Day in the Life: Triathlon Edition

On Saturday, I completed my first triathlon of the season, the Jamestown International Triathlon. International sounds fancy but it's not, it just refers to the distance - 1500m swim (=.9 mile), 40k bike (=24.8 miles), 10k run (=6.2 miles). So, what is it really like to compete in a triathlon? I'm here to give you the play-by-play:

4:00am: The alarm goes off. OMG it's early. 

4:10am: Get ready. Apply liberal amounts of sunscreen. 

4:21am: Make breakfast but be too nervous to eat it. 

4:22am: Where's my peanut butter, mom? He knows the sound the jar makes when I open it and comes running every time.

 4:25am: Ready to go! Spandex is a really flattering look, in case you didn't know.

4:27am: I think I'm forgetting's my Sweaty Band! It's right there waiting for me when I open the dryer. I take that as a good omen.

4:30am: Check to see if my ride is here. Not yet. Still dark outside. 

4:32am: Legs up the wall while I wait.

4:35am: Ride's here, time to go!

4:56am: Arrive at my dad's house. Load bikes onto his car - our friend's is in front, my dad's is behind it but it's black and still dark outside so you can't see it #triathleteprobs, and mine is in the back of the car.

5:55am: Arrive at triathlon location. Pump tires, double check bags, get ready to head to transition.

Tri term #1: Transition - Designated area for gear needed for all 3 events. This is where the bike, shoes, and anything else you need stay while you're out on the course. You come back to it after the swim to - you guessed it - transition to the bike, then again after the bike to transition to the run.

6:15am: All ready!

6:20am: Get to check-in area, present ID and USAT card, and pick up packet.

Tri term #2: USAT - USA Triathlon, the official governing body for triathlon. Everyone competing must be covered by USAT and can do so by either purchasing an annual membership for $45 or a one-day membership for the event for $12. If doing the one-day option, that's an additional cost added to registration. Triathlons are expensive, y'all. 

Tri term #3: Packet - Like a running race, the packet includes the bib and SWAG (including t-shirt). Triathlon packets also have 2 stickers with your number on them. One goes on the middle bar of the bike and one goes on the front of the helmet. 

6:25am: Get body marked. Feel badass.

Tri term #4: Body marking - Race number Sharpied onto your upper arms and age onto the back of your calf. I don't actually know the reason for this but I think it's to serve as your "bib" for the swim, for identification purposes. No one I know knows the real reason why your age has to be on your calf, except that it makes it easy to identify the people in your age group to pass them on the bike and run ;)

6:27am: Almost forgot my timing chip! Run back to get it and now I'm ready. 

6:30am: Transition area all set up! The time spent in transition is added into your overall time, so the goal is to set everything up logically so you can get out of there as quickly as possible! 

6:35am: Squeeze into my wetsuit

6:40am: Pre-race porta potty visit, the most important part of any race!

6:45am: Transition closes, which means my phone is no longer accessible, so no pictures for a few hours!

6:50am: Notice that one side of my goggles is broken. Awesome. Hope they last for the swim.

6:52am: Walk down to the beach where the swim starts. 

7:00am: The race starts! Still have 8 minutes before it's my turn, though.

7:05am: Get into the water and wait for my wave's turn. Some races have you start on the beach at the edge of the water, some have you start in the water.

Tri term #5: Wave - also like running races, not everyone starts at once. Instead, there are waves/corrals that start at different times. Unlike running races, where the corrals are based on pace, triathlon waves are broken up according to gender, age, or both. This was a fairly small race so all the women were in one wave.

7:08am: The horn sounds for my wave to start!

~7:10am: Spend the first couple of minutes trying not to get hit or kicked in the face. Successful.

~7:13am: Make it to the first buoy and make the first turn. There are several large, inflatable buoys to help guide swimmers in the right direction, and even larger buoys in a different color to signify where to turn.

~7:23am: Halfway. Make the turn to head back in the other direction. Water is slowly leaking into the left side of my goggles. Now that I've turned, every time I breathe I have to look right at the sun. Try breathing on the other side and just end up swallowing some water. Obviously that's not going to work.  I keep trying to sight but I can't see anything. Suck it up and resign myself to not being able to see anything for the remainder of the swim.

Tri term #6: Sighting: Looking up every  few strokes to look for buoys and make sure you aren't swimming off to the other side of the river. 

~7:27am: I can see the buoy marking the final turn! My left goggle is continuing to fill with water so I have to close my left eye for the remainder of the swim.

~7:30am: That buoy is NOT getting any closer!

~7:32am: Finally at the buoy, make the last turn to head toward the shore. Can't see the shore because the sun is beaming right into my face and off the water.

~7:34am: Can't see anything. I hope I'm swimming the right way. I can see splashing a few feet in front of my so I'm going to assume that's the right direction.

