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Priya's First Tri Report: "a distinctive sense of accomplishment"

Priya finished her first triathlon sponsored by Fund Her Tri UK on 16/07/2023 at Dorney Triathlon.


My triathlon journey started with running, which has been a constant presence throughout my life, weaving in and out of my routine.


When I moved to London in 2021, running resurfaced as a means to navigate the new environment and immerse myself in the new geography, the culture, and (surprising to some) the language.


Although cycling wasn't my first choice, I embraced it to spend quality time with my now-husband. To keep pace with him, I joined a cycling club in London that organizes lovely rides out of the city, with remarkable women.


Swimming, however, posed a significant challenge. In January, determined to overcome it, with no triathlon on the horizon, I took it upon myself to learn to swim laps. My starting point: I was barely capable of swimming 25 meters continuously in a pool. Months of training, supported by friends, my husband, and Fund Her Tri UK, led me to the decision to participate in the Dorney Lake Triathlon, Olympic distance (1.5km swim, 40km cycle, 10km run).


An adventurous start to the day


The race day began with unexpected excitement.


Despite allowing two hours before the start, a series of detours and misdirections from Google Maps led to adventurous trail cycling, a cycle thrown over a fence, and a minor tumble. A valuable lesson learned for future Dorney participants: follow car directions, even when cycling.


The weather forecast presented additional challenges—stronger winds and cooler temperatures than I had experienced this summer.


As I registered and set up my transition area, I found myself among the last in my wave to properly equip myself, donning the wetsuit and securing my hair beneath the swim cap. It was a small victory in itself.


We lined up by the water, entered the bay, and as the countdown commenced, we were off!


Off to the races!


The initial moments of the swim were predictably and, simply put, chaotic. To maintain my confidence, I adopted a cautious approach, sculling forward until I found space to begin my front crawl.


It may not have been the optimal race strategy, but it kept panic at bay — an emotion that often emerged in new swimming environments. Focused on the buoy line, I steadily made progress. The halfway mark seemed elusive, but the return leg felt swift, spurred on by knowing I had conquered over half the distance.

Although being among the last swimmers out of the water initially dampened my spirits, I reminded myself during the race that I had swum without panic, without stopping, and within my expected time. It was a personal triumph.


The cycling leg provided an opportunity to make up lost ground. I steadily overtook other participants, lap after lap, maintaining a consistent speed. The eight laps around the course flew by, perhaps too conservatively, with my bike computer keeping track. The headwinds tested my steadiness, but I knew that, once I completed the cycle, the end of the race was within reach.


Transitioning to the run, a sharp cramp seized my left upper hamstring. With cautious optimism, I eased into the run, hoping the cramp would subside. Though I initially felt slow, I pushed forward, setting mini-goals of overtaking the runner directly ahead of me. Gradually, after reaching the 3km mark, the numbness and cramping faded away.


Crossing the finish line on the run, the discipline in which I felt most comfortable, brought relief. I was glad to finish the 6.1 mile run evenly paced (within a 10-second spread).


Completing a triathlon offers a distinctive sense of accomplishment, different from other types of races. This may be specific to me, because of my dire struggles with the swimming portion, but I think I can speak for plenty of girlfriends who feel that their swimming also holds them back.


Advice for triathlon beginners


Throughout the race, breath control played a significant role, particularly during the swim and run, helping me find and maintain a relaxed rhythm even during the most demanding moments.

I was quite happy with the variety of the training, which is much more interesting than the hours of running associated with marathon training. Personally, I credit the 50 swimming sessions I logged this year for alleviating my lower backaches!


I feel hesitant to say that I’m ready to jump into another triathlon just yet, but I wouldn’t completely write it off now that the muscle soreness is relenting. I have plenty to learn in terms of nutrition, cramping, and pacing, which might be enough to keep me engaged! I also feel like I left a lot on the table in terms of my potential and pacing, so there’s a likelihood of making a comeback.


Support more women to cross the finish line and close the gender gap in sports. Click here and donate to Fund Her Tri UK!
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