The Triathlon Chronicles: Training Week #1- Here We Go!

Week #1 is in the books! Welcome to Triathlon training.

My first Tri ever is now squarely in my sights, and the Escape The Cape Triathlon (I’m doing the sprint distance: .4mi swim, 10mi Bike, and 3.1mi run for those new to all this) in Cape May, NJ is only 106 days away.

Ok, the way I think I’m going to break out my updates is to follow my training: have a Swimming, Brick, Biking (when I get into it more) and Run updates then throw in any related thoughts after.

It should be interesting, because while I may have some experience in the competitive endurance world, I am a total newcomer to both swimming and cycling competitively.

So here we go, the first weekly update:

 Swim: I am starting literally at the beginning, just trying to build a solid base.  I got 3 laps in the pool without feeling like I was going to die, and I will continually build from there. Yes, I know that is laughable and next to nothing, but one thing I will say is this:  dude, swimming is so much harder than running. Holy Hell, that was hard… at least for me (at the point I am at right now). I can run multiple miles on a random weeknight with no real issue, but 3 laps in the pool kick my ass. Seriously? Out and back 3 times. That’s it. I would like to have thought that I was capable of doing some more here. Oh well, just like I was telling a friend who is going through a similar introduction (should I say “rough introduction” at that…) it’s just like when we began running with the Couch to 5K program. Little steps that add up to big ones. Slow and steady, trust the process. My first thought when I got out of the pool was “damn, I can’t wait to go for a run later in the week just so I feel a little bit like an athlete again”.

 Brick: I had my first ever Brick workout this week. For those who are as new to all this as I am, a “Brick” workout is one with 2 different types of activities. Again, I am brand new to all of this, so I am starting small and building from here, but I got 5 miles on the stationary bike and then immediately ran 2 miles on the treadmill. I feel like I held a decent pace for both. I averaged 15 mph on the bike – so it took me approx. 20 min on the bike to cover the 5 miles, and then a 9:00 min/mile pace on the treadmill- so it took me approx. 18 min on the run) and let me tell you, by the end of that run, my legs were feeling a whole lot like jell-o. The entire idea behind the brick is to get used to running on tired legs, and get your legs used to working in one direction and then switching gears and working in a different way. It is NOT as easy as it may sound. I know I was not setting land speed or distance records, but I feel surprisingly content with my start, and I’ll just keep incrementally building from here until I am race-ready. (at least bike/run wise)  

 Bike: With over 18” of snow on the ground right now, I’m not engaging in cycle only, outside workouts just yet. I have big plans for this but I’m just not there logistically yet. Stay tuned for more in the future, but nothing good to share right now.

 Run:  Ahhh, finally, something familiar. My weekly “Long Run”.  I actually go for that tomorrow, but I. Can’t. Wait. I need to preface this by saying that while I am training for Escape The Cape, I also have another race on my schedule one month earlier that is greatly altering my approach to the running aspect of this plan. I (along with a team of charity runners for the American Cancer Society’s DetermiNation program – we are “Team Running My Ass Off”) am registered to do The Broad Street Run in Philadelphia on 5/4, and that is a 10 mile race. So don’t be surprised to see my running miles rack up much more aggressively than the rest of the workouts. That being said, this week’s long run is a 4 miles. Hell yeah!  So last weeks 3.1 miles was technically the starting point, and I begin upping the run mileage by one mile each week, including this one (with a few step back and taper weeks built in, of course) Last week’s run also coincided with the blog’s own virtual 5K fundraiser The Sweet Cheeks Virtual 5K that is going on this weekend. So I was out there pushing to run a great race. Overall I’m happy with the results, 5K in 27:11.

 All in all it’s a solid start in my mind and if things build from here, I have a decent shot at doing this and not making a total ass of myself. The cycling is still  intimidating, just due to all the amount of new things I’ll have to learn and the swimming has already proven to me that it’s going to be a challenge but hell; I have proven to myself already that if you have a plan, have the motivation, and are willing to put In the work then literally nothing is off the table. This even applies to learning 2 new sports at the same time. So it’s all good. I’ll put the work in, get it done, and let the ass kicking commence. Yes, I know it’s aggressive, but I have been trying to take a page out of my buddy Lonnie’s book in terms of outlook and goal setting, and by that philosophy you have to have a bit of “head in the clouds” when setting goals.  Of course you run the risk of failing or not accomplishing 100% of it, but you also run the risk of feeling the amazement/immense pride/feeling like a complete and total badass when you walk away from something having just completed what you literally thought was impossible a short time ago. I’ve had that feeling a few times now, and let me tell you it’s the most exhilarating feeling in the world. One you will never forget. One of my favorite “motivational slogan” pictures from the internet sums this up perfectly for me: 


