This weekend I decided to shake things up with my second ever sprint triathlon, the Try Cambridge Tri.
Since moving to Madison I have been inundated with Ironman culture, and all of the biking and open water swimming around town made me a little jealous of the triathlon scene. Midway through the summer I decided it was time to make my debut in the Madison Multisport arena and I signed up for this triathlon with my friend Adam, who I did the Madison Mini Marathon with last weekend.
Going into it, my training was sporadic at best. My “plan” was to get in the pool and on the bike at least once a week. I did a few swims that amounted to a mile or more total, so I figured I would be fine there, and I was able to get a few 20+ mile bike rides in. I wouldn’t say I followed a program by any means. For usually being so structured about training, I was honestly pretty willy-nilly about the whole thing.
I think since I didn’t have a baseline for how to compete in a triathlon or how long it should take I wasn’t too concerned with the whole thing. Go out, have fun, “tri” something new.
The night before the race I did some pretty terrible race prep. Carbs were a bottle of wine enjoyed on a boat and sleep was in short supply.
(Although, to be fair, the sleep was pretty deep because of the wine!)
The race itself was a blast once I finally made it there and got settled in. I really started to get into it when I got my body markings. I swear, there is just something about having race numbers sharpied on your calf and bicep that gets you pumped up.
While waiting for instructions on how the race would kick off I started chatting with Bailey, another 20-something gal who was also doing her first triathlon in years. We were definitely rookies compared to some of the other athletes. Bailey and I both agreed that the guys who showed up in wet suits were just WAY too serious for an 8 minute swim at a triathlon located in the middle of the Madison suburbs. (We may have just been saying that out of jealousy though, let’s be real – those guys looked pretty badass.)
The swim was in Ripley Park Lake and was prefaced by a stunning sunrise.
I hadn’t done any open water swimming leading up to the race and I was admittedly a little worried about that. From my first triathlon in 2011 I remembered open water swimming being chaotic, disorienting, and kind of gross. My wave had a max of maybe 35 people in it though and the swim was a breeze. I veered off course a lot my first triathlon and this time around I found my head bobbing out regularly to check my course. The best part of the swim though – passing Adam. I knew I needed a head start because, as a UW Cyclist, he would pass me in no time on the bike.
T1 (the swim-to-bike transition) went well. I mean, as well as putting socks on wet feet can go.Then the bike ride went a little something like this:
That’s the sound of people passing me.
Massive hill at mile 3.
Adam screaming past me.
Clocking 25 mph on a downhill.
As everyone does an abrupt 180 at the halfway mark.
Sudden realization that the second half is uphill, into the wind.
That’s the sound of MORE people passing me.
Going down massive hill from mile 3.
Honestly, 15 miles is the perfect distance for my biking ability right now. Anything more and I probably would have gotten pretty bored/tired. I can already tell if I keep doing triathlons that improving my biking would be a huge help for my time and level of competitiveness at these things.
The 5k run to the finish was interesting. I never run 5ks, so I didn’t have the best pacing strategy. Plus, having legs that felt like bricks and jell-o, simultaneously, made it hard to gauge how fast I was running. I was pleased to see that I was clocking sub 8:30 miles the entire time!
The race ended and I met Adam and his friends and family at the finish, with a personal best! (Gotta love saying that, even if it is because it’s a new event!)
I’m not ready to say I’m totally hooked on or addicted to triathlons yet, but it was a lot of fun! I think I really like how new I am to it – there is definitely a lot I could learn and a ton of room for improvement. Who knows, maybe once I volunteer at Ironman Wisconsin in a few weeks I’ll really get ambitious. I could easily see myself doing a half Ironman within the year though, that’s for sure.