What is one of the fastest growing fitness events/sports in the U.S., and around the Seacoast of NH? No, not shuffleboard downstairs at the Portsmouth Brewery or beach volleyball on Peirce Island, next to the Portsmouth Outdoor Pool, as fun as both are. Yep, you guessed it, one of the fastest growing sports on the Seacoast is Triathlon.
The Seacoast region offers a variety of triathlons starting in late spring continuing through early fall. It’s almost Labor Day, but there’s still time to train and enter a local triathlon if you are game and want a great workout and fitness challenge! Or you can sign up now for next spring/summer/fall as many triathlons will fill up fast! [Note: Two of the best web sites to find Seacoast triathlon info. and sign up are IMAthlete.com and Active.com].
Triathlons (Tri’s) come in all shapes and sizes and are designed for various fitness levels. The most popular distances are sprint, Olympic distance and the Ironman. According to the USA Triathlon, the main triathlon distances are sprint – which has a 0.47 mi swim, 12 mi bike, and 3.1 mi/5K run; Olympic – starts with a 0.93 mi swim, a 25 mi bike, and a 6.2 mi/10K run; and then there’s the Ultra Distance or the Ironman – starts with a 2.4 mi swim, then 112 mi bike, and finishes with a full marathon: 26.2 miles.
For my purposes, and for most fitness enthusiasts in and around the Seacoast the sprint and/or Olympic distances suit us just fine, and provide the ideal fitness and training challenge that we are looking for. Yes you guessed it the Triathlon is now an Olympic sport too. But for me, and my personal fitness challenge threshold, anything past the Olympic distance is just getting crazy, and just too much pain (and soreness) and far too much to train for.
That being said, if you are new to the sport of triathlon (and like a fitness challenge), and have given some thought to or are curious about giving a sprint triathlon a “TRI” this year, take my advice, get right in there and go. You’ll love the experience, the camaraderie with all the triathletes (and spectators at the event) and during training, and the challenge and variety of triathlon fitness/cross training workouts too. And you’ll be eating well, sleeping well and getting in great shape – and trust me you’ll feel super fit! Training for a (sprint) triathlon is a tremendous health and fitness benefit all on its own. The race is the frosting on the cake, but so much fun!
My first sprint triathlon was last September at the 2011 Pumpkinman Triathlon Festival in South Berwick, ME., and I was hooked on the sport right away. I loved it so much that I signed up for a second sprint triathlon – a week later – the Trek Portsmouth Wallis Sands Triathlon. After triathlon #2 at Wallis Sands, truth be told, I needed to take a couple of weeks off to recharge, rest and repair my body, but I would do it all over again, and… actually, I am this fall!
So, if you are still curious and up for the challenge and want to give it a “TRI”, here are some basic do’s and don’t newbie triathlon tips for you, and some lessons I learned the hard way last fall and during my triathlon training.
- DO: TRAIN! Find a good triathlon training program. There are plenty of free programs out there, but a good site for training programs is Tri-Newbies Online. Stick with the program. At the LEAST, it will get you in great shape and you will love the cross-training workouts. I suggest sprinkling in some yoga (or even massage or acupuncture) when you can during training. Most of all, listen to your body… Oh and practice a transition at least once from swim to bike to run, to get used to it. Triathlon transitions can be disorienting (and exciting) the first time and can slow you down, more than you’ll notice. So practice it once during your triathlon training, in addition to the standard brick workouts.
- DON’T: OVER TRAIN! Again, listen to your body. Take the days off in the training program and take extra days if you need to rest and recover. During triathlon training a good rest day will recharge you for the next week’s workouts and you won’t “lose” anything off your times, our awesome new fitness level or your training. You will feel run down at times during triathlon training, so you’ll need to rest and recharge the battery.
- DO: GRAB A FRIEND! Try to do some of your bike/swim/run workouts during training with other triathlon participants or local “TRI NUTS”. Working with teammates or friends on a tough swim or bike ride will help and keep you motivated and focused. The more the merrier. Also, practice the swim AND the bike course at the triathlon location, if possible. Being familiar with the race course and what’s ahead will help relieve race day anxiety and get you in a comfort zone as you transition from swim to bike to run.
- DON’T: GO BROKE! No need to go crazy and spend lots of money on triathlon gear, clothes, a new bike, etc. Getting all kinds of high-tech gear and a space-age bike is for the serious/pro triathletes and hard-core competitors (some who take it way to seriously – just laugh at them and have fun!). You can rent a wetsuit for the swim, or not use one at all. But DO get a good pair of swim goggles. Check out the budget guide to triathlons from Joel Runyon for more triathlon savings tips. The sport can get expensive very quickly so stick to a budget since entry fees can add up quickly. But go for broke if you want all the cool technical toys and like gearing up!
- DO: “TRI”. If you like a good fitness challenge and have always been curious, give a Seacoast sprint triathlon a try. You’ll love it! Don’t worry about your time or the transition time (get in and get out), just get ‘er done and you’ll have a fabulous fitness experience, and it’s a lot of fun too. Trust me. Give it a “TRI.”
So, if you’re IN now, or want to sign up for next year and take your time to train, here are some local Seacoast triathlons to “TRI”. Good luck and have fun!
- The Pumpkinman Triathlon Festival – for 2011, it’s full and is the most popular triathlon on the Seacoast. But you can come watch out at Spring Hill in So. Berwick, ME. The sprint in on Saturday, Sept. 8th and the Half-Ironman is on Sunday, Sept. 9th. Sign up for 2012 or come cheer us on! It’s a great time, a very well run event, and the race t-shirt is one of the best. Post-race feed and Pumpkinheads are the icing on the cake!
- The Lobsterman Triathlon – there are still OPEN SPOTS for 2011. This Olympic distance triathlon is held up in Freeport, ME on Saturday, Sept. 15th. It is ranked as one of the top triathlons by Inside Triathlon and run by TRI-Maine. The approx. mile ocean swim is in Casco Bay, so bring a full wet suit or rent one. Rest of the course is beautiful and takes you on a tour of Freeport in fall. There’s a full lobsterbake pos-race too!
- The Trek Portsmouth Wallis Sands Triathlon – there are still OPEN SPOTS for the 2011 triathlon at Wallis Sands! This is a sprint distance only and is held on Sunday, September 23rd in Rye. Again, just a reminder, the swim is in the ocean, so you’ll need a wetsuit and be used to swimming/training in the ocean (and in waves). It’s different from the pond at the Pumpkinman believe me. BUT, the bike and run courses are flat, smooth and scenic and take you on a tour of Rye and the Seacoast.
Take it from me, give a Seacoast “TRI” a try this fall. (My favorite Sprint Tri is the Pumpkinman). The Seacoast Triathlons are super. And trust me, you’ll be fit, have fun and you’ll love the triathlon training and variety of the workouts.
Remember, it’s not about a time or the t-shirt (only), just FINISH strong! How you finish is how you feel.Why not give it a “TRI”?