Boston Triathlon ... aka My First Tri


Oh did you want more of a recap?

Well then let's do it! :)

I think everyone knows I was a tad wicked nervous for my first triathlon. I mean check out my T-minus 12 hours post for the jist.

I mean Hello look at all the numbers attached to this one race.

So let's get right to it!!


5am - Alarm Goes Off

I sprang out of bed. I knew I had laid out all my clothes the night before, but there was still so much to do before we had to leave the house. I let the dogs out so they could take care of business while I hectically got ready and attached the bike to the bike rack (which I thankfully put on the car the night before). Sometimes being slightly OCD can help one out on the morning of the race.

After leaving the house without my Garmin on the morning of the Boston Marathon, I made sure to check that I had that about 17 times before we left the house.

I had my big bag of stuff for the transition and I made sure the wife had her back-up ready with extra clothes, snacks and any other odds and ends we would need that morning.

We met my dad on the porch and...

5:40am - We are out the door

I was told by my Triathlon coaches (and fellow Tedy's Team members) Jackie and Cat to be on site by 6:15am for the 7:45am start time because there is so much more to account for before the race than a regular running race.

Since my dad and wife were getting up so early for me, I made sure we stopped at Dunkins on the way to the race. They deserved and needed the caffeine. :P

In the car I felt oddly calm. This is extremely weird for me before a race, but I was hoping to take it as a good sign. Also I knew as soon as I was on the site of the race, it would be a whole different ballgame.

6:15am-ish - We pull into a parking space

Annddd cue the butterflies. As we pull into a parking space, I start to see the other athletes with their professional bikes and looking like they knew what they were doing. In my head panic. I wanted to turn around and leave. But wait a minute. Not happening. I freakin' worked my butt off to be there too so self pull up your spandex shorts and get out there.

(Timing after this is a blur so time to go general with titles ;))


The air was crisp, the sun was shining and the water looked calm - one gorgeous Boston morning! We really couldn't ask for better weather conditions.

I headed over to the transition area to get my bike checked and to set up my area. Thankfully I had watched some transition videos on Youtube the day before so I had a better idea of what I was supposed to do. I also took a picture as people suggested so I could go back after the race and see what I would change - if anything.

After racking my bike and getting everything in place, I realized that Ace Wheelworks (where I bought my bike) had tents set up and were putting air in people's tires for free. So I went back in and got my bike. I didn't want any chances of getting a flat just because the tire wasn't filled up enough. Tires perfect and back to the transition area Roxie went.

I stopped a volunteer to ask exactly how the transition would work - where do we enter from the swim, how do we exit, etc. I wasn't taking any chances of doing something incorrectly and getting slapped with a penalty.

Well by this time there was still well over an hour before the race so I went with my dad and the wife to find a location for them to set up camp for awhile. Since Tori was two weeks post-knee surgery, we needed to make sure she could sit as much as possible.

I nibbled slowly on my KIND bar, which was delish (Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt)... Mmmmm!!

I went to hit up the port-a-potty and finally ran into people I knew. Yay! Chelsea and Ally, who I both knew through twitter but had just met on Wednesday in person, were also first-time triathlete folks so it was great to share this experience with them.

Chatting with them and seeing familiar faces calmed my nerves before heading back to see my crew.

The transition area closed at 7:30am so I needed to make sure I got back in there in plenty of time to get my wetsuit, swimcap and goggles for the swim. I also had to pop my ENERGYBits then or I wouldn't have them and that wasn't happening.

Around 7:15ish, I bid farewell to my dad and wife (trying not to cry) and headed into the transition area. I was walking over to my bike when I noticed a familiar face. It was my friend Howley, who I probably hadn't seen in a good 6-7 years. She was there doing the tri relay as friends needed someone to do the bike portion. Again, seeing a familiar face distracted me from the nerves.

I made it back to my bike, grabbed my necessary tools, gave the transition area one more check over and was off to the beach for the pre-race meeting with the officials.

I decided to walk through the water to get to the pre-race meeting. It was starting to get hotter while in the wetsuit and I wanted to see how the water temp felt. It was calming to be in the water. I was ready for the race to start, but we still had a good 40 minutes or so until my wave would set off. I was in the women's 25-34 heat which was Wave 5 of 10.

