It was the summer of 2016 when my friend and I decided to take a trip from Ljubljana to Bled. This time though, we’d leave our cars at home and go by bike instead. My friend let me borrow his road bike, and I managed to fall off it the first time I took a wrong turn. I wasn’t used to riding a road bike, and I forgot about my cycling shoes being firmly attached to the pedals.
Luckily, I didn’t get injured, so we were still able to continue our journey towards one of the most famous Slovenian towns. We selected a route with a distance of approx. 60 km, as was indicated by our maps, and we were certain we would be able to follow it easily. Unfortunately, a single wrong turn redirected us into the mountains, and we ended up reaching our destination with an added 500 vertical meters to our original course, extending the total cycling distance to 74 km.
When we arrived to Bled, I jumped into the lake and put my front crawl swimming skills to the test. Ultimately, I ended up engaging in two sports activities in one day, so I started thinking about participating in my first triathlon race.
The race I was interested in was scheduled to take place at the beginning of July in a city called Velenje. Within two weeks leading up to the event, I bought my own road bike and sent in my application for the super sprint triathlon (200 m of swimming, 10 km of cycling and 2.5 km of running). I was looking forward to the race, but, as I lined up at the start on the day of the event, found myself almost in shock when I realized how young the triathletes I would be competing against were.
I was even more surprised when, straight at beginning of the race, everyone started swimming at – what seemed to me to be – an unimaginable speed. Before I reached the buoy marking about half of the swim leg, I gave up swimming front crawl. Simply put, after 100 meters of swimming, I was already as tired as if the race was already ending. I was aware, however, that the swimming part of the race would be my weak spot, and was determined to catch up with these kids during the cycling and running legs.
In reality the situation turned out to be completely different. At that time I didn’t have much stamina and actually had difficulty getting through the entire race. Even the 150 meter run from the lake to the transition area was challenging.
My first transition took much longer than it should have. It was raining that day, and my main problem was, how to put my soaking wet running shirt on my drenched body. Putting on my cycling shoes was also more difficult than I had expected, but still a lot easier than actually running in them towards the line marking the start of the cycling leg.
When I jumped on my bike, I had to spend valuable seconds trying to mount my shoes on the pedals of a bike I’d more than obviously bought less than a week ago.
Cycling turned out to be fun. I was careful on the roundabout and U-turn, and discovered my talent for uphill cycling on the sloping terrain that followed. Getting off my bike and changing my gear during the final transition both went smoothly.
During the run leg, I was breathless and gasping for air almost like I’d been holding my breath for a minute and a half. Nevertheless, my running time was good, and I crossed the finishing line with a smile on my face.
The seconds I lost during the first transition were not critical and, this being my first triathlon, the results were by no means important. It was a race in which I challenged my own body and mind, and which presented me with the opportunity to discover what triathlon was all about. It was also a kind of experiment, which led me to discover that I wanted to continue to pursue triathlon racing in the future.
My next posts will focus on why I chose triathlon racing, and will explain how I started training for the standard or Olympic distance triathlon.