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My "First Triathlon" Story: From Indoor Triathlons to Outdoor Triathlons

Triathlete profile: Linda BrooksTriathlon Inspiration Technically I’ve done 2 previous Triathlons – but both were totally indoors, and were time-based, not distance based – MUCH different than doing an outdoor open-water Triathlon.

I’d been inspired, encouraged, and tempted into doing a Triathlon by a friend and fellow co-worker. She is amazing, and it was her stories of running that first got me MOVING in the first place. She completed her first Triathlon last September, and unfortunately I had not even been able to be there to watch.

I’ve been reading, training, and watching Triathlon videos for over six months – and had registered for one of the most popular all women’s Triathlon’s in the Midwest – the WIN for KC Triathlon at Smithville Lake, Missouri. It’s a Sprint distance Triathlon, and very popular as a first-time Triathlon for good reason. The staff and volunteers for this Tri are amazing. There are organized training sessions conducted by a Triathlon expert as well as training opportunities done through the Blue Cross Blue Shield Fitness Series.

So, we were trained, we were pumped, and we were READY. I awoke on time with the alarm at 4am, and was immediately informed that my husband would not be going with me – he didn’t feel well. Ok, change in plans already – gonna have to make some changes in my transition plans (now I’ll have a car key to worry about). No problem. Out the door just a few minutes later than I had planned, but not bad – headed north and started seeing quite a gathering of traffic as I reached Smithville. Went right past the convenience store when I realized I hadn’t filled up my water bottle – u-turn, bought 2 bottles of water, and used the restroom – again. I was one of the fortunately people who got to park in the main area, and was only 3 rows deep in the field, not bad. I had already received a text from one fellow participant indicating she was also already there. I unloaded the bike, made sure I had everything I wanted in my backpack, and pushed my bike out of the field and into the road. I was going to ride the bike down to body marking, but didn’t see anyone else doing that, so I just pushed it along. Heaven forbid I stand out.

Made it to body marking in just a few short minutes, and was thankful they trusted me to just know my number because I would have had to unload my entire backpack to pull out the envelope that contained my bib number. Perfectly completed body markings, and on to pick up my race chip and enter transition. Number 705 – I like my number. Our bike racks were assigned by number, and it was clear that they were arranged by age group. I was smack in the middle of everything, which was fine with me. I was the second person to arrive for my rack, which gave me a prime position on an end (mental note to self – always arrive early). It was still pitch dark, but the sun would be up shortly, so I opted to just claim my rack space, and unpack my pack when it was light. I found my friends on their racks, and hugs were exchanged. I love these women – we’re in it together.

We had been hoping for a cloudy/overcast morning as a respite to the 100 degree heat from the previous two weeks in the Kansas City area, but I had not planned on rain – at all. If I had used the check list on the Triathanewbie website I would have had a garbage bag with me – I might have even had a couple of Ziploc bags to put my phone, electronic car key, and BodyMedia FIT in, just in case of rain – but I hadn’t taken advantage of that little gem. So – yes, we had clouds – than we had sprinkles of rain – and then – we had downpours, buckets of rain, lots of lightening – more rain, and more rain. There was absolutely nothing still dry in transition, and the race start was delayed by nearly an hour.

Imagine 750 women, nervous, huddling in their respective swim gear, bright orange swim caps, shivering and praying to not get struck by lightning – as well as a thousand or so spectators – it was quite a damp scene. Eventually the rain and lightning passed, the lifeguards got back in the water, and the first swimmer hit the lake. The swim portion is done as a time trial start – one swimmer in the water every 3 seconds. The line moved quickly enough, and away we went. I had lined up with the 17 minute swim line – which was actually a guess. I didn’t panic in the water, in fact I was more relaxed than I had been during the ONE open water swim practice I had done – but the swim was a struggle. I was never so happy to be able to stand up and run out of the lake and head into transition. I was proud of myself for finishing the 500 meter swim under 20 minutes – and proud that I was able to jog up into transition and find my rack – you see, I’m legally blind without my glasses on, and of course you can’t swim in glasses.

Because of the rain everything (shoes, towel, rug, socks – EVERYTHING) was soaking wet. I was fortunately to still have baby powder which had been closed, and therefore was still dry, and used this to dry my feet off enough to be able to put on my socks and shoes. I spent 4 minutes flat in T1 – I’ll take that. Almost forgot that I couldn’t get on my bike until the Bike Mount line – but only briefly. The angel man from Epic Bike and Sports who noticed that my chain was off my bike just as I mounted, and put the chain on for me was FANTASTIC. I can put on my own chain, but having him there and seeing it before I noticed was awesome.

I was thrilled to be on the bike portion, and felt very strong on the ride. I had put new tires on my mountain bike just a week prior, less nobby, and narrower – perfect for making my mountain bike closer to a hybrid – much faster and more efficient. I had done the bike route twice before the event, so I knew the route very well. That was the best cycle training – next to all of the spinning classes I’ve done – gonna have to give those Spinning instructors a big hug next time I see them, they saved my legs! The turn-around was very welcome, and the route back seemed amazingly shorter. All the way back I was mentally planning for T2 and the run. I’ve learned that running and Triathlon’s are very much a mental sport – and I wanted my head in the right place. I surprisingly caught up to, and passed, one of my girls – on her road bike. I couldn’t believe it. This friend that I passed is one awesome, phenomenal, amazing woman. She’s a super inspirational, 60 year old, hip grandma!


I finished the bike portion strong, and rode fast down to the bike dismount area. I jogged down to my rack, re-racked my bike, grabbed a quick drink of Gatorade, and headed down the path for the run portion. I really wanted to walk the first part, the proverbial heavy legs syndrome, but I HAD to at least get through the spectators and into the woods before I dropped my jog down to a quick walk – it was pride thing. I made it into the woods, and started my run/walk intervals. About half a mile down the trail my beloved friend ‘Flash’ caught up to me, and we ran/walked together all the way to the turnaround. The four of us had all come out and walked the running trail just 2 days prior, so we knew the route, we knew the small hills, the sunny areas, and where the aid stations would be. I cannot stress how important ‘knowing’ your route is for your mental race.


I was very happy with my run portion, being able to complete the 5K distance in the same amount of time as I normally would on a non-Triathlon day. I crossed the finish-line (a slight uphill) in a jog – with a huge smile and my girls were there for hugs and smiles and support. Yes, this was a fantastic day indeed!

Official times: Overall 1:52:48 (my goal was to finish under 2 hours)

Swim: 18:11
T1: 4:00
Bike: 43:24
T2: 1:23
Run: 45:51

Thank you Triathanewbie – and to everyone else who have shared their stories here. My hope is that my experience will inspire and encourage someone else to get out there and TRI! I’m totally hooked, and really looking forward to my next Tri in September. There could be one or two in August as well, if I can swing the registration fees! Yep, I’m hooked!

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