Thankfully I found Chelsea, Ally, other Zoom Multisport friends and Cat from Tedy's Team on the sand near the start area. It felt good to be near people I knew. Are we sensing a theme here?

Before I knew it, the National Anthem was playing and Wave 1 (Elite Athletes) was getting in position. There would be 2 minutes between Wave 1 and Wave 2 then 6 minutes between the rest of the waves. There were 10 waves in total with novice being the final group.

I thought about putting myself in the novice division, but felt I was a strong enough swimmer to be with my age group.

Swim - 1/2 Mile

Robin had told me to line up near the front of the wave because of my practice swim times, but I ended up being about 1/3 of the way back. I readjusted once I saw the division included the mid-to-late 20s as well. I assumed they would all be faster than me so I wiggled my way back. (Hindsight? Stupid decision)

All of a sudden they were counting down, in my head I just said: "Like Tedy said - it's the party! Have fun!" and we were off.

It is a running start, which means you run from the sand into the water to about your knees/low thighs then start swimming.

As soon as I started swimming, I instantly got kicked in the face. I thought - okay got that out of the way - let's get it. I had remembered Robin saying in the Ironman she swam on the outside to avoid getting kicked so I did try to find myself a little niche in the water to avoid people ... which was challenging.

I felt as if I was swimming in place. I didn't feel like I was making good time. I tried sighting as best I could, but still found myself drifting while swimming.

But, at no point did I feel tired. BONUS!

I am thankful I did a test swim in the water before the race so I had an idea of what to use for guide points.

Before I knew it we were making the final turn (we swam in a trapezoidal pattern) to the shore. I kept reminding myself to swim until my hands swept the bottom of the water THEN get up and start running.

My dad was able to catch me "gracefully" exiting the water. Man those rocks felt like needles under the feet.

Total Time: 16:35 Pace: 1:53/100 yds Overall Place: 175/630 Division: 12/52


Transition 1

Time: 1:51.1

This was my first attempt at taking the wetsuit off quickly (should probably practice that more for next time).

I tried to make the switch as methodical as possible. I used my mini towel to wipe off my wet/sandy feet and quickly put on my shoes/sneakers. Yes I raced sans clip medals/bike shoes because I wasn't comfortable enough on the bike yet.

I also made sure to click my bike helmet on as soon as I put it on since you can be penalized for an unclicked helmet.

I actually more my bike/run outfit under my wetsuit so I didn't have to do any wardrobe change. It was actually a great idea because the weather was heating up but the damp singlet kept me cool on the next two legs of the race.



By far this is my weakest part of the race and the one I dreaded the most. The goal for this leg was to not fall off the bike. Do you like how I set big goals for myself. ;)

But seriously after talking to Robin (sensing another theme with this ;)) we decided that my goal was to keep my bike pace around 17-19 mph.

The bike portion was 9 miles, which is short for most sprint tris - but perfectly fine for me.

I merged onto the bike portion (it was a loop which you had to complete twice) so I had to be aware of other bikers completing their second loop.

The bike portion and run portion were on the same road with the runners separated on the right by cones. There are so many rules about passing and not drafting on the bike that I felt like I had no idea what I was doing.

I remembered them saying if you were going to pass you had 15 seconds and had to get 3 bike lengths ahead of the person/person being passed had to drop back 3 bike lengths.

I did my best to follow the rules, but really I was just focused on not falling.

I slowed down on the turns as those scare the crap outta me (again fear of falling). But I felt pretty comfortable out on the course since it was nice and flat AND I was able to cheer for some people I knew already on the run portion.

I just kept looking down at my cyclometer to make sure I was staying on point ... and shockingly I was!!! WOO HOO!

I also had to wipe my nose/mouth still from the swim, but I haven't mastered that taking the hands off the handlebars thing yet so I finally wiped my nose as I slowed for a turn. Sexy I know. :P

As I finished up the second loop, I was instructed to go to the right back to the transition area. I realized that my friend Cat was right in front of me.

They even had a line drawn on the ground telling you where to dismount the bike. Score!

I know I would've biked faster with 1) more practice and 2) actual bike shoes/clips - but that is for later events. (foreshadowing?)

Total Time: 28:57 Pace: 18.2 MPH (just what we wanted!!!) Overall Place: 388/630 (can we tell it's my weakest area) Division: 30/52


Transition 2

Time: 1:21.2

I followed Cat right into the transition area...

