“Never stop learning because life never stops teaching”

It was a hot, humid, swassy morning. I was up before the sun, prepping all my gear for what would be my fourth triathlon. Everything went smoothly, from getting to the race to setting up my gear to packet pickup – then, the actual race. All in all, it went pretty well. Not great but I pushed my ass hard and feel really good about how I did. On another note, I’ve had some time now to reflect and collect my thoughts and learnings. Wait, learnings? I’ve done this race a few times, I know it well. What could I have learned?

I try to walk away from every race with something new. Something I can use to get better – or, share with others. So here are three quick takeaways I learned from this year’s triathlon.

Doing-A-Triathlon

That face your man makes when he smells you after a hot, sweaty and humid triathlon finish – or when he wasn’t ready for the pic to be taken.

I’m Not A Triathlete – I’m A Runner
Yes, I guess I’ve always known this. Not that I expected to place in this event or really trained hard enough to truly compete, but I still always give my best, put up a good showing against the competition. Naturally, I had to check out my results – 13th overall. Not bad! Then I drilled into each portion of the race and made a discovery. Not a surprising one, rather something I already knew: I’m not a triathlete. I’m a runner.

In each the swim and bike portion, I placed in the mid-20s overall. In the run portion, fourth. And considering the ridiculous heat and humidity, the run I put up was even that much more awesome.

I’m not a fan of biking. At all. I love lap swimming but I do it as more of a relaxing workout, not a tough, speed-intense one. Running on the other hand? I love it and I love pushing myself as hard as I can. During triathlon training, and just in general, I focus the majority of my time and energy on running workouts above all else.

While I love the challenge of a triathlon and the variety it forces into my cardio, deep down, I’m 100% a runner. What can I say?
If I Want To Improve, I Need A To Invest In The Bike
The biking portion of a triathlon is 50/50 training and the quality of bike. For real, the type of bike a rider has is a major factor on his or her performance. I trained pretty well for the bike portion of this race; lots of mileage outside and speed work in the gym, and good leg lifts to keep the tree trunks strong. I pushed myself really hard during the bike portion of the race but my overall time wasn’t much different than it had been in previous years where I took it easier.

Conclusion: If I want to improve this portion, I could train really REALLY hard for the bike portion. Or, invest in a new, expensive bike.

Again, something that I already knew but this year really cemented it.
Volunteers Are The Most Wonderful People
Okay, this isn’t new. I’ve known this before I ever signed up for a race, and I think everyone who races knows and greatly appreciates the time and efforts of volunteers at races. But oftentimes, I think people don’t realize just how much extra time and effort volunteers put into races.

A good friend and former colleague heads up the volunteer committee at the Young Life triathlon. The first year I participated, I mentioned to him that I was nervous for the swim, mostly because Detroit Lake is known for being weedy and I didn’t want to get tangled up in them! He smiled and assured me I would be fine – then casually mentioned he and the staff had been out a few days prior, pulling weeds from the lake.

I was floored. Seriously? It’s incredible that people donate their time on race day for packet pickup, directing traffic and handing out water – it’s quite another story that they put in hours ahead of time doing stuff like this. All in the name of bettering the experience for racers.

I love the volunteers at every race; this is just one of many reasons why I love the volunteers at the Young Life triathlon.

So really, I didn’t so much “learn” anything as I did realize and make some larger conclusions. But I think that’s part of learning; sometimes it’s more so just confirming what you already knew and understanding it.

Do you try to learn something from every race? If you’re not a racer, how about from your workouts? Post a comment or tweet me, @runlikeagirl311 on Twitter.

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