Beginner Triathlon Training: I Signed Up for a Triathlon, Now What?

Ever think about doing a Triathlon? Ever think about how the athletes transition from one sport to the next?

Marti DiPaola and I signed up for the Captiva Tri in September 2014. But we didn’t realize what we were getting ourselves into! It sounded like a cool challenge but what did it really entail?

“We need to find a coach,” Marti said to me.

I called my good friend, Constance Korol and asked her if she would coach us. Constance is doing an Ironman this summer and I thought she would be perfect to help get us through the training.  She said, she was honored that we asked her, “but I think you should call my coach, Rich Caiazza. He is great and I know you will love him.”

Constance got Rich on the phone.  I told him my goal was to be able to get through the race. “I’m not looking to win. I just want to complete it.”

He was great. He told me that getting involved in the triathlon was not an inexpensive endeavor. “You need a good carbon fiber road bike, helmut and lots of other gear,” he said. “And once you get the bike, don’t think that you’ll be able to get on and just ride. It’s a bit of a transition when you wear riding shoes that clip into the pedals.”

I got off the phone and was nervous. I told Marti to call him too.  She did but she wanted to work with a coach who lived closer to the south shore of Long Island. “He’s way too far away,” she said.

So Marti went with a local coach and I decided to train with Rich on Team Tri-Global. “Look we’re not going to be able to stay together anyway during this triathlon, so it doesn’t really matter which coach we both go with.  And anyway, we’ll be able to compare notes,” Marti said.

My first step was to buy a bathing cap.  Yes, I didn’t have one because I haven’t gone swimming in decades! I did have goggles and obviously a bathing suit. I started my training in the pool.  And, if you’ve been reading this blog, you know the first two days didn’t go too well. After a lap in the pool, my heart was racing so hard I could feel it in my face!

Next step was to buy a bicycle.  What I learned quickly is, you can’t go to a bike store and get a road bike.  You need to figure out which one is right for you.

Rich suggested two starter bikes for me — the Trek Domane and the Felt ZW4. I did my homework and learned that although the bike is important the components are just as important if not more important.

Brian, my husband, went with me to Brands in Wantagh.  “Let’s see what they have and then make a decision,” he said. Although, my new coach didn’t encourage it, we went to Brand’s and met up with a young man who seemed very knowledgeable about road bikes. I tried out about six bikes including: the Trek and the Cannondale. “Wow, what a ride,” I said, when I got off the Trek Domane. The bike was black and white with green accents.  It was a beauty.

The salesperson said that the price was negotiable and that he would get me a great deal especially if I were to buy other things in the store. Since Rich and Constance had highly recommended Andrew Motola who is the owner of Brickwell, I wanted to go there.  It was a bit further away from where I live.

Brickwell is located in Great Neck, Manhasset and Syosset. We met Andrew at the Manhasset location. He was very helpful.  He had brought an aluminum bike over from the Great Neck store. I tried that bike and really enjoyed the ride.

Then he showed me the Carbon Fiber bikes he had. They were a bit more expensive than the aluminum framed bikes but they really were lighter and seemed more efficient, even riding around the busy parking lot behind his shop.

I rode another Cannondale, Felt Z3 (which is slighter lower end than Rich had suggested), and two Trek Silques (which are the new version of the Domane). I really enjoyed the higher end one but it was way out of my budget, so I decided against that. I ended up going with the bike that was the one step down. The bike is teal blue with a white seat and white handle bars. It’s really hot!

The anxiety started to resonate when Andrew said you will need this, this and that.  The next thing I knew, I was spending a few hundred more on stuff to go with the bike, the pedals, the bag to carry the tools in case you get a flat, the helmut, the gloves, the bike shorts, etc.

The thing about Brickwell is they work with you.  They wanted to make sure that I was happy and walked away with a smile on my face, even after spending the money.  And you know what, I did just that.