First time Triathaloner? You could be in the right place.
Can a Triathalon actually work in the Covid world? Well yes!
So, some of you may have seen the blog Idaph posted from my video interview with Stephanie Buss. Check it out here. It was a great prep talk on how one comes into running a triathalon for the first time. And yes, we don’t talk about this in the interview but turns out I was more a back of the packer for this.
But you know what- I was completely fine with that and loved the entire event.
You may have also seen my woes about how I had 5 half marathons planned from mid March through early May- 4 I was able to run virtually, 1 was rescheduled to next year. So after mentally planning on these in person races, it was disappointing that Covid-19 canceled all of these travel plans (California, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Kentucky!)
However after the Asheville Marathon was turned into a virtual race, they knew they had a number of upcoming events happening and runners just don’t want to keep doing virtual races. Ok, maybe some do. They are often ok with it if there is an awesome medal associated with it. But, while medals are neat, my drive is to the excitement of the event and being around the people (I promise I’m actually not an extrovert but this stuff just gets me excited).
Daphne and her staff with Idaph actually busted their butts to make out one of the most Covid Friendly races one could have. I don’t know if others in the country are following suit, but this couldn’t have gone any better in regards to safety.
About a year before the event:
I wanted to participate in the 2019 Triathlon however my weekend was taken up with something else. So mentally I was ready to start trying. But I decided that no matter what, this year I was wanting to do it.
Then Covid happened. All events were removed from the calendar.
In June I noticed the event was on in real life still and available to sign up for. Towards the end of the month I was able to get into the YMCA pool at least once a week. And we had been biking all April and May as a family.
So Daphne suggested Conrad and I should sign up- so we did!
I started practicing transitions and going from one event to the next. I found transitioning into shorts after getting out of the pool with a wet bathing suit was not so easy. But biking in wet clothes really didn’t bother me in the summer temperatures.
I found that the first mile running after biking felt funny on my legs but they eventually got used to it and started to feel more like running legs.
I learned that my swim stroke was horrendous, but got the job done. My husband tried to help me correct it but too close to race day, so not enough time to create a habit.
Pre Planning from the Idaph staff:
Lots of Marketing
Signing up by your 100meter swim time
Finding a pool that would be most appropriate for use this year
Amazing walk through videos showing you where you’d go since there’s no in person talk through the race meeting
109 participants signed up and completed the event
2 days before the event:
Wave times were emailed out so we know what time we needed to be in the pool! They were separated by 30 minutes and set up so a swimmer started every minute. Conrad’s time to start was 830am, mine was 9am. First wave swimmers started at 7am, so we knew we’d be coming to a fuller parking lot.
Day before the event:
Drive through packet pick up at the pool. They presented me with our packets in a basket to remove them from. We didn’t have to get out of our cars :). But it was awesome to see Daphne, Stephanie, and Eric! They recommended we make a quick drive through the parking lot where our transition area would be so we’d be prepared and know where to arrive.
Day of the event:
We pulled into the parking lot and were greeted by a volunteer who checked off my name and wrote down how many bikes I arrived with. I assume this was a measure they took to make sure my bike didn’t get stolen while I was swimming or running.
We found a parking spot close to where you enter/exit the biking portion. We backed in to a grassy spot that had a sidewalk. We opened up the back of the car and set everything out for our personal transition area.
Our personal transition area included:
- Swim Cap, goggles, sandals, small towel, Ankle band for timing
Running shoes, socks
- Big towel, Bike, Helmet, honey Stinger gel blocks and phone in my bike pouch, hand held water bottle w electrolytes that fits on my bike and in my hand, AfterShokz, tank top with my bib already attached
- Goodr sunglasses, small towel, hand held water bottle
- We had a chair and first aid kit and Gatorade Gu available as well
So remember, I didn’t have a tri-suit. I decided on a sports bra and high riding and long compression shorts.
Conrad started first. The bathrooms at the pool were open so we used those. Set our shoes, small towel to dry the feet, socks all in the staging area by the pool exit. Walked around the pool barefoot to the pool entrance. A tent manned by PT Solutions Physical Therapists were there taking temperatures of all swimmers.
