It’s absolutely AMAZING what this multi-stage competition involving the completion of three continuous and sequential endurance disciplines called triathlon can lead to… crossing the finish line in Kona – The World Championship of Ironman (Ironman Hawaii) – yeah, that one: the torturefest in the lava fields during which one races a 4k swim, 180k bike, and finish with a marathon for “dessert” (obviously, it will take me a few olympic triathlons and half Ironman races in order to first get to my first Ironman next year… and only then we can talk about Ironman Hawaii)!
Anyway, let me take you from the start line…
Nearly a year ago, I put “complete a sprint triathlon” at the very top of my fitness must-do list. Three weeks ago, I finally completed my first triathlon, a sprint one (750m swim, 20k bike and 5k run) in Düsseldorf and boy what a feeling! Still!!!
What makes this sport so special around the world, you ask? I personally believe that people are inspired to see how far someone participating in triathlons can push themselves physically, mentally and emotionally to train and compete. The training and dedication that go into preparing for a triathlon is intense….and let’s admit it, so many people are drawn to that level of commitment. Plus, it’s one of the few sports that is a combination of three sports! Go figure I am all in!
Considering it was my first triathlon and being new to the sport (not new to the three sports separately though), I went into it with very small goals. Tell you the truth, having only a mountain bike I hoped to finish the race in roughly 2 hours.
Race day (25th of June)
It’s been three weeks since I was enjoying the second non-alcoholic Weizen after the race looking out over the triathlon crowd thinking about what had just happened. Still today I can’t help but feel so happy. I finally found what I was looking for.
Right before the actual start of the race I stole a rare moment for myself to visualize what it was going to be like join over 2.000 people – in the swimming frenzy of flying feet and elbows that was awaiting me at the start of my very first spring distance triathlon… and instead of the typical steely gaze of concentration and trepidation that I saw on countless other athletes faces… I was relaxed. And I was smiling.
I was smiling because I somehow knew that I was about to experience something totally different than before – a remarkably emotionally moving experience that would change the course of my life.
As I made my way down to the swim start, a peaceful feeling swept over me. Goggles check. Swim cap check. I thought I was ready. As the gun sounded, I happily sprinted into the water. I had grown up next to the Danube and have always considered myself a decent swimmer, however this time the swim seemed unexpectedly difficult.
All the elbows and kicks made me step back a little and lose my flow. Between you and me, I wasn’t ready for such a crowd… even with all the tips & tricks delivered by my dear friend Diego with a few days in advance.
My swim was not my best… after 19 mins I got out of the water. Hooray and until next time, I said to myself. I also said to myself that I won’t let those swimmers kick me ever again. ;)
As I ran out of the the water I could feel my heart pumping and getting more excited, the nightmare was over and I could finally race. I was feeling energized. Although I only had a mountain bike, I didn’t care at all. I was about to give everything to the next sports – cycling and running. I regained my strength in T1 as it was time for the bike. By the time I got my running shoes (you only need a pair of running shoes if you race on a mountain bike), bib number and my helmet on and made my way out of the T1, I felt fantastic.
My bike time was obviously below average, but it felt good pushing all the way and even overtaking some road bikes. I then understood that a good bike helps a lot, however before investing lots of money in the right equipment, one should first train. Properly!
Anyway, that being said the ride was a lot more enjoyable than I thought it would be since I only had a mountain bike. 47 mins later, I made it back to the transition. It felt good pushing all the way in such a windy day. Once I jumped off the bike, I realized that my legs were kind of relaxed. The beauty of having a mountain bike, I said to myself as I kept smiling.
T2 was pretty fast. I only needed to leave my helmet – took me a few seconds – and I was good to run. Fast this time. My legs were flying through the crowd – most of them racing earlier and now picking up their equipment and others struggling to get out of the road bike shoes and get into the running ones.
I was running with a pace below 5.00 and I was lovin’ it! After so many wounds (broken finger, then a bruised foot, and so on) over the last few months, I was finally enjoying a run. That run. As I approached the finish line I kicked it into the highest gear. I crossed the finish line in 1:39.31 thinking that I had the time of my life.
I am now a triathlete!
And the next one is on the 20th of August. I can’t wait.
P.S. There’s no getting around it – triathletes are unusual people. We – see how I already talk about myself ;) – carefully avoid unhealthy food, exercise before and after work, enjoy sweating, talk ceaselessly about our last workout the way a starving man looks at food. We call it passion, some call it obsession.
Stay healthy and be