I’ve started training for the Quantico Sprint Triathlon I will participate in this August. Last Saturday, I jumped in the local lake (yes, I took a jump into a lake) and swam a half mile while my wife helpfully paddled alongside in her kayak. She said this was to make sure I didn’t drown, but I’m not certain how much help she would have been in a crisis. Her main problem would have been the fact that I weigh about twice as much as she does, so I think her biggest contribution would have been to mark the spot where the divers could recover my body. Still, it’s the thought that counts…
On Tuesday, I did a short (10 mile) bike ride at my fastest possible pace, after which I immediately put on a pair of running shoes and ran for three miles. I managed to do this event solo, probably because no large bodies of water were involved.
(apologies to fans of my Facebook Page, who already know this, but not everyone has figured out how incredibly cool that page is and I therefore need to review some history which you already know)
On Thursday, I did another 1/2 mile swim (solo!), then got on my bike and did my 10 mile bike ride as fast as I could. I was pleasantly surprised to see my pace only drop .2 mph, a difference which can easily be explained by traffic lights during rush hour.
So, based on THREE workouts, here’s what I think I think about triathlon training:
- Swimming’s a piece of cake, at least at the distances I’m concerned with. The sprint tri will only be about 1/4 of a mile (400 yards) and I’ve knocked out 1/2 mile sessions with no difficulty. The Olympic distance of 1.5 km (0.94 miles) would be another matter…
- When you ride your bike to your swim workout, you’ve got a lot of logistical problems to think through. How do you lock everything up (answer: you can’t lock up your shoes, sunglasses, and jersey) and once you lock up as much as you can, what do you do with the key (answer: you’d be better off with a combination lock).
- Riding your bike when sopping wet is a cold experience. It was about 80 degrees when I did my swim/ride workout and I was quite cool for the first several miles. I don’t think I would enjoy the experience in temperatures much below 70.
- Triathletes don’t wear cycling gloves (one less thing to put on in the Transition Area) so learning to ride with wet hands is important. I quickly was reminded my brake hoods are made of smooth plastic – not the best gripping surface. I now place my hands elsewhere on the bar.
- Socks or no socks? I haven’t decided. It definitely takes a while to put them on over wet feet, but I don’t think I’d like the effect on my feet if I went without them.
- Running after cycling is a much more significant change (to me, anyway) than riding after swimming. For the first 3/4 mile, my legs felt like tree trunks.
- Swimming and running in cycling shorts is doable. Triathlon shorts have a smaller chamois, but I’m not sure I need to break down and buy a pair.
- Swimming in a cycling jersey isn’t so good. My triathlon singlet is in the mail as I type these words – looking forward to getting it.
I’m not concerned about finishing the sprint triathlon; the distances are so short (400 yard swim, 9 mile bike, 3 mile run) that it won’t be a problem for me. My finishing time will be more significant, but since I’ve never done one of these before, I’m pretty sure I’ll set a personal best record this time around. My main goal is to not look like a complete idiot. I’m less confident of accomplishing that and I’ll be sure to keep you posted in my quest for triathlon mediocrity.