Huge News: I’m Tri-ing Something New!

Hi everyone!  I’ve got HUGE news up here in Alaska!  But first, let me start from the beginning.  If you read my blog, you’ll know that I’m injured and running hurts my sciatic nerve.  I’m taking time off running and hope it will go away while I use my PT exercises to strengthen my hips and core, but it has been a really hard, depressing process.  I had to give up on all of my running goals for the year, and didn’t have anything to work towards or train for.  And it really bummed me out!  In fact, I had a whole blog post written up for today about how hard it is to feel like I’ve lost my identity because I can’t run or train for races.  I knew that I needed to find something else to focus my energy on so that I could let my body heal without any stress.  There has to be a sliver lining to not being able to run, right?


I was at spin class on Tuesday night because I couldn’t go to my usual Tuesday night Pub Run with my friends (boo), and I was thinking about how my PT only cleared me for a few activities back when I first got injured:  spin, elliptical, and swimming.  Since I didn’t know how to swim, I was focusing more on the bike and the elliptical, and I was enjoying a pain-free hour on the bike.  As we pedaled through our recovery song at the end of class, my instructor started shouting, “Tonight’s the big night ladies!  Gold Nugget Triathlon registration opens TONIGHT!” and lots of the girls were cheering.  I listened as the instructor told us about her first GNT experience – she did it at 7 months pregnant, and walked the entire run portion of the race.  And then I started thinking about every story I’ve heard about the GNT over the past two years here in Alaska:  little girls and 80 year olds finishing the same race alongside hardcore athletes, women with hip and knee replacements going at their own pace, girls of all shapes and sizes and ability levels pushing their limits and finishing their own personal race, and a huge amount of camaraderie and positivity the whole time.  It’s the ultimate all-female beginner’s triathlon for total newbies, and the swim portion is in a pool (because it’s Alaska) so it’s less intimidating than open water.  My coworkers have been trying to get me to do it for years now, and I’ve always had a summer half marathon to train for and use as an excuse to get out of it.  This year, I can’t run…but I should be doing more biking and swimming.

gnt logo.jpg

After class, I stuck around to talk to the instructor to find out more about the race.  The conversation went like this:

Me:  How long is the running portion?  I’m not sure if my injury will be gone by May 15th.
Spin instructor:  4.1, but tons of people walk it!  It’s so much fun.
Me:  What if I can’t swim?
Spin instructor:  Tons of people just walk/doggie paddle through the swimming portion too.  It’s not a big deal if you’ve never done this before.
Me:  My bike was the cheapest model at Fred Meyers and it’s really slow…
Spin instructor:  So many girls do it on slow mountain bikes!  You’ll fit right in.  But you better be ready to register tonight at 8:00 pm on the dot because it sold out in 3 minutes last year!

I left class to pick my husband up from work in a total haze.  I had about 1 hour and 15 minutes to make a decision for 2016.  Could I really learn how to swim and not crash a bike in only 2 and a half months, even with the help of all my tri friends here in Alaska?  Is it stupid to sign up for a race when you can’t run, even though so many other participants are walking it too?  And most importantly:  is this the thing that will fill the void that running left in my life?  Can I learn to love and train for something other than running?

At 7:40 pm I was waiting at my computer, still not sure what to do.  At 7:58 I was dizzy with nervousness.  And at 8:00 I frantically put in my name and email on the registration page to see if I’d make the cut.  After getting tons of error messages and some super slow loading (it had a record sell out time of 2 minutes and 26 seconds!), I got this email…

gnt registration.jpg

It’s official: I’m running my very first triathlon on May 15, 2016!  I’ll be swimming 500 yards in the Bartlett High pool, biking 12 miles along the Glenn Highway, and running and/or walking 4.1 miles on a dirt trail back to the high school.  I have no idea what I’m doing, but I don’t even care because I’m so excited to be trying something new.  This race is so beginner friendly that I know I’ll fit right in with my injury and my super newbie status.  I’m honestly just so excited to have a real goal to work towards again!  It’s been so long since I registered for anything, and I can’t wait to get started with my training!  First step will definitely be finding an adult swimming class ASAP!

Have you ever run a triathlon?  What was your first experience like?  Any tips for total newbies?

44 thoughts on “Huge News: I’m Tri-ing Something New!

  1. Ahhhhhhhh! Yay! Finally! I’m so excited for you!!!!! Let me know if you need anything at all. I’d be happy to extend your free coaching your way because I am super pumped for you right now!

    1. Omg I need so much help with this! Maybe I can just pick your brain for ideas on what to do. I’m starting from scratch with the swimming, and have only spin class experience on the bike. I don’t have a suit and my bike is super crappy. And I can’t really run right now! So I have no idea how you would coach anyone in my situation haha. I think I’ll message you on FB because I have so many questions about how to even get started!

      1. You can message me anytime and as much as you want or need. I’ll always help you out 🙂

    1. Thank you! It’s going to be a crazy experience training for this, but I’m excited to try something new!

    1. Haha yay! I’m just lucky I found a race that’s so newbie-friendly that I can do it while injured. You should look for one of those in Chicago!

    1. Thank you! I’m terrified but I know there are some places that do lessons, so I’m hoping I can do that to build up some confidence for it. I’m just so happy it’s in a pool and not a lake!

