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{looking rather relaxed before the fact…}

Yesterday, I completed my first ever triathlon.

I was at rather less than full fitness, having been laid up for most of the last 3 weeks with a back injury, but on the day I felt great, and wasn’t going to let my lack of training over the last few weeks get me down.

It was Race 3 in the Gatorade Queensland Tri Series held here in South-East Queensland – this race was down at Raby Bay. I did the ‘Enticer’ distance – a 300m swim, 10k cycle and 2.5k run.

I was excited, and just a tiny bit nervous. Mostly because I didn’t know how it all worked, so was hoping I didn’t go the wrong way, or do the wrong thing at any stage. Thankfully, the event was beautifully managed so there was no way I could manage to stuff up where I was going. Hurrah!

When I booked in for this race, I also booked myself in to a second tri in the series – Race 5 at Caloundra in Feb. This was really a bit of a ‘tester’ to get the lay of the land and figure out how it all worked – and I definitely achieved that. I also learnt some important lessons, which I thought I’d share – both for myself as a reminder, and for anyone else who is thinking of doing their first triathlon.

1. You’re only racing yourself

I knew this one going in, but it’s an important point to remember. Especially in your first tri, when you really have no idea how it all works, or how you’re going to go, it’s really vital to forget about everyone else and just do what you can do.

I can’t tell you how often I was overtaken – in all 3 sports! It was a LOT. But it didn’t matter to me, because my only goal was to finish without wimping out. That is, without stopping during the swim or cycle (even when I got a lungful of water or hit a hill), or walking any of the run. And I did that.

Though I did spend a lot of the swim breaststroking, which is something I’ve put at the top of my list to work on before my next tri in Feb. Freestyle and me WILL become friends.

{I’m the one in the big goggles just coming around the corner, looking very intent…}

2. Swim on the edge

I knew I wasn’t going to be one of the strong swimmers, so I started at the back of the pack. Problem with that? You’ve got a whole lot of kicking legs in front of you.

Next time I’ll be going out to the side of the pack so I’m not blocking anyone, but so I still have a clear run in front of me. I don’t know that all tris start like this one (in the water, spread out between buoys) but when they do, that’s what I’ll be doing.

Getting kicked in the face isn’t fun for anyone.

{Mounting up…}

3. Don’t faff in transition

After the race, when I looked at my times, I was momentarily perplexed by my cycle time, which was at least a full 5 minutes longer than I knew it takes me to cycle 10k. Then I realised – they count the time you spend in transition. I obviously faffed in transition, as I wasn’t quite sure what I was doing ;D

I had to put on a shirt, shoes and socks, helmet, race belt… etc. Which brings me to my next 3 lessons:

4. Put talcum powder in your socks

The lady next to me during the first transition told me this gem while we were both struggling to put socks onto wet feet. Well, I was struggling, she was doing much better because she’d been given that tip in a past race. So, I’m passing on the wisdom. I haven’t tried it yet, but I will in my next tri. I will also put a small towel in transition. I didn’t take one this time because I figured I’d be cycling and running, and that would dry me off, but I could have done with a towel for my feet.

5. Invest in a tri suit

Some of that extra time in transition would be eliminated if I had a tri suit – no need to drag a shirt on over a wet sports bra. Also, you would dry out much more quickly. Wearing a t-shirt and my long exercise pants, I was still pretty wet by the end of the race. Ick.

{Finishing the cycle leg. Looking rather happy.}

6. Put a water bottle on your bike/in transition

Thank goodness for another lovely lady who was near me in transition, who let me have a squeeze from her water bottle. Because man, my mouth was SALTY.

Didn’t even think of that before the race, but after a 300m swim in salt water, you’re going to want something to wash your mouth out before the cycle and run legs. There was a water station, but not till half-way through the run, so it was a long time between the swim and that.

{I was making kissy faces at Nick while I ran across the finish line. And jazz hands.}

7. Even if you’ve come last, you’ve won

My final results? I did the 300m swim/10k cycle/2.5k run in 1:01:43. I came 202nd out of a total of 210 women doing that distance. I came 36th out of 38 women in my age category. In short, while I didn’t come last, I was pretty darn close!

And so we come full circle. I was only racing myself, so when I ran over that finish line, I felt pretty darn awesome, and didn’t even consider where I came compared to anyone else!

Because hey, how many people can say they’ve completed a triathlon, right?

For my next triathlon, I’m doing a longer distance, and this time, I’m actually going to be in with the ‘proper’ triathletes – i.e. I’m doing the longer distance, rather than the shorter ‘enticer’ distance I did this time. My only goal for that one? Not come last ;D

But, even if I do, I will still have won, and I won’t regret a thing.

Now, to start training all over again… 

{Photos by Nick}