Christine will tell us about her first triathlon experience! I know triathlon interests many of us in this group and I am hoping as things warm up to do a few more triathlon focused events. Enjoy the Q & A.
How did you get into triathlon?
I’ve always had a passion to run since I was age 5. I competed in middle school and later in high school at a State level and was extremely competitive in my early teens with my specialties being hurdles, high jump and 4 x 400 relay — earning trophies, medals, and school records during my four years of high school. I am 54 now. Life happened – marriage – children – and a long break from running along with a lot of weight gained to the point where I was not healthy waking up in pain every morning. After ‘seeing’ myself on a short video clip of playing with my kid (age 3!) in the back yard it was a huge wakeup call…. Do something or continue to suffer. I decided to run again at age 48 through a C25K program that changed my life resulting in losing 30 pounds and getting into the best shape of my life, even better than in high school. In the span of five years I’ve run at least 100 races varying from 5K’s to full marathons with a splattering of mud obstacle course racing. During this short running timeframe, I had started considering that I needed more of a challenge than just running but I never felt ready to take that leap of faith (and investment) in triathlon. It finally took an injury – probably the most common story of transition to triathlon (fast forward to T1 and T2) …it took a torn medial meniscus and surgery to solidify my decision to move forward into the triathlon world. After a year of healing, I completed my first triathlon.
Who/what helped you when you started with gear and basic knowledge?
Since I had been considering triathlon for a few years, I started attending some triathlon related meetings at a local bike shop which started me thinking and learning about triathlon but my true triathlon angel and mentor is Kelly Kraynak whom was a member of a running group that we were both in. In her posts, I’d noticed she would post about triathlons and bike/swim workouts she was doing. I reached out to Kelly and asked for some help to get started and never looked back. Kelly is my Tri Sistah and we have raced in several events together including IMCT (my first half tri).
What did triathlon training look like when you started? How is that different from now?
It was a bit overwhelming to me taking it all in, learning how to balance all the disciplines and family time. Over time I learned to fit in what I needed to do each week, but I have never had a coach either. So, I kind of stick with doing each discipline a couple times a week as a rule of thumb without any real coach guidance. I think I function on pure mental power sometimes. I could benefit from a coach.
What was your first race? How did you pick it?
My first official triathlon was Iron Girl in upstate NY in 2019. My first triathlon was supposed to be HMF Women’s Tri in Fall of 2019, but my Tri sister Kelly told me I was ready sooner than that. Of course, I was apprehensive about it but said what the heck – I took a leap of faith and told my self I have nothing to lose and would gain experience for the Fall event. So, I ended up doing my first triathlon 5 months earlier than my original plan. I wiped out during the bike portion on a train track because it was raining, and I did not have experience with riding correctly over slick metal and down I went. Long and short – I got my shit together mentally after putting my chain back on, blood running down my leg, and finished my first triathlon. The snickers bar helped. I found my mental power to be strong and determined. I was earning that Swim Bike Run medal no matter what!
What were you most scared about in your first race? Most excited?
I was most scared about not making the cut off times for each discipline while at the same time very excited to complete my first triathlon event. I needed to overcome my nerves. The swim start with a group of ladies was really nerve wracking but once I got into my groove, I was good. Swim is my strongest event followed by bike and then run. What a change of events starting as a runner.
What have you learned since your first race?
I have learned to focus on one discipline at a time during an event. Swim, Bike, Run. Do each one to the best of my ability. Focus intently on each one, complete it, and move as quickly as I can through T1 and T2 – move forward. Also, at the end of the swim portion, no matter what, don’t stand up too soon! Only stand when your hands touch the sand at the end of the swim – then run as fast as you can to T1. If you stand up too soon, you will lose time (and energy) because the water will hold you back if you try to run while your thighs are still in the water. Touch the sand first before standing up out of the water. You’ll save at least 30-60 seconds.
What would you say to someone just starting out in triathlon?
I would tell them it’s awesome and tell them to reach out to me with any questions and I’d help the best way I could. I believe in passing on knowledge learned from other awesome women. I’d suggest groups that I’m part of on FB where they could learn more about triathlon from other athletes.
Favorite race so far? Dream race?
My favorite triathlon was the Boston Triathlon where I took 2nd place in my race division and earned my first triathlon trophy. This race was almost perfect until I got to the run. I had a strong swim and bike but by the time the run happened the temperatures were near 90F and I should have had salt tabs. But overall, I did well and had fun. I do not have a dream race although a very tiny part of my psyche does think about doing a full ironman. I honestly do not know if this is possible for me until I understand the problem with my hip. I do not want to go through another surgery, but I know I would have solid support from my friends. So, at this point in my life, I intend to just have FUN! If it’s no longer fun, then I do not see the sense in continuing with the tri life. To just be able to DO this, is a blessing to me.
Anything else you would like us to know?
The world of triathlon is a blessing for one’s mental and physical attributes. The camaraderie and friends are wonderful and a true feeling of belonging. Not everyone understands this but to me it gives me the drive to be the best version of me that I could possibly be. I feel like I have friends for a lifetime, friends who give advice and support and whom I can learn from for years to come.