I am a runner and a cyclist, I am not a swimmer. The thought of doing a triathlon scared me because of the swim. I do not do New Years Resolutions, I set goals instead. One goal for 2013 was to finally get over my swimming fear and do a triathlon (tri). Several tris came and went as I continued to run half marathons. Then along came the Denver Triathlon set for September 22nd. OK, this will be the one! I registered for the Sprint distance (1/2 mile swim, 15,5 mile bike, & 3.1 mile run), a month before the event, and said, “Well, guess I better start swimming…”
Luckily, I am friends with several Ironman athletes(whew). One of which, Dustin, is a swim coach (thank-you!). Dustin worked with me several times, and I FINALLY was able to breathe to the side without swallowing water! He is a FANTASTIC coach! Very calm and clear in all instructions along with a demo of what he wanted me to do. Dustin gave me drills to work with on my own and Richard (my other friend and coach) gave me 800 meter (1/2 mile) swim workouts.
I went to Kompetitive Edge, a multi-sport shop, and tried on wetsuits. The swim is in open water, so the wetsuit not only keeps you warm, it helps keep you afloat – since I was not allowed to wear water wings, this was the next best thing! What an experience trying on wetsuits is… the sales girl was AWESOME! She warned me it would take 5-10 minutes to get one on. OH MAN, she was not kidding! The first one was too short and I was like the hunchback in it – quite comical. Tried on the next one and it fit. By now I’m sweating like crazy, didn’t help that it was over 90 degrees out! I reserved the suit to rent for my tri. A few weeks later, I came upon a screaming deal of a lifetime and ended up buying my own wetsuit.
Since it was after Labor Day, all of the open water swimming areas were closed – UGH! Luckily, Richard was able to arrange an open water swim for us at the Boulder Reservoir one morning at 7am before a Paddle Board Competition. WOW what a difference it is to swim in a wetsuit AND in open water. I felt like I was not moving forward, felt like I was in one spot. Dustin stayed right behind me and my friend Darris talked me around the buoy. I didn’t really “freak-out”, but I felt weird! Just get me through the swim alive please!
On September 15th I received the email that the Denver Triathlon was cancelled due to the horrible 100 year flood we were going through. While I understood, I was still very pissed off! I had trained, and finally psyched myself up for the swim. @#$! NOW WHAT?! I decided, fine, I will just do my own tri! BOOM and the Kristen Triathlon was born.
I planned several logistics, and created my triathlon. I wanted to get the swim and the bike done in time to do the run at 8am with my runners for our regular Saturday run. It would go as follows:
- Swim 800 meters (1/2 mile) at Life Time Fitness in Centennial in the indoor pool starting at 5:30am
- Bike 22 miles from Life Time Fitness to the Denver REI
- Run 6.2 miles with my runners at REI at 8am
John, one of my friends and runners, picked up my Life Time Run car from Life Time and brought it to REI while i was doing the swim. This way, my run transition bag would be at REI and I could throw my bike in the back of the car.
5:25 and I’m at Life Time. I unloaded my bike and put it at the front desk, then put my bag in a locker and headed to the pool. Wow the club sure is empty at 5:30am on a Saturday. Had the lap pool to myself. The night before, I had built a lap counter out of a piece of wood, two eye hooks, a long bolt, nut and 16 washers (for each lap I had to do) This lap counter worked PERFECT!
5:35am and I’m set up and started swimming. I had to do 16 laps (move the 16 washers to the other end of the bolt). Started out great, swimming properly. Leprechaun, zipper, shark fin, Tarzan, glide, stretch…(thanks Dustin!) These are all things I thought of, they are little tools Dustin taught me (right Jen?). Had to float on my back a bit, on my side, did the butterfly along with free style. Whatever it takes, just keep afloat and finish the swim.
BOOM! I finished the swim in 40:38 (at about 6:15am) YEAH I DIDN’T DROWN!! I LOVE YOU DUSTIN!!! Oh crap, got change for the bike, better get going. Yeah, so this first transition was very slow… I ended up completely changing my clothes, not easy to do when wet and cold. Used the restroom and grabbed a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Headed out to the front desk to get my bike, Apollo (like the rocket, because she makes me go fast), and there was Greg ready to cheer me on! He thought I drowned in the pool cause he couldn’t find me, yes was due to the long transition (I’ll work on that). Out the front door I went (it was now around 6:35am). Greg cheered as I rode away, he then jumped in his car and caught up to me on Dry Creek and yelled “GO FASTER! GO FASTER!” It made me laugh!
I was haulin’! My top speed was 33.3 mph! The average speed was 15.5 mph. I was on Dry Creek Rd to Mineral, then jumped onto the Platte River Trail after crossing Sante Fe. The roads were mostly empty since it was so early, that was nice. Getting onto the trail let me settle into the Aero bars and really haul. A few times I thought, I’m not going to make it to REI by 8am, I’m going to have to call and let them know to hide my key. I kept truckin’, then I realized I was only 5 miles away from REI so I put it in high gear. I MADE IT! Got the key from John and rode to my car.
Saw more of my runners as I changed into my running shoes, they all cheered when they saw me, it was awesome! Grabbed another peanut butter and jelly sandwich and headed to the start of the run.
Perfect timing, everyone was READY TO GO! It was a slow run for me, but I felt incredible, I’m sure it was adrenaline. Was great to see the trail dry, it had been completely flooded the prior week and had turned into a raging river! It was a perfect morning, sun shining, but not too hot. After the 3.1 mile turn-around, I thought to myself, wow, in the Denver Tri I would be done. I was so glad I decided to push myself further than what I had originally signed up for.
The final mile was upon me and I actually started to get choked up. I was doing it, I was actually finally becoming a triathlete! I was on such a high for that final mile and for the rest of the day! I got to the finish and I jumped up in the air yelling “I DID IT! I AM A TRIATHLETE!” My overall final time was 3:58:38, under 4 hours, but I was not going for a time, I was just aiming to FINISH!
I am going to continue doing more triathlons in 2014 and beyond. As soon as the open water opens for the season, I will be in it! Dustin is going to work with me thru the winter to make me a better swimmer. Thank-you so much Dustin and Richard for helping me reach my goal – I love you guys!
Yes, a Half Ironman is in my future for 2015… I AM A TRIATHLETE!