My First Triathlon a Long Time Ago…

It seems my first blog post should probably be about my first triathlon.  It was August 16, 1986 (yes, I know that makes me sorta “old”) and it was the Heber Valley Triathlon.  The distances were, if I remember correctly, a 1.2 mi. swim, 42 mi bike, and a 10 mi run.  I need to do some digging into old newspaper articles to see if I can find the actual distances.  I still remember the date because there was an age requirement to compete and I had just met it one week before the races.  I imagine I was probably the youngest competitor in that race at 18 yrs and 1 week old :)

Details of the race are fuzzy now but there are a few highlights that are etched into my brain and I don’t think I’ll ever forget them.  What do they say about traumatic events?  I guess those are some of the things that we remember most vividly.

Training — I had no idea how to train for a triathlon.  There were three legs to the race and I figured that if I just did some swimming, biking, and running that I’d be ok.  What the heck, I was young and I could make it, right?  Luckily I had a strong swimming background and wasn’t too worried that the distance was achievable.  What I didn’t plan on was the challenge of open-water swimming with a thrashing pack of competitors!

Gettin' ready to swim. Yeah, that's my awesome Dad there as race support!

The swim went pretty well as I moved out in front and then had clear water.  I believe I was about 6th out of the water.  They didn’t really have “tri shorts” then so I swam it in a Speedo.  They had change tents setup just after the water exit so I ran in there and quickly threw on my cycling clothes.

Swim exit

Cycling was my favorite of the three disciplines so I had done lots of training in this area.  The course involved two big loops around the Heber Valley for a total of 42 miles.  I was passed by about 15 or 20 riders on this section and felt like I was doing pretty good.  I knew NOTHING about nutrition and remember that I only had water (in my water bottle) and a banana stuffed in the little bag that hung beneath my bike saddle.  Half-way through the bike I at the banana and figured I was good for the remainder of the race.  Oh the insanity!

Bike finish

Following the bike I found the change tent again and put on running shorts, running shoes and a Campagnolo bike hat — my transition times must have been horrible!  There was one pre-race meeting held at Liberty Park in Salt Lake City but I don’t remember any discussion about transitions.  I probably wasn’t paying much attention.

Run Start

Heading out on the run I felt pretty good — smiled for a picture even!  But about two miles into the run I saw the first place person heading the other way… almost done.  He was running in his speedo!  What?!  He swam, biked, and then ran all in the same piece of clothing?  That guy is crazy!  Knowing I had so much running ahead of me was disheartening and my mental resolve began to falter.  The run was extremely difficult.  It consisted more of jog/walk/jog/walk iterations for the last 5 or 6 miles.  Looking back now I realize that nutritionally I was totally screwed.  My stomach revolted half-way through the run and let’s just say I didn’t make any friends mooching a bathroom at the gas station in Midway.

Just about done with the run

Finally at 4 hrs 44 minutes I crossed the finish line and was exhausted and glad that little adventure was over!  Who would have guessed that many, many years later I would actually want to do another one of those?

Finish line! Yeah, my little brother, Mark, is running it home with me!

Leave a Reply