I’m now hooked!!

Last weekend, I raced my first “real” triathlon in Lititz, PA.  I had done two indoor triathlons, but these are significantly shorter.  I’d encourage anyone interested in the sport to take a look at trifind.com and find a local indoor triathlon.

I did my first indoor tri maybe 13 years ago.  I loved the idea of it.  I was in my late 20s then and wanted to do this forever!  Problem was, at the time I did that one I think I was 330 or so.  I then did one again this February and was about 223.  I finished about midway through the pack.

Last week, I finished 138th out of 228th.  Very respectable for my first tri at 43 and still having 20-30 pounds I need to take off.   The sheet here says 131, but that was before a handful of people finished.


The race was 300m swimming, 15.8 miles of biking, and finishing up with a 5k.

The swim portion I didn’t train much for – at all.  I used to do a decent amount of swimming over the last few years, but time just got in my way.  I figured I’d get it done in 7-8 minutes.  If I trained dozens or hundreds of hours – maybe I could get that to 5 minutes?  I did it in just over 8 minutes.

The bike portion I mostly dealt with training distance.  I did some intervals, and I did a decent amount of small hill training.  But I was really doing some long distances here.  I did one 40 miler a week before the race, and I was in the mid to high 30s on several other rides for the weeks leading up.  I wanted to put a lot of time on the bike because in most triathlons – this is where you have the most time spent.  I ended up doing this in 1:00.

The run portion I also trained a decent amount on.  The week before this, I did a 5k in 31 minutes.  I did do a 5k this past November, and I believe I was around 235 at the time of that run, and did just over 36 minutes.  After a 15.8 mile bike with some decent hills – I did a 5k in just over 33 minutes.  I have to tell you, I couldn’t go anaerobic – or at least not deep in it.  At my other 5ks I’ve run, I’ve been able to dig deep and run in an oxygen-depleted states, but in this case…my legs were a little fried and attempts to push it harder were met with “nope”.  So that was an interesting challenge I may have to address in the next races.

My total time was about 1:48 – and this includes two transitions of about 3 mins each.  To put it into perspective, the best transitions were somewhere around 30 seconds.

Where to go from here?

  1. Continue to lose weight.  I hit 205 the day before this race.  After this event, I started back on MyFitnessPal to track calories.  I hit 202.5 yesterday, so with about 16 pounds to my goal weight, I want to tighten this up a little.  The best way to go faster is to be lighter.  I’m not planning on sacrificing muscle at this time, I just am cutting out the Enlightened Ice Creams and measuring out my oils and butters a little more accurately.
  2. Run.  I am scheduled to do 2 5Ks this fall.  My 5K time and run training has a good amount of room to improve.  I’m doing one October 5th and another on Thanksgiving Day on November 28th.  I figure for 10/5, I could be around 196 and for Thanksgiving I could be 189 ish.  Maybe by May I’ll be in the high 170s?  I want to keep base building and then sharpen with some intervals and speed 3-4 weeks out from a race.  The base building of run is my favorite part of training, and where I feel I can improve the most.  Last year was the first year of my life where I did a lot of outdoor running in the cold.  With proper clothing, this works very well 🙂
  3. Biking. I’m doing ok here.  With 30 pounds less, my bike speed will significantly improve.  When the colder part of fall hits, I’m looking to perhaps buy some powertap pedals second hand and use my dumb trainer to then train for power over time.
  4. Swim.  As of this moment, it’s not a priority.  My next tri I believe will be in May 2020 and this is a pool start as well.  There’s actually a decent amount of these in PA I’m finding.  The lakes around here are gross.  Additionally, I want to buy a wetsuit only once I’m at my final weight…somewhere in the 170s I believe.  Until then, I will swim at the JCC from time to time for leisure and just to keep some level of fitness.
  5. Transition.  I could have dropped 5 minutes of my 1:48 time with solid transitions.  This first tri was just trying to actually complete it and see what it’s like.  The serious tri guys are using tri bike shoes without socks.  I liked biking and running with socks 🙂
  6. Race!! I plan on doing one just like this in May of next year.  I feel Sept of 2020 I will be trying my first Olympic distance (if I get a lot of open water swimming with my wetsuit done!).  This will be 1500m swimming, 24 miles biking, 10k running.  I can do all of these distances now – but I want to dial in everything with sprint, get my weight down, get my nutrition dialed in, and finish this training book so I can write up my own schedule for next year.
  7. Training!  I will have a brutally cold winter here, so I will have outdoor running/treadmill work, bike trainer work, and swimming at the JCC.  Additionally – I still have to continue 1-2 times a week on strength training.  I love the base training.  Can’t get enough of it.  It’s some of the interval work which can hurt!

