My first triathlon!

Saturday morning, I was up bright and early to drive to Marathon for the Ultra Mini Triathlon to benefit FNMS.

This triathlon has a pool swim…honestly, the only reason I agreed to do it.  I know that I can swim in the pool.  Open water…I just don’t know.

When we got to Marathon, we went down to the park and picked up our registration packets and got our body marking.  Then we set up our swim-bike transition area with our helmets and bikes.  I put my fuel belt there…mainly to hold my car key, chapstick and a piece of gum.  I set it all on a towel and put my bike helmet over everything because it was starting to sprinkle.

Then we went to set up our bike-run transition (they were not in the same area).  I laid down a towel with my running shoes and a baseball cap.


We finally headed back to the pool area to watch the first two waves go off.  We were in wave three.  There were some serious swimmers.  I was not one of them.  My goal was just to try to stay steady.  When we started, I knew that I started off too fast.  Who knew that was a thing in swimming?!?  I do it all the time when I run, but I never thought it was something to worry about in the pool.  But, after the first two laps (of 9), I was out of breath and I had to consciously slow myself down.  I stayed steady for the next five laps and then tried to give it everything I had for the last two laps.  Naturally, the teenage boy I was sharing a lane with beat me handily.  (I fully expected him to.)

I finished the 1/4 mile swim in 14:52.  I made my goal of under 15 minutes.  Then I ran into the locker room to peel off my swimming suit and cap and try to dry off enough to get by bike/run clothes on.  I have to say that was the hardest part of the entire day.  Winking smile  Finally, (with a little help) I was dressed and I put my bike shoes on and ran out the door to my bike.  When I do this race again, I will remember to put my helmet in the locker room so I can put it on while I’m running out the door.  I had to put it on when I got to my bike.  It won’t save much time, but every little bit helps.

What can I say about the bike course.  Perhaps I should let a picture speak a thousand words.  Below is the elevation profile from my Garmin.  I didn’t have it set on multi-sport, so right around 45 minutes is where I switch from bike to run. 

There were a few hills.  On both the bike course and the run course.  I started out on the bike trying to pass the people who got out of the pool before me.  I got past 5 or 6 people in the first two miles.  I thought that was everyone, but when I got close to the turnaround spot, I saw the same teenaged boy who shared my swim lane already on the way back.  I worked really hard from mile 6 to mile 10 before I had to concede that I wasn’t going to catch him and that I was absolutely trashing my legs trying.

I did notice that the wind was slightly with us on the way back and I definitely made better time on the way back than I did on the way out.  But my gears got a work out on this course.  I was constantly down shifting going up those hills.  It was brutal.

Also, it had rained before the race started and while we were in the pool.  The rain had stopped, but the road was still wet and I just get nervous riding on wet asphalt.  I’m so nervous that I’m going to wipe out.  Fortunately, everything was fine and maybe the experience will help me to get over my fear.  I finished the 12.5 mile bike course in 45:58.

After the bike came the run.  I had heard horror stories that the run course had a nasty hill.  If you go back and look at the elevation, you will see that there are only hills on the run course.  Down, up, down, up, turn around and go back. 

One thing I know about myself after doing duathlons, is that my legs always seem to want to go faster than I think they should after I get off the bike.  I just decided to go with it.

My legs kept going pretty well until I got to that first hill.  I slowed down considerably.  Oh, well.  I didn’t really have a time goal.  I just wanted to keep running.  I managed to catch a pass a couple people. 

My favorite part was seeing this little boy try to ride his bike up the hill as part of the family/novice triathlon.  His dad was obviously an athlete.  He had a rather nice road bike and was pulling two small children in a carrier behind his bike.  His son on the bike couldn’t have been more than 5 years old and he was really struggling to get up the hill.  I ran with him a bit and tried to encourage him.  It was awesome seeing him make it all the way to the top…and seeing him fly by me once he got to the down hill.  In another 20 years, that kids is going to be awesome!

Once I got past the hardest of the hills, I tried to pick up the pace even more into the finish area.  This is a small race, so there aren’t any huge crowds cheering you in.  But what the crowd lacked in size, they made up for in enthusiasm!  It was great to come in and finish my first triathlon.  As a first-timer, the race gave me a medal!  I love that they celebrate this accomplishment.  I ran the 5K in 29: 24, which I think is a post-injury PR.  I’ll take it.

After my finish, I grabbed a bottle of water and walked to the car to get my phone so I could get a picture of my friend Jessica crossing the finish line.  It had started raining again with about a mile to go in the run and I was starting to get cold.

Jess came in strong and we both celebrated the awesome accomplishment.

I ended up finishing third in my age group…not a huge accomplishment considering the size of the field, but I’ll take it.  As I was driving home, I realized that no one ever passed me on the bike or the run.  To what conclusion does this lead???  I must learn to swim faster!!


*Pool swim.  ‘Nuff Said

*Excellent cause

*Wonderful volunteers.  There were a couple of vehicles that kept patrolling the bike course making sure that everyone was ok.

*No intimidation.  There were very clearly some amazingly talented triathletes at this event.  Then there was me.  And there was everyone in between.  There was no preferential treatment or elitist attitudes.  It was pretty great.

*First timer medals



*The rain didn’t help, but the overcast skies were nice to keep us cool.


*Out and back bike course.  It is hard to just make a sharp U-turn in the middle of the road.  It certainly slows down your momentum.

*And those hills

Overall:  A-

The terrain can’t really be changed.  If you are going to race in Marathon, you just have to accept that it is going to be hilly.  I am so glad that I did this race.  I had THE. BEST. TIME. EVER.  I will absolutely do this race again.  I think everyone should.  They cater to every ability level.  The novice/family triathlon is 1/8 mile swim, 5K bike and 1K run. 

I left this event with a huge smile on my face and a good sense of accomplishment.  I may just possibly think about potentially considering another triathlon.  Maybe.

The best part of the entire event was that I woke up Sunday morning and I didn’t have any back pain!  That is what I was most worried about.  I was even able to go for a short, slow run.  My hips were tight (probably should have stretched), but my back was still at baseline.  That is awesome!

Anyone else know of another pool swimming triathlon in the area?


2 thoughts on “My first triathlon!

  1. Pingback: Reflections and Resolutions | (G)O'Donnell

  2. Pingback: June Month in Review (and back injury update) | (G)O'Donnell

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