Top Gun was my very first Triathlon back in 2010. My older brother had done a few races and convinced me that I could do it. I crossed the finish line but it was pretty obvious to me that I had a lot of work to do before I tri-ed again.
Saturday was my third year racing Top Gun and my best triathlon to date. I love this race every year because I can really compare my progress to previous years, apples to apples.
Here is a look at my times for the last three years.
Here is what I’ve learned.
Open water, open water, open water. I couldn’t swim a full lap in the pool just 4 months before Top Gun in 2010. I was literally starting at square one. I had no idea how to do any formal stroke and I was terrified of putting my face under the water. It took a while before I got over that feeling.
As I got more comfortable with swimming I started using it for cross training and eventually started going to open water group swims. This is when I noticed the greatest improvement in my swimming.
I’m still not fast but I’ve learned to control my breathing and calm my nerves. For me that’s half the battle. Getting out of the water and not feeling panicked and out of breath is a great improvement for me.
Time in the saddle. Imagine that. Actually putting time in on my bike…
I used to ride only when I had time to get outside. That didn’t leave me with a lot of time on the bike. I started spending more time on the trainer and going to spin class once or twice a week. I’m also getting out on the road at least once a week. It all seems to be paying off.
I must also add that my new bike rocks. It is a lot lighter than my previous bike. That certainly has something to do with it as well. Top Gun last weekend was the first time I’ve broken the 20mph average in a race.
There is always room for improvement. It’s weird for me to sit back and think that this is probably the area where I can improve the most. My 5k time is actually a bit slower this year. I think I take for granted that running is my favorite and the one area of triathlon that I am most familiar with.
For me, having a formal training plan is critical. I used to just swim, bike and run when I could and figured that was enough training. I’ve learned the importance of having a plan and sticking to it.
I may never see a podium in my life and I’m okay with that. Triathlon has never been about the competition for me. I love setting goals for myself and celebrating my small victories as I accomplish them.
One day at a time, one race at a time, one step at a time, I’m getting stronger. And that’s exactly where I want to be.