Late night, exhausted after a long weekend of running, cycling, and open-water swim training, and I find myself reading articles and blogs of tips for first time triathletes. The Susz triathlon is only a few days away. More than a dozen WITCers are set to compete in the upcoming Susz triathlon – most in the sprint, but a few impressive souls in the half-iron – and we have bonded over frequent swimming, cycling, and running activities. I’m starting to feel like triathlon training has taken over my life. For most of our group, this triathlon will be our first. In the past few months, I’ve run, cycled, and swam quite a few kilometers. I’ve re-learned how to swim, numbed my rear with many hours on a road bike, cautiously learned how to use clip-in bike shoes (not always successfully), and realized that anything triathlon-related in my size is hard to find in Poland.
If I’m not training for the triathlon, there is a good chance I’m talking about it with someone. And when we talk about it, what are we usually discussing? For the newbies, the swim. Distances in the sprint triathlon are quite manageable, and most of us are reasonably experienced runners. The five kilometer run at the end may not be fast, but it should be okay. And, while I haven’t cycled much in many years, riding a bike is… well… like riding a bike. Swimming 750 meters in a muddy opaque lake with a few hundred others is by far the most intimidating to those of us who haven’t done this before. Hence, the open-water training 90 kilometers outside Warsaw on the weekend. What did I learn from this experience? Other than the fact that both involve water, swimming in a pool is nothing like swimming in a lake. You can’t find your direction looking in the water, and you have no lane ropes to ensure you don’t go off course. It’s colder (at least here in Poland). You have more need to relax but less ability to. The wetsuit, with its warmth and buoyancy, is a near and dear friend now! If you track your location by watching other swimmers, just hope they’re not off course as well.
I thought at this point I would be looking forward to a few weeks of relaxation after Susz, with minimal training as I recover from the big push of the past two months. I’m still intimidated by Susz – the swim, the transitions, the mass of people — but I appear to be getting hooked. Susz is only on the horizon, but I’m already looking past it at possible Olympic distance triathlons in the future. Many things could go wrong this Sunday – broken bike chains, injuries, etc. But for me, all the training and preparation I’ve done is not just about Susz and checking the tri box. I’m looking forward to a fun and challenging triathlon experience on Sunday, and I hope it’s just the start.
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