On Friday October 26, I completed my first Olympic
triathlon at the Speedo beach in Netanya, Israel,
in 3:27:57, just barely under the time limit of
3 1/2 hours! Believe it or not, I was not the
last although I was close to last; I was 104th
out of 111. (Actually, I think some of those
at the end did not finish due to bike problems
Previously, I had decided that since I only
started triathlons in June, and had only done
2 sprint triathlons and one duathlon (7/30/3),
that I wasn't yet ready to try an Olympic
triathlon, but then on Oct. 24, I found out that
the 10K run would be on the beach, on the hard
sand next to the water. I tested running on the
sand in a training run that night, and it felt
like it was a bit easier on the legs than running
on a paved surface. So I decided that the triathlon
on Oct. 26 would be a good opportunity to try
an Olympic triathlon, since the run at the end
is always very difficult for me; hopefully I would
feel less exhausted running on the sand at the end.
I was fairly certain I could finish an Olympic
triathlon, but with sprint triathlon times of
1:48 and 1:37, I didn't know if I could finish
in under 3 1/2 hours, which I had been told was
the official limit, although I was also told by
the organizers that they can be flexible in this
if they see that someone needs just a few extra
minutes. Indeed, the person in place 105 has
their time listed as 3:35:02, so this was apparently
not disqualified, but the total times for those in
places 106 through 111 were marked not valid.
I decided that I still wanted to try, and even
if it took me so long to finish that my time was
disqualified, I still would have done an Olympic
I did pretty well in the swim part; compared to
22 min. and 19 min. to do the 750 meter swim in
the sprints, I was finished with the swimming
after 34 minutes. Actually I think this is because
it didn't take very long for me to be near the
back of the pack! That meant I could swim at my
own pace and not be delayed by being blocked by
other swimmers. It seemed to me to take longer
to get into the water the second time, it seemed the
waves were higher, but maybe that was psychological.
(I don't know if this is common for all of you, but
here they always seem to run the Olympic triathlon
on the same course as the sprint, so there is one
750 meter swim course laid out, and the Olympic
triathlon participants must swim the course,
then exit the water, run to the start of the
swim course and swim it again).
My transition time from the time I exited
the water until I was at the start of the cycling
with my bike was 8 minutes, instead of the usual
3 1/2 - 4 minutes! This was because the distance
between the beach and the transition area was
very long in this triathlon; I would say at
least 3 to 4 times longer than in the others that
I've done. I guess because of this distance, they
did provide an area down at the beach where we
could leave our shoes so that we could have them
on for the (uphill!) run to the transition area.
As soon as I started to bike, I could feel that
my legs were somewhat tired, and the course seemed
harder than the previous courses I'd done.
There were more uphills in the course, and at the
parts where we rode against the wind, it was
an extremely strong wind, maybe because the course
was on the street which runs along the beach front,
so the proximity to the sea caused the stronger wind.
I had to do 4 loops on this course to complete
the 40 km. It tooke me 50 min. to complete the
first 2 loops, so I knew the best I could hope
for was 1 hour 40 min. for the course.
The fourth loop was a pretty lonely affair;
by this time I was sure that I would be the
last to finish the triathlon, and probably in
more than 3 1/2 hours, but I couldn't think
about that, I could only focus on finishing.
Finally I completed the fourth loop, was so
relieved, but then when riding the short
distance from the loop end back to the
transition area, the wind against me was so
strong, it was torture! It took me 1 hour 42 min.
to complete the course (compared to sprint bike
times of 50 min. and 44 min.).
Got back to the transition area, as usual there
were plenty of people there who were already
finished, had to ignore them and focus on
getting to the run. I had to run the long
distance down to the run, and it is not
very comfortable running downhill on tired
legs! Some of this was also on loose sand,
which slowed me down and felt difficult
to run in. My transition time between the
bike and run was about 4 minutes instead
of the usual 2 minutes, again due to the
When I got to the start of the run, my watch
showed 2 hours 28 minutes gone by. This meant
that I needed to complete the 10K in 62 minutes.
Theoretically this should be possible, with
sprint run times of 30 min. and 29 min.
But I also knew that although when fresh,
I could complete a training run of about 10.25K
in 62 min., that this time usually increased by
about 25% when I did this run after riding my
bike for a few hours. So I really didn't think
I could make the 10K in 62 minutes, but I knew
I had to try to make it in the best time
possible, that maybe if I only went 5-10 minutes
over the 3 1/2 hour limit, my time wouldn't
I started out trying to keep a good pace,
and to my surprise, at the 1 km marker,
I saw that I had done it in 6 minutes.
All I had to do was keep up this pace,
and I would make it. I managed to maintain
this pace for the first 6 km. After km 7,
I saw that I had dropped to 6 1/2 min.
I concentrated even harder on my pace,
trying to get back to the starting pace.
In the last 2 km, I wanted more than anything
to slow down, I was so tired. I kept repeating
to myself, "maintain the pace". Finally I saw
the finish line, pushed myself as hard as I could,
and crossed the finish line at 3:27:57!
I had done the 10K in 1 hour, which for me
was a good result.
I staggered over to the table where I had
to return the recording chip, unable to
believe that I had actually done it, and
under the 3 1/2 hours. I can still hardly
believe that I did an Olympic triathlon.
I won 2nd place in my age group of
women 40-44, no surprise since there were
only 2 of us! The woman who won 1st place
in my age group finished in 2:45:08.
The overall 1st place female finished in
2:22:23; the overall 1st place male finished
in 2:00:57. Of the total 111 participants in
the Olympic triathlon, there were 101 men
and 10 women. Out of the 10 women, I was
in 9th place.
I'm glad the next event is on November 23,
that gives me time to recover! It was not
optimal to do a triathlon 6 days after
doing a duathlon.