My triathlon challenges

Along with my co-blogger Tracy and my daughter M, I’ve registered for the Kincardine Women’s Triathlon. That we succeeded at all is due to my daughter’s quick thinking: the thing sold out in 36 hours, a record.

It’s a terrific event and if you’re ever tempted to give triathlon a try, and you’re female, this is the event for you. There’s a great range of abilities and an incredibly warm supportive atmosphere. I’ve done it twice in the past and I’m looking forward to going back for more. (That’s me in the wet suit on the right.)

The three of us have very different strengths. Probably I need to work most on swimming, Tracy on cycling, and Mallory on running. That’s my guess anyway based on our histories.

So what have I learned from past races that I’ll need to work on this time?

Swim: This is the area in which I have the most work to do. It’s through triathlon that I learned that I’m really a cyclist. Last time I was the last person out of the water who wasn’t rescued and didn’t DNF. My mistake: I wore a wetsuit without ever having swum in one before race day. Classic goof. I was in no danger of drowning. I was incredibly buoyant but moving through the water was tiresome. I could have bobbed about all day. Not sure if I will wear a wetsuit this time–as you can see from the picture below from the triathlon’s website,, –only about half the people do. But, and this is the important bit, if I do, I’ll try it out in advance and practice lane swimming in it. I’ll also practice some lake swimming before the big day. Waves make a difference, it turns out.

Bike: On the upside I’m one of the fastest cyclists out there taking part in a beginner distance triathlon. I don’t own a specialized tri bike but that’s fine. It’s a short distance. I do need to pay more attention to getting past and around the other bikes. I was shocked at the number of people who seemed challenged by the basics of shifting uphill and by the hotdog turn (as Australians say) or U turn (as we say) at the half way point. Even the people in very expensive tri bikes slowed right down for no good reason. I expect some of those bikes were borrowed or rented. They were like me in the borrowed fancy wetsuit I’d never swum in before the big day. The biggest lesson I learned and need to remember is that the bike bit is not a time trial, in some ways that matter. The most important one is one that I’ve messed up in the past. You need to stop and dismount at the line. In a bike time trial you cross the finish line at speed. As I approached the line at about 40 km/hr I had people screaming at me to slow down and stop. I managed it–thanks excellent brakes–but it will be less stressful for all concerned this time.

Run: I’m a middle of the pack runner and I don’t expect this race to be much different. Given my history with stress fractures I won’t be doing much speed work in advance of the big day. I’ll stick to dog jogging. But it’s short and I’m pretty good at sprinting so we’ll see.

Wish us luck!

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