If you’re thinking of participating in the Cyswog’n’Fun this August, the time to start training is now.
Take it from someone who entered a triathlon for the first time last summer and put off training until two weeks before. If I learned anything, it’s that it takes a lot of preparation to feel confident going into a three-sport race. Especially if, like me, you like a challenge but you’re not the greatest athlete.
The first time I saw a triathlon was in 2009 when, as a reporter for this newspaper, I took photos at the finish line of the Cyswog. Seeing the way participants’ faces lit up as they ran those final steps to the end — after maybe an hour or more of pushing themselves through the cold lake and along hilly roads — I knew I wanted to experience that kind of accomplishment.
So two years later I finally registered for one. I was living in Victoria at the time and working at a newspaper where my editor travelled to Ironman competitions a few times a year.
If you’ve ever lived in Victoria, you know nearly everyone there is a runner or a cyclist or an athlete of some sort. I figured if I couldn’t get on the bandwagon there, I never would.
In the weeks before my first triathlon, I started biking to work and convinced my editor to let me tag along on one of his lake swims, which only made me realize how unprepared I was for the race.
Graciously, I’d only committed to doing the sprint distance — 500 m swim, 20 km bike and 5 km run — so, I figured I’d at least be able to finish, even if I was walking by the end of it.
The night before the race, I watched YouTube videos to figure out the best way to get out of a wetsuit quickly and how to set up my transition station. The next morning I was up at 5 a.m. rubbing a new bar of Body Glide on my legs and taping packets of energy gel to my bike frame.
And though I did breaststroke through much of the swim section, was passed by several cyclists more than twice my age, and walked a bit when I should have been running, I still crossed the finish line smiling. And I still wanted to do it again.
This year my goal is the Olympic distance in the Cyswog — 1.5 km swim, 40 km bike and 10 km run — and I’ve already started training with the Mountain Spirit Triathlon club. Our group of beginner triathletes has been meeting three times per week since mid-May, practicing a different sport each day.
Eventually we’ll start combining workouts, doing a bike ride then a run, or a swim then a bike ride. And by the time race day comes — our coaches claim — the distance will feel easy. While I’m not counting on that, I know I’m going to feel a lot better at the start line than I did last year.
For race participants training on their own, the Cyswog’n’Fun website, trinelson.com, has route maps posted so you can start practicing for your distance of choice. If the idea of doing the whole thing as an individual has you worried, there’s also the option of entering as a relay team.
Because its the 30th anniversary of the race, the early bird entry fee is just $30 until July 7, making it the cheapest triathlon in Canada. So, get signed up and start training.
I’ll see you at the start line.
Sam Van Schie is a Nelson Star reporter. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org