Trying a Tri

by dana Thursday, November 18th 2010

The 2010 Tenfoilman Triathlon was a fantastic race for those of us that are triathletes and those of us that are tri-ing to become triathletes. The laid back attitude (and short distances) made it fun for everyone. This triathlon is a sprint distance, meaning that it starts with an 800 meter swim, then a 12 mile bike, and finishes with a 3 mile run. Everyone I mentioned this to has said, “Oh, I could do that!” but funny how none of them have! While I am sure many people can do it, it is a bit different to do all of these things separate verses one right after another!

Previously called the Tinfoilman, this year’s event was renamed Tenfoilman due to it’s 10th anniversary and it being held on 10/10/10. This was my second triathlon (I did the Firecracker this summer) and I could hardly wait. I hadn’t prepared for my first tri (let’s just say a couple weeks before the event a friend and I- who were not signed up for the race- were at a bar… need I say more?) This time around I actually trained and I was ready. My goal was to finish under 1:25, 8 minutes faster than my previous time. To stay motivated, and keep things fun, two of my friends from the Summit Hut, Alison and Stephanie – both doing their first triathlons - joined me.\

Tinfoil Tri 2010 015
The brave three - (Left to Right: Me, Alison and Stephanie)

Race day started with a 5 am wake up call; I dragged myself out of bed and got rolling. Bikes needed to be racked early and volunteers needed to mark us with our numbers. Due to constraints of swimming in a pool, there were 10 separate waves of swimmers. Alison and Stephanie were in the first wave and since I was in wave seven I had ample time to cheer them on and take photos. A couple hours later, gleaming with excitement from finishing their first triathlon, my friends grabbed some bagels and bananas and came over to cheer me on. Alison gave me some water, Stephanie gave me a pep talk and I headed off toward the pool. A small voice in my head said, “I want to be done too!” but even more so I was excited to get started!

My swim started well, with strong strokes and decent enough flip turns but like most “non-swimmer triathlon newbies” I was unable to keep my pace and had to occasionally give my lungs reprieve by resorting to the trusty breaststroke. On my 33rd (and final) length, I was approaching a significant challenge of the swim- getting out of the pool. This particular pool has a very high edge and with the water being too deep to push from the bottom, I had to flop out of the pool like a beached seal! No matter, I was out and off running towards my bike!

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Trying my best to get out of the pool with grace!

Now, the bike is my thing- my old friend- the part of the event where I am most comfortable. Sadly, I was still huffing most of the first lap never having fully recovered from the swim, but I managed to pull it together enough to look good when passing my cheering section (my husband, son, mother-in-law, Alison, Stephanie and some others). By now, I was pacing (not drafting, as that would be against the rules!) with another cyclist and working hard. We took turns passing one another until the 3rd lap when she put the hurt on me and dropped me like a bad habit. No worries, I was then back in the transition area and in a flash I was off to a wicked slow jog. (Is that an oxymoron?)

My strategy to go as hard as I could on each section was turning out not to be such a great strategy after all… my legs were lead and my lungs were on fire. I thought I might actually have to… (gulp) …walk. Now there is no problem with walking but my goal was to finish the run in fewer than 30 minutes and I needed every one of those seconds to do so. I was still slogging along when my “bike pacer” passed me (I must have gotten ahead in the transition) and then my swim partner blew by me. (Did I mention I don’t like to run?) Somehow I managed to keep running and even picked up the pace a little. During the last mile of the run, my husband and son were there cheering me on – I started to smile. Then out of the corner of my eye I noticed my bar friend (you know, the one who thought triathlons would be a good idea) running behind me. I did not take offense to the fact that she had no trouble keeping up even though she was pushing her kid in a jogging stroller, and it didn't even bother me that she is also pregnant, but rather felt a burst of energy and suddenly the run became more bearable! So, I picked it up a bit (no one likes to look bad in front of others) and sprinted- relieved to cross the finish line.

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Finding some joy in running.

I did it! I finished in 1:24 and I didn’t even throw up (or even feel nauseous!) Apparently training really does work! This triathlon has given me an opportunity to learn to new ways to have fun out of doors, although hiking and backpacking will always be my first love. In addition, training for a race keeps me in better shape when I do go on super “fun” 16 mile bushwacks in the Catalinas. (Look for that “adventure” in my next blog…) Next year my goal is to complete an Olympic distance triathlon… right after I figure out how to make running fun! Anyone else want  to give it a tri?

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The Authors

Dave BakerDave Baker

I'm Dave Baker, founder of Summit Hut, an independent outdoor retailer based in Tucson, Arizona since 1969. As an experienced and passionate hiker, climber and backpacker, my blog is intended to be an informative and interesting look into the outdoors and the outdoor industry.

Dana Davis

Dana Davis

I’m Dana Davis, co-owner of the Summit Hut. I mostly enjoy hiking and road biking though I often do other things to keep it interesting (mountaineering, motorcycling, backpacking, climbing, you name it!) My biggest challenge is sometimes finding the balance between career, family, and fun but it’s working out so far!

Dan Davis

Dan Davis

I'm Dan Davis, after retiring from the National Park Service as a Ranger and manager, I worked for the Summit Hut until 2009, then retired for good (maybe). I'm now spending my time traveling around the southwest writing and working on my nature and fine art photography business.

Emily Gindlesparger

Emily Gindlesparger

I’m Emily Gindlesparger, a member of the Summit Hut floor staff. Since moving here from the Midwest, I’ve been taking advantage of all possible adventures in Arizona: rock climbing, mountain biking, backpacking, whitewater kayaking, caving and trail running; I’m always excited to see what’s next!

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