1. Age is just a number.
Quite literally. We all had our ages written on our right calves, and it quickly became obvious that there were a LOT of people over the age of 40 who were competing, and competing well. It appears that the sport of triathloning improves with age. The winner, in fact, was 42, and according to Steve, left everyone in awe as he finished a full 4 minutes ahead of the next person. (Results are here.) And it was so cool to see so many fit people – not everyone was a skinny mini, but there were athletic people of all shapes and sizes. I didn’t feel out of place; I felt like I had earned the right to be there.
2. Kids need to see this kind of thing.
They had a kid’s fun run before the race, and it made me so happy that those children were seeing this – that you CAN do a triathlon regardless of gender or age. The competitors spanned decades, from 13-year-old Silas (who passed me at the last second) to an 80-year-old dude who was determined to finish. And kids need to be inspired to believe that they can do things like that, too.
3. A sprint triathlon is easier on my joints than a half marathon.
I was still a bit tired and sore when I woke up the next day, but my joints weren’t in as much pain as with the half marathons. I recovered a lot quicker. I think it’s because two of the three events were low-impact. One thing that did take me by surprise was how sore my neck was from popping my head up to sight the buoys. But I went for a run on Monday, two days after the race, and did fine.
4. Staying calm is key.
In the water, when I took off a bit too fast and ran out of air AND got smacked with a wave, I freaked out for one second. But I switched to breaststroke, made sure to clear the water every time I took a breath, and – most importantly – repeated to myself, “Run your own race. Run your own race.” Don’t worry about the people zipping on ahead. Don’t think about the next heat closing in behind you. Just take one stroke at a time. That gave me something to focus on and calmed me down. In the end, when I got out of the lake and Steve told me my time, I was ahead of where I wanted to be at that point.
Even though I did well – for me – during the bike, there were still tons of people who passed me. And I just had to choose to stay within the pace that I knew I could maintain and not fret. I never looked behind me, except to check my blind spot before I passed someone.
5. I wanna do it again.
I have lots to work on: endurance, speed in transitions, swimming skills, and running pace. (And I want to get clipless pedals and bike shoes.) But I really, really enjoyed myself. Once I got started and didn’t have time or energy to be nervous, I just had FUN. I did very well in the swim and bike portions. I liked the variety in training and the mental aspect of executing transitions. I think I will probably aim for another sprint-length triathlon before I attempt an Olympic-length or anything close to an Ironman 70.3 or full Ironman. But I think this is something I could really get into.
This might be the beginning of a very beautiful adventure.