Tri and Tri Again! Your First Tri

Home / Motivation / Tri and Tri Again! Your First Tri

Tri and Tri Again! Your First Tri

I wish I could say that I wrote this, but I didn’t. It’s funny. The author is unknown. This is one man’s account of his first face. Every one of you will relate — and maybe laugh. Here you go.

“The triathlon. A supreme test of human endurance. At least the Ironman distance, which, for those of you who don’t know, means swimming the English Channel, biking until the seasons change, and then running until the road sign starts appearing in a foreign language. Long-distance triathlons cannot be attempted without serious training and sacrifice; luckily, short-distance (or sprint) triathlons were invented so that the weekend athletes (i.e., those who consider Cheetos a nutritional supplement) could test their mettle without first sweating themselves down to the body fat of a neglected greyhound.

I recently entered my first triathlon. It wasn’t too long (.5-mile swim, 25 mile bike, 5 miles run), and I felt I was prepared. I had been running various local 5Ks, biking occasionally, and I’d watched the rerun lifeguard test episode of Baywatch. This, I figured, would be a breeze. My confidence was soaring — until I arrived in the parking lot for the start of the race.

The first thing that unnerved me was the race numbering. The race organizers gave me a number to pin to my bike and my shorts, but then they felt the need to engrave my arm and leg with a magic marker. They said it was for identification, and all I could think was, “What series of events would lead me to become separated from either limb during the course of this triathlon, and will I be hovering over some lost and found bin in an hour saying, “Yeah, leg #236, I think that’s mine!”

The second thing that struck me was the crowd. At your local 5K run, you get a very welcoming mix of participants, ranging from the 110-pound hyperactive beanpoles jogging around like they ran TO the race, to the small packs of easy-striders who use the 3.1 miles for their weekly gossip fix. Triathlons are a different breed. More intense. More focused. And a lot more almost-nude since everyone is dressed for the first event — the swim.

Bewildered and branded, I waddled over to the beach for the start, huddling with the other participants like a pack of penguins on an ice flow, gazing around with nothing in particular to do other than wait to be ordered into the sea. The group became a bit agitated, so they herded us down to the beach.

“BOOM!” went the gun, and with it, the first wave of swimmers threw themselves into the froth like a pack of caribou battling to cross a gator-infested river. I dove in, headfirst, arms churning powerful strokes, legs kicking whoever had the misfortune to be behind me. Stroke, stroke, breathe. Stroke, stroke, breathe. I was moving like a knife blade through the water, covering what had to be a quarter mile in just minutes, so I looked up…and then stood up.

Looking over my shoulder, I could still see the start since I had only traveled about 10 yards from it! On top of that, I was exhausted. I guess one day of cannonballing at the local pool did not quite develop the aquatic prowess I had hoped. But I was here to do a job, and I was going to finish. So I resumed my horizontal position, this time replacing the powerful overhand stroke with more of a combo tread-water/doggy-paddle-and try-not-to-drown style (very popular with preschoolers who wear water wings.)

At this point, I began to attract quite a fan following, particularly from the lifeguard canoes who circled me like vultures, shouting words of encouragement like, “Are you sure you want to keep going?” and “We’ll let you in the boat!” But on I pressed. The lead swimmers emerged from the water. The mid-pack struggled onto the beach. And still, I swam. Finally, after they had reopened the beach for kiddie play, I groped my way through the beachballs and sand pails and flopped onto the shore. I lay there, trying to acclimate my flailing limbs to this new, less fluid medium called dirt.

However, moments later, I was up again and racing toward the bikes. It was easy to find (it was the only one left). But once on the saddle, I was in my element. Piston-like rotations lurched my frame over the asphalt at record speeds. I started to pick off racers one at a time. First, the woman is trying to repair a flat on the side of the road. Whoosh! Then, the guy on the adult-like tricycle. Whoosh! Then I took a wrong turn. Then I backtracked and passed the guy on the tricycle again. Whoosh! When I pulled in the bike finish, I dramatically rose from dead last to almost-but-not-quite-dead-last. And the run was still to come.

I paused for a moment in the transition area to talk with the gentleman next to me. “Quite a run, wasn’t it?” he asked. “I’ll tell you when I get back,” I responded, and off I went, still at my breakneck pace, to catch the leaders, who were now driving home. My leg responded, happy just to be in contact with solid ground, and I was passing people left and right (the spectators, the aid station volunteers). Finally, drawing on a reserve of power somewhere deep in my psyche, I made a surge at the finish line, just edging the guy who was starting to collect the orange cones. I had finished my first triathlon!

I lingered for a while, baking in the sun and watching the racers celebrate with friends and family. I was proud of myself, not for my day’s stellar performance, but for getting to the starting line of something new, for experiencing it, for surviving, and foolishly, for contemplating doing it again — although next time, I’m sneaking some scuba fins in for the swim!”

Lincoln Murdoch
Lincoln Murdoch
As an accomplished endurance athlete, Lincoln has been competing in running events for 40 years and racing in triathlons for 25 years. He is a 3x USAT National Champion, 14x USAT All-American and 3x ITU World Championships Top-Ten finisher. Lincoln is passionate about helping athletes meet their goals through books, online resources, coaching and motivational speaking. You can learn more at
Recommended Posts
Contact Us

Send us an email and we'll get back to you, ASAP.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt

Start typing and press Enter to search