I cornered my husband for an interview about his experience at HITS Palm Springs 2012 on Sunday. He did his first sprint triathlon and came in 6th of 12 in his 40-44 age group and 91st of 238 overall!
Swim: 00:19:12.982 (130th of 238)
Bike: 00:41:51.931 (105th of 238; 17.77 miles per hour)
Run: 00:26:03.499 (81 of 238 — best segment! 8:24 pace, 7.14 mph)
1. Congratulations on your first triathlon! How do you feel 36 hours later?
Sore! Accomplished. Proud of wife because of her triathlon adventures and her super fast times!
2. What was the farthest race you had run before doing a triathlon? What was your experience with cycling and swimming? What did you work on most as you prepared for the tri?
I had done a few 5K races. The longest run for fun I’d ever done was 9 miles. I’d never competed before on the bike or swimming. At first I had to see if I could even do the swim — swim that half-mile distance. I did a couple of weeks of swim tryouts and I realized I could do it. Then I got out Your First Triathlon and started following one of the training plans from that.
3. What surprised you about the training?
Nothing really surprised me. I knew what to expect from watching you train. It turned out about like I expected — you have to commit to it, you have to prioritize the training over other things. It put a dent in some of my other activities like music, and I quit yoga and Pilates in order to spend the time on training.
4. What surprised you about the triathlon itself?
The swim. The swim start was unmanageable. I was on the verge of having to float for a while to catch my breath. In the pool it was no big deal. I could get my groove, I could push myself to the limit and back off when it got to be too much, and never break my stroke. But when you’ve got hundreds of bodies interfering with your kicking, and splashing you, and going out of the gate so fast, it interferes with your stroke and your breathing and it’s hard to get back to your pace. After about 100 or 200 yards I had a moment of worry that it might be the end of my race and I could not keep on going. So I flipped over on my back and did backstroke for a while, then I floated on my back while I kicked my legs to catch my breath. After a while I was able to flip back over and complete the swim at my normal pace.
My dead legs on the run surprised me too. I got a decent time for the run — 26:03 — but I would have estimated it was 30 minutes based on the way I felt.
5. Do you feel like just from doing this triathlon, you’ll be better prepared for the swim start next time?
Yes, for sure. There’s some nervousness at the start of the race that freaks you out a bit. Having all those people around you makes you freak out.
I think that there are a few other things that could help. Practicing a shore start at a lake. Also practicing swimming through surf waves would be a good way to try that out because you have to put out a lot of exertion right through the start and then come back and get your groove.
6. What did you learn from doing your first tri? What do you wish you had known before going into the race?
I wish I had had some more coping skills for the swim start. I also need a tri kit for the bike because I was the only shirtless bike rider out there, to the point that I worried that it was against the rules. [It wasn’t].
7. What did you think of the HITS Palm Springs organization? Would you do the race again?
I think they did a great job. They did a better job than last year [the first year of the series, when I did the Olympic distance race]. It’s a really great venue and the organizers are really nice people. They’re cool and they care a lot about the racers and the sport and it comes through in their attitude. I would definitely do the race again.
8. What’s your advice for someone considering signing up for a triathlon?
Try out each of the pieces to see how it feels. Try out running, try out swimming, try out biking and see how it goes. The likelihood is that will give you the confidence to do it. Then pick a training plan and stick to it. Be honest with yourself about the time commitment and the discipline it takes to stick to that plan. The success of the triathlon is in the training for the race; the race is just an indication that you trained well. [I totally agree!]
9. What are your goals now that you’ve successfully completed a sprint?
Don’t overeat. Keep up the training. Sign up for another one at some point!
Thanks Mike! I am very proud of you for challenging yourself with the training and race and I’m glad it went so well!
Any other triathletes out there? What was your first triathlon like? What advice would you give someone who is considering signing up for his or her first tri?