I was registered to participate in a triathlon this weekend. Unfortunately, Houston’s great September weather disappeared Friday. The heavy rains on Friday continued into Saturday night and caused a cancellation of the cycling portion of the event. The event then became what they called an aquathlon (swim/run).
For those considering either a triathlon or aquathlon, I thought I would share some important tips:
1. General Tips:
- If you are thinking about doing a triathlon, with little training in the swimming event, then reconsider the decision. The swimming portion was a lot more work than I thought it would be. Once you have reconsidered, proceed with the registration because no self-respecting, obsessive, compulsive, Type-A personality is going to back down from a challenge.
- Never believe the weatherman. Despite the rains on Friday, all day Saturday, and Saturday evening, the weather was projected to be 71 degrees and sunny when the swim portion started, with 7 mph winds. It wasn’t. It was 70 degrees when I left for the event and 65 degrees when I got home. There was no sun, it was misting, and the wind was definitely more than 7 mph.
2. Swimming Tips:
- If you own a FitBit, leave it in the transition area. The transition area is where you change gear from one event to the next. As I stood near the water’s edge, watching those who started ahead of me, I suddenly realized I still had my FitBit. I was then faced with a Hobson’s choice. Go forward and replace it later, or save it now. It was a ½ mile jog (round trip) to take it back to the transition area. Hmmm… what to do!? It was either $80 lost or $80 saved. I decided to make the jog.
- Don’t believe what anyone says about the water temperature. When they tell you the water is 80+ degrees, it’s just a trick to make you think everything is going to be okay. Actually, the water temperature was probably in the mid to high 70s, and we could have had 80+ degrees if we had had some sun and little or no rain. I knew there was a problem the moment the first wave of swimmers in my age group started into the lake. They were almost all having an “Oh God” moment, but their tone of voice suggested pain. I knew this was not a good sign.
- Each wave of swimmers was separated by 5 minutes of time. Never get into the water at the beginning of the 5 minute wait. I found myself expending a fair amount of energy treading water to stay afloat, and trying not to bump into all the other swimmers who seemed to have this incredible urge to be next to me. I, however, did not share their desire to occupy the same space. Get in with only 1-2 minutes to spare.
- Never be at the front of the swimming line. I was in the middle of the front row. While I had no doubt I could make the distance, I knew my time would not threaten the world records of Michael Phelps. The problem, however, is the number of people behind me who were obviously faster than me felt the need to swim over me after the horn blew. (In fairness to the other swimmers, the water was murky and you could not see the person in front of you).
- If you do nothing else, try not to flop around like a dying fish. At around ½ way through the swim course, I could feel the ankle strap for my timing chip slipping down towards the bottom of my ankle. I stopped to fix it. Stopping really meanings treading water and sometimes going under the water. This creates the appearance that you might be drowning, thereby causing a lifeguard in a kayak to immediately paddle to your location to offer assistance. While I was pleased with the concern for my safety, I was a little embarrassed for having caused the lifeguard to be concerned.
3. Cycling Tips:
- Stay up late the night before the event so you can check the event’s website for weather updates and other important information. If I had, I would not have been hauling my bike to an event with no bike portion to the event.
4. Running Tips:
- With the cancellation of the cycling portion, my ability to finish well in the run was diminished. I did not pass anyone in the swim, but I got passed a lot. I passed very few on the run course because by the time I got to the run course, there were not a lot of us left. Given my improved cycling over the past few months, I could have generated some sort of a lead over at least a few people, thereby increasing the likelihood that I would not be near the end of the bodies still on the run course.
- The MOST IMPORTANT tip is that you need to be sure you are jogging well and at least pretending to look good as you approach the finish line, (I did). They have photographers at the finish line and elsewhere immortalizing the moment. Therefore, regardless of how bad you might have looked on other parts of the course, if you look good at the end, then you looked good everywhere else.
5. General Comments:
- It does not matter if the event is a triathlon or an aquathlon. You still get a finisher’s medal and it says triathlon. Years from now at my funeral, I will have my finisher’s medals draped over my coffin, and other than my wife and those who did not read this, everyone will think I did a triathlon.
- Would I do it again? See General Tips, paragraph 1 (yes).
Stephen A. Mendel is a trial, real estate, business, and estate planning/probate attorney in the Houston, Texas area. Mr. Mendel has over thirty-four (34) years of business experience, over twenty-three (23) years of legal experience, and has maintained his own private law practice for the past sixteen (16) years. Mr. Mendel is a also a registered architect, licensed real estate broker, AV rated by Martindale Hubbell, was recognized in 2010 as one of Houston’s Top 100 Professionals, and was recognized as 2011 Boss of the Year by the Houston Association of Legal Professionals. Mr. Mendel was a fulltime faculty member for five (5) years with the University of Houston, Central Campus, where he taught construction related courses while he attended law school. Mr. Mendel is a contributing author of four books: (1) Strictly Business; (2) Love, Money & Control; (3) Total Wealth Management; and (4) Guiding Those Left Behind in Texas (a book on probate). Mr. Mendel publishes his own blog for his estate planning clients. www.mendaellawfirm.com/blog. In his “spare” time, Mr. Mendel enjoys jogging with his wife, snow skiing and attending sporting events with his son, and cycling.
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