Ok, ok, I know I’ve been word-vomiting Wildflower happiness for like two weeks now! Well, after I get it all out of my system (during this post, obviously), we will move on to the NEXT triathlon and you’ll forget all about Wildflower!
Start at the beginning: I literally started actually training in the beginning of April; not my brightest idea. Honestly, I work hard once I’ve set my mind to something, so it didn’t end badly.. but I would NOT recommend that as a training plan for anyone.
I literally spent every day from April 2nd right up until the race on May 4th riding my bike, running, swimming, or some combination of the three.
My strongest of the three, just from prior experience, is swimming. I swam and played waterpolo and there is no viable way for me to fall down, so obviously this is my most natural habitat besides sitting on a horse. I swam more then the required length of the race in practice, and thoroughly enjoyed the swim leg of the race. It was obvious I was more comfortable in the water the a majority of the other athletes, and besides dodging slower swimmers and an occasional ankle grab, I finished easily, without tiring myself out.
There isn’t much general strategy to swimming laps in preparation for this type of triathlon. JUST SWIM. DO IT. No matter how cold the water is, how much you don’t want to. Triathletes, by their own admission, struggle most in the swim. The more comfortable you are, the easier it will be, and it will be even easier if you KNOW that you can swim the distance without over-exerting yourself. Avoid panic and anxiety by doing your homework: swim.
One small note of advice: Don’t expect to have a calm, leisurely swim in the actual triathlon. There will be ump-teen people swimming at all different speeds, in all different directions (seriously, ALL different directions). It is impossible to not get kicked, touched, bumped into. The more comfortable you are in the water- and holding your own, if need be- the easier and more relaxing it will be.
Also: Use mostly arms to swim. Your legs will be working HARD for the rest of the triathlon. By using a mostly-arm stroke (such a freestyle or backstroke) you warm up your legs kicking a little but you don’t tire them out to the detriment of the rest of the Tri.
Swim is completed, on to the bike.
Again, I anticipated my late training start to hinder me more in my biking then it actually did. I increased my bike miles from 6-10 over 2 weeks and then focused on cursing up the large hills around my neighborhood. Now, I legitimately was cursing up these hills, but it ABSOLUTELY paid off. The majority of the Wildflower bike course is a 3 mile hill. That is ridden TWICE. Talk about a bun-burner. Although my chain fell off my bike THREE times, I made it without incident and loved every minute of it.
Biking is an interesting part of the triathlon. There is every level of rider on the lower level, sprint courses. From serious mountain bikers, to road bikers, to the occasional beach cruiser, every bike is different, as is every rider. The most important thing to say about the bike is WATCH OUT FOR OTHER RIDERS!! Because of the huge range in skill levels, crashes are lurking everywhere. DO NOT follow too closely!!! If the person in front of you crashes, you need time to account for going around them, without hitting other people doing the same. The same applies to hills; following closely might seem competitive, but if the person in front of you burns out and there is not enough time/room for you to pass, you’re stuck walking too. Again, like the swim, DO YOUR HOMEWORK. If you are regularly riding 10 hilly miles, then one 10-mile ride won’t be too much of a sweat, whereas if you ride 6 miles regularly, at a leisurely pace, you still might make it, but exponentially more tired then if you had trained properly.
Normally, I LOATHE running. Hate it. Only run if something is chasing me, thank you very much. But I surprised myself. Not only was it nice to see my fitness increase noticeably during runs, but the 2-or-3-a-day workouts got my body used to going from one thing to the other– this meant that I had WAY more energy then I anticipated when I was done with the bike. I admittedly didn’t run the ENTIRE portion, but I felt great and sprinted to the finish line, which was exhilarating!
In training, the same thing goes for length of training. I should have started earlier, and would recommend others to do so (duh). Know your course– If its flat, awesome, but if its hilly, train that way or you’ll be in for a rude, tiring, awakening when it actually comes down to it. Also, be aware of your running style. Amping up running can create body problems just from the wrong pair of shoes, so make sure you aren’t creating problems for yourself! It pays to make sure everything fits and works properly!
All in all, I had an AWESOME time!
I met all my goals (Finish, don’t crash, don’t barf), even my secret ones (finish under 2 hours– I finished in 1:48!), and I look forward to doing more triathlons in the future!! …. Maybe the Olympic at Wildflower next year?? …Maybe.
My next goals are to do the Santa Maria Triathlon in June and the SLO Triathlon in July!