Nashville Girls Tri It On Triathlon: Crossing The Finish Line Twice


Anything worth finishing is worth finishing twice. That was one of the things I learned Saturday at Team Magic’s first Girls Tri It On Nashville triathlon. The race was part of the Making A Move series here in Middle Tennessee, which is a series of five different events that, as described on the Make A Move website, are “designed to encourage women to develop and maintain a healthy lifestyle.” The triathlon was the 2nd of five events and the distances were less than a traditional sprint, hence the name “Tri It On.” Tri it and maybe you’ll like it! There were roughly 200 women who participated in the race and I would bet my fancy new triathlon suit that a large percentage of them were beginners. It was the perfect opportunity for me to experience transitions in an easier race and to build some confidence. The Team Magic ladies are awesome and I was thankful to have the opportunity to participate in what I call my “rehearsal” triathlon.

(Packing up my things the night before.)

(Any chance to be ridiculous is one that I will take.)

I had only one brief panicked internal Q & A session before the race, which is remarkable progress for me.

“Why are you really doing this?” “Why did you wear a ruffled sweater wrap over your tri suit? Could you not find something sportier and less embarrassing?” “Why did you forget to buy waterproof mascara?”

(Worst picture taken of me EVER, but I have to call myself out for wearing that sweater.)

(Focus. My least favorite F-word.)

Those were the irrational and hyper-dramatic thoughts that went skipping through my mind on Saturday morning. My next thought was “Ok, Gloria Swanson, trade that turban for a swim cap, dial back the drama and pull yourself together.”  When I allowed myself to do that and subsequently took a moment to observe and listen to some of the other women, I realized that there were a few who were also having nerve-induced emotional outbursts, only out loud and in the middle of the transition area.

The end of the world must, in fact, be getting close because I was able to remain calm and talk some of my fellow newbies off of their ledges and into the line-up for the swim. One woman, whose name I didn’t get, but who I will not forget, was walking around exclaiming to anyone and no one in particular, “I’m so nervous. I’m seriously going to pee my pants.”

As it turned out, she was near me in the line-up before the swim. I said to her, “It’s ok. This is my first race, too. I’m breathing and thinking about the bacon I’m going to eat at breakfast after the race. That helps me. This is fun! Let’s just try to finish and enjoy the experience. Think bacon.” Her response was, “But I’m seriously going to pee my pants.” The only thing I could think to say at that point was, “Well, you’re in a swimsuit and actually don’t have any pants on, and if you’re going to pee, just don’t do it in the pool. Or at least wait until there’s some space between us.” I think the conversation diffused some of the nerves because she was laughing and looking a little less terrified when the race started.

Here are the details of my first mini-triathlon:

Swim: I completed the 200-meter swim in 5:12. 200 meters is usually about what I do for a warm-up and in a shorter amount of time, but again, this was my “practice” triathlon, so I’m ok with it.

(Part of the line-up)

T1: My time in my first-ever T1 was 2:25.  Apparently I need to spend some time practicing the art of getting my bike helmet buckled because the process ate up at least 30 seconds of my time. In the excitement of it all, I clearly lost any and all co-ordination that I’ve worked hard to acquire; and let me tell you, I didn’t have a lot to begin with. I also wasted about 10 seconds asking a fellow racer if I was going to get a penalty for my bike being racked in what I thought was the incorrect way. I’m a rule follower and I suppose I’m ok with that also.

(Seriously, helmet?)

(Do you think we’ll get a penalty for our bikes pointing the same direction?)

Bike: I finished the 5.5-mile bike ride in 17:05. Again, slower than usual, but I’m just thankful that I made it through without any penalties for passing incorrectly. I was irrationally focused on not catching the attention of the girl on a motorcycle who was responsible for doling out the penalties.

T2: I did better in T2 than in T1 and got in and out in 1:43, but still wasted a little bit of time trying to decide if I wanted to put my hair in a ponytail or not.

Run: Here is where things get a little tricky. The run course was a 2-loop situation and I was doing really well until I got to the end of the first loop and could NOT figure out where I was supposed to turn around. I asked a couple of volunteers where the 2nd loop started and they flagged me towards what, to me, looked like the path to the finish line.

I kept running, but quickly realized that I was definitely about to cross the finish line without completing the second loop. Crap!!! I then heard, over the loudspeaker, “Number 52! Robin Grant from Nashville!” I started waving my arms and yelling, “No! No! I haven’t finished my second loop!” When I reluctantly crossed the finish line I saw my new coach Caroline handing out water to the finishers. I’m not sure that she recognized me when I ran up to her yelling like a crazed person that I hadn’t finished the second loop and asking what I should do about it. She said to run back and finish the second loop, so that’s what I did. I ran the wrong way back through the finish line and did another loop. Really.

