My Big List of Triathlon Firsts (Part 1)

Posted: July 21, 2014 in Lifestyle
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With my last intended 2014 challenge quickly approaching (September), I have been feeling rather nostalgic.  I mean, this isn’t my first rodeo as far long course triathlon is concerned, but in many ways it rather feels that way.  Perhaps it was the absence of serious competition last year, my concern for being a bit behind in building my base this year, or maybe it’s just totally psychological given everything that has occurred in recent months.  Who knows?  But for whatever reason, I’ve been spending a lot of time during my workouts reminiscing about when I first got started in this sport and how things have changed since then.

With that premise in mind, here is a brief synopsis of what I consider to be the significant milestones as far as ‘triathlon firsts’ are concerned.  Remember, I’ve come a long way since these first few initial incidents but I can still recall each these moments as clear as day.

1.  First spin class – I had no idea what I was getting into.  I didn’t have padded cycling shorts or any dry-wicking shirts, and I only had normal running shoes…and not even good ones.  In short, I suffered.  Later I acquired a cheap pair of padded shorts and clip-in cleats and, low and behold, things were marginally more comfortable, yet not exactly easier.  The class was still every bit as tough but at least I didn’t look like the guy who had just stumbled into class accidentally.  If you’re going to suffer, you may as well look the part while doing it.

This could have easily been me.

2. Riding a bike with gears – Prior to my first group ride with my TryForce gang, the only bike I had ever ridden was an orange Schwinn with banana seat and ape handle bars, and that was nearly 30 years previous.  I knew about as much about gearing as I did about nuclear physics and I spent the first 2-3 kilometers being coached on how to switch gears on the ride over to our prearranged meeting place.  Oh, and I also managed to fall onto the hood of a adjacent car at an intersection when I failed to unclip my cleats before fully stopping.  Lesson learned.

3. Putting on a wetsuit – Swimming in a wetsuit is a rather nerve wracking experience for some people; they might find it too restricting, too claustrophobic, or just plain uncomfortable.  Not me.  I loved it.  I felt like a super hero.  It might not have looked too flattering on me, but inside I was all like:


4. Peeing in a wetsuit – I resisted this urge for years as I thought it was beyond gross.  Now I love it and it’s actually one of my favorite parts of the race.

5. First 5k run – It’s seems so short and effortless now, but at the time 5k seemed like I was running to the ends of the earth and back and it was anything but effortless. In fact, it damn near killed me.  I’d run the distance as a kid, even longer, but that was a LONG time ago and

6. First 10k run – This was even worse.

7. First Half marathon – I was so unprepared.

8. First blister – It was huge.  I’m pretty sure it had its own field of gravity and it totally freaked me out it was so nasty looking.


9. First lost toe nail – This was even nastier (click HERE).

10. Century ride – Believe it or not, this was with my coach as she prepared for the Muskoka 70.3 competition five years ago.  It was the start of our developing friendship.  I decided to join her in the early morning, failing to mention that I had never ridden more than 45k before.  I survived.  But only barely.

11. First Brick workout – This was organized through my TryForce Club. I had done a spin class (one) before but I knew this was destined to be much, much harder and I will freely admit that I was terrified.  Even the instructor was scary.  It was rather like how I imagine the first day of basic training in the military:


12. First podium finish – You’d think this was destined to be a positive experience, right?  Wrong.  I remember being so desperate for a medal that I registered into the Clydesdale category (over 200 lbs.) which I would then end up winning.  However, being first in the Fat Guy category was not as rewarding as I had originally thought.   Likewise, by this point (we were the last category to be announced) all the other athletes had long since left leaving us standing there with our medals in front of exactly two fat girls (also the wives of the 2nd and 3rd place finishers).  Big deal. Pass the pizza.

No doubt more of these ‘triathlon firsts’ will come to me in the next few weeks of training as I continue to prepare for Septembers challenge (hint:  think back-to-back triathlons).  It passes the time and I find it therapeutic to remind myself about how far I’ve come physically and mentally in this sport; particularly as I will have a few more ‘firsts’ to add to this list at the end of this season.  So this whole reflecting back thing has really provided me with ample motivation out on the road and in the gym, or wherever it is I happen to be, that I am still on the right track with this chosen lifestyle, difficult as it is.

  1. Saroja says:

    Terry, you’re an inspiration to many. I still remember you dragging my ass around the track for one of the first TryForce run clinics I attended. And I still think of you now whenever I feel too tired / burnt-out to drag my own ass to the gym/pool… thanks for blogging, it keeps me going.

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