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What I Learned From My First Triathlon – Catherine’s Story

Davey and I talk a lot about how to overcome your fears of the swim and how to train for a triathlon despite not having any experience in the pool because, for the majority of people, the swim is the toughest part of a triathlon.

But what if you grew up swimming and are more concerned with biking and putting all 3 sports together? Then you’ll totally relate to Catherine’s story.

Catherine swam competitively in college and she is like a dolphin in the water… so efficient and fun to watch! She’s a natural runner, but the bike was her biggest challenge in this triathlon. A few weeks before the race, she borrowed a really nice hybrid bike from our friend Lauren (the one in the middle).

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Catherine trains really hard and has such a positive attitude. When she faced an obstacle or challenge, she took it head on and overcame it. Her hard work paid off because not only did she have an awesome first race, she got second place in her age group! Catherine is definitely proof of our saying, you’ll never know until you tri! She took herself on and rocked this race!

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What inspired you to do a triathlon?

I had entertained the idea of doing a triathlon for a couple of years, but what it finally came down to was my fiancé, Pete, and I both wanted to do it together, and Jess and Davey convincing me that I could absolutely do it. Their encouragement and excitement about triathlons was the pushing factor!

What was your biggest fear or concern going into the training/race?

Not having enough training time was a concern, as well as not having a road bike or triathlon bike.

What surprised you about the training?What I Learned From My First Triathlon - Catherine's Story

I realized I enjoy biking, and I enjoyed the diversity of triathlon training. It really kept me motivated and excited more than I was expecting! It almost was addicting, in a sense.

How did you acquire the gear you needed?

I had goggles and a helmet, and I used my worn-in tennis shoes. I borrowed a friend’s hybrid bike for the triathlon and was able to do a little bit of training on her bike prior to the race. But now that I love doing triathlons, I want to buy a nicer road bike!

Would not having a nice road bike hold you back from doing a triathlon?

If you’re not sure you’ll like doing a triathlon, borrowing a bike is the way to go.

(Jess here. I just wanted you all to know that even with a borrowed hybrid bike, Catherine beat my bike time by 23 seconds. She even dropped her water bottle while riding and had to turn around to get it! I think this is so awesome because it proves that, yes, having a nice road bike will help you gain speed, but the machine that really makes you ride fast is your legs. 

Now that you’ve done your first race, what is one thing you wish you did differently either in training or on race day?

I wish I had the time to train more without graduate school, work, and wedding planning getting in the way! I would have practiced more brick workouts!

What I Learned From My First Triathlon - Catherine's StoryDuring the race, when you found yourself discouraged or at a low point mentally, what did you do to keep going?

I would think about how far I had gone so far, and I thought in terms of miles or markers along the route. Ex: When I was running up the steep Korean veterans bridge, I kept telling myself I just had to make it to the top of the bridge and it would be all downhill after that! Easy!

What advice would you give to a beginner triathlete?

Practice brick workouts as much as you can prior to the triathlon, and practice transitions at least once. Jess and Davey trained us on transitioning and it provided us with tips I hadn’t even thought of before actually doing it.

The triathlon was such a blast!! I realized that I can absolutely complete a triathlon competitively, and most importantly it was so much fun doing it with a team of friends and supporting each other through the training and race day!