Sprint Triathlon as a Newbie…


I signed up for my first Sprint Triathlon! The Appleman has been held in Littleton for a number of years, and I have always thought it would be a fun challenge, but our family has usually been on vacation during the time that it was held. This year, I realized that we would be here for sure, and decided to throw my hat over the fence, so to speak. Now it is over the fence, in the lake, and the only way to retrieve it is to jump in!


This triathlon involves a 1/2 mile swim, 10 mile bike, and 3 mile run. I have cycled for years, usually a 20 mile loop, so the biking part is for sure the most comfortable leg. We have a pool, and I usually swim laps for a 1/2 hour a few times a week in the summer, so I thought that a 1/2 mile should be doable. I have never been a runner, but again, three miles seems like it should be attainable. Right?


I signed up for the first open swim clinic last week, because swimming in open water with a sea of wiggling bodies is not the same as my leisurely solo back and forth in the pool where I can stop whenever I want to shake water out of my ears, or just look around. Boy was this a good idea. In this well run clinic, right on Long Lake, where the event will take place, I’m guessing there were around 40 people present. Some were first timers to this event. This was the case for one young woman, who said that she usually swims at Walden Pond. Twice around the perimeter, or 3.4 miles. Whaaaat???


I realized just how leisurely I do actually swim, and that’s ok, but the stopping part is really not an option. No picking daisies during this event. People enter a sprint for different reasons, and as a first timer, I am not out to blow away the field. Completion is looking pretty good, and I had at first thought that as long as I’m not last then I’ll be ok. Now I realize that what the heck? If I’m last, I’ll still be smiling as long as I’m not blue in the face.


I bought a wetsuit yesterday, not for warmth but because it’s a big aid in the buoyancy department. I had been calling it my Catwoman suit, but realized that Michelle Pfiefer can rock it as Catwoman; I’m focussing on buoyancy and will leave looking fetching for when I’m throwing sticks to the dog. The first person I spoke with about a wetsuit was in a biking store. “You want it to fit right, but you don’t want to be swimming in it,” he said. “I do want to swim in it,” I countered. “You can lose time in the transitions,” he insisted. If he means that I will lose time by gaining seconds during the transitions, then Of Course that’s true. All those high fives and fist bumps as I leave the water will take time. Transitions = breather, right?


Have you ever been wetsuit shopping? Wriggling into one after another of these snug fitting garments is a workout in itself! I was panting by the time I zipped up the winner with the leash that pulls up the back zip. But what a concept! I think I’m going to install colorful back zip leashes on some of my dresses!


I also bought some tri-biking shorts. Typically padded bike shorts are comfortable and would act like an incredibly efficient diaper, which would be awesome for biking toddlers, but less wonderful for a waterlogged adult trying to make up the fist bumping time on the bike. To say nothing of attempting to run after that. Tri shorts are less padded and will not take on water. So now I’m fully equipped and practicing my 3 sports as best as I can around my work and home duties. I’m nervous, but excited, and looking forward to more training, both in the open water, and on the road. More thoughts to follow in this three part series challenge…


Slightly breathless Littleton resident Meg Stafford can be reached at megstaf@aim.com

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About Meg

Meg is a licensed independent clinical social worker with over thirty-five years clinical experience. She holds a Master’s Degree from the Boston University School of Social Work and a Bachelor of Arts from the State University of New York at Binghamton.