Here is a list of things I learned from my first race:
- Start with a road triathlon; off-road ones are a bit dicey on the bike, especially if you've only mountain biked two other times your entire life.
- Buy a bike more than a week in advance of the race. Especially if the last time you owned a bike, it came with streamers on the handlebars and a banana seat.
- Successfully doing a marathon does not translate into instant success with triathlon. Especially if you can't swim more than one length of the pool without feeling like you are going to die due to lack of oxygen.
- Dog paddle may not be efficient, but it gets the job done.
- Trail running 5 miles is WAY harder than running 5 miles on a road. Things like boulders and rock walls will definitely slow your time down.
- Biking the course the night before is a smart idea. It gives you a heads up on what hills you should walk down so you don't vault over your handlebars a second time.
- Nutrition? What nutrition?
As the above evidence shows, I knew NOTHING about triathlon. I fished around on the internet and found my (embarrassingly slow) results from that first race. I came in 5th in my AG (out of 7, haha). It took me 34:47 to swim about 1200yds; 2:24 to bike 14 miles; and 1:01 to run 5 miles - a grand total of 4 hours. Longer than it took me to run my first marathon. I'd like to say that I was hooked after that first race, but that would be a lie. I was simply happy to have made it through that bike ride alive.
It took me two years, but I decided to give triathlon another go, and what better way than to do that first race again? This time I actually trained for it and cut my times down to 31:28 for the swim, 1:38 for the bike, and 51:58 for the run, finishing in 3:01. NOW I was hooked. But, I've stuck to road-tris. Maybe sometime in the future I'll give the off-road tri another shot.
So, I think my in-laws doing their first tri will be leaps and bounds ahead of where I was during my first triathlon. They've trained, they've had their bikes longer than a week, and they can keep themselves afloat in the water. Next weekend will be exciting!