So since I am just starting off, I am also assembling all of the various “triathlon gear” that I will need. There a lot of pieces to the puzzle that are slowly falling onto place. I was in the place where I needed to replace my running gps watch anyway, so I got myself a Garmin 310 with quick release, which is (while not the newest or fanciest out there, still a pretty sweet) triathlon- focused watch that has the ability to record certain time aspects of the swim, and then switch on the fly to record all of your bike, and then again for all of  your run. It’s gigantic, you feel like you are running with a vcr on your wrist, but the thing is awesome; and it’s got the ability to detach from the wrist strap and attach to my bike so I can keep a check/ record my distances, speeds, etc across all my workouts. My bike (a 20- year old, hand me down road bike…I think I’m going to call it “Big Blue”) is in the shop getting tuned up so when the Polar Freaking Vortex moves away for good I will be good to go.  I also got myself a pair of Tri shorts and a tri top to train and race in. Now, frankly speaking I have lost a ton of weight since I started and I generally feel pretty damn good about the way I look anymore, but I’ll tell you what: trying on those tri shorts and top is easily one of the most humbling feelings in the world. I feel like a stuffed sausage. (and kind of naked…it’s tight and there’s not a lot of it). It just makes me really appreciate how loose, comfortable and awesome running clothes are.

 First Tri in my sights is the The Escape The Cape triathlon, in Cape May NJ. When looking for my first Tri, I knew I wanted a sprint distance to introduce myself to the sport, and quite frankly I started looking around to local races that looked fun. I had heard good things about this race and knew that  you start the Swim leg by jumping off the back of the Cape May (NJ) – Lewes (DE) ferry and swimming back to shore. How awesome is that?

Looking forward,  I’m going to be posting weekly or bi-weekly updates just like this, and I’m excited to bring you along for the ride with me. I can’t always promise fantastic results, but I will give you honesty and a sense of what this is REALLY like for a runner who has never had the opportunity (or reason) to swim or cycle competitively. So far, so good.  But I realize that this is just the first step in a long plan…so time will tell.

 Thanks again for reading. And damn it feels good to be back and actually following a real training plan again 

Till next time, 

Take it Easy

6 responses to “The Triathlon Chronicles: Training Week #1- Here We Go!

  1. Love this. I dread my tri kits. There is no safety net with them. Even if you choose all black. Looking forward to hearing more!

  2. Woohoo, this just got me really excited! I need to really step it up with the swimming. The kids are on vacation this week from school and my inlaws are here and it really messed with my schedule. Back on track Monday for sure!

  3. I can really relate to the swim piece of your blog…Good News though~ you will probably see improvements pretty quickly…I started swimming in October after feeling like I was nearly drowning at my first open water tri…and now I LOVE swimming! Another piece of really good news, the better my swimming became…my running times made leaps and bounds, too! I did not know that was gonna happen. I can’t wait to do the same TRI this summer and kill my time! I LOVE reading your blog Andy..your energy is contagious!

  4. Swimming is so hard – I took it up when I couldn’t run for a couple of months. They have a Couch to 1600 swimming program that gets you from no swimming to 1 mile in about 6 weeks – I don’t know if that might help?

  5. Cool post! Where do you go swimming?

  6. I did the Escape the Cape last year as my first longer distance Tri, and I was so scared of the swimming. Like you, I got in the pool and did 2 up and backs and I was so excited that I did it without stopping and gasping for air (as I did during my first tri). I slowly got better by being persistent and swimming for at least an hour, 3 days a week for a couple months. I eventually worked my way up to a mile in the pool, and I even did it in under an hour!
    I will suggest that you invest in a wet suit for 2 reasons. 1- after standing on the boat baking in the sun for almost an hour you will be jumping into some really cold water, and it rips the breath out of you as you claw your way to the surface. 2- it will help keep you afloat a lot easier, just make sure you get some training time in it so you will know how it feels. I picked up a NeoSport NRG sleeveless for about $80, and I used it for all but 1 tri last season.

    I’ll also be doing Broad Street, AC Tri, and Philly Marathon this year as well.
    I just stumbled upon this blog and I’ll definitely be following along and I hope to meet you at one of the races this year.

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