Winding Trails Off-Road Triathlon Series – My FIRST TRI!

Photo courtesy of the internets
Last week, on June 30, I put a big ol’ CHECK in one of my bucket list boxes and did a triathlon.  I have talked about doing one for YEARS.  I finally dove in and just did it.  Pun intended.
I am by no means a fish.  I learned to swim “for real” in my 20s, and was swimming pretty regularly for a little while.  Unfortunately, this was 7 years ago.  I had no idea when the last time I swam at all was.  None.  Zip.  Not even a splish splash at the beach.  Minor details.
Fast forward to last week.  I knew there was a triathlon training series at the Winding Trails recreation area. The series is off-road (huge plus in my book), low key (bigger plus), and beginner friendly (biggest plus).   After chatting about the race with Debbie Livingston (who I admire IMMENSELY – bad. ass. Nothing like getting to be friends with someone who is also a total running idol.  So lucky!!) at the Nipmuck South race on Sunday,  I decided on a whim on Monday night (probably over a beer or two) that I would jump in the race on Tuesday evening.  No time like the present!
I rustled up my old swim cap (in one piece thankfully), goggles (also in one piece), and sausaged myself into the tri suit I bought for just such an occasion.  It fit.  Thank Jesus. There is a lot of STUFF involved.  Bike, helmet, bike shoes, running shoes, towel, swim cap, goggles, water, skratch labs drink, visor, glasses, etc, etc, etc,.  And this was for a tiny little local race that would take an hour.  Honestly.  How do you Iron-People DO it???

I showed up Tuesday evening in an appropriate state of panic.  Luckily I was swooped up by Debbie and then a super friendly and helpful race volunteer who told me exactly what I needed to do.  Phew!  I got my arm sharpied (totally a word) with my number and re-sausaged back into what was effectively an extremely cute Betty Designs casing.  Put my stuff down at the bike rack.  Paced around nervously. Checked it again.  Walked down to the pond and paced around a little more.  Warm up?  psssssh.  No, I will just walk around aimlessly like a total loon with no idea what I’m doing.  It’s fine.  I did dunk myself into the water and paddle around for 3 seconds.  Because everyone else was.  

Heading to trainsition area


Pre-Swim jitters
Ready, set, GO!

The swim (amazingly, luckily, and completely accidentally) went off without a hitch.  It was short so I managed to freestyle my way through the 1/4 mile, breathing pretty much every other stroke like a nervous little guppy. 


bike shoes on at the beach
running to T1 with Debbie!



The bike transition was quick and easy, thanks to putting my shoes on at the beach.  I felt much slower than I wanted to be on the bike, and all sorts of off balance.  I took all of the corners like a freakin’ 18 wheeler – THIS VEHICLE MAKES WIDE TURNS, WATCH OUT!  The course was very nontechnical double and single track, which did NOT suit me.  I need something in my way.  Lots of soft woodchips too.  Quicksand, anyone?  Where are all of the damn rocks when you need them??

T2 was slow.  Had to get out of my mountain bike shoes and into the road shoes.  People in sneakers on their bikes hopped off and left me in their dust.  Again – need. technical. terrain. Bah.  The run felt slow also, probably due to tired legs from my 14 mile trail race 2 days before. And because I had just swam and biked.  Right.  That.  

I ran my little ass off, and finished strong.  Run course was very similar to the bike course and shared some of the same trails.  Passed quite a few people on the run.  And got passed by two girls who made me look like I was standing still.  Better do a little speed work. Damn.  
I was super proud of myself for jumping in and giving this a shot.  And thrilled that it was FUN!  I will most definitely be back for a couple of more, as my work schedule allows it.  And I would love to do a longer one.  In the woods.  That road shit is for the birds.  

Have you tried something brand-spankin’ new lately?  How did it go?

Who has some off-road triathlon recommendations for me?? (In the Northeast please)

No, Really.  Ironman.  WHY, you crazy cats, WHY.

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