  2. That’s so exciting, congrats!! I’ve done a sprint triathlon, and had a great time. After the experience, I decided to stick with pure running, but I have been thinking about potentially trying out another tri. It takes a lot of effort to train, more than just running as you know– but it’s worth it! Good luck and I’m looking forward to hearing how training goes!!

    1. Thank you! And thanks for sharing your experience. I’m hoping I like it even though I can’t exactly do the running portion the way I want to. I’m excited to try it out though!

  3. YAY! we’re twins yet again hahaha. my first triathlon isn’t until august (have to let the lake water warm up) but i’m already so excited. i’ve been reading race recaps like crazy to figure out everything i’ll need, so maybe that will help you, too. i’m so looking forward to this race for you!

    1. Haha no way!!!!! This is awesome! I’m so excited we’re working through this new experience at the same time again! I’m sure I’ll be reading recaps like crazy too – there were only two recaps of this race online (not too many AK bloggers apparently!) but I know so many people who have run it before and have great stories about it. I’m just hoping I can figure out all the parts that come with a tri! Running is just so much easier 🙂

  4. i couldn’t ride a bike until 2 years ago, and last year I did my first duathlon! everyone but me was clipped into a racing bike and I was on a hybrid. I was also coming off a running injury. either way it was SO much fun and i felt so incredibly proud after doing it. i definitely didn’t place, but there is always someone slower, and i had a blast. you can totally do it.

    My story here:

    Happy to answer any Qs!

    1. Thank you so much for sharing this! This is just what I needed to hear. I think that no matter what my injury situation was like, my first tri was going to be a crazy experience. I’m just going to do what I can and try to have fun!

  5. Good Luck! I’ve done a few duathlons (run and bike) but not a tri, because I can’t really swim….not even “well I could probably save my life but that’s it”…..nope, if I can’t touch, probably have panic and drown! Wish I could! This will be an exciting experience for you!

    1. I’m so scared about the swim! It’s in a pool where I can touch the ground if I need it, but I definitely need lessons so that I don’t have a panic attack and drown. I think starting with a duathlon would have been an easier transition, but I’m excited to try something new!

  6. Everyone is trying triathlons! It really makes me want to do one! I downloaded a potential beginner plan and everything and am waiting to sign up until registration opens for one in my town…mine would be in September and it’s a good beginner one too- they even allow you to use floaties in the swim portion lol!

    I think it’s a great idea to have something on the horizon. Like you said, if you can’t do what you normally do it makes you feel lost and confused and takes away your desire to train because you’re not training for anything. This will at least give you motivation to bike and swim and who knows- you might find something you like and do another one! I’ll be looking forward to following your training!

    1. That sounds like the perfect tri to start with! I hope you sign up! And I really love what you said about training for something. It’s so hard to explain it to some people, so I really appreciate that you understand what I’m going through. I’m hoping I like it, and if not I know I’ll still have fun!

    1. Yay thank you! Wow I think so many people are afraid of the swimming portion (me included) so at least you’d have a leg up on many people. I think you should try one out! I’m just trying to get everyone to train with me haha 🙂

  7. This is great! You will love triathlon. The community is awesome, and I have found that woman-specific events are the most encouraging situations ever. I did my first season of triathlons on a mountain bike, and it was fine. I have a swimming background, so it was a little discouraging to see everyone blow past me on the bike, but I still had a blast!

    1. Thank you! I just have a mountain bike so it’s good news that it’s all I need to get through my first race.

  8. Oh, I am SO excited for you. This sounds like the perfect first race! I won’t try tris because bikes scare me. Truly. I can run & swim (not fast in either, but I can do it), but I haven’t been on a bike since I was a kid and really have no desire to do so.

    But I’ll love reading about your journey.

    1. Haha thank you! I’m scared of being on a bike around so many people, but I know it’s going to be a really welcoming group!

  9. I’m so excited for you, Kristen! I did my first tri (well 3 of them) last year. As a self-professed water-phobe, I wanted to overcome that fear already. While swimming will probably never be my fave, I CAN DO IT! You’ll find that tri is SO much easier on your body. Face it running beats you up. This tri sounds like a blast and perfect for your first one!

    1. Oh wow that’s so good to know! I’m definitely afraid but I’m also excited to learn how to swim more than just the basics that keep me from drowning 🙂 I’m so glad to hear it’s going to be easier on my body than my long distance training has been. My body clearly needs a break!

    1. Thanks! Yeah, apparently this is how I sign up for things 🙂 If the sign ups hadn’t been that night I feel like I would have chickened out, so this is a good thing!

  10. This is so awesome! Congrats on being a badass and turning those lemons into lemonade. I have never done a triathalon but I have heard great things about ladies-only ones here in Utah and I’m sure this one will be super welcoming too.

    1. Haha thanks! Yeah it just sounded like such a fun, positive environment. Even if I fail miserably at each part of this event it sounds like I’ll still have a really fun time, so I’m so glad I signed up!

    1. Thank you! I’m so excited to try something new and can’t wait to start training like a triathlete!

  11. I’m catching up on posts from last week and wanted to say I’m so excited for you! I can’t swim either so I’d be way too nervous to sign up for a tri. The way you are always pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is so inspiring.

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