7 Things I Learned From My First Triathlon Adventure

Well, I did it. I made it out alive!

On Sunday July 19, 2015 I competed in my first ever sprint triathlon. What is that exactly? Well, it’s a 750m swim, 25km bike and finish with a 7km run.

It was a fantastic fun, heart pumping, mind bending day. I enjoyed it all!

What I Learned From My First Triathlon Adventure

I made it to the finish line upright!

I finished with a time of 2 hours and 33 minutes. I was a little over the time that I wanted, but to be honest Mother Nature was hard to compete with. The heat was deadly. It was feeling like 35˚C by the time I started running and OMG it took everything in me to finish that run. Not only that, but the second half of my bike was into the wind, I don’t think I’ve ever worked so hard while riding.

Here’s how the day began.

The race was held in the Niagara region (Grismby, Ontario) right on Lake Ontario. This is over an hour from where I live so my husband and I decided to drive down the day before and spent the night in a B&B close to the race.

I was due to race at 9:03am. I got up round 6am, stretched, drank a litre of water, did a little meditation then had my breakfast.

Pre-race I wanted energy, but sustainable energy. If I just ate carbs I knew I’d crash pretty fast. Plus I wanted a meal that was easy to digest and didn’t feel like I had a bowling ball in my stomach. So, fat is where it’s at. MCT oil is a liquid oil that comes from coconut oil and gets used as energy in the body. I LOVE this stuff.

Then most importantly, I pooped!

Too much info? LOL

This was important though. If you are going to do any endurance race, you must go to the bathroom, it makes you feel lighter, prevents stomach cramps and you don’t want to waste time going to the loo in the middle of your race.

Here was my breakfast:

  • sliced mango topped with bee pollen and MCT oil
  • cup of matcha green tea blended with grass-fed butter and MCT oil
Triathlon Bikes

The Transition Area


Alright, so we get to the race and there’s so many people. All the athletes look so professional, they all have their fancy outfits and crazy cool bikes. Immediately I felt out of my element. Do you remember that Sesame Street song “One of These Things” is not like the others, one of these things doesn’t belong.

Yep, that was me! 

I didn’t have the fancy outfit, or the crazy cool race bike. I had my workout clothes and my hybrid bike with big tires! However, I did rent a wetsuit for the swim so I looked the part at the beginning!!

The first thing I had to do was put my bike in the transition area, the bike racks were set up by gender and age group.

Ok, that’s easy enough to figure out. As I walk my way to my age group I see the other ages, there are athletes ranging from 19 to 74. Wait, what? 74???

That’s bloody fantastic. Sport isn’t just for the young or the super cut athletes. It’s for everyone and anyone. As I looked around, the athletes were of all ages and all shapes and sizes. It was amazing. Again, it re-affirmed to never judge someone by what they look like. People can surprise you.

Triathlon Swim

The wetsuit is half on! 15 minutes from race time.

I get to my rack and see most of the women have their bikes on the rack and their towels, shoes and helmets laid out already on the grass. I do the same then head on over to the registration area to pick up my timer and bib number. I’m number 171! I also pick up a swim cap and a t-shirt…sweet!

My husband and I walk around a little to get the lay of the land. You can just feel the excitement in the air, the energy is amazing. People are full of smiles.

Alright, it’s almost race time and the swim is up first.

I’ve got to get my wetsuit on. But I’ve never put on a wetsuit before! This should be interesting. This was a wetsuit race only, they wouldn’t let you swim without one. Well, after about 16 hours I finally get this feckin’ thing on.

Now the nerves are kicking in. The race is about to begin!

Swim race

I’m the one in the green cap!


I get in the water with everyone else. See me. I’m the one in the green cap!

We started in the water for this race.

As I was treading water waiting for the horn to blow. I took a moment to take it all in. Wow. I thought. I’m actually in a triathlon. I had worked so hard for months for this moment. I didn’t want to let it pass by, I didn’t want to miss it. I decided right then to enjoy every minute of this.

When we are in the thick of something, when we are too caught up in something. We can miss it. We can miss the moment and forget to enjoy it and have fun.

I was determined to have fun for the next couple of hours. This was my moment.

The horn blows and we all start splashing and swimming and colliding into each other. I got someone’s foot in my face (thanks dude!) and swallowed a tasty mouthful of Lake Ontario water….yum!

Right off the bat I tell myself “You go girl. You’ve totally got this. No need to rush. Pace yourself”.

