By Leo Babauta
I’m happy to report that I finished my first sprint triathlon this morning! I feel tired but really great. Here’s a report (was just posted on my training blog but thought you guys might be interested):
Background: I’m a runner but a complete novice in cycling and swimming (just started a month ago). So my goal for this first sprint tri was just to finish and have a good time. I wasn’t worried about my place or my time — I can work on improving later.
The Course: Set in the beautiful little village of Piti, Guam, the sprint triathlon was a 750-meter ocean swim in warm water (in the 80s) (two laps of a triangular course around three buoys) … followed by a 20K bike (3 out-and-back laps on a flat course near the ocean, strong tailwind going out, strong headwind coming back) … and finally a 5K run, along the same flat but windy course. It started at 7 a.m., which might not mean much in colder climates but on Guam, it gets pretty hot by 7 a.m. It was probably in the 90s by the time I was on the run.
The Swim: I’m not a strong swimmer at all, and in fact have never swam 750m without stopping. So I started on the outside, to the back, hoping to avoid the tangle of swimmers at the start. That worked out pretty well, although I was stuck behind a slower swimmer to start with. I think that was a good thing, as it helped me conserve energy and I really didn’t have to do the breaststroke for resting as I’d anticipated. My form was really horrible, but I didn’t care. I expected to be the last out of the water but surprised myself and finished somewhere in the middle (well, the back of the middle, but still not one of the last). I don’t have my split times for any of the legs. I felt pretty decent coming out of the swim, which I was happy with.
The Bike: I ride an old mountain bike, and I think it really hurt me in this race. And as I said, I’ve only been cycling for a month, so I’m pretty slow. I just wanted to be able to finish the 20K bike leg, which I was pretty sure I could do. I did it pretty slow, though, and a lot of people passed me (many of them were actually ahead of me but on their 2nd or 3rd laps, but a few started the bike after me and still passed me). I have to admit the bike was a bit of a struggle, especially in the hot sun, and I finished near last place (maybe 3-4 people behind me).
The Run: My legs felt dead coming off the bike, but I started out pretty fast. Too fast, actually, and soon I was breathing heavy and knew I had to cut back. I was pretty tired by now, but tried to keep a decent pace. I don’t know what my pace was but I’m guessing around 8:00 miles. It was very very hot. I passed a few people around halfway through the run. One of them stuck with me and pushed me for the rest of the run, but I pulled away from him in the end with a strong finish.
Overall: My overall time was 1:39:48, which many experienced triathletes would probably laugh at, but again, I just wanted to finish and have fun. I accomplished my goals, so I’m happy! I had a great time, and look forward to my next sprint tri in June.
Improvement areas: I can obviously get better in the swim, with a little more endurance and better form. I bought the book “Total Immersion” to help me with my form, and I think it could make a bit of difference in the next tri. My bike needs a lot of improvement. I think I need to buy a road bike, first of all, because my bike was squeaking and I was struggling with it. I think the front tire was a little flat too. I also need to build up speed and endurance, but that will come with time. I really enjoy cycling, even if I’m slow, and I think I’ll only get better. The run was fine, about as good as I could do considering my legs were dead — I think it’ll get faster if I can get better endurance in the bike and swim. Transitions were fairly smooth, although I think I could have skipped the socks. I think I’ll get better overall as I continue to train — I’ve only been doing this for a month, so I have nowhere to go but up. :)