GOA TRIATHLON- A momentous journey from a half marathoner to a triathelete

GOA TRIATHLON……My first triathlon and a milestone in my life. Triathlon  involves three disciplines – swim,cycle and run. The Olympic triathlon involves 1.5 kms swim, 40 kms cycling and 10 kms running.

 

Triathlon…cannot say that it was not on my mind..yes I had given it a thought in the year 2014 when someone suggested that since I know swimming I should give it a try but then I did not know cycling. I had joined BNP Green Runners to train for my marathons. Though I knew swimming I had given up practising on it. I badly wanted to learn cycling as I loved the concept of cycling. I used to look at every passing cyclists and visualise myself on the cycle J. I had a passion to learn cycling , wanted to learn it and finally in the month of October 2014 I started to learn it thanks to a Indy, a friend of mine who was more than willing to teach me. And so began my lessons on cycling at Borivali National Park. Slowly and steadily I started gaining control on my cycle, got few tips too  from the morning walkers at the National Park.

 

And finally one day I cycled. I loved the feeling of being on the cycle. I still did not have absolute control on the cycle and so I lost control of it one day and had a major fall..Ofcourse I had fallen earlier couple of times but this one was serious and I was out of action for couple of days. Recovered and was again back on cycle. When I felt what I know is enough for me to go and buy one for myself , I went ahead and got a cycle for myself in the month of Feb.,2015. An MTB. Thats it…….I brought it home and kept it at home for more than three months. Did not have the courage to take it out as I had ridden my cycle only at BNP and not on the Mumbai Roads. When the teases and taunts of my fellow runners got to me, I realised it was high time I took it out. Mahesh Sir offered to take the cycle to his place and get it to BNP so that I could cycle it at BNP. And thus ended my excuses of not taking my cycle out for cycling. Started riding initially at BNP and  after a few weeks Sir suggested ….no……I think ordered me to take it home and start cycling on the Mumbai roads. I panicked but did not have the courage to tell him that I am not yet ready for it.

He gave me a deadline and one fine day I took it out early morning at 530 am by myself on to the Mumbai roads. From then on there was no looking back. I used to take it out early in the cold mornings of November and December so that the there would not be much traffic. The chill winter mornings did not bother me as my mind was on cycling. It was at this time that my friend, a runner from Soles of Cochin sent me a link for Goa Triathlon 2016. It played on my mind. Pondered over it and then thought why not give it a try… I have a major flaw. I just have to know the basics of any discipline be it cycling or swimming and I plunge headlong into it. When my mind is set I literally do a Ph.D on it and self train for it.. likewise I started training for my triathlon after going through numerous sites. I prepared a plan and stuck to it irrespective of the fact that its winter and the mornings will be freezing cold. Karna hai toh karna hai. Swimming in cold winter early mornings was tough but again like cycling, the winters did not get to me as my mind had blocked it out and was focussed on swimming and mastering it. I used to land up at the swimming pool at sharp 6 am when the temperature was at its lowest, the only one out there. I thought to myself Boy ..Am I crazy??? Yes definitely…but time was running out. I had only three months to myself. I started with freestyle but I was not getting the required speed and it tired me in just two laps. Now what??? How am I going to swim 1.5 kms in the sea??? The thought of swimming in open water was itself terrifying and combined with the thought of not able to master the freestyle scared the shit out of me. Took to Google, my life line for my training. Realised that free style was the most commonly used style for competitions because it was speedier and faster and did not require much effort.

 

Then a thought struck my mind. I googled under the caption ‘using breast stroke for triathlons” and to my surprise it threw up just what I wanted. The answer: Breast stroke can be used for triathlons and someone has used it even for Ironman. More than happy with the answer, I discarded my freestyle and started with breaststroke which I was adept at. It drastically reduced my swim time by an hour. I was overjoyed. Then realised the answer of using breaststroke was by a participant outside India……what about using it in India.  Again took to Google, and it threw up an answer..Yes…Hiren Patel..the only guy who used breaststroke for Ironman. Chatted with him, he warned me that it will tire my legs as I have to keep in mind that there is a 40 kms cycling and 10 kms running to be done. But just the thought of using beast stroke lifted my spirits up tremendously. Pursued breast stroke with a vengeance. So now I was training in all three disciplines simultaneously.

 

In between the Wada Duathlon came up. Thought will give it a try since I will be able to gauge my performance for Triathlon. The cycling route was tough and killing. Falling off the cycle had become my trademark. Completed the 40 kms of gruelling route inspite of falling off my cycle. The Wada Duathlon was an experience for me. Learnt many things and the torturous route conditioned my body. And I was ready to tackle GOA TRIATHLON headlong.

21st February 2016…GOA TRIATHLON

Here I was gearing up for the event without any formal training from experienced coaches, self trained and with the help of many kind souls who had answered to my each and every query. I had tracked them down and posed my doubts. Hiren Patel, Radha Rajan, Disha Shrivastava, Vishwanath Rajan, Suma Rao and Nithya Srinivasan. They all played a major part in completion of my first triathlon.

