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Remembering Her First Triathlon

Amanda Lovato recalls experiences from her first triathlon

Former professional triathlete, Amanda Lovato, provides some insight to her first triathlon. See her thought process as she took on her first triathlon. Keep this in mind as you train for Rookie Tri, the first triathlon of your life, everyone starts in the same exact spot!

An Athlete’s Perspective – Issue 17

by: Amanda Lovato

Even pro triathletes have to start somewhere. This is how I started…

I needed a goal. I was chubby, unhealthy, unhappy, and only 25 years old. Being athletic in my high school and college career, I realized I needed to try something new to help me focus on being healthy again. After a lot of consideration, I signed up for my first triathlon in February 1997.

That February, I made a commitment to compete in the St. Anthony’s Triathlon in Tampa, Florida, only two months after my “start to train” date. I did this purposely. I needed a goal that wasn’t too far in advance. But I also needed to make sure that I stayed on task with my training and my goals.

Image result for amanda lovato triathleteCoach

The first thing I did was hire a coach. I knew I needed some assistance in learning the “ropes” of triathlon. I had never swum in my life. I mean I could possibly save myself if I had a life preserver strapped on, however, I didn’t know proper technique. My coach invited me to join the masters swim program. After day one, I was hooked. I’m not sure exactly why as I look back on that fateful day. I was splashing around in a cold pool at 5:30 in the morning. I was kicked. I was yelled at. I nearly drowned. I didn’t know anything about pool etiquette. In fact, before workout that morning, I informed coach that I could swim 1500 meters in 19 minutes. I believed this because at the time my college boyfriend swam a 15:39 in the 1500 at the Olympics. In my mind, 19 minutes was equivalent to a 10-12 minute mile on the track. I was SO WRONG! Nevertheless, my coach helped me to believe that I could actually finish a triathlon.

Training

I trained so hard leading up to the race that I was very tired every single day. I celebrated my days off on Mondays! As the day of the race quickly approached, I was more nervous than ever. However, I was determined. I was determined to race as hard as I could. And I was determined to finish! Coach and I talked about everything before I left for Tampa (from Baltimore). He encouraged me to have a bike shop look over my bike before I raced. He told me what time to eat the morning of the race, as well as what to eat. He told me exactly what sort of times I should be expecting for each segment. I felt very encouraged to have this much support. As I arrived, I followed everything he told me to the “T.” However, I do wish he had told me to not eat a huge steak the night before the race. That was definitely a rookie mistake!

Swim

As the gun went off, my heart nearly stopped! But then my competitive juices took over and the feelings of being scared and nervous disappeared! I was in the mix of all of the kicking and scratching for an entire 30 seconds before everyone seemed to disappear. I was alone – swimming along for 1500 meters. I kept on encouraging myself to keep going. I could do it! It took me 36 minutes to swim the distance – I did it! Now off for the bike!

Image result for amanda lovato triathleteBike

The bike seemed to be the most effortless of all. I loved the feeling of going fast. I could really push myself! Unlike the swim, I could work really hard and feel like I was going somewhere. I was pushing as hard as I could possibly go!

Run

As I entered the second transition, I knew that I had the run in the bag! What I didn’t anticipate, however, is what my legs would feel like after getting off the bike after riding so hard. I hadn’t pushed myself to the limit on the bike like that, so when I got off I just wanted to lay down! I was so tired! Through the run I lumbered, I struggled, I walked, but I worked as hard as I could to finish. My run time (for the 10K) was 55 minutes! I was ecstatic! I had finished my very first triathlon! I was absolutely hooked!!!

I never would have thought that 11 years later I would be doing this as a professional and telling the story of how I first started. It just goes to show that if you put your mind to something and if you make goals for yourself, you can do anything! Go for your dreams!

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.

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.