California 1/2 Ironman: The run was my biggest fear. Prior to training, I had never run more than two miles at any given time.
In October 2006 I decided to try my first triathlon. I had just finished a 50 mile fun ride from Rosarito to Ensenada Mexico in September, and really enjoyed it. I wanted to get into something that would increase my athletic abilities and give me more incentive to work out on a daily basis. Before training for my tri, my only workouts were my weekly snowboard trips.
At first I was very discouraged. My swim was horrible. I could barely complete 50 meters and my form was embarrassing. I still felt very uncomfortable on the bike and was easily exhausted after only 10 minutes of riding. The run was my biggest fear. Prior to training, I had never run more than two miles at any given time.
I downloaded a great training program from Trinewbies that was specifically designed for a 1/2 Ironman distance triathlon. I followed the program religiously and did my own research to maintain a complete diet to complement my training. After a few weeks of experimentation, I found the foods that work best for me and I began to see my performance steadily increase. The training program that I chose lasted 18 weeks and steadily increased my endurance in all three events. After just a month I really started to feel strong. My energy level jumped tremendously and I was more focused and organized with everything in my day. At this point I was juggling 40 hrs of work 12-15 hrs of training with 2 days of snowboarding each week. I learned to plan my workout efficiently and stagger them to avoid injury.
The rest of the 18 weeks went smoothly. By week 16 I was going nuts in anticipation for the race. Race week came faster than I could ever imagine. I arrived at the event a day early to register and check out the course. Honestly, I had no idea what to expect. I knew I could do each event by myself with relative ease. The big question was how my body would respond to all three bricked together. In all my workouts, not once did I attempt a brick workout.
The race started off at 7:47 AM. I arrived at the start at 5:30 and set up my transition, got my body marked with my number, and picked up my tracking chip. I did a few short jogs to shake off the nerves. With less than half an hour to start, I was suited up and waiting in a huge line to jump into the 59 degree oceanside harbor for my first triathlon.
The swim started with total chaos. Everyone was fighting to get to the front left position. I decided to ease off and stay right to let everyone get situated. After about three minutes, I found myself in a steady pace near the front of my wave. From that point on, the swim was comfortable. I finished the swim with plenty of energy and made the dash through the T1 area to get set for the bike. With all my gear on, I took off only to realize I had forgotten my gel at the transition. I’ll bet that’s the last time I forget that.
The bike was my favorite part of the race. My swim start was the final wave. This put me behind nearly 2000 people coming into the bike. After about an hour, the other competitors began to thin out, and I found myself paced well with the competitors around me. I finished the bike with enough energy to maintain a strong pace in the run.
It wasn’t until about mile 10 on the run when I really started to feel exhausted. Having never done one of these before, I didn’t know how fast to pace myself for the last three miles. I eased off a bit and made it to the finish feeling that I had given it my all. I had finished in 4:46:38. Looking back at week one, I can’t believe how far I’ve come. It seems amazing that I had just completed 70.3 miles when just 18 weeks ago I couldn’t even keep a jog for more than 3 miles. What a great sport. I look forward to entering another tri sometime this summer.
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