December 21, 2010

To Tri or not to Try

So #3 on My List is to Complete a Triathlon. I got the idea into my head at the same time that I decided to do a Triathlon. Fitness Magazine did a spread in one of their issues about a year and a half ago that featured two articles: "Yes, You Can Run a Half-Marathon" and "8 Weeks to Your First Mini Triathlon." Well, I followed their training plan and completed my first half-marathon in May and added a triathlon to my list. But I'm starting to have second thoughts about it...

It's not that I don't think I'm capable of completing a triathlon. I'm only aiming for Sprint Distance and have even picked out a tri that, if I do go ahead with it, I want to do. (The Washington DC Triathlon, for those of you who are wondering) But I'm starting to realize the burden that training for a tri would put on me.

Let's get physical: It's no secret that a triathlon is a tremendous physical feat. While I know that handling the run of a sprint distance tri would be a piece of cake for me, even though I'm a strong swimmer, I've never actually swum laps or distances before. I also haven't ridden a biscycle since I was about 10 years old and honestly don't know that I still remember. I know what everyone never forget how to ride a bike, but I'm not so sure about that! As far as swimming goes, my friend Erin (formerly a water polo player) also wants to complete a tri and we've talked about doing it together so she's offered to coach me as a swimmer, so I don't think that would be too much of an issue.

On top of that, I'm already registered for a Half-Marathon and a 10-miler for the spring and really looking to try and squeeze in a marathon somewhere around May or June and I'm not too sure that my body could handle the additional stress of cycling and swimming on top of marathon training. Then again, I could incorporate cycling and swimming into my cross-training workouts but since I typically run 4 days a week and cross-train 2, that probably wouldn't be enough, right?

Mental Preparation: Being in grad school, my life is still dictated by semesters and next semester is going to be tough. Between my job and my internship, I'm working a full 40 hours a week. On top of that, I'm in school full time with 4 classes, 3 of which are until 9pm next semester. I also have a part-time weekend job that occupies my weekends anywhere from 2-12 hours at a time. Let's not even throw school work into that mix. It's because of all this that I don't think I'll quite be able to run a full marathon in the spring. But maybe, if I start tri-training after my Half-Marathon in March, I'll be in good shape for a June tri and can then focus on running a fall marathon and breaking 4 hours!

Financial Burden: Running gear? Check! Swimming gear? Almost check...I would need a wetsuit...right? Cycling gear? Umm...this is honestly where the biggest issue comes into play. Bikes are expensive and I'm not in any position to spend the money on a bicycle to try a triathlon for the first time without any indication of whether I plan to become a triathlete beyond the one. Helmets aren't cheap...and then I would need cycling shoes and who knows what other things triathletes need to get them through training and ultimately, a race. Aside from completing a triathlon, becoming financially self-sufficient is also on my list and being a triathlete is an expensive hobby (so is being a runner, I'm slowly starting to find...but much less so!).

So with all of that said, I'm really starting to consider whether I should change the #3 on my list. I'm not really leaning toward one way or another and that's why I'm writing about this! So what do you advise? Have any of my wonderful readers ever done a tri? Have you considered it and are held back for any of the same reasons I am? What do you all think? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

And while you're thinking about it: meet my newest hero. I haven't read her book yet, but this woman is amazing! She's an 80-year-old nun who has completed over 340 triathlons and I don't know how many marathons. She's responsible for their being a 74-79 age group in the Ironman Triathlon competition and they call her the Iron Nun. I love everything about this.


  1. One of my friends did an Iron Man competition and the bikes are very expensive. Personally, I think I would check out some places to get a decent bike second hand. Same thing about the helmet. The thing is, that will likely still be expensive. And no matter which way you work it, it will be a major time commitment. Do you have a place to go for a swim? If you don't, then you'll probably have to add gym membership to the fees. Not to mention, speaking as someone who has tried to bike, swim, and run in the same gym day, despite being primarily a runner, all those work different muscles. And I was majorly sore!
    That being said, I think it would be really cool to be able to say you've done a triathlon. And as one of you're readers I'm cheering for you to complete your list!
    *Are you going to post a review of the book? I'd be interested to know what you think when you finish...

  2. I say if you are going to do a marathon, put the tri on for later in the year - August, Sept.

  3. Maybe you can scratch it off your list, or edit it. Maybe "complete a tri in the next 2 years." Then you can start saving and purchasing what you need, giving yourself more time to train for the areas you don't feel as strong in.

    I think that editing the 'To-Do Life Lists' we make for ourselves is part of growing. It's learning that there are sometimes going to be things we just can't fit into our schedules or budgets. :)

  4. Christy,

    Great article. My name is Liz Barlow, and I work for XTERRA WETSUITS (a triathlon-specific wetsuit company). I am 22, and I started doing triathlons about 3 years ago. It's definitely a huge investment with both time and money; however, it's ultimately up to you with how far you take each of those commitments.

    If you're looking to finish a sprint triathlon, you're don't necessarily have to invest as much time and energy as compared to setting a goal to win your age group in an Ironman race.

    With that being said, I wish you the best of luck with a few suggestions. For my first triathlon, I rented a wetsuit, rented a bicycle (it happened to be a mountain bike which wasn't the coolest bike, but it got me through the bike portion), and used other basic gear that I had.

    XTERRA WETSUITS has recognized the potential financial burden of the sport of triathlon, so we sell directly to our customers - no retailers, no middlemen to save our customers money. If you're interested in a wetsuit, please let me know - we have our entry-level performance wetsuits available for $99.

    Thanks, and best of luck to you! If you need anything or have questions, please feel free to contact me via email!


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