This was a pretty simple transition for me since I didn't have to change shoes like most people. I just made sure to put my race belt, which displayed my bib for the run, on first because you NEEDED it to finish. I popped a couple sport beans, fixed my hair, put on my Sparkly Soul headband, took a hit of Nuun Hydration water I had mixed, put on my running shades (thank goodness I made the last minute decision to bring them) and was off.



I started my Garmin late because I had no idea when the run was actually supposed to start. Oops. Thankfully I asked someone once on the course what they had and realized I was about .1 mile off from everyone else. Okay doing that math would also help distract me during the run.

I had been looking forward to the run all day (did I seriously just write that? :P) and felt great to be on the pavement.

There were cones separating the runners and the bikers on the street. The cones seemed to leave a really narrow running area so I ended up passing people on the left and entering the bike area. Thankfully bikers were giving enough room for runners to do this successfully.

It was great having the run be and out and back set up because I was able to high five some friends on the course, while simultaneously cheering for friends doing the bike portion.

Win-win-win! :0)

My goal was to keep a sub 8:15/8:20 pace. I didn't know how the legs would feel for the 4.4-mile run and the weather was getting warmer and warmer so I wanted a realistic pace. (Also how is this my "realistic" pace? How times change!)

My shoes and socks felt damp still from my not-totally-dried feet so it felt a little heavy lifting the feet. Also the timer that goes around your ankle felt like a police ankle bracelet (not like I've ever worn one). I could feel it on my leg, but tried to zone it out.

There are no headphones on this course so I had been training without music for a couple weeks and it paid off. I was really able to zone out on the mileage and focus on taking the whole experience in.

SouthBoston is a beautiful part of the city and it was a perfect day. I had a great time cheering on other runners as we moved along.

There were two water stations on the course so I made sure to drink water at both AND take an additional cup to pour on my head.

At the turnaround point, I started getting sad - the race was going to be over in less than 2 miles. Wow! My firs triathlon would be in the books. I had no idea of my time, but I knew I was having a blast and didn't want it to end.

So I soaked in every step I took.

Around Mile 3, I thought I wasn't going to make it. I saw a lot of people walking and thought I could too. But my inner voice screamed HELL NO! I was not about to start walking.

I was going to give it everything I had on that course then I could walk. So I just kept trucking along. I smiled at other runners, I cheered for people struggling and I freakin' ran. I just kept putting one foot in front of the other.

There it was - the Mile 4 marker. We had just .4 left.

It was time to give it all I had. I just willed my legs to keep moving forward and to NOT let anyone pass me. I was going to pick people off it I could, but I would hold strong.

Total Time: 36:16 Pace: 8:15 min/mile Overall Place: 255/630 Division: 15/52



As I approached the Finish Line, the announcer said "Dani Holmes-Kirk from Somerville, MA" and in my head I said "is officially a triathlete!" :)

I couldn't stop smiling.

I swam. I biked. I ran.

Final Stats

It was everything I could've imagined and more.

Could you tell I was a little excited?

I can't even put into words how excited I was crossing that line and picking up my Finisher's Pint Glass. Not a medal, but better than nothing!!

I immediately started thinking about how I would do things different the next time, but quickly banished those thoughts. It was time to relish in the now.

I owe a big thanks to my dad and wife for getting up at 5am and coming to watch me in person. Bigger thanks to my mom who stayed back home to make sure someone was with the pups.

I spotted my favorite sign from the course and the designer let me take a pic.

Please note I am smiling because I love the sign NOT because I did what is written on the sign. :P

I was able to get some water in my pint glass right after receiving it, but then bottled water was nowhere to be found. Are you serious? I grabbed a banana, but looked all around and no water anywhere. Planning FAIL!!

The post-race celebration was sponsored by Michelob Ultra (BOO!) so we decided to head home. I would recommend a local race go with a local brew (Harpoon, Sam Adams, etc) to celebrate rather than a blah beer like Michelob Ultra. I bought Slumbrew so I could have my own party at home. :)

I headed back into the transition area to clean up my stuff. I was really pleased with how I set up my transition area.

I wish I had been able to meet up with more people afterwards - thankfully I did see some ZOOM folks and Tedy's Team folks - but I forgot to take any group photos. Oops!

I really can't thank ZOOM Multisport enough for welcoming me into their group. I thank Robin, Hank, Tara, Darcie, Jackie, Cat, Greg, Lisa and so many others for letting me text or FB you with numerous questions/pictures/thoughts during training and race prep.

