Archive for September 2016

My first Triathlon

September 26, 2016

So we expect our family to increase by one within the next five weeks.

And then your life is over I was been told by friends and family who already went through that process. Time to do those things I always wanted to do and still have time for. Like a triathlon.

Well at least the sprint version, i.e. the triathlon for those folks who are actually not able to and probably never will be physically able to do a full triathlon (aka me). Meaning 500 meters of swimming, 16 kilometers cycling, and 6 kilometers running. For those of you who are not familiar with the rules, that’s on the same day.

And I even prepared for the whole thing. Thoroughly! With all my effort!

Like I bought some new goggles for swimming.


In all seriousness though I actually went mostly running after work approximately 3 times per week for 6 km run, and went swimming once to twice a week (approximately 30 mins). Just before the triathlon I measured my time on 6 km wich was 28:56, quite ok. Or so I thought….

I chose a triathlon at my home town, mostly because swimming was within a pool. And swimming was the part I feared most, since I have zero experience swimming competitively. Also my technique sucks, especially for crawl style (breast stroke is better).

On the other hand this was a cross-triathlon. Meaning cycling was through the woods. Originally I intended to cycle on my stylish dutch-bike I use to commute to work (after all, I subscribed for this for the fun and to finish it, not to win anything). But the organizers didn’t allow participation without a mountain-bike.


I didn’t want to invest a lot for this one-time thing, and I figured that my sister still had my old mountain-bike I used as a teenager. Mint-condition she assured me, I use it for cycling tours once in a while, and of course you can have it for the weekend.

Now, I really like my sister, but my alarm bells should’ve gone off as she assessed a technical thing as mint-condition. For example in 2012 she once considered a Thinkpad T40 with a 30 GB hdd and 512 MB of RAM running Windows XP and loaded with bloat-ware in mint-condition, and when the Windows XP support ended and Microsoft Security Essentials refused to work, a friend of her husband recommended Kaspersky Internet Security as a replacement. I was asked to fix this mint-condition notebook since there was some issue with their WLAN… I mean the thing took like 10 minutes to boot up alone…

So it was no surprise that three days before the triathlon I got this message:

Uh, there was one thing I forgot to mention: There is a problem with the back cassette. The chain is stuck. So this means you can only switch the three gears with the front cassette. Well it was never a problem for me, so you should be ok.

Three Gears. Like my dutch bike has three frickin‘ gears!

Then I looked at the track profile which I simply didn’t do before. After all, this is my home town, I should kinda somehow remember the woods, right? Right?



I really didn’t anticipate this. All my training was on a dutch bike on mostly flat surface riding along rivers. And add insult to injury, I had a 90’s style mountain-bike with three gears working. No suspension… well removing a little bit pressure from tires… who needs more? Disc brakes? What is this? We have these shiny V-brakes… and three gears.

Well in any event, to sum up:

Swimming went far far better than I thought. I guess it’s due to regularly going to the pool in Japan when I was doing my PhD. Since I didn’t know my expected time, I put in a very slow worst-case guess and was grouped with really really bad swimmers. I was second in my lane, but if the lane wouldn’t have been so crowded (6 swimmers per lane) I could have easily overtaken the first guy too. I mean some of these guys‘ swimming techniques were like… a dog or something… almost felt pity…

The cycling part went horrible. Like really horrible. I finished on the last place. I had three situations where I was milliseconds away from crashing into the next tree. Uphill I lacked stamina due to training on flat tracks and three!!! fscking gears. Downhill I was slow too: No suspension and the track was way more technically difficult than I thought. I had to concentrate extremely, I sometimes had even problems to really grip the handlebar due to the heavy shaking. One girl on the track crashed pretty badly, she had to give up and couldn’t finish.

That’s why the cycling was way more exhausting than anything I experienced during training. Both physically and mentally. Starting as such into the running track was difficult. And considering the height-profile of the running track, that was no piece of


cake, either.

So what did I learn?

  • swimming was easier than I thought
  • get your cardio by cycling. Cycling is by far the longest part of the whole event, so that should be the discipline one should prep most for. Especially if it’s a cross-triathlon.
  • prep your gear. Especially get used to your bike and absolutely make sure it’s in mint condition.

In the end I became last among the males (with two minutes on the next guy, and it was a small event, maybe 150 male participants). All solely due to cycling; my swimming time and running time were ok.

So hey, I beat some of the girls…

I will sure make time to participate next year. The whole thing was a real fun experience. And plans to buy a proper bike are already made…