My Almost Triathlon (With Apologies to Real Triathletes Everywhere)

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Some things seem like a good idea if you agree to them far enough in advance. Case in point: Last year, after my husband finished a sprint triathlon in Brigantine, NJ, my 12-year-old suggested we compete as a family relay team in 2010. It seemed like a good idea at the time and, hey, I had a whole year to train. Right?

Here’s what we agreed to: My husband would do the quarter mile bay swim; I would do the 11-mile bike portion; and our 12-year old would complete the 4-mile run. No sweat. Especially once I trained for it. With a year to go I figured I’d start my training about four months before the event. When the time to start training rolled around, four months of training for an 11-mile bike ride seemed a bit overzealous, three months of training should do the trick. Or maybe I could do it in two. Or one. The night before the event the only option left was to pray for rain.

August 7, 2009 – the day of the Brigantine Sprint Triathlon – dawned as a picture perfect summer day. Not a cloud in the sky and zero percent chance of precipitation. It was on.

Of course, when I say I didn’t train at all, I’m exaggerating a bit. Bike riding is my outdoor activity of choice and in the weeks leading up to the race, I hopped on my bike at least a couple of times a week. A few times I even rode eleven miles just to make sure I could do it. As a suburban soccer mom who had never been in any type of race before, let’s just say I wasn’t your typical triathlon participant – even for a sprint. My relay partners and I agreed that we had one goal – to finish. In my mind, I established a somewhat leisurely pace for myself of 6-minute miles. Factoring in the run through the transition area (gulp), I emphasized to my husband and daughter that they shouldn’t look for me for at least an hour and ten minutes after my start.

As anybody who has ever participated in an event like this probably knows, I wasn’t factoring in race day adrenaline. As I waited in the transition area for my husband to complete his swim, my heart was pounding with equal parts excitement and fear. He made good time on the swim, despite the unusually strong bay current that day, and before I knew it he was running towards me to transfer the ankle bracelet that contained our time chip. Once the transition was complete, I ran the bike through transition to the bike staging area. Then it was eleven miles of pure bike riding adrenaline. After the first five miles I stopped hyperventilating. The last mile I smiled the whole way. I finished the ride twenty minutes faster than I expected. My 12-year-old ran her four miles (with her dad beside her for support) like a champ. The best part? Now we have a time to beat. We’re all in again for next year. Training begins in April.

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About Patty Cara

Patricia Cara, our Vice President of Creative Services, has an eye for design no doubt honed by years of painting, photography, cooking (and school-projects). Every AE's go-to goddess at deadline time, Patty, with Alstin for more than 24 years, keeps it real with impromptu office dance parties and the latest iPhone apps.