A triathlon, consisting of swimming, sprinting and cycling endurance feats, will test the body to the limit, discovers Arianne St Louis, 24, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Trinidad & Tobago, who competed in a major event earlier this month in Grenada.
On May 6th I participated in the Grenada Tri de Spice International Triathlon in the “Try a Tri” leg. The race consisted of a 400 meter swim, 10 kilometer bike ride and a 2.5 kilometer run.
This was my first attempt at an event of this caliber. The experience taught me that although I have the physical potential to be a triathlete, I do not have the competitive heart, nor the finances to perform at a professional level!
On race day, I got my body marked with my race number and warmed up with a sprint and swim to ease my nervousness, which was bordering on hysteria. All the athletes were briefed about the race proceedings and then we collected our time tracking chips.
The race started 40 minutes late at 1:40pm. I was so deep in ‘the zone’ that I did not hear the starting horn and suddenly people started splashing past me. I tried not to panic, I focused on pacing myself and being consistent to preserve my energy for the ride and run. As the gap between myself and the group widened I kept telling myself “keep swimming, you will kill it on the bike.” I was one of the last swimmers to jump into the salty marina water and much to my embarrassment I was the third to last swimmer to exit the water.
I was so disoriented after the swim that I bumped into the time checker and almost knocked him over as I ran past. Undeterred, I sprinted into the transition area, put on my bandana, helmet and sneakers, snatched my bike and started peddling as hard as I could. After completing four laps my legs began to ache. As I rode past my team mates they screamed at me to change my bike gears, as I geared down I felt the tension in my legs dissipate immediately.
One more lap to go before a quick sprint and it would all be over, I thought to myself. Sadly, I forgot to off-saddle on my last lap so as I began to run my legs felt like jelly; wobbly and weak. The run was agonizing, and the afternoon heat and humidity made me miserable. I felt like an overcooked ham – salty and burnt to a crisp. My teammates handed me cups of water every time I ran past. I threw the water on my burning skin and it helped to soothe and hydrate my body. While running I tried singing to keep a rhythm and before I knew it I was approaching the finish line. I wiped the sweat off my face, breathed deeply and imagined myself holding a trophy. I came in 2nd, I lost to someone much younger and I did not get a medal.
The only experience I had before this event was a mini tag team triathlon which took place in Trinidad on November 20th 2011. Three friends and I each did a 200 meter swim, a 5 kilometer bike ride and a 1 kilometer run. My interest in Triathlons peaked in January and my uncle encouraged me to join the Rainbow Warriors Triathlon Club [RWTC]. My goals were simple; to improve my physical condition, lose weight, adjust to morning work outs and overall to become more athletic. Prior to joining RWTC I went to the gym consistently for one year. I became very bored with the monotonous routine in the smelly, cramped gym.
RWTC trains 7 days a week and twice a day sometimes. The first two months of training were brutal. I crawled out of bed at 4:30 am and sleep walked until my body started screaming in agony and my brain awoke. I struggled with running the most; I enjoyed cycling the least and I always loved swimming. Cycling quickly fell out of favor as several accidents severely discouraged me. However, after my experience in Grenada I am more confident on my bike and I have made peace with my clip-on cycling shoes… I have not had any accidents since!
Although I have improved significantly over the last five months, the cost of taking on three sports at once, the physical toll and the diet is overwhelming me. My experience in Grenada taught me that while I enjoy being outdoors swimming, cycling and running I am 100% positive that I do not want to be a serious Triathlete. Instead I will get a personal trainer, maintain the level of outdoor activity I have become accustomed to and continue to participate in minor, fun, triathlon events.
“I have always been very passionate about creative writing, but my love for the English language led me to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in English. While on sabbatical from pursuing my masters, I enjoy cycling, swimming, watching movies and blogging about each of them.”
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding.
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