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Triumph for Triathalon

“Prep on three! Prep on three! One, two, three PREP!” Immediately, the announcer yelled, “Go!” As I started swimming, I dimly heard Steve shouting, “What?! They’re starting?”

The Triathlon Team was competing in the March Triathlon Series, hosted by Cal Poly. Specifically, we were racing the Sprint distance in the High School division. For members of the triathlon team, preparations began the day before the event itself. Charlotte P and Steve S drove to the race with their parents, and Steve’s parents even raced in their own division. The other racers, Max N and I, drove to Lake L the day before for five hours  with Kiet T. We camped out at the site of the triathlon that night.

The campsite was more of a trailer park, and I was forced to set up my tent on a slope. Although Max decided to camp in the van, we both slept sporadically. We ate our 400-500 calorie breakfast at 6:00 AM, and then put on our trisuits in the freezing morning air, fumbling around in the dark. We walked our bikes down to the transition area, engulfed in a dense fog which gave everything an eerie, ephemeral aura.

Katy Perry was blasting from speakers, and I could already make out a line of professional-looking collegiate

Once we dived in at the start of the race, the murky, mud-filled water restricted all vision, and the chaotic tangle of arms and legs further hindered us. Someone kicked me in the face and my goggles fell off, but I managed to pull them back on and keep swimming. My tight wetsuit constricted my chest and lungs, while only slightly dulling the chill of the water

At the third buoy, I turned around, only to be instantly blinded by the sun – my foggy goggles amplified the light so I couldn’t orient myself above the water.  I was swimming in a zigzag for most of the swim. In fact, later on, Steve and I realized we had gotten lost multiple times on this leg of the race

I finally finished the swim and ran to the transition area, pulling off my wetsuit while trying to ignore the gravel digging into my skin.  On the bright side, my feet were completely numb from the swim, so I couldn’t really feel the pain. Because I felt dizzy due to the shift from a horizontal plane to a vertical one, I had to consciously make an effort not to topple over while tying my shoes. Before I left the transition area, I grabbed an energy chew packed full of protein, ions and carbohydrates so that I could replenish some of my energy.

The 20k bike ride was remarkably scenic, if uneventful, although my shoelace did get stuck in the chain at the beginning. Max’s bike ride, on the other hand, was filled with a series of unfortunate events. His tire popped, and after replaced it, he accidentally turned onto the 40k Olympic distance course.

I ran with my bike back into the transition area, and started onto the run. A few minutes into the 5k run, I saw Stevie already running towards the finish – I later found out that he got 3rd place in the boy’s high school division. Seeing Charlotte – who would later get 3rd place in the girl’s high school division – I was overcome with school spirit and yelled, “Go Prep!”

I sprinted into the finish line, and then to the strategically placed food table right next to it. Without a pause, I started devouring bagels, peanut butter, bananas, pizza, and power bars. Afterwards, I found out I received 4th place in the boy’s high school division. CPS earned 2nd in the overall high school state championship, and 1st in our division.

Competing in triathlons is an extremely rewarding experience that not only increases your endurance, but is also – as Tran puts it –  is all about problem solving. If your tire pops, you pull out a CO2 canister and start pumping it back up. If you get a cramp, you deal with it in one way or another. The longer the race, the more your adaptation skills will be tested – which is why successful triathletes require motivation and versatility. If you don’t know where to start, just start training. You don’t have to do an Ironman. Go for a run. Bike with a friend on the weekend. In no time, you’ll find yourself doing a triathlon!

 
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