First Timer Triathlete!

July 2, 2013 · 17 comments

On Sunday, I finished my first triathlon in 1 hour and 25 minutes. The course was challenging but gorgeous as it winded around the lovely town of Cohasset, MA. It was a blast but there was a lot of planning that went into less than 90 minutes.

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I caught the “tri bug” as they call it, after witnessing the 80 year olds finish an Ironman. I signed up in December for the race which sold out in an hour! I casually trained on my own for the past couple months by taking cycling classes at Recycle and running in the city. Tone It Up recently came out with their own triathlon training program which would have been extremely helpful!

Looking for a pool to train in, I discovered Boston Sports Clubs was the closest and one of the cheapest gyms in the city. I thought the swim would be my weakest leg but thanks to a few swim workouts from Josh Crosby, I came in 9th out of my age group. There were only 28 women who competed in my age category of 25-29, 342 women and 819 total.

I rented a wetsuit for $60 from While the swim was only .25 mi, the water was about 60F. The race director highly recommended wearing one. The site shipped me the wetsuit a full week before the event so that I could try it out in the open water before the race. IMG 0345

While I think mine was a little big, it fit good enough. They say if it feel too tight, it fits and if it feels like it fits, it’s too big. give you the option to buy your wetsuit if you love it and “catch the tri bug” but mine was a $400 wetsuit! Roomie, who also competed, got one without sleeves and his was the same price to rent but only $150 to buy. I’ll be waiting to purchase one that I know fits. It came with a return label already paid for too.

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Other than the wetsuit, there are still many other components that you need to compete. I did not however wear a tri-suit. I wore a pair of Under Armour shorts and a sports bra under the wetsuit. The shorts had mesh lining and the top was made out of a material that was similar to that of a bathing suit.

On Sunday, I woke up at 5 am and was out the door by 5:30. I had an 80 minute drive to the venue. After parking the car, I had a mile that I needed to bike to get to the starting line. A young girl sang the national anthem and then the first wave began. I spent a few minutes in the water before my wave began to get acclimated and calm my nerves. Roomie and I swam the course the day before so I wasn’t too freaked out. To be honest, I was shocked at how well I finished the swim. Eight years of swimming lessons I guess paid off. Thanks, Mom and Dad. Speaking of moms, mine let me use her bike for the race since I do not own one. I borrowed her road bike and only used it about 3 or 4 times before the actual race.After the swim, I got out of the water and ran over to my bike. I did not like getting sand all over my feet or running on top of the pebbles in the transition area.

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My bike was supposed to be right next to my friend Sara’s but she wasn’t able to make it. Prior to the race start, you set up your gear at your bike station for the transitions. I brought shoes, sunglasses, a top that had my bib number already pinned on it, towel and Snap Infusion Supercandy for energy at the end of the bike. There was a water bottle filled with Vega Pre-Workout Energy mix in the bike too. As soon as I got out of the water, I took off the top part of my wetsuit, cap and goggles. When I got to my bike, I stepped on the towel and took off the lower portion of the wetsuit and slid on your shoes. I opted not to wear socks. I threw on my top and Oakley Overtime sunglasses, grabbed my bike and ran out the transition area exit leaving my wetsuit on behind. It took me 2 minutes and 13 seconds.

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About 4 miles into the bike ride, I decided to take a sip of water. Leave it to me to bring the worlds most high tech water bottle. While trying to put it back in it’s cage, I lost control and fell over onto the side of the road. Thank goodness I fell on some grass but the back wheel hit a rock knocking the back brake off it’s track. I thought the bike was broken and almost started to freak out. Since I had only used the bike a handful of times, I had no idea how to fix it. When I hopped on for the second time after falling, the bike seemed to work just fine minus the back brake. It happened to fast, I didn’t have time to process that I might not be able to finish. I was nervous about my safety but I didn’t care enough to stop. I was determined to finish the race.

I did not take a sip of water the rest of the bike ride. The entire time, i just thought about how mad I was at myself and how badly I would feel if I really damaged my mom’s bike. The ride was filled with hills, like more than I was prepared for. I was unsure about how my legs would feel if I really pushed myself like in a spin a class for the run so I tried to hold back slightly. I think wearing sneakers without pedal cages slowed me down dramatically.