Walking onto the pool deck, there were circles 6 feet apart. A volunteer, my dear racing friend and enthusiast Kay Ziemer was checking off names as participants arrived at the pool.
As I walked around the pool, 1 participant was jumping into the pool. Idaph staffer Eric told me I had 30 seconds and I could cross the timing mat and jump in on the minute mark.
So as I cross the mat, I realize I can dive in and quickly ask. He says yes. I start to dive, literally mid air when I realize I forgot to start my Garmin. I hit the water and bam, my goggles fall to my neck. Dang.
So the first 50 I swam with my head above water. I stopped and set my Garmin and fixed my goggles.
The swim was set so that you zigzagged through the pool. Down 1 lane, back up the next. Down the 3rd lane, back up the 4th. Until you had gone down 8 different 1 way 50 meter lanes.
The pool really felt great. It was a warm morning. My stroke struggled. My mind goes between
*I’m breathing wrong
*Is that guy getting close enough to me that he’ll pass me?
*Is my Garmin still going?
*Man this water feels great!
*Is that water getting deeper?
*Man my stroke is off. I must look like I’m doggie paddling!
I get to the end, out to the staging area. Dry off my feet (I realize I saw a tip on bringing baby powder but totally forgot to bring any). I stretch out my socks and put them on with no problems. Slip my feet into my running shoes. I had put laces into my shoes that are no-tie laces. They pull tight and tuck right in. And off I go to the timing mat on the way back to my car.
As a first timer, I’m not really focusing on the transition time. But the time I spend putting on my socks and shoes totally adds up because I still have to run a 10th of a mile across a parking lot to end my swim time.
I jog to my car, dry off with a towel, and throw on my tank top, buff and helmet and take off with my bike to the biking timing mat. I probably had a .1 mile to jog my bike to the mount/dismount section.
The bike ride starts on the Oklawaha greenway. We go off to the left up and down a few little hills and spent about 1.5 -2 miles before we were on the back roads of Hendersonville. Up and down these rolling hills. Right at the 6 mile mark there is a short steep gravel hill. I had to hop off towards the top and walk a little. Then continued on. Following signs, arrows, anything directing me. Not many cars around. I finally got back around to the roads I started on and then back onto the greenway. It was mostly downhill to the dismount area. Then back on foot pushing my bike to my car.
I dropped my bike off at the car. Ditched my helmet into the car, grabbed my small sweat towel, threw my phone into my pocket in my shorts, put my Goodr’s on and took off! Back towards the timing mat by the pool and back onto the greenway. This time I ran off towards the baseball field. Right before there was a water station at the 1.5 mile mark and after running around the baseball field, I was back off towards the finish line- 1.5 miles back.
My legs didn’t feel too bad. But I was looking forward to the finish line. It was almost 11am and hot outside. I poured water on my self at the halfway mark. As I got closer to the finish line, there were more cheerleaders along the greenway.
The last 1/10 of the mile was on grass and I made it through the finish line. I was handed a bag and waters were set out for me to grab. Medals were hanging along a small wall to pick yours off of.
To the car to pack up and head out. On the way out, the same volunteer that checked me in, checked me out and counted my bikes again.
The days following I wasn’t sore. Not sure if that meant I didn’t work hard enough or if I just was as prepared as I needed to be. I felt great and was happy with how it went.
Due to the staggering of how each of us started, it was hard to know where you stood in comparison to others. My results showed that it took me 2:03 hours to complete the event. My run was about average for what i would have expected, perhaps a little better. My swim was right at what I would normally do. My bike ride was actually a good 10 min faster than I expected.
If you’re nervous about participating in a Triathlon, don’t be! A sprint was a great first choice. Make sure you can bike 10-12 miles an swim across the pool a few times before trying it. But all types of participants competed. It was a lot of fun!
And if you feel you missed out on this or want to do it virtually- sign up here! You have until the end of August to complete it!
Register for the virtual race here!