What I Wish I Knew Before My First Race

1. Triathletes look intimidating, but who wouldn't with all that spandex?

Triathletes are pretty nice folks actually. There will always be an exception to that rule, but most are glad to help you out with advice, encouragement or even an extra pair of goggles or spare gel. Just before the start of my first race, a woman sitting on the wall next to me asked, very sincerely, if I was OK.

Apparently, I looked more than a little nervous. When my chain came off on the bike course, people didn't just whiz past me, they slowed down and asked if I was all right. If you need anything as a newbie triathlete, just ask. Help is just a tire pump away.

2. Massages, hickeys and lube will become a regular part of your life.

Much to my husband's dismay, none of these involve him. I'm talking about the sports massages to relieve aches in muscles I didn't know I had, the dreaded "wetsuit hickey" and Bodyglide.

Self-massage is a great option for those of us who don't have the time or money for regular visits to a masseuse. A foam roller is a wonderful tool for sore muscles. Tennis balls or a rolling pin also provide a more portable option.

Bodyglide will become your new best friend. For preventing "wetsuit hickeys," saddle sores and other chafing, a non-petroleum based lubricant is essential.

3. It's OK to pee your pants.

Say what? Yep, it's actually a common technique for warming up your wetsuit in cold conditions. Competitive racers learn to pee while on their bike as well! Not comfortable peeing in your wetsuit? Bring a thermos of warm water to pour inside your suit instead.

4. Be prepared to be hungry.

I mean ravenously, gnaw-your-own-arm-off hungry! I'm used to having an increased appetite after long runs (a phenomenon affectionately called "runger" by some of my friends), but nothing like the constant hunger that comes with multisport training.

As your body tries to fuel all the workouts your three sports of choice demand, it cries out for more and more food. This is not the time to try to lose weight. You'll only be left tired, hungry and cranky. Focus instead on fueling the amazing body that is getting you through all those hard workouts.

5. Something can suck and be awesome all at the same time.

I had this thought halfway through the run. I was tired, thirsty, everything hurt and I was having a blast! I can't wait for my next triathlon!

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