Thursday, March 22, 2012

Tri Basics 101 - Event Types

The word "triathlon" comes to mind...what does it conjur up?  A scary, intimidating hard-bodied "Ironman" people...that rare breed of physicality that has no inch to pinch, and the pecs and abs protrude from the bones!  While an Ironman is serious (after all, it does include a 2.4 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride and a full 26.2 marathon), one should never start there.

Lo and be hold, there are other options out there!
  • Ironman - significantly scary event, as stated earlier
  • Half Ironman - scary event which is ONLY half of an Ironman, but still ridiculous for my physical fitness level (1.2 mile swim, 28 mile bike ride and a half marathon)
  • Olympic distance* (1 mile swim, 25 mile bike and 10k run)
  • Sprint** (typically 1/2 mile swim, 12 mile bike, 3 mile run)
  • Super Sprint** (typically 1/4 mile swim, 8 mile bike, 2 mile run)
*Now seriously, I always thought that Olympians are tough!  And yet, they don't even cover a half Ironman distance?  This was a tad shocking to me!
**The sprint distance triathlon (and therefore the "super print") is unique as it is the only triathlon where the distances vary a bit from race to race. Most sprint triathlons include a swim distance between 400M and 750M, while the bike leg will typically be a 20K ride and the run is usually a 5K (3.1 miles).
So, if the idea of a triathlon interests you, but you are new to this hybrid event, why would you ever in your life sign up for something as intimidating as a half Ironman?  Seriously!  The Sprint seems reasonable, but I tell you...a 1/2 mile swim sounds intimidating enough to me! So, maybe the "super sprint" is more my speed for a first time event. 

The thing is...I know how much effort a bike ride or a run takes, but visualizing the distance in water terms is a bit more difficult.  So, how many pool laps is a 1/4 mile in water?  Normally a "lap" equals a full circuit of something, but in swimming a lap is generally one length of the pool.  So, depending on the pool length, I am looking at this:
  • 25M lap = 16.1 laps
  • 25Yds lap = 17.6 laps
  • 25 Ft lap = 52.8 laps
Since I have never done a triathlon before, I think I need to start with the shortest, easiest distance.  On the way, maybe I will learn more about it all...the transitions...the three legs...the whole race experience.

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