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For the transition between the bike and run, some people switch shoes but since my mom’s bike didn’t have SPD clips I just wore my sneakers. I put my bike down and ran out the exit. I realized today that I missed winning a Jet Blue flight by less an a second! They were a sponsor and awarded prizes to the fastest transitions in each age group. At the start of the run, my legs felt extremely heavy and my shins were bothering me. After a mile, I realized I was 1/3 of the way there and would be finished in less than 20 minutes. I also realized my shoes were starting to give me blisters. I regretted going sock-less. At an 8:45/mi pace, I finished the race feeling strong with a time I was proud of for my first triathlon. Would I do it again? You bet. Do I still want to try an Olympic distance as planned, we will see…

I don’t think I could have picked a more perfect venue for my first triathlon. There were a couple of local celebs that competed including former US Senator Scott Brown. Streamline Events did a fabulous job organizing. Afterwards, Whole Foods handed out hummus, peanut butter & jelly bagel sandwiches and fruit. A local company was distributing trail mix and smoothies too but no beer vendor! I was surprised.

Have you tried doing a triathlon yet!? Now that I’ve conquered the sprint, my next challenge is either going to be an Olympic distance tri or a marathon. I love new challenges to keep things interesting and myself motivated.

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lauren July 2, 2013 at 9:26 am

Wow great job Sarah!!! I am always amazed by triathletes. That is a big accomplishment! I am curious – what were the distances for each leg? I know you mentioned this was a “Sprint” versus Olympic distance but I’m wondering what the differences are.


2 Dana July 2, 2013 at 9:27 am

Congratulations on your finish! I’m thinking about doing my first tri. I haven’t been swimming seriously in a while and I don’t have a bike. But it’s something to work towards for sure!


3 Sarah July 2, 2013 at 9:59 am

I was in the same boat as you. I am lucky that my mother had a bike for me to use. But I didn’t train on the road at all. I also swam maybe less than 10 times for training. You can do a sprint. The swim is just 10 minutes.


4 Erica @ In and Around Town July 2, 2013 at 9:44 am

Congrats on finishing! Sounds like you did an amazing job!!


5 Taylor @ LiftingRevolution July 2, 2013 at 9:44 am

Wow Sarah, great job! You should be extremely proud! I would def go with socks next time though. I’ve been toying with the idea of a tri, just haven’t committed yet. Just gotta suck it up I suppose.


6 Sarah July 2, 2013 at 9:58 am

You can do it! It was hard but I’m so glad I finished. I want to do an Olympic next I think :)


7 Danielle July 2, 2013 at 10:11 am

Nice work Sarah! That is such a huge accomplishment :)


8 Tracy (@Tracy_Nutrition) July 2, 2013 at 1:17 pm

Well done! Its definitely on my list of things I want to do. The expense is a little off putting but it seems like it was worth it for you. Great recap


9 Mom July 2, 2013 at 1:39 pm

You did such a good job and it was so much fun to see you compete. Just like the old days!!! I am so proud of you :)


10 Sara July 2, 2013 at 1:51 pm

Great job, lady!


11 megan July 2, 2013 at 2:50 pm

Congrats Sarah! That’s a great accomplishment :)


12 Claude Maugein July 3, 2013 at 2:52 am

Welcome to the Club! Congrats on your first triathlon, your discoveries, apprehensions, and freak out moment were a window on my past, everyone goes through it!….and you rode your Mom’s bike! without clip-ins!…and you had a wet suit that fits like a rug?
It’s definitely Olympic distance for you next; I’ll be cheering, and my offer still stands:)


13 Shawn July 3, 2013 at 7:11 am

Congrats! I’ve always wanted to try a triathlon, maybe I will … next year.


14 meghan @ little girl in the big world July 5, 2013 at 2:35 pm

Congrats on your first triathlon Sarah! I’m doing my first one on the 27th of this month and can’t wait!


15 Jill Tomich July 7, 2013 at 10:52 pm

Congrats Sarah!
I know it takes a lot of dedication to train for an event like that. You should be super stoked!


16 Micha July 9, 2013 at 6:28 pm

Congrats! Triathlons are on my to-do list as well. I’m more intimidated by the bike than anything else. Being a life long swimmer, I’m not the most coordinated on land!


17 Liana@RunToMunch July 10, 2013 at 3:13 pm

COngrats! Doing my first one this week.

Do you think the wetsuit really helps with swimming in such a short distance if the water is warm?


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