Cycling, My life, Races, Races, Running, Swimming, Triathlon

My First Triathlon {Triathlon Attersee Salzkammergut}

September 17, 2013

On Sunday I did something crazy, fun and exhausting. I participated in my first triathlon.

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I really didn’t know what to expect and the fact that I signed up in the first place was a rather spur-of-the-moment decision. I had  actually been training for a half-marathon which I plan to run in October but thought a triathlon would first of all be a good challenge and it would vary the training for the half-marathon.

Had I known just how much equipment and gear is required to actually be able to take part in the race I may have given it a second thought but I’m still really happy that I participated.

In terms of training I could have done a lot more. I was very confident about the running part and I used to be a swimmer so I assumed I wouldn’t drown. And throughout the summer I cycled a lot to ensure I’d get a good sense of the bike, changing gear,etc.

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A big bonus for me was probably the fact that the whole event took place right by the lake where we live. This meant that I trained the swimming part in the wavy lake as opposed to a pool. Also, I knew the cycling route pretty much off by heart. I knew exactly how to pace myself and knew when and how to change gears. This might seem very unimportant but if done right it can significantly set you apart form others.

When I arrived at the race area on Sunday morning I was slightly shocked by how professional everyone was. Most people were racing with actual triathlon bikes that weigh next to nothing {cycling ~50km/h}. I only had a “normal” road bike which looked rather sad and pathetic lined up next to all the professional bikes. I could also immediately tell that unlike me, most of the athletes had already participated in several similar events. Most of them spent the waiting time before the race sticking their gels and energy bars to the bike frames and perfectly adjusting their shoes to the pedals.

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Also, when I went to hang up my transition bags I could see that most people would obviously be cycling with actual cycling shoes. I on the other hand, chose to wear my normal running shoes. Even though I knew that I didn’t stand a chance to be a top racer, seeing just how prepared everyone else was made me feel like a complete amateur.

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Although I may have been slightly jittery when I arrived to the race area I tried to stay calm for most of the morning and concentrate on doing a good race whilst having as much fun as possible. There were two distances which you could have signed up for: 111{1km swim, 100km cycling, 10km run} and 55.5 {0.5km swim, 50km cycling, 5km run}. I chose to do the shorter distance.

The racers who did the 111km had their start at 11am which meant that I could see them swim and watch them during their first transition. A lot more athletes signed up for the longer distance than the 55.5km race. Watching them all start and swim away was quite inspiring.

After that I got changed into my wetsuit and prepared myself for my race.

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Can you tell that I was slightly nervous before I went into the water. Mo laughed because after all those years I still have the exact same nervous facial expression…

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Shortly after the men for the 55.5km distance left the women and relay teams {all wearing white swim caps} started. There were about 30 people in this group.

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The first few minutes of swimming were the worst. I kept bumping into other swimmers and it took a while for me to find my pace. After about 200m  I could set myself apart from some of the group members {others were obviously already further in front} and the last part of the swim was really good. I even managed to overtake a couple of men who started 5 minutes prior.

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After 15 minutes of swimming we had to run up a short hilly path up to the tent where our transition bags were waiting for us.

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This was when I realized that I wouldn’t be able to open and change out of my wetsuit while running. Everything was sticky and extremely tight so I waited until I made into the tent to properly dry off and change out of my wetsuit.

I don’t know what I was laughing at here….

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My fist transition took more than 5 minutes {lots of room for improvement} but I wanted to take my time and properly dry off since I was wearing my race suit underneath my wetsuit. I changed into my running shoes, threw on my helmet and bike gloves, collected my bike and rode off.

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The road around the lake is exactly 50km and I knew pretty much every bit off by heart. Even though I usually run and cycle to music,  phones or music devices weren’t allowed during the race. This meant that I had plenty of time to concentrate on my ride. Not long after the beginning I could overtake 2 people and I rode by myself for the first 20K. Only then was I overtaken by a group 0f 4 cyclists who I tried to stay close to for the rest of the route. I finished the cycling part in 1:37. In hindsight I was a bit disappointed that it took me that long. My record was 1:32 and I’m sure with the right equipment like actual cycling shoes I might even be able to break my record in the future.

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The cycling route ended with a sprint up a short hill. There was a line on the road which was the “finish line” and which was not allowed to be touched. Luckily there were plenty of people and my parents on the sidewalks shouting, screaming and telling me to stop otherwise I might have gone a bit further which would have resulted in a penalty.

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I quickly ran down to park my bike, got rid of my cycle gear and began the last stretch of the race: a 5K run. Usually a 5K run shouldn’t be a big challenge after the amount of running training I’ve invested in over the years. However, after cycling for over 90 minutes your legs are used to a cycling motion and it took about 1.5km of running for my body to get used to running.

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Luckily most of  the first kilometer was downhill. However the next  1.5km were a long, curvy uphill stretch which I, like many others in front of me, chose to power-walk. I don’t think I would have managed to run uphill at that point. The last 2.5km were a lot easier to run. Shortly before I turned back into the main road I could already see my mom. I turned round the corner and I saw Mo waiting  for me, sitting the middle of the road taking pictures. My dad was waiting on the sidewalk and  told me that I only had 200m left. That’s when I decided to give it my all and sprint….

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I happily made it to the finish line in 2:34:33. Although I didn’t break any records for being extraordinarily fast in either of the disciplines I came in first in my age group Smile

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Unfortunately I didn’t stay for the official award ceremony but apparently all age group winners get a trophy. So until I receive my trophy, my shiny medal will have to keep me happy.

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I really couldn’t be any happier with how the race went. It showed me once again that sport is not just about training and exercising but about having the right attitude and being able to push boundaries mentally. My parents tell me over and over again that I can achieve whatever I believe in and in sports its quite true.

Nobody’s a natural. You work hard to get good and then work to get better.

                                                                                              ~Paul Coffey

…..and I can’t wait to get better!

Although at times it was extremely tough I knew that I would forget about all those not-so-glamorous moments of racing as soon as I made it through the finish line. And that’s exactly what happened. Once I had the medal around my neck and was greeted by my family all the pain was forgotten.

I’m already very excited for my next race. On October 13th I want to take part in the half-marathon in Munich. Over the past year Munich has become a very special place for me and before my last year of Uni officially starts I would love to take part in the race in one of the most beautiful cities.  With my run I will be collecting money for African children who live in poverty and who do not have access to nutritious food, clean water or proper education. I would be extremely grateful if you chose to, not only support me but also the African children in need by considering a donation to the charity I will be supporting. Thank you!

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The mind is the limit. As long as the mind can envision the fact that you can do something. You can do it, as long as you really believe 100 percent.

                                                                                                                          ~Arnold Schwarzenegger

 

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3 Comments

  • Reply Ulli September 17, 2013 at 5:48 pm

    Wow, congratulations!!!! I always wanted to do such a thing, but couldn’t get myself to sign up…maybe next year 😉

  • Reply Goodbye 2013 December 31, 2013 at 11:23 am

    […] September. My first triathlon. […]

  • Reply Triathlons –The Ultimate Fitness Challenge March 27, 2014 at 2:04 pm

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