Overall, I had SO MUCH FUN!!

How does this work??

You show up around 6:30-7:00 and pick up your bib and chip.  Get your transition area setup.  Take a walk to see the lay of the land.


Around 7:50, they started giving instructions in the swim area.  It was a pool start, so not all 200+ of us can start at the same time.  They give you a chip you put around your left ankle.  When your pool time starts, you go.  That is YOUR start time.  So while the tri started at 8AM, my official start time wasn’t until 8:38.

You give them an estimate of your swim time to start.  I gave them between 7-8 minutes, and I was 8:22.  One person passed me in the pool, and your bib number was relative to your reported swim time.  So my 146 had to wait for 145 people to start in the pool first.  They had starts every 10-15 seconds.

Once you get done your 300m swim going down and back each of the 6 lanes, you get out and run over a carpet which has an RF detector and this puts the end to your swim time and starts your transition time.  Time to job to transition 1!

In transition, I’m wearing a tri suit.  You have to think about outfit selection.  If you are wearing shorts and a T shirt, you can’t really change.  So you’d be soaking wet.  Even if it’s a swimsuit, perhaps you are then running a 5k with soggy trunks and that might cause some chafing.  You can wear bike shorts, but you run into the padding absorbing all of the water and you have diaper butt…and when you go to run it will look like you had a dookie in your pants.  So – a tri suit works for all three disciplines.  Luckily, at just over 200 pounds, I can pull it off.  For those much larger, I’d recommend a 2 piece tri suit.

So in transition, I have to get my socks and bike shoes on.  Getting socks on soaking wet feet isn’t fun, so I had a towel to try and dry off.  The “pros” wear tri bike shoes, which have holes in the bottom sides and are easier to get on.  I just wanted to be comfortable in my first tri and didn’t prioritize speed through transitions this time around.  I just wanted to not forget anything.  In the time before your tri, you are laying out your helmet with sunglasses, etc so when you come in from the pool, you can easily locate your gear and get it going.  I think I was 2:50 for this.  There is an opportunity to get this a lot lower.  When you get your stuff on, you then have to walk your bike out of the transition area which then turns off T1 with the chip and starts your bike.

For the bike, wow.  They had flaggers everywhere on the back roads.  I was moving at times – as you see above, I hit a top speed of 38.6 miles per hour.  There were a few decent hills, but only one that was challenging to me.  I had to get out of the saddle and crank that out, and there were some people walking their bikes up that hill.  I’d say maybe 5 people passed me on the bike, and I think I passed 1-2 dozen.  I did that 15.8 miles in 1 hour and a few seconds, so after biking 13mph on the rail trail, it was nice to see how I can open it up on the road.  There were a lot of rolling hills…which I liked a lot.  The course was FUN!!!  I think with another 30 pounds off of me for next year, and another year of training, I could take this to 48-52 minutes.

I didn’t give it 100% on the bike, either.  I gave it a good ride and attacked hills aggressively, but in the flats I was probably 85-90% max.  Being my first tri, I wanted to FINISH the race, and I hadn’t done many brick workouts.  So I was a little worried about frying my legs and not having anything for the 5k.  I also was using some Gatorade endurance – which I most definitely needed carbs for the hills.  I think on my next one, I can give the bike a 95% effort for that, and maybe fuel a little more with carbs towards the end to get the higher gear and get carbs in me for the run.

Because of chip time starts, as I’m coming into the bike, some of the faster guys are finishing the bike already!!  40 minutes?  Damn – they were moving.

At the end of the bike, you walk it back into transition area.  Here, I’m taking off my bike shoes and putting on my running shoes.  Again – this might be somewhere I can gain some time back.  I didn’t know how my legs would be, so I took it easy.  Lots of people cheering around this area, it was pretty cool!!

You start the run and you’re going through neighborhoods in Lititz.  people are out everywhere cheering.  Little kids were the best 🙂  Gives you a little kick to your step.  I averaged just over 10:30 for these miles, but I had no upper level.  For my next race, I will definitely start doing some chews or gels heading into the run.  I had a pretty good showing for my first tri, but man – I had no rocket fuel.  I feel with being able to run anaerobic, I would have taken 2-3 mins off of my time.  In my training, I could run a decent clip anaerobic for longer distances.  Today wasn’t that day.  It’s at this point you start wondering about if your taper was correct.  Did you put too much volume on, or was this just a nutrition issue?

Then…you finish and start playing with the data.  You want to see your times.

You find that it is nice where you finished, but you ultimately are competing against yourself.  You can’t hide from that shit.

Take a look at some of the bike data below.  Yes – I hit 38.6 mph!!