Another summer of my discontent: the triathlon version

It’s no secret that, every year, as reliably as the daylight lasts longer and the sun beats brighter, I embark on summer projects.

Last year was the summer runstreak.  The summer before that was a July 4th half marathon and move.  While I’d like to blame my summer brainstorms solely on the restless desire to fill the days while my kids are gone, I’ll admit this is a lifelong affliction.

My husband has titled my (fictitious) novel: The Agony of Goal Setting.

Remember that one time I did a sprint triathlon, in the thunderstorm, and was terrified the entire time on the bike because I have a traumatic history with bikes and everything hurt and I hated it?

But I did pretty well, considering I mostly ran and barely biked or swam for the entirety of my training, and it was my first one, and I did I mention I really didn’t train? I think I rode my bike a total of 5 times before the race, and swam about the same?

I wonder what I could do if I trained? Like, in the summer, when I’m not working 9-10 hours a day, followed by kid activities and dinner-making and homework-overseeing. When my house is empty, with my kids at their Dad’s and my husband at work (he works year-round as an administrator), and I find myself talking to the mastiffs more than is socially acceptable.

So, I’ve decided to do another triathlon. Not another sprint triathlon – I’ve already done one of those, so where is that challenge in that? The next logical step is an Olympic triathlon.

Because what’s the point in a goal unless it scares stretches you?

Have I ever in my life done an open water swim? With the exception of my surf lifeguard certification test 24 years ago, no. No, I have not. Am I scared of swimming in open water? Let’s just say I don’t even snorkel or swim in clear water. Not to mention I was a sprinter. Don’t mistake my former swimming experience with an ability to intelligently race 1500 meters. It will take me the entire summer to train myself not to go out all hell’s bells, then drown in the middle of the lake.

And then there’s the bike. 25 miles. That’s all I need to say about that.

Followed by a 10k run (“only” 6.2 miles, but that’s 6.2 miles after roughly 2? hours of racing, on Labor Day, in Austin. If I’m lucky it will be, oh, only 88 degrees mid-morning.)

I’ve started training. I have a plan, cobbled together by comparing several different plans I found on the internet. I have a practice open water race on July 10th, just to get me out in open water, and feel the distance, before the tri.  I went to a local pool that has long course meters and did a practice 1500m straight, just to see if I would die. I didn’t, although I was very bored.

I’m not going to lie, I’m fairly intimidated by just about every element of this endeavor. Even my slowest half marathons have only lasted 2 1/2 hours; I think this triathlon will take me somewhere around the 3:15 timeframe. That’s a lot of pain. Combine that with Labor Day heat in Texas (and my averse reaction to temps anywhere north of 75 degrees), a crowded open water race in Lady Bird Lake, and 25 miles on a bike (my longest training ride to date has only topped out at 19 miles), and I’m more apprehensive than enthusiastic.

On the other hand, after only a few weeks of training, I’m already seeing my body transform. It’s fascinating, in a science-experiment-kind-of-way, to see my body respond to swimming and biking and weights (oh my!) after 3 years of just running.

Have you done an Olympic triathlon? Experience? Pointers? Warnings?


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