My first triathlon

After my holiday party and 1pm bedtime, I (not surprisingly) woke up feeling kind of yucky. My throat hurt and I felt like I was definitely coming down with a cold. I made a strong cup of coffee and started to feel a little bit better. I had paid the $50 registration fee for the indoor triathlon, so I was going to do it no matter what!

With my coffee I fueled up with a chopped apple mixed with 1/2 cup Fage greek yogurt and a Tbs of peanut butter. I also had a few un-photographed bites of a clif bar as I ran out the door. I needed energy!

Apples and peanut butter

And then I was off to the McBurney YMCA for my indoor triathlon. Highlight of my subway ride there:

  • Homeless man: Can you spare some change? A dollar?
  • Megan: Sorry, I don’t have any cash on me.
  • Homeless man: Ok, how about some weed?

Why, yes. Let me just get out my stash of marijuana and share some with you on public transit. I never leave home with out my running shoes, swimsuit, water bottle, and weed.

Hah, kidding.

Anyway, The event was actually a very good introduction to the sport for a newbie. The staff was organized and welcoming and I even had my own lane for the swim! My swim was SLOW, but I was happy just to have finished it without drowning.
Swim: 10 lengths in 10 minutes
Cycle: 13.5 miles in 30 minutes
Run: 2.77 miles in 20 minutes  (~7:13 mile pace)
I had a tough time figuring out pacing for the bike – I definitely didn’t go as hard as I could have, but I thought that maybe I should be saving something for the run. The run went pretty well – I was the second fastest female!

After the run my face was as bright red as a tomato and I actually felt a little nauseous. I walked around and stretched for a few minutes and then tried to eat a little something. This was my first time trying the new luna protein bars and the cookie dough flavor was GREAT! The nutritionals are similar to a regular luna bar (180 cals, 12 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber), but the protein and saturated fat content is a tad higher. It basically tasted like a candy bar (which essentially, it is).

Luna Protein Bar

Hooray! I finished a triathlon! I wore my CPTC singlet, padded spandex bike shorts, and Asics 2150’s for the bike/run portion and they worked out well. I did not use clip-in shoes