~7:36am: I notice people around me starting to stand up so I must be close. Put my foot down - yep, I can definitely touch here. Stand up and look at my watch for the first time. I'm shocked (in a good way) to see that it's just over 28 minutes. Start wading toward the shore to end the swim. Sometimes I'll keep swimming until it's too shallow to swim anymore, but at this point I'm over the swim.

~7:38am: Hit the timing mat on the beach and clock myself at 30 minutes 2 seconds. My goal for the swim was 32 minutes!

~7:41am: Finally make it back to transition. This race has one of the longest runs back to transition, probably a quarter mile total from the beach to where my bike is racked.

~7:43am: Out of transition and onto the bike. I'm always nervous about mounting at the right place but luckily there are a handful of volunteers near the mount/dismount line telling us to wait until AFTER the line to mount.

Tri term #7: Mount/Dismount line - Line at the beginning/end of the bike course that dictates when you can get on and off the bike. You have to cross it before you can get on the bike to start, and get off the bike before you cross it when you finish. Otherwise you will get a 2 minute penalty added to your time. This is probably the most stressful part of the whole race for me!

~8:15am: I feel GREAT on the bike. This doesn't usually happen. The bike is my least favorite part. I attribute it to the fact that there is virtually no wind.

~8:30am: I'm past the turnaround and about 45 minutes into the bike. This is usually the time when I'm ready to be done. I still feel pretty good and even though I want to be done, it passes.

~9:05am: The bike is over! My goal was 1 hour 25 minutes and I clock in at 1 hour 22 minutes!

~9:07am: Finally out on the run. I can tell pretty much immediately that this is going to be a slow one. Sometimes my legs feel great off the bike but today they feel like bricks.

~9:17am: A mile into the run and I'm pretty sure I'm not going to make my goal time of 1 hour. I'm cool with that. I'm taking my time and I'm not mad about it.

~9:43am: I've just passed the turnaround and I see my dad heading toward it.

~10:00am: I've traveled over 30 miles today by land and sea with just my legs and arms. One mile left to go!

~10:05am: I'm just not feeling the run today. I slow down to walk for a few seconds with about half a mile left and my dad yells from behind me. I tell him I'm just slowing down waiting for him ;)

~10:11am: Cross the finish line! Get my medal, a bottle of water, and a cold towel.

~10:12am: Post-race party time! Pizza + Beer = Breakfast of Champions.

~11:30am: Pack up and leave transition

11:45am: More post-race goodies. I didn't get to celebrate National Donut Day on Friday, so I made up for it with 2 donuts on Saturday.

2:19pm: Finally home. Admire shorts tan.

2:27pm: Kitty snuggles and nap time! Pass out for 3 hours.

7:26pm: Dinner date! A selfie is definitely necessary because I just learned how to curl my hair correctly for the first time in my almost 27 years.

9:35pm: End the night with fireworks!


  1. CONGRATS! I seriously had anxiety reading through all of the buildup to the race! So awesome you beat your goal for you swimming and biking times! Especially with water coming into your goggle! And your hair looks great! Love the curls!

  2. You are a freaking beast!! This made me want to do one one day ;) you deserve all the donuts in the world!!!

  3. Wow! This is so impressive to me! I've run/walked a couple of 5ks and that's it, haha! So I'm always impressed by people who can do tri's! Way to be. Also, your hair is super cute curled! Kudos for learning how to do that. I'm still working that myself, haha!

  4. you go, girl! so cute that you and your dad race together.

  5. Before anything else is said, this has to be: Way to go, lady! You're so badass. Love that you did this in step-by-step photos and gave definitions for us laypeople :) Triathlon training will be my next endeavor... but not for a while. Currently working up the nerve to register for my first half. One thing at a time! ;)
    Thanks so much for sharing your recap with us! You are so freakin awesome. Have I mentioned that already? Oh and PS — the curls look great :)

  6. Congrats !! I love the play by play. Great race pics too ! Keep on being awesome :)

  7. I will never do anything like this, so this was intensely interesting to me.

    You go girl! I'm really impressed!

  8. I hope you ate all those donuts! I was tired just reading about all you did - not sure if I could ever put in that much effort :P I love your curls too - video tutorial?? :)

  9. Loved this! I've never run a race before but it's on my bucket list so this was a good way to learn a little more about how everything goes! And your hair looks fab! Don't worry, it took my 25 years to perfect hair curling, too :)

  10. Wow congratulations!! I like the timeline post!!!

  11. Congrats triathlon friend!! So, so proud of you! Can't wait to hear more. Wish we lived closer and could train together!

  12. seriously - way to go girl! you're so awesome. i am not sure i could ever do a triathlon or that i would want to (i know, im horrible) but i love cheering on my friend who does them regularly. i liked reading your day of though, i felt like i was living it with you! and yay for the curls! it took me about 25 years to get it right haha! glad i'm not alone.