17 minutes later I’m dragging my arse out of the water. Your body feels 50 lbs heavier when you’ve been swimming for almost 20 minutes. My husband apparently has video footage of me trying to get out, everyone else is zipping by me while I’m thinking “right foot, left foot Tanya, that’s a good girl!”

Triathlon Transition

Finished my swim, now I’m elegantly taking off my wetsuit!

Off I run to the transition area, take off the wetsuit, dry myself off a little, put the clothes and shoes on. Now helmet, grab my bike and run it out of the transition area onto the road to the mounting line and away I go! Woohoo. I’m loving this. I’m on such a high right now. I feel so fast on my little hybrid. But compared to the pros I’m just puttering along.

By the time I reached 8km I already saw the leader head back. What the what?? These guys are super fast. I have huge respect for what they can do. It was very impressive.

One of the rules on the road was that we were not allowed any headphones or mp3 players for safety. So, what did I do. I sang to myself. I was trying to sing the Rocky theme song but what was coming out of my mouth was more like the Entrance music/C.C. Rider for Elvis Presley.

Sure Tanya, just go with it. 

12.5km done, we’ve got to turn around and head back to the transition area, only 12.5km to go. You’re almost there.

Well bloody hell, the last 12.5km was in the feckin’ wind. My legs were now beginning to burn. I’m feeling a little weak. So I’ve got the get my head back in the game. Get my mind right. As soon as you tell yourself you can’t finish this, then you are right. You will never finish.

I started telling myself. “Yes I can. Yes I can.” In between singing C.C. Rider of course! If anyone could have heard me they would have thought I was crazy. And yes, I was singing and talking to myself out loud!

I’m riding along and then right in front of me a guy wipes out, falls off his bike. It was nasty too. He collected his bike and moved off to the side and dusted himself off. As I was riding by him at super sonic speed, in the wind, on my hybrid, I asked if he was ok, he responded “yes”. “Alright, good” I thought and away I went. Only 5km to go.

In no time at all that guy who fell, whizzed by me. Awesome. I loved it. When you fall down, get off your arse and keep going. That really says a lot about a person. It’s easy to play victim, it’s easy to blame others or things. To be strong, you’ll get up and keep going. That’s when you’ll make something of yourself.

I finally reach the finish line for the bike, I hop off my bike and run into the transition area.

And there was my husband with camera in hand and a huge smile. I was so glad to have my husband there and to share the moment with him. He was my biggest cheerleader. Having that support was important to me, I felt like I was doing this for the both of us and having him there also held me accountable. I wanted to not only show myself what I could do but show him too. In fact, I made this entire process public. I told the world I was doing this. The reason being for everyone to hold me accountable and in hopes of inspiring others to go after their goals and dreams.

The last part is here. The run. My least favourite part. I’m not a huge fan of running, I’ll do it of course, but it’s not something I get excited about like others do.

It’s only 7km Tanya, you’ve totally got this. Kick it’s ass.

My legs are like jelly. I’m back to telling myself “left foot, right foot Tanya, that’s a good girl”.  Also by this time of the day the heat is deadly. It’s the kind of heat that sucks all the energy out of you.

I had to play it smart here. No need to be a hero I told myself. When you hit the water stations, just throw the water all on you. Keep cool. And if I had to walk it at times, then I had to walk it.

I actually surprised myself on the run. It was tough, no doubt. It is definitely my weakest area but I was surprised that I ran most of it.

I can now hear the finish line. I’m almost there. YES. I’M ALMOST THERE.

I can see my husband, big smile on his face and camera in hand. My cheerleader!

I did it. I crossed the finish line. And it feels AMAZING. What a high. It was so much fun.

I’m so glad I lived in the moment, that I looked at what was around me. That I didn’t focus so much on the end result but more on the journey.

So, here’s what I learned:

  1. Always poop before doing any endurance sport!
  2. Live in the moment. Remember to enjoy it and have fun. We can focus too much on the end result and forget to enjoy the journey.
  3. Never judge anyone by what they look like. They will always surprise you.
  4. Get your mind right. When your mind is in the game, you are in the game. Keep it positive, support yourself and you can go to all the places you’ve ever dreamed of.
  5. When you fall down, get off your arse and keep going. We will all fall down, we will all fail, but it’s how you respond that makes or breaks you.
  6. Share it with others. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and share what you are doing. You may inspire others to take action on their goals and dreams.
  7. Life is a journey. Remember to live in the moment. If you focus too much on the end result you’ll miss out on this crazy wonderful adventure called life!