What is it like to do your very first triathlon?

ATC Member Maura Brouwer shares her experience on becoming a triathlete

Maura winning 3rd in her Age Group at her first ever triathlon
Maura winning 3rd in her Age Group at her first ever triathlon

So tri season is upon us, and Asheville Tri Club is gearing up to be a most awesome bunch. We happen to know that quite a few members and members-to-be did their first triathlons ever this past month, so we accosted asked Maura Brouwer to share her experience with the Lake James Triathlon. If your first tri is just around the corner, Maura’s story will inspire. If you’ve done a million races and can express your net worth in neoprene and carbon, then you probably can use a reminder about why you love this sport in the first place. Thanks for sharing, Maura!

How did you become interested in triathlon?

After finishing the book “A Life Without Limits” by Chrissie Wellington. The book was given to me for inspiration from a good friend who was living overseas at the time. Since he couldn’t motivate me from afar, he did so by asking that I read the book. It was GAME ON since then!

Your ATC interviewer-at-large’s comments: if you haven’t read “A Lift Without Limits,” you should. It’ll make you sign up for a race you didn’t think you could finish before. Copies are available for borrow…

Why did you choose Lake James as your first race?

I chose the Lake James Triathlon because it was the first reasonable triathlon I felt I could finish. I am a runner, by comfort and nature, but have been battling a hamstring injury for over a year and a half. Because running has caused me such discomfort throughout this injury, I started cycling (at the gym) and realized very quickly how much I loved it.

I reached out to a few friends and asked if I could borrow a bike to see if I really liked being on the road. I’m not sure I would have signed up if it hadn’t been for the practice round at the race site 2 weeks before the race, so I’m VERY thankful to the Asheville Tri Club for offering that opportunity! Before practicing with the club,I had never left my subdivision on the bike. Yikes! My first time on the road and I had 22 miles to cover. It was glorious, though, and I knew I wanted to complete the tri a few weeks later.

What was the most fun part of training? The most challenging?

To answer that question, I believe I’d have to have actually trained. Ha! I was very ill-prepared for this race, but I didn’t let that stop me! I’ve only been in the pool a handful of times this year, so I knew the swim would be difficult. And difficult it was, as the air temperature was a mere 42 degrees as we entered the water!

Having not trained for the race was one thing, but I made sure to intrigue my neighbors with my crazy behavior of practicing my transitions in my driveway in my brand-new tri suit (which was a TJ Maxx steal, by the way!!!)! I had an official mount and dismount line so I could get used to that, though that didn’t help me in the race, as I nearly fell over while getting on the bike. Again….only my 2nd big ride!

What aspect of racing were you most nervous about?

The race-day weather stressed me out more than I thought it would. I was petrified of not having a wetsuit and getting hypothermia. I literally Googled “Hypothermia during a triathlon.” I know…it’s ridiculous. I’m a science teacher – I should know better. (Needless to say, the Google ads that show up in my margins on my computer now are quite entertaining!)

Anyway – the 70 degree water felt quite nice with that chilly air. When I came out of the water, I was too excited about having not drowned and not being the last one out of the water that I didn’t even feel chilly!

So how did you enjoy race day? What was your favorite part?

I cannot stress enough how much I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED the race!!! Everyone was so nice, welcoming, and excited for me after having learned it was my first race. It was such a fantastic atmosphere.

My favorite part of the race? Assuming you mean “aside from the awesome post-race food,” I GREATLY enjoyed the following aspects, In no particular order:

  1. Swim – the moment I got out of the water, I was AMPED that I had survived and started planning how I could better train for my next tri. I know, I know – swimming more than once a month would be a great start, right?
  2. Bike – holy moley….going over the dam and having that monumentally GORGEOUS view of the mountains on both sides was simply breathtaking. From that point on, I honestly think I was singing out loud to myself. I’m sure I entertained those that passed me or that I passed. But who cares?!?! Life was so GOOD in that moment!!!
  3. Run – I was absolutely joyous during the trek through the woods. I think I smiled the whole time. After having completed the first 2 parts of the race, running was my comfort. It was what I had to look forward to after the first hour and 50 minutes of the race. Every single person that I passed had something positive to say, or something positive to respond to the encouragement I tried to pass on to them.

What she’s not telling is is that she got 3rd place for her age group. Bling on the first tri is something to brag about!

Best piece of advice you received before the race?

The best piece of advice that I received before my race was to “Relax and enjoy it!” My husband is my number one fan and he is just as serious about racing as I am, but he sure does know how to enjoy the experiences better than anyone! He was the one that shared this tid-bit with me throughout the week before the race, and I am incredibly grateful for it!

So congratulations! You’re a triathlete. What’s your next event?

I’m not sure of my next event yet, but I’m looking into Lake Logan. Without having any intention to, I completed a duathlon in Forest City this past weekend after my friend, Karen, laid on the peer pressure just this past Wednesday. She, of course, won the race. I finished….and for now….that’s good enough for me! With a few friends that are involved in tris and dus, it wouldn’t surprise me if another one unexpectedly jumped into my weekend plans!

Spoken like a true triathlete, Maura! Thanks for sharing! We can’t wait for you to start kicking our butts in due time


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