Bi a Tri: Disaster & Redemption

A triathlon is so far out of my wheelhouse, I started feeling a bit nervous last night because I had no idea what to expect.

I’m competitive, so naturally I wanted to do well. But with zero experience at swimming and cycling racing, I don’t know the ins and outs warming up or how to handle situations.

Sinking the swim

In case you haven’t been following, I entered an indoor triathlon as a relay team, “2 Girls and a Tri.” I planned to swim and bike and my neighbor ran.

McMo Sinking: the Swim

The swim portion sucked. Everything I practiced didn’t exist. Those stupid nerves and adrenaline got the best of me from the first stroke. I spent all that time working on my technique, practicing turns, and coming with a strategy. I knew what I could execute.

Instead I swam like a tank. I raced against two kids who decimated me. I couldn’t manage my breathing or fall into a rhythm. I knew from the third turn the swim was going to be about survival. Everything fell apart. There were times when I’d take a stroke and feel myself losing momentum. I only flip turned twice! I had the sensation of being heavy and sinking in the water. I stopped using big muscles to push through the water because everything became about breathing. The cheering towards the end distracted me, causing me to pause.

I ended up doing only 20 lengths, when in the last practice I finished 23. Further evidence of total disaster. Lesson: stick with racing ABOVE the water, not in it.

I’m going to beat myself up for a long time over this swim race. I didn’t expect to win, but my performance was shameful.

Redemption: Thank You Rower Legs

I flashed a thumbs down at my relay partner on exiting the pool. “Titanic walking!” I heard another lady say she swam 19 lengths, so at least I wasn’t DFL. But I knew those girls (literal, girls, like 10-11 years old) trounced me.

I knew I had some ground to make up on the bike. Luckily, the first five minutes started solid and those pesky nerves finally abated. I was able to focus and execute strategy. Having numbers on the screen helped.

Thank you, legs

I started banging out 30 seconds pieces, but not with a real “off.” Just 30 second sprint, 30 second 75% effort.

A little over halfway, a guy walked around and announced leader distance. Men, 6 miles, Women 4.95 miles. Well, I was at 5 miles. I figured I had to be the women’s leader.

“Come and get me, B—–,” I thought, and dialed it in even further.

I relied on those legs, letting them crank it out. I kept checking in to see if they were at their limit. Nope. Nope. Keep banging. Don’t worry about cardio.

I hit 8 miles at 26 minutes. I started chasing down nine, upping the resistance and cranking legs harder. At one minute, I upped the resistance and RPMs harder, hitting 26.3MPH.

I thought they said stop, and ended 3 seconds too early. Boo! 9.11 miles.  I didn’t catch the men, but I was close. The slowest one finished 9.5 miles.

No running for me

My relay partner banged out over 2 miles in 20 minutes on the treadmill. I don’t know how; treadmill running isn’t intuitive to your pacing, and you have no idea how any one else is doing.


So we were a very solid 3 of 3 in all our events. I’m disappointed in the swim, obviously, but we did decently in the bike and run. The other relay teams had men in them, and there’s no way I was catching kids who obviously are on the swim team. One had a woman wearing a “Tri-Mom” shirt, so she does this regularly.

Individually, even with my piss-poor water performance, if I had been able to run at all, I probably would’ve placed, if not won the women’s division. If I’d been able to execute a decent swim at 21-23 laps, definitely could have eeked out a win.

I absolutely slaughtered all the women on the cycle. Thank you, rowing legs!

The real motivation behind entering this trip was to work on how I handle competition nerves. Clearly, I more work to do.





About camckenna

I write; I row.
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