My First Triathlon – Dead Last, Still a Winner

Experiences from your first triathlon

We put out a challenge on Rookie Tri Facebook for triathletes to submit a story about their first triathlon. The goal was to show individuals thinking about completing Rookie Triathlon as their first that they can make it happen! As with anything in life, the first time you do something doesn’t normally end of perfectly. Cindy Miller shared her story and all of its ups and downs. This won’t be your exact experience. With training and determination, you will complete your first triathlon too. Remember – whether you’re first or last, you’ll still be a triathlete when you cross the finish line on Sunday, May 5th.

An Athlete’s Perspective – Issue 16

by: Cindy Miller

I have completed five sprint triathlons. I am not an athlete but do like to push myself to try new things. This story is not meant to scare you, but to encourage you and give you a little chuckle. The triathlon I describe in this story is longer than the Rookie Triathlon. Anyone can do the Rookie Tri with a little effort and a lot of determination.

Preparation

My first triathlon was Spring Lake Sprint Triathlon at Aquarena Springs. I signed up and was doing it all by myself. My first bike was a hybrid road/mountain bike that I purchased from Walmart for $200 (mistake #1). I practiced my open water in Lake Austin. Most of my cycling was done on a stationary bike. I had already run several half marathons so the 5k was going to be a piece of cake. My sister was going to go with me for support and help me any way she could. I was extremely nervous and excited.

Here we go!

We arrived early to set up my transition station and I realized I could not wear my glasses in the water. I could not see to get from the transition point to the beginning of the swim. This was the first time my sister came in to save the day. She guided me to the swim start area and I was good to go. Again, excited and nervous I dove off the dock into the water and to my surprise there were several diver photographers there to startle me. I kept swimming and enjoying the fish and plant growth below me. The 500-meter swim was complete and I went to my transition point. I put on my glasses, dried off, put on my socks, shoes, my shirt, and walked my bike out of the transition.

The bike ride

Still full of excitement and a bit tired from the swim and transition, I started my 14-mile bike ride. It was lovely. Most of the other athletes were very kind as they passed me. Hearing things like, “on your left” or encouraging comments like  “keep it up!!” or “you got this!!” All was well until a police officer said, “Your back tire looks a little low.” He was correct. Being my first tri, I did not come prepared for a low tire (mistake #2) but that wasn’t going to stop me. I kept on going, dragging myself downhill. I watched a bus pass me and saw the volunteers get picked up right in front of me.

My sister was at the transition waiting for me to return with my bike and heard a volunteer say, “all the cyclists are back.” She went up to the volunteer and said, “wait, my sister is still out there.” She was nervous for me as they already started announcing the winners.

Not alone

I was still riding my bike and thought I was all alone, but I wasn’t. There were two SUVs behind me making sure I was safe. One came up to me and asked if I wanted to quit and I said “no” but I could use a pump. He hesitated because it was against the rules, but at this point, it was not about winning just about finishing. He pumped up my tire and I finished the ride.

I just had the run to go. The kind man that followed me in the SUV for the final three miles of my bike ride said that he needed to come with me for the run since there was no one else out there. He mentioned that he couldn’t run fast so we had a nice 3.1-mile jog.

Finale

My sister was now waiting for me to cross the finish line. Most of the triathletes were gone so the main volunteers asked my sister if the volunteers that were timing me could leave and she said it was fine. Knowing that my race time was not anyone’s concern at that point, just crossing the finish line.

I finally crossed the finish line with my jogging partner and my first triathlon was complete. My sister was there to congratulate me. If you haven’t guessed by now, I came in dead last. I was not defeated. My first triathlon was complete.  My sister and I laughed the whole ride home. I learned several things from that experience:

1)      My sister is wonderful

2)      No matter what I was safe

3)      Someone’s always going to be last (stick around to cheer that person on)

4)      Never give up!

An Athlete’s Perspective is a blog series of event and/or training experiences written firsthand by the athletes themselves. An Athlete’s Perspective is a completely unscripted and raw look into the mind and daily life of an athlete as they prepare for their next race. Readers will discover training regimens, eating tips, gear recommendations, and an uncut perspective into the lives of people like you and me.

Removing and Replacing Pedals

Learn about properly removing and replacing your pedals

This task sounds really easy (but isn’t always). Removing or replacing pedals is one of the bike maintenance projects that most will attempt at one time or another. Reasons for removing or replacing pedals include traveling for an event like Rookie Triathlon (in which your pedals need to be removed), buying new clip-in pedals, and just general bike care.

Tools and supplies needed:

Pedal wrench – a normal adjustable wrench will work, but a pedal wrench will help you protect the pedal and provide more leverage for stubborn pedals.

Grease – used to re-grease the pedal threads if dry.

Set of Allen wrenches – some pedals are not compatible with pedal wrenches and require the use of a 5, 6, or 8mm Allen wrench from the inside tip of the spindle.

TIPS

The first thing to know is that the left pedal is reverse threaded. This means that the right one is “righty tighty” and “lefty loosey.” The left one is the opposite. Viewing from atop the bike, both pedals thread in the direction the bike moves forward. This design is to prevent the pedals from coming off as you pedal forward.

The second thing to know is that pedals are right and left specific. They are usually marked with a small R or L.

Leave the wheels on the bike. This stabilizes the bike for stubborn pedals.

If you ever notice that the threads are dry, add a little grease. Do this once every six months and on every set of new pedals you buy.

STEPS

The best position for taking pedals off is to stand over the bike with the crank arm that has the pedal you are taking off facing straight forward. Attach the pedal wrench so that it is facing straight back. Hold on to the reverse side crank arm with your free hand and press down on the wrench. This is the easiest way to remove pedals.

When replacing pedals, always use your fingers to start the threading process to prevent stripping the pedal threads. When tightening, make sure that both pedals are snug. They do not need to be so tight that you may have trouble removing.

Secure Your Bike and Protect it from Unwanted Riders

Properly secure your bike and make sure it stays yours

Just about everyone transports their bike from home to wherever they ride. So what do you do with your bike when you stop at a convenience store to get a drink? What if you make a quick stop on the way home to grab dinner? You should lock and secure your bike on your rack so that someone does not “borrow” your bike. After all, you worked so hard to buy! Pro tip: it never hurts to double-check that your lock is actually locked.

If you have a roof rack chances are that you have locks built into your rack. Otherwise, you can easily get them from a shop that sells your brand of rack. If you do not have locks or you have a rear rack for your car, then you can use a cable lock to secure your bike to your car.

Anytime you lock your #bike, you should run the cable through the frame of the bike and your wheels as well. Click To Tweet

Always secure your bike

Anytime you lock your bike, you should run the cable through the frame of the bike and your wheels as well. This also goes for locking your bike to a bike rack if you are commuting. This increases the likelihood that your wheels won’t disappear from your bike. These additional tips will also come in handy when you secure your bike.

Remember: anything that can come off of your bike without tools (wheels, saddlebag, seat post on mountain bikes) someone else can take off as well.

One last thing to remember is that locking your bike is a deterrent. If someone really wants it and they have a little time, they will get your bike. Lock your bike in plain sight so people can see it. Try not to leave it outside for long periods of time. Being proactive in protecting your bike will go a long way in ensuring it remains right where you left it. Make sure you secure your bike every time you’re away from it, even if it’s for a few minutes.