For some reason I decided I should attempt a sprint triathlon this year, so with a month to prepare I entered one in nearby Sylvania, OH.
If running off a beach into the water with over 100 other people, all of whom are aiming for the same point out in the middle of a lake, sounds like a good idea to you, if swimming like mad and then running back up the beach and then onto asphalt to your bike where you stuff your sandy, wet feet into socks and shoes and then ride a long way seems like the next logical step, and then, having tightened up all the muscles in your thighs and calves with a torque wrench, getting off the bike and running a race strikes you as the perfect end to a perfect morning, then a triathlon is for you. It’s the run-on sentence of endurance races.
My strategy was don’t drown, don’t crash, don’t cramp. I didn’t and I didn’t and I didn’t, so it was a good day.
 Reasons, plural, really: Kat did one and I was impressed by her achievement, and I also read Jef Mallet’s excellent book, which is inspirational, funny, and has a lot of footnotes.
 Until July, I had not swum more than 20m at a stretch in at least 20 years…and maybe a lot more years than that.
 It looks like a mosh pit to the spectators, and looks do not deceive. It is a can’t-see-the-bottom deep mosh pit filled with water and over-achievers.
 20-year old mountain bikes are not ideal for this, but, like my body, I used what I had.
 In the first mile or so of the run my shins felt like they were splinting. Weird!
 A sprint really isn’t an endurance event. The Olympic distance (or more) is the real deal in that regard. But I was tired and hungry at the end of this one, so maybe it counts.
 I didn’t break any course records, nor did any of the leaders feel threatened. But I did do better than I guessed I would. I finished in the top 1/4 for the swim, which is crazy good for me and in the bottom 1/3 for the
bike portion, which is perhaps not crazy bad, but at the very least it’s pretty bad. I
averaged about 19 miles/hour, which apparently is decent on a mountain
bike, but a mountain bike is not a good road racing machine. It’s not
all about the equipment, though — I didn’t push it hard, in part out of
fear of a muscle or ligament pull (it’s been a bad summer), and in part out of not really
knowing what I was doing…emphasis on the latter. As for the run, it went pretty well. As
always, world class racers had nothing to fear, but I passed 40 people
in the course of the 5K. Of all the aspects of a triathlon, running is more my thing
than the others. No surprise there. And though I liked it, and may do it again some day, I’m ready to return to just straight-up running for the rest of the year.