I’m Joining the Triathlon World!

All right, friends, I promised a second volume of news today, and here it is:  I am officially joining the triathlon world!

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It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while, and I figured since I’m home for the summer—well, at least until I get a fancy schmancy job in New York City—now would be the perfect opportunity to cross off an item on my fitness bucket list.  Not to mention Central New York is a hotbed for triathloning, so I know its knowledgeable community will be a huge plus.

When I first told my family and friends I wanted to swim, bike, and run, I received a lot of quizzical looks and supportive, yet honest exclamations—I got a lot of  “Carrie, you’re a freak!” and “Carrie, so can so do it, but that’s crazy!”  My loved ones know me so well.

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Here’s the way I look at triathloning (I think I should get bonus points for this list since it goes in the reverse order of an actual race):  First, I’m already a decent runner, and although I love a 5-K race as much as the next runnerd, this distance is starting to become too routine.  Don’t worry, I won’t be retiring from 3.1-mile competitions anytime soon, but I’m looking to challenge myself a bit more. (I signed up for the 4th of July 10-miler around Cazenovia Lake, the 15-K Utica Boilermaker, and the Trompton Half-Marathon, and all three will definitely keep me honest and devoted to my training this summer.)

Second, at college this past year, I began an indoor cycling—or spinning—enthusiast.  Every Tuesday and Thursday evening at 5:30 p.m., I headed to Bristol Field House, hopped on a stationary bicycle, and sweated profusely for an hour with instructors Ellen and Donna.  Even though their teaching styles differed—Ellen is super bubbly and enthusiastic, and Donna is one tough cookie who makes you work—I found another workout to add to my fitness arsenal.  In fact, it was during a Thursday night spin class that Donna asked if I had ever given triathloning a thought.  The seed had been planted.

Finally, there’s the swimming.  As a kid, I took swimming lessons every summer, and I was even on track to become a certified lifeguard.  But that was then.  Now, well, I can’t lie—it’s been a while since I’ve completed a legitimate pool workout. (For collegiate basketball, we used to have a pool workout once a week during preseason, but even that was nowhere near what the William Smith swimming and diving team was doing on a regular basis.) However, an open water swim (OWS) usually constitutes the swimming portion of a triathlon. (A few events have the swim in an Olympic-sized pool, but for the most part, it takes place outdoors.) There’s no doubt the OWS will be my triathlon “Achilles’ heel”—no one can be awesome at all three, right?—but being cognizant of this anticipated weakness could be a good thing; down the road, if I’m debating between going for a run or swimming in the lake, I know which one I should choose.

Fast-forward to last week:  I went to Syracuse Bicycle to start looking at road bikes.  Since this was my first trip to the store, and I knew zilch about choosing a bicycle, I knew a purchase would not be happening.  Instead, my mentality was to learn as much as possible about the different types of bikes, the pros and cons of each, and which kind of bike would be ideal for a rookie triathloner.  During this initial visit, I spoke with Bryan and Jim, both of whom were extremely knowledgeable and helpful.  Unfortunately, I left my sneakers at home, and I didn’t feel comfortable test riding bikes while I was wearing “real” shoes, but I headed out knowing I would most likely be getting a Trek road bike.

This past Sunday, I headed back to the shop and asked my aunt to come with me.  She’s a recreational cyclist, and I wanted her input, opinions, and feedback when I was trying out bicycles.  Although I donned the appropriate bike-riding attire—think running shorts and sneakers—I was still nervous.  Sure, it’s one thing to ride like the wind during spin class, but I was on an actual road bike. (I did my best to banish the thought of totally whipping out in the parking lot.) Again, I worked with Jim, and he relayed a ton of information while I pedaled around in two Trek bicycles.  However, before I could test the third bike—a unisex ride—the typical CNY weather went from bright and sunny to torrential downpour in a matter of five minutes.  So typical.  I left the store empty handed, but Jim mapped out my two contenders.

Yesterday was my third trip to Syracuse Bicycle, and I finally bought a bike!  The unisex design had handlebars that were a bit too wide for me, and overall, I felt more comfortable on the woman’s design bicycle, so I picked the Lexa SL.

If all goes according to plan, the bike should be here by Monday at the latest … which means I can attend my first CNY Triathlon Club Wednesday Night Summer Series!  Before that can happen, though, I need to get the right gear.  After spin class at the Y tomorrow morning, I’m going to Fleet Feet to meet MaryBeth, and she’s going to help outfit me for triathlon success.  For the triathloners, which brand of gear do you recommend?  Do you wear a one-piece or two-piece tri suit?  Any wetsuit recommendations?

10 responses to “I’m Joining the Triathlon World!

  1. WOW how exciting for you, and I agree the trek is a great first choice, although I have never riden a trek my friends who are fast have it and love it!

    My swimming is also my weakness, so true can’t be good at all three… and really the running and cycling are the most important as they are the longest hehe… Gosh for my first triathlon as it was just a club one I wore simply a pair of swimmers but I was 15! Most wear the tri suit for the shorter distances like up to Olympic distance, but for Ironman usually they wear the 2 peice with the shorts and top cos you usually need something easy to get off to go to the toilet! :-D Ummm oh and later once you’ve got the hang of it, I’d recommend getting cleats and shoes, and make sure you get a wetsuit, although can be a bit expenisve, shop around for these too, there’s a lot of different brands, and if you want to shop online for bits and pieces for triathlon like a wind trainer and other things cheap, have a look at wiggle.com, they sell shoes and everything! Hope that helps! Good luck with it all… can’t wait to hear how it all goes for you… I was so addicted after my first one and couldn’t wait for the next one! :-)

  2. Thanks for your advice! I still have to get bike gear (helmet, shoes, padded shorts etc.), and like you suggested, I’m planning on getting a wetsuit tomorrow–glad we’re on the same page :)

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