Twelve things I've learnt from my first Super Sprint Triathlon
Some things I learnt from taking part at the wonderful Goa Triathlon:
For the swim
1. I couldn't go regularly to the pool, but since I live near the beach, I did often go to the beach and swim. The swim was fine, even though I didn't really do a non-stop 400 m swim in the sea or pool.
2. Since I had never properly swum in the sea before, I started out with short distances of swimming parallel to the coast at Sernabatim beach. Then I practiced swimming out and back, just to see what it feels like to be hit by waves and to be more than 50 metres from the shore. I would plonk my bag next to the lifeguard and swim right in front of his chair. I tried not to think about the fact that the life guard was looking at the phone more than at the beach. Turns out the swim part of the Goa triathlon is at Bambolim beach, a very sheltered cove that doesn't have any waves breaking. So for next year, my training swim will be parallel to the coast. Much safer.
3. At the beach, I was usually the only one with swimming cap and goggles on. Nobody cares.
4. I was very conservative for the Tri swim, the main aim being to not panic. I had read of triathlons where other swimmers kick your goggles off and I didn't want that! I stuck to breast stroke -presumably slower than the crawl, but during the Tri, I didn't get tired, didn't swallow any water and could easily steer clear of other swimmers. I did feel myself kick a few people behind me though- sorry!
5. I own some running gear. Swimming gear is essential, so I own that too. And now, I have some cycling-specific clothes and gadgets too. I don't want to add triathlon gear to my tiny wardrobe! So I didn't bother getting a tri-suit. During training I wore a full sleeve swimming top from Decathlon, with swim bottoms. This worked well to keep the sun off my arms, and for the cycle ride I just needed to add pants, no top needed. I stuck to the same clothes for the triathlon and it worked well, especially since I didn't get cold in the hour between registration and the start of the swim. The only additional thing I had to do was pin my bib to my wet t-shirt. I pinned it on awry and it stayed like that in my photos. The volunteers were noting down bib numbers as we did cycling laps and it wasn't easy for them to note the numbers of the people with the bib on the back or low on the shorts for artistic reasons (i'm assuming).
6. After the swim, I put on my tight running pants, as I was afraid that wet skin, cycle seat and shorts would lead to chafing. I even kept some lotion by the cycle, to help whisk on the pants. The lotion might have helped get the pants over wet legs, but it was almost impossible to pull the pants up to my waist. Next time, shorts!
For the bike ride
7. Lip balm in the cycle bag helped.
For the run
8. I should have kept a cap in the bike bag. I'm used to wearing one while running and the Goa Triathlon route is very sunny.
9. I didn't carry any water while running, since the running leg was so short- 2.5km, I just ensured I swigged down some water at the end of the cycle ride. It was liberating to not carry a bottle!
10. There's a lot of kit involved in a triathlon. I spent an hour laying out things the previous night- attaching the bib number to the cycle, deciding what was going to go into the cycle bag and what would stay at the start line. One (obvious) thing I missed out on was a towel. It would've been nice to wipe my face after the swim!
11. Since we live an hour away from the start point, we drove to Bambolim at 5 am with the child. It took me just about an hour to complete the triathlon, and the homies drove back after that to pick me up. We then had to drive and walk to retrieve the cycle. A better plan for next year is to stay with the family in a cottage at Bambolim and amble over to the start line in the morning, while the homies get their sleep. They can come over at 8 am and cheer me as I cross the finish line, and we can all go back to our hotel for breakfast. Once the road opens up for traffic, we can drive up the hill to get the cycle.
12. I definitely didn't train enough for the triathlon, but finished second anyway! Unfortunately, there were 2 women ahead of me who had done only 1 cycling lap, not 2, but they received the trophy and glory, until the data showed that I was actually ahead. So my trophy, winner's cheque and goody bag are in the mail. Instead of being bummed by the lack of glory, I'm thrilled at the result and resolved to train properly next year, so that I can take a crack at actually winning this thing.