 

The venue: .Bambolim Beach Resort. Collected our rented cycles, Rode it for a few distance and then sat looking out at the sea and contemplating about the 1.5km swim the next day.

 

Checking out the cycles

The sea was anything but calm. My friend Sanjay who accompanied me and was participating in the event too was in a panic situation. As he was not well versed with swimming, he was tensed about it. I tried reassuring him. Told him that since he was good at cycling and running he need not worry. Whereas for me, I was still in the intermediate stage of cycling. Till date I cannot ride a cycle unless and until I sit on the seat and where running was concerned–I was a slow runner. But nothing could calm him down. He sat brooding, looking out at the sea. Made multiple trips to have a look at the sea, whether the sea has calmed down.

Came the D-Day… I put on my tri-suit and was ready to tackle my first triathlon swim in open waters. Sanjay too was half ready, still tensed about swimming, more worried whether he will get something to hang on toshould he get tired. After briefing and the gunshot, we waited patiently for the other participants to take the plunge as we had already decided to go in last to save ourselves from being kicked on the face (this fact I had learnt after going through various articles on Triathlon)

 

Showing off our bib numbers

Sanjay and I took off. Sanjay went ahead while I lagged behind. 100 meters into swimming and I panicked. This was my first sea swim. The pool had the facility of resting should you tire, you had the option of resting your feet on the ground. Here I could not feel the ground, the psychological fear of not being able to rest my feet, (the very thing I was warned off) got to me I called out for help, waved frantically. Sanjay heard my shouts for help and advised me to return back and he continued on his swim. The life boat came to my rescue and asked me whether I would like to turn back. Of course not!!!! I had not come this far, practised in the cold winter mornings so that the fear can take control of my mind. I hanged on to the boat for few minutes. Assured that they will be nearby should I need help, I swam away from it thinking that I will call them if needed. But that was the last I saw of them. Did not require them  from then on J That I was surprised is too mild a word, astounded is the right word I think….I swam non stop for the rest of the course with only a few seconds of rest after 700 meters as I had to call out by bib number to the organisers who were on the boat. Cramped up within a 300 meters of the finish line but I had expected it. Luckily it did not stay long as I had rested my legs and used only hands. Completed the swim comfortably and more importantly continuously using breast stroke.  I was advised to float on back when tired which many did..but I did not require it

 

T1 transition…Took a shower which was on the pool itself for the participants, wore a tshirt over my tri-suit, washed legs, put on shoes (the transition bag was to be kept ready at the finish point) and went on to T1 transition point to take the cycle and start my 40 kms of cycling. Everything was fine. But just a few minutes into cycling, I skid my cycle while trying to make way for an oncoming car and fell down. Bruised my knees, my elbow and worst of all broke my tooth. I was saddened by it. Thought of quitting. But then the official photographer who came out to help me asked me a thought provoking question…Madam.. are you continuing? I thought if he feels that I can continue then maybe I am not that injured. Made up mind….Yes.. though my upper lip was bruised, teeth broken, elbow scraped and knee paining badly I decided to go for it. And so started by cycling..I was disappointed and hurt with my fall..not with the fall actually but that the fall broke my teeth. I was more concerned about that than anything else LOL….. Sanjay nearly fell off his cycle when he saw me on my cycle loop for he had assumed that I gave up on swimming and turned tail. J Cycling was smooth inspite of using breaststroke for my swim. Completed the 35 kms in 2:11..my watch gave on me at that point so could not record further. (On a lighter note, my watch was too shocked with my progress and went into coma). Though I had a geared cycle, I did not use the gears for the entire 40 kms loop as I was paranoid about losing balance again. The practice sessions with my (HE MAN) cycle for my triathlon training helped me a lot as I had not made use of my gears at all After depositing the cycle at T2 point, I started my run. Now this was the most toughest part for me as the fall had taken a toll on my knee. First three kms I managed with walk/run but after my knee started hurting I speed walked the entire 7 kms. I did not take the risk to run fearing that my leg like my watch would give up on me midway. Completed the rest 7 kms of walk in the hot burning sun, alone on the highway. The roads opened for traffic ..so with the traffic zooming across, my swollen knees and the hot sun burning down my back I trudged along to the finish line and thus completed my EPIC TRIATHLON.

 

Finally the hard earned finishers medal

The lessons I learnt while training for triathlon and participating in it:

  1. Swim, cycling and running should be considered and trained as one sport and not individually.
  2. Where the mind is strong, you will see your goals being achieved.
  3. Dedication and perseverance plays a major part. Remain dedicated to your workouts be it chilly winter mornings or hot humid mornings.
  4. Swim…use and build up on the style you are comfortable with.
  5. LEGS….CONCENTRATE ON THEM, STRENGTHEN THEM AND PAMPER THEM

      MIRROR MIRROR ON THE WALL

    I”LL ALWAYS GET UP AFTER I FALL.

  AND WHETHER I RUN, WALK OR HAVE TO CRAWL

 I”LL SET MY GOALS AND ACHIEVE THEM ALL

 

       I FOLLOWED IT TO THE HILT …. J

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