Wow, it’s been way too long since I’ve been on My Yoga Today, apologies for my absence. I had been training hard over the past few months for my first Olympic distance triathlon, which left little time or energy for other extracurricular activities. For those of you who aren’t familiar with triathlons or this distance, an Olympic tri is composed of a 1500M swim, a 25 miles bike and a 6.2 mile run – it’s a unique challenge where speed meets endurance.
My race was last Sunday, and I am happy overall with what I accomplished; of course I would’ve liked a faster time, but I learned a few things during the race and am motivated to compete again! The following are the top three things I learned from my first Olympic distance tri.
Buoys are dangerous!
The swim by far was the weakest leg of my race. The current in the San Diego harbor was pretty strong that morning, and for a distance that would normally take me about 30 minutes to swim, actually took me 53 (I know, I am still in shock and THIS is why I must do another race to beat my time!) There were times when I felt I was swimming in one of those infinity training pools: I was paddling, but going nowhere. The currents were also moving the buoys, which were large, triangle-shaped, inflated objects that I swear were not anchored down. You can imagine that swimming towards a moving target exerts much more energy, and is just plain annoying! I later learned that the current picked up even more and a few waves of swimmers could not finish the course for safety concerns, but my wave was so bad ass that we kept on swimming.
Anyway, most triathletes know that turning around a buoy is one of the most congested places on the swim course, and I learned that first-hand. While making the turn at the 800M buoy, swim traffic bottle-necked around the turn. A male swimmer in front of me tried to move the buoy out of his way, and in doing so, moved it right on top of me. Now, these are not little triangle buoys, these are a little bigger than an inner tube, but a bit heavier. With the buoy on top of me, I had a moment of panic and a flashback to 1990 when I was 10 years old at Splash Wave Pool. I thought I could hang in the deep end where the epic waves took place, but instead, flipped over in my inner tube and it landed on top of me. I thought for sure I was going to drown. I don’t recall how I made it out alive, too traumatic, but I never ventured to the deep end of the wave pool again…
Don’t get carried away playing “overtaken!”
USATA rules state that you must leave at least 3 bicycle lengths between you and the rider in front of you – drafting is cheating! When you pass a cyclist, you must do so on the left and within 15 seconds. Once your rear wheel is past the other rider’s front wheel, he/she has been “overtaken” and must drop back 3 bike lengths. Well, I really enjoy riding Lil C – that’s my new Cervelo aero road bike, she’s pretty, fast , and a champ– and because I still feel new riding with Lil C, I get excited at how much faster I can ride with more ease! To help me focus while riding my bike for more than an hour, I play the “overtaken” game in my head and keep tally of how many cyclists I pass.
I’ve learned that I am quite the trash talker while playing this game, which is not very yogi-like of me, but it keeps me amused and motivated through the bike leg of the race: “What’s your age group? 45? Hmph, I don’t think so, you’ve been OVERTAKEN!”, “Ha, ha, OVERTAKEN, drop back 3 bike lengths sucker!” and “You bet your sweet ass I’m gonna OVERTAKE you on this hill!” Don’t worry, I don’t say these things loud enough for other racers to hear. Unfortunately, my motivation playing this mental game exceeded my training preparation to pace myself on the bike and leave some leg juice for the run. A revised training plan will include more bike-to-run bricks to condition my body for the physical demands of playing “overtaken”.
Overhydrating on the bike.
Due to my near death experience with the buoy, I choked down some salt water. In an attempt to rid that taste from my mouth, I scarfed down a handful of strawberry flavored GU Chomps during the first transition, which only helped temporarily. During the bike, my mouth was still salty and my tongue felt fat, I needed to hydrate anyways. Yep, you guessed it, I over did it. Over the course of 1:12:51, I refueled my tank ¾ full of mango Gatorade, which sloshed around in my gut for the first 4.5 miles of my run. As you can imagine, this did not feel great, that and my brick legs from having a hay-day playing “overtaken.”
I AM AN OLYMPIC DISTANCE TRIATHLETE! Final time for my first Olympic tri: 3:10:21 – I finished 83rd out of 220 female athletes (there were 619 athletes total). I’ve got some work to do, but it was fun and like I said, I learned a great deal from the experience. The other big lesson I learned while training is that yoga does a tri body good!
Peace. Love. Namaste.