First Tri!


Sunday 17 June was the big day: the Speedman Triathlon. It was hugely fun is the best way to summarise the event. With a time of 1 hour 30 minutes and 40 seconds, I was quite pleased. As expected the swim was quite fast; I surprised myself by finishing the cycling (22km) 6 minutes faster than I expected and the run went pretty much according to plan.

The main goal was to repeat my ‘fearless’ approach, as practiced in the Zwemloop in April, and I was very happy with how that worked out. Cycling probably went faster (in spite of fairly strong breeze) through the competitor effect: I usually ride alone, and seeing people ahead was a very motivating factor. And my family was a big support: Maarten was there throughout, shouted at me at every possible occasion that I was going very fast (at least, that’s what I think he was saying), and took the pictures below. Felix also generously worked as a volunteer, getting up at 6 am to help set out the barriers along the course.

The run up

In the ten days running up to the competition, I had the usual challenges of feeling restless (less training=more time to think!) and feeling the ghosts of injuries past. Luckily I had been forewarned that these are typical tapering symptoms, and that helped take things with a grain of salt. Note to self: plan a movie or other activity the night before. It was a very LONG evening.



An interesting challenge in setting up my transition area: the bike racks were so big that I could not rack my bike normally: if I did, the entire bike was hanging off the ground, and because of the wind, it swayed back and forth. It didn’t seem like a good idea to leave it like that (can you get disqualified for something like that?) and I figured an alternative ‘parking’ modus. So no, it wasn’t a newbie thing, it was a size thing.

The event itself

Having arrived quite early, I had lots of time to go through my ‘routine’  and check out the course and get set up. Also chatted up a couple of competitors, which helped make the time go by until the start. The swim was great: I took up a spot right at the front, in the second row (fearless!) and had the feeling I hardly had to do anything, was just going with the flow. I did slow down a bit at one point, as I felt I was getting a bit too much out of breath, but that was the only time in the whole competition that I held back (’cause, you know, fearless). I came out of the water and was 30th or so. The transition went by in a flash and I didn’t forget anything. Cycling was a lot of fun, partly because having to adapt to the wind in this course with quite a few turns and bends kept me busy. And I had Bla bla bla in my head to keep me going.

Before I knew it, my watch was telling me I had cycled 18 km! Off the bike and unto the 8-shaped race course for two loops. And no jelly legs!?!! Perhaps because of the long transition jog. Whatever the reason, I didn’t mind skipping that. My legs felt like they were on automatic pilot and I found myself staring at 5.02 and 5.05 paces, which helped to ignore the stitches I had (both sides) and which thankfully went away after about 20 minutes. On the way up the HILL, the pace slowed to 7.00 but I’ll be prepared for that next time. The final 700 meters were hard and I really had to push myself to keep it going and enjoy a strong finish.


A bit of chit chat to co-competitors and volunteers from my club,  savouring some coloured water that tasted like the finest champagne, and meeting up with Maarten. He drove back home while I slowly gathered myself together. I was funny to realize that I had worked out the entire day up to that moment–and had to work hard to turn my brain back on and think about what I was meant to be doing. Managed to cycle home. Showered and glowed and met up with good friends to raise a glass–and that was really the perfect end to this day!


Later in the week, after a little swim of 10 minutes on Monday and a recovery run on Thursday, I was feeling functional again. The soreness was not so surprising, but the overall tiredness (also mental) I felt until Wednesday morning was. Something to keep in mind next time–plan a half day off!

So, that was that, back to training

But, surprise, it wasn’t all done and dusted! On Friday afternoon,  I received an email from the NTB (Dutch Triathlon Association), inviting me to join the Dutch Age-Group Team for the European Championship. Eh? What?! My first reaction was to check whether the mail was indeed intended for me. It seems it was. Who would have thought? I mean, I know triathlon is not a very big sport and that women my age are busy doing other (useful) stuff, but qualifying for such an event certainly put my efforts in a different light. Because it falls mid-August when we’re in Canada, I won’t be going to Glasgow. But it sure is nice to be asked!

Embrace the suck…and the success

‘Embrace the suck’ is one of those triathlon mantras that is as ugly as it is useful. But triathlon is also teaching me about artifice, about the games I play with myself and about what matters and about what works. So, after a day of disclaimers, which I will spare you here, I am embracing the success! First of all, this invitation impressed my teenage son–and how often does that happen these days. Second, thinking about what might be behind this performance is probably more useful than figuring out all the ways it which it doesn’t mean so much after all.

So, what contributed to this:

  • I trained really consistently, trained 5-6 times a week for the 4 months running up to the event, with extra core training for about 2 months of that and 2-3 yoga sessions a week
  • My family had the necessary patience and understanding for this project
  • I consulted my trusted physiotherapist as needed
  • I trained with the club as much as possible, but skipped the sessions where the volume was beyond what I could handle
  • The great sisterhood of triathlon meant that I could connect to some locals and train during my stays in Vienna and Lund this year, which was very motivating
  • I sought out a bike clinic, because, being completely new to cycling, I felt I needed help on the basics and wasn’t going to get that from the club
  • After about two months, I came into this positive self-reinforcing loop, where the more I put into the project, the more I got out of it, which led to further investment… (I know I irritated a couple of friends and colleagues who grew sick of the creative ways I could turn any conversation to the subject of triathlon. Sorry!)

    Getting ready to cycle, among other people’s properly racked bikes in the transition area
  • I listened to advice and read as much as I could about triathlon training and racing
  • I practiced my transitions in the two weekends before the event, not caring what the neighbours would think of me planking in the front garden in my wetsuit to simulate the swim
  • I figured out my nutrition and hydration as precisely as I could and didn’t try anything new on the day of the race
  • When in doubt I asked for help, sometimes having to ask twice. (Thanks Henrieke Wijnsma from Spaak for taking my pedal issue seriously and fixing it–  and it will be a long time before you see me again, young blond man at Erik Gorter!)
  • and perhaps most importantly, my first foray into the tri world, a duathlon just over a year ago was a competition marked by a very positive, gemoedelijke sphere. Still grateful to Henk-Jan for counting my laps!

So, if I keep doing these things, and take up the dates of the next European Championship in my diary at the start of 2019, who knows… I might be slipping into something black and orange next year.


In any case, this was an unforgettable first tri.


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