(The look on my face tells me this is my “accidental” finish.)

(Asking my coach what I should do about it!)

As it turns out, there was a lot of confusion about the run course and in the interest of fairness, the run didn’t count in the official standings. So after the swim, T1, the bike and T2, I finished 17th out of the 53 in my age group.

What I took away from this day was this: I had a great time. I found a new friend in a fellow rookie who I’m going to be doing some running with. I got to practice transitions. I got a new workout t-shirt and a hot pink water bottle coozie. I finished, two times, a race that not that long ago, would have been impossible for me to complete.

(After my “real” finish.)

(I heart Team Magic!)

-Any funny stories from your first triathlon? I would love to hear them!








32 Comments on “Nashville Girls Tri It On Triathlon: Crossing The Finish Line Twice

  1. Congratulations! Like you wrote, a practice triathlon provides a great opportunity to practice transitions. I’ve actually heard of some triathletes setting up a makeshift transition area in their backyard/garage/living room and practicing taking off and putting on gear. I might do this before my next tri because my T2 time was less than stellar to say the least. 😉

    • That’s a great idea. I think I may give it a whirl because I had a helmet malfunction and stood there forever trying to get it fastened! I’m not sure I know what a good transition time would be. Less than one minute? I should ask my coach.

  2. Love the false finish! I did something similar in my first tri. I kept going the wrong way on the run. The guy behind me was nice enough to call out my number several times and get me back on course. Glad you had fun! Great job!

  3. OK. I absolutely LOVED this blog entry!!! Your story telling skills are amazing but your story is hilarious and I thank you so much for sharing it. All of it. Your humor deserves you a medal alone. I commend you for finishing your last lap. You are a trooper!

    My first triathlon (and so far, my only – I am doing my 2nd in about a month) I had no idea what to wear. “clothes” is what people told me. Well, duh. But what can you wear that you can swim, bike and run in? And not feel like a fat cow or show off too much of your personal belongings?

    I chose a pair of tri shorts and a tri top. And during the warm up, to my dismay, I discovered that the shorts rolled down over my midsection and the tri top rolled up over my mid section. Cute if you are Winnie the Pooh. Not cute if you are anyone else.

    I had to ask a stranger to help me pin the tri top to my tri shorts all the way around, so I would not have a crisis during the race.

    It helped.

    So.. in a month, my second triathlon. I no longer have either the shorts or the top, and I am close to 20 pounds lighter (and will most likely be another 8 pounds lighter by then, if things continue to go well).

    Should I break down and buy a tri suit? I don’t know if I want to spend that much money. Other than your ruffly sweater, how did your race suit work out for you?

    Great post, again!!!

    • Oh, no! I was worried about my tri-top and shorts doing the same thing, but they stayed put. I think I would like to buy a one-piece suit, though, just so I have the option. They are expensive, but I’ve already spent so much money on this triathlon endeavor that another chunk of change won’t matter that much. 🙂 Thanks so much for reading and I’m glad to know that you enjoy the posts!

  4. Hi! Sounds like an interesting race 🙂 I’m just starting my triathlete thingy, and came for some inspiration 🙂 I’m sure I’ll get it here!

    • It was interesting for sure. When is your first race? I hope some of the stuff on here is inspiring or helpful to you. If you need some encouragement or have any questions I’ll be happy to try and answer them for you!

      • My first race will probably be next summer.. I’m already scared, but well. This wasn’t actually my idea, I just got talked into this and now I’m ready to go and practise 🙂 I’m sure I’ll ask you bunch of stupid questions when I figure out some. Now I’m just at the “well, it can’t be IMPOSSIBLE, I mean I can take all day if I want to” -phase. 😀

      • My goal is to finish the one in FL before they pack up the finish line and are gone for the day. And that’s ok! It’s your race and you can finish it however you want to. 🙂

  5. Thanks so much for sharing your story. I ran my first (and so far only) 5K at the end of June and one of the loops confused me also. My second ever tri is coming up next weekend (the 1st was 13 years ago) and your story is a great reminder to me about keeping my sense of humor in tact if and when something goes wrong.

  6. I did the Coast to Coast adventure race across New Zealand earlier in the year (Speights Coast to Coast), and in the 67 kilometre kayak leg, I remember going through some rapids, thought I was going to lose it, and this other competitor came along side, and said “we’re just living the dream, just living the dream”. Seems inconsequential right now, but it just cracked me up at the time and when I laughed I felt relaxed. Perhaps it made me relax too much I rolled a couple of minutes later in another rapid …I guess you had to be there…but I still laugh about it..!!!

    • There IS something funny about that. Kind of like he was having a “double rainbow” moment. (If you haven’t seen that video, it’s hilarious.) And, wow! The Coast to Coast sounds amazing. 🙂

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