So the question remains: will I do this again?


I'm ready for the next adventure as I go from morbidly obese couch potato to Boston Marathon Finisher to Triathlete to ???

T-Minus 12 hours 'til my First Triathlon

What. Was. I. Thinking? This short question has been running through my head since March 1st.

What happened on March 1st?

I took a leap waaayy out of my comfort zone and signed up for The Boston Triathlon - my first.

Maybe I was delusional from training for The Boston Marathon or something. But, here's the full story of how the registration came to be.

It took me awhile to really get into the training since well a lot of stuff happened around the Marathon. And I just couldn't find a training plan that I could relate to.

So finally on June 24, I attempted my own personal sprint triathlon at the gym with the same distances as the Boston Tri (0.5 mile swim, 9 mile bike and 4 mile run) and here were the results.

I survived!!

After that I finally found a training plan I liked and got to serious work. As I mentioned the ride for the race is 9 miles, but by far the bike is my weakest area so I wanted to get as much practice on the bike as I could. So I actually attempted a 2 hour bike ride on Saturday, July 13th and I made it 1:42:30 into the ride (24+ miles) before getting a flat tire. Yay! Third time on the bike and my first flat tire. I figured it was better then especially with my wife just minutes away to rescue me than on race day!!


But, with just two weeks to go until the race I realized I still had YET to do an open-water swim. Now, I have read many people who never did an open-water swim before their triathlon and lived to tell the tale. I couldn't do that. I needed to see how swimming in the pool differed from open-water ... with a wetsuit!

So finally, this past Wednesday, I met a group of ZOOM Multisport Triathlon members and fellow Tedy's Team members and met them at Carson Beach - the site of the race - and finally bit the bullet. It was AWESOME!! I love swimming anyway, but the wetsuit really adds some great buoyancy to the experience. We actually swam the 1/2 mile which would be used for the actual race, which was great exposure.


(Thank you to my friend Darcie who is letting me borrow her wetsuit)

I even managed two BRICK workouts - once I looked up what that meant. :P I did get out and bike then immediately run twice and felt great. It was interesting how alive the legs felt coming off the bike. Hopefully that sticks tomorrow. :)

And Friday marked the end of my #runstreak at Day 18. How did I finish the streak? With a solid 4-mile run to test out the race belt I would be using for the race because I didn't want ANY surprises on Sunday morning.


What was left for me to do? Why channel all of the amazing positivity, love and encouragement from all of you - my amazing blog readers. It also helped to get me out of my own mindset.

Every time I try something new I immediately zip back to the 230 lb me and freak out. Well, this time I will be using the amazing words from Tedy Bruschi to push me through the race ... see how amazing they are yourself here.

But, today was race packet pick-up day. Eek! Races ALWAYS get real when the bib is in hand.


They were just setting things up because you know me - I was there right as they opened. But, I did do a lap of the transition area to see where my bike would be.


Sooo this whole thing is much more complicated than a normal race. :P There are numbers for you and your bike and tattoos to adhere to your arms, hand and legs. Oh and you also have a special swim cap based on which wave you will be in. They seem to be based on gender and age. I will be in Wave 5. The race starts at 8am and it looks like my wave will head out around 8:12am.

As I munch on some wheat pasta (yum!), I am all tatted up, I've watched transition videos on Youtube, my swim/bike/run stuff is all packed in my bag, the bike rack is on the car, Roxie is primed and ready to go, the alarm is set for 5am and I realize I have done all I could do.

I'm also trying not to think about how this race does NOT have a Finisher's Medal (BIG BOO!!) and the post-race beer sponsor is Michelob Ultra. Ummm no thanks!! I definitely went and purchased some Slumbrew so that I can have my own celebration at home!! :)

For now, I leave you all with this. The preparation is done. The accessories are organized. Now all there is left to do is freakin' enjoy it!!

Tomorrow I, Dani Holmes-Kirk, will complete an actual triathlon. It doesn't matter that it is the smallest triathlon they have in terms of length because all that matters is crossing that Finish Line.

With one HUGE smile on my face!


If you would like to track me tomorrow, I am Bib #339 and you can enter it on this site. They have "auto refresh" available as well. It looks like my wave starts the swim around 8:12am EST.