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Linda Word won first place in a triathlon in Grant County recently. (Photo courtesy Bonnie Archuleta and Mark Verback)

I’ve finally done my first few of triathlons for the year, I got a bit of a late start due to recovering from the Boston Marathon, trying to catch up on things that were neglected and to be absolutely honest? I was just plain tired.

Triathlon — as the name implies — is three sports rolled into one. You start with a swim, anywhere from 400 meters to a half mile in a sprint distance to 2.4 miles for a full triathlon distance.

You then have a transition area (T1) where you switch from the swim portion to the bike portion of the event. The time in transition does count towards your total time so if it’s a short race, those few seconds you spent putting on your socks could potentially cost you in the end results.

Your bike distance will be anywhere from 10 miles in a sprint to 112 miles in a full and then you have T2 where you switch from the bike to run. The run portion is 3.1 miles to a full marathon of 26.2 miles.

So far, I have competed in the shorter sprint and intermediate (or Olympic) distances. A half distance may be in my future, but I highly doubt I will ever try a full distance triathlon.

My expectations for my first race were pretty low. I’ve been working on my swim technique, biking a bit, but not as much as last year. And, the running, I really haven’t been worrying about. I was just going to have fun and get some more experience with open water swimming and keeping my speed up on the bike.

The first race I did was a sprint distance (500-yard swim, 11-mile bike and 5K run) in Williamstown. I had done the race last year so I was aware of the logistics around this one and was prepared.

My family decided they wouldn’t attend as soon as I said “I’ll be leaving here about 4 a.m.” Not surprised and I don’t blame them.

I drove up, set up both my transitions areas, met some really nice people and ended up having a pretty good race! It was an open water swim in a lake. We had to jump off a dock for the start — which was scary — and I managed to stay on the course without zig zagging all over the place.

Solid swim. I felt good when I got to the boat ramp to get out and they had a couple of guys there to help you when you came out of the water so you didn’t slip. Very nice!

We ran up a very steep hill to the bikes and off I went! I passed a lot of people on the bike, although, I did stop briefly to loan a girl with a flat tire my tool kit. I finished the ride, hopped off, racked my bike, threw on my shoes and off I went for the run.

I passed one woman on the run and several guys, there was one woman in front of me that I didn’t think I could catch and then another woman passed me at the turnaround. This put me as the third woman overall when I crossed the finish line and I was pretty happy with that!

Then I looked at the results to see my time and my name was at the top! I was shocked! I had just won first overall woman in a triathlon! Only 13 men beat me too!

And I promise, there were more than three women in the event, 64 to be exact. I must have gotten in the water later and had a good swim time, which made my overall time the fastest.

I won a gift certificate and a little cutting board and got to stand, terrified, on top of a very tall podium. Not a fan of heights, I could have skipped that part happily, but when else was I going to be overall winner of a race?

So having no expectations equaled a completely unexpected outcome this time around. I took the pressure off myself and good things happened! Yipee!

Linda Word is an RRCA running coach, ACE Personal Trainer, ACE Nutrition Specialist, owner of ForWord Running Pacers and co-coach for 3 Sport Endurance. Contact her at forwordrunning @gmail.com to get started on your own fitness journey.

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