Tri for a Cure – My First Triathlon

Apart from planning for my trip to Iceland in May and preparing for a busy wedding season, I have begun training for a new endeavor. I will be participating in my first triathlon on July 17th right here in South Portland. I will be swimming, biking, and running in the Tri for a Cure with over one thousand women in Maine’s only all-female triathlon. The course consists of a 1/3 mile swim, 15 mile bike ride, and a 3 mile run.

And while I’m truly excited for the months of training ahead, the coolest part of this triathlon is that the main focus of everyone’s efforts is to fundraise in support of fighting cancer. Money raised goes directly to the Maine Cancer Foundation and towards effective treatments for many forms of cancer. I have set my goal to raise $500. I have never raised this much money on my own, but the next few months will be dedicated to meeting this goal. You can read more about my reasons for participating on my Tri for a Cure Page.

I am currently in my second week of pre-training as I like to call it. It’s really just training, but I’m using the first 8 weeks to get used to the routine of tri training and work myself up to the level I want to be at when I start the more intense training in mid-April. Swimming will be the most difficult section for me. While I can swim pretty well, I’m not a very fast swimmer and my stamina in the water could be vastly improved. I have never had great arm strength and I’ve always struggled with breathing techniques in swimming. Not to mention that this 1/3 mile swim will be in the ocean! I’ll have to get used to the choppy water and wearing a wet suit. While the race will be in July, the ocean temperature averages about only about 61 degrees.

I’ve swam at the South Portland Rec Center three times since I began pre-training. The first time I swam, I was nervous being in the pool with several others. I hadn’t swam in a lap pool for a few years. I tried swimming in the winter when I lived in Portland at one of the public pools a few years back and felt so uncomfortable there. It was like this guys club and each time I went some older man would make a condescending comment towards me. It felt as if I had infiltrated their little club and wasn’t allowed in. I was worried I might encounter the same situation in South Portland, but I have not at all. It has been nothing but a positive experience with fellow, friendly swimmers.

I began swimming 20 laps (500 meters) and only being able to swim 2 laps before having to take a breather. This week, I was able to swim 4 laps without pause. 1/3 mile is just about 500 meters, so I’m slowly working my way up to being able to swim 20 laps in a row.

I’m not too worried about the biking section. I bike often where the course runs through South Portland and Cape Elizabeth, so I know the route and feel comfortable in that part of my training. I bike to work 1-3 times per week in the summer and fall, so I had planned on buying some new tires for my bike this year anyways. I still have mountain bike tires on it as this made way more sense to have when living in Bucksport when I was in high school. Yes, I’ve had this bike since I was 14, but it’s in great shape and just needs a tune-up and some road or combo tires.

I was actually able to ride my bike to work on Wednesday this week since it was almost 60 degrees out and it’s finally not dark outside when I’m ready to leave work. It’s a 3.3 mile ride to work, with some hills involved and I loved biking to work so much last year. While I arrived super sweaty, I just felt more energized in the morning and really enjoyed the mostly downhill ride home in the evening.

The running is the easiest part to train for; however, since it will be the final section of the triathlon, it will be important that I have enough endurance to finish the race strong. Right now, I’m working on finding a strength training plan that will work best for me.

In the past, my training has culminated in a half-marathon or marathon in early October. But, this year my peak training will happen in July. This works out really well for me since wedding photography really starts to pick up in August. Along with family sessions keeping me busy in the fall, I’m super busy and not sure I would be able to find the time for training, photography, working at OTTO,and trying to find some downtime in there as well. I am shooting 14 weddings so far this year with the majority of those falling in the time range of August through October. I’m really trying to get everything in order before the busy months are upon me. While my health didn’t suffer last year, it was the first summer I wasn’t training for some race or other. And without that motivation, I wasn’t as committed to running as I usually am. I just didn’t have the time. But, I was running around all the time anyways and biking to work, so I stayed healthy throughout the summer.

This year however, I want more of a challenge and I love testing myself athletically in new ways. Tri for a Cure will be my 2016 challenge!


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