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Competing in a Triathlon: I Did It!



What did I do this weekend, you ask. Hmm…saw a movie, went to a friend’s birthday party, watched The Bachelorette finale, and, oh yeah, completed a triathlon! Woohoo! I know that SHAPE’s 12-week training plan served me well, because I finished the 500-meter swim, 11.5-mile bike, and 5K run in 1 hour, 23 minutes, and 19 seconds (see a break down of my time for each discipline here). That landed me in 18th place in my division (which included 59 25- to 29-year-old women). Top third my first time around? I’ll take it! 
Don’t be fooled though, this race was no walk in the park. (Although, Mercer County Park where the NJ State Triathlon was located is beautiful.) That’s mostly because I hated the swim. Hated. And I loved swimming during training! I’m actually very disappointed about how un-fun the swim was. Nothing can really prepare you—even swimming in open water on your own—for trying to swim alongside the other competitors. All the splashing and kicking, the inability to see in the water, the need to look up every few strokes just to make sure you’re not swimming directly on top of someone, makes the swim pretty miserable. I also started out way too fast. I should have stayed behind or to the side and performed my regular, rhythmic stroke. Instead, I got over excited and started swimming as fast as I could, trying to keep up with the women around me. I tired out so quickly and really regretted it.
The bike and the run were awesome in comparison. After getting out of that lake as fast as possible, I hurried to my transition station, put on my socks, cycling shoes, and helmet, drank some water, and off I went. I even clipped in and out without any problems! One interesting thing about the bike portion: trying to follow the official USA Triathlon rules regarding drafting. You have to stay at least three bike lengths behind the person in front of you and must pass on the left within 15 seconds if you want to pass. Obviously, this was the first time I’ve dealt with the rules, so mostly I concentrated on making sure I didn’t incur any penalties—which actually helped the miles fly by!
Finally, with two down, one to go, the run was a breeze. I slipped on my sneaks, ate a gu, and started hoofing it. There were lots of spectators along the sidelines of the run, which is one aspect of endurance events that I really love. Not just the supporters, but the encouragement from fellow participants. Lots of people were smiling, high-fiving, and cheering as they passed friends and strangers. Really gives you a sense of camaraderie.
I’m pretty proud, but not because of my time. Because I got out there and did something I’ve never done before. And I’m really proud of all of you first-timers too. Even though my event is over, I hope you’ll continue to share your triathlon training-and-competing experiences with me. 
Anything else you want to know? Ask me in the comments or tweet me @DaniSMcNally.


Danielle McNally is the associate fitness editor at SHAPE magazine, where she reports on the latest news, trends, and gear in the exercise world, along with the occasional travel and pop culture piece. She was previously an assistant editor at Food Network Magazine, but left shortly after completing the ING New York City Marathon, when she realized her passion for working out. She’s run seven half marathons, and regularly practices yoga and pilates. This summer she’ll be competing in the New Jersey State Triathlon (her first!) and blogging about it here!


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