into my fun workouts. I looked online that week and found a race called Capital of Texas in Austin. The Olympic distance looked like something I could handle (not sure why I didn't start with a sprint?!?) and signed up right away. I found a training plan in some book and set up some loose guidelines for all three sports. For training, I don't think I ever did a long ride, more like just riding for an hour around the neighborhood on my mountain bike. Swimming I could handle - I think I did workouts ~2000m at the local rec center. And running I just continued to run ~4-6 miles around the neighborhood. I continued to "train" for about 6 weeks and then headed to Austin (with my parents) for my first race!

At the time, Capital of Texas was held up in Georgetown rather than downtown. The swim was in Lake Georgetown and the course was actually fairly hilly. I showed up that morning with a big water jug (the kind you used at soccer games growing up), my school backpack, and (get this) animal crackers to eat in the transition area. My attire included a speedo for the swim, bike shorts to put on over my speedo for the bike, and (stop laughing) wind shorts to put over my speedo for the run. Why not!?! I didn't have a clue what I was doing, and I didn't know anyone at the race except my parents who came to cheer.

The race itself actually went pretty well, except for the fact that the bike portion took me 2.5 hours -- about what it takes NOW for me to finish the whole race! I remember people just flying by me on the bike like I was sitting still, even though I was pedaling so hard that I couldn't feel anything below the waist. I guess a mountain bike in the hills was not the most efficient equipment -- I thought I might fall over at mile 12! The swim was actually good, despite swimming waaay off course. And the run came together pretty well -- I guess my rollerblading/weight lifting bricks had paid off :) After the race, I don't think I could move for about 4 days, and I think I slept the whole way back to Houston with my parents. Not sure if I had ever been THAT tired before.

After that, I was HOOKED. Luckily, being young, my dad bought me a bike after that race (my purple trek tri bike, the only tri bike in Clear Lake small enough to fit me) and the rest is history! I did a few more races that summer and then slowly learned (very slowly actually) what to wear, what to eat, how to train, etc.

It is really fun for me to look back now and see how far I've come. How many friends I've made along the way. How much my training has improved. How it has shaped my life and my lifestyle. And how much FUN this sport can be! So if you are a rookie triathlete now or a beginner with more questions than you can imagine, take comfort in the fact that we all have to start somewhere! And if it makes you feel better, I'm sure you are 10 steps ahead of where I started with animal crackers in the transition area. Stick with it and get ready to LOVE the journey ahead!

Coach Suzanne

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