This past Saturday I conquered my first triathlon! It was called the Life’s A Beach Triathlon and was held at Daytona Beach, Florida. Despite its laid back name, this race was anything but easy in my opinion. I figured it would be a good starter triathlon to see if I even liked the whole swim, bike, run thing. I have been doing the running thing for a few years now and made my marathon debut last January at Disney. After completing my first marathon I realized that distance was not my favorite. Honestly, it was so boring! After mile 18 I just wanted it to be over with. But after doing many types of races I now know what I like and what I don’t like. I like smaller, local races and ones where I am entertained. I love races with obstacles and funny themes. I run to have fun and be in shape and I am not out to prove anything to anyone. This race appealed to me in so many ways and I had been contemplating a triathlon for a while, so it was impossible to pass up.
When I arrived at the race I went straight away to the transition area so I could set up my bike. I was there early so I was able to snag a spot on the end of one of the racks. In my transition area I had 2 small towels, running shoes and socks, shorts, shirt with bib number already attached, a bottle of water for washing my feet, sunglasses, headband and my helmet. I had practiced my transitions the night before. I set everything up in my living room and practiced the order in which everything would go on. This was extremely helpful and took a lot of anxiety away from race day.
After everything was set up I headed to the marking tent where they take a sharpie marker and mark your body with your race number. My race number, 198, went on my upper left arm and the front of my left thigh. They also mark your age on your calf. Fantastic! Now everyone knows I am 33.
With every race there is always a possibility of being injured. Since this race was located at the beach, we were told beforehand about the possible dangers of swimming in the ocean. The first one was sharks. Fun! This is why I signed up for the second wave for my start time. I figured the first wave of people would scare anything away in the ocean. Smart huh? The second was a flesh eating bacteria that was found in a river south of Daytona. I didn’t have any open wounds so I figured I was good there. I was also wearing swim goggles and had no intention of opening my mouth in the water. Yuck! The last danger was being stung by a jelly fish. Every time I think about jelly fish I think of the Friends episode where Monica gets stung and Chandler has to pee on her to make the sting go away. Out of all the threats I figured this one would be the most probable. There were jelly fish washed up on the beach all over the place, so I knew they were out there. So despite all these risks I charged on and was determined to complete my first triathlon.
Swim: This triathlon started off with an “anything goes” swim for 200 yards. People had all kinds of flotation devices out there…noodles, rafts, inflatables and fins for their feet. Personally I wanted to do the race without any aides. I practiced once a week at the pool swimming laps and am very comfortable in the water, so I didn’t feel the need to have any swim aides. I lined up with my wave on the beach and as soon as they sounded the alarm I was off into the water. The first thing I noticed was the temperature of the water was perfect. I was worried it was going to be on the cooler side but it wasn’t. I was about halfway done with my swim when I felt the sting. I was swimming parallel to the beach when a huge wave crashed right into me and I felt the stinging on the right side of my torso, back and arms. I could not believe it! I got stung by a jelly fish!! I knew immediately that’s what it was. I finished my swim strong and made my way to shore. After we got on shore we had to crawl under some nets and then head on to the transition area to get ready for the bike portion. Even though I got stung by the jelly fish I did not feel like I needed any medical attention so I just kept going. (Later on when I told my mom about this, she was not happy with me, but you know how moms are.)
The first transition, also known as T1, went very smoothly. I stood on my orange towel and used the bottle of water to wash all the sand off my feet. This was a tip I got from my friends that were also doing the race. They had done this race before but down in Sarasota, so they were able to give me some great tips. After washing my feet I slipped my socks on, then shorts, then shirt, running shoes and lastly, helmet and sunglasses. I then had to walk my bike down to the beach and as soon as I hit the sand I was off.
Bike: The bike portion of this race was a 5 mile ride IN THE SAND! Because of the sand they insisted we use a mountain bike instead of a road bike. This was another reason this race appealed to me. I already had a mountain bike so my equipment costs were minimal. It was 2.5 miles down the beach and 2.5 miles back. No training in the world could have prepared me for riding my bike in the sand. I tried to ride as close to the water where the sand was more compact and easier to ride on. A few times a wave got me and my shoes and socks where completely water logged. There were tons of jelly fish all over the beach so I made sure I ran over a few to get my revenge for the one that stung me. (Insert devilish laugh.) I just passed the water station and was on my way back when I realized I had my bike in 7th gear (the hardest gear my bike has)! I quickly changed it to 2nd gear and flew the rest of the way back to the transition area. At the end of the bike portion I saw my family cheering me on. They were waving, jumping up and down and screaming my name. It was awesome!
The transition from bike to run, also known as T2, was a little easier. I just had to ditch my bike and helmet in my spot and make my way to the start of the run course.
Run: The run portion of this event was a 2 mile run on the beach with obstacles. To start off we had to weave through some plastic flamingos. About a mile into the run it started raining. I honestly don’t know where the rain came from because it was a bright, sunny day at the beach. The rain felt amazing. It helped wash away the sand and salt water off of me. Next on the course were some tunnels we had to crawl through and last was jumping over lounge chairs. The course was two laps, so once you finished lap one you had to do it all over again. After doing the two laps the only thing that stood in my way of the finish line were stairs, 2 hurdles and the limbo. That’s right…the limbo. This race certainly did have a sense of humor. I crossed the finished line with a time of 1:16:03 and proudly accepted my medal. Victory!
I DID IT! YAHOO!!! I conquered my first triathlon! I absolutely had a blast doing this race. It was fun and I liked switching between the different types of events. It kept me from getting bored and the time flew by. I think the next step is for me to find a used women’s road bike and work toward a sprint triathlon.
P.S. If anyone is wondering how to treat a jelly fish sting, put an antibacterial ointment on it three times a day and it should heal in a few days. The only thing you really need to worry about is if the spots get infected. And for those of you who don’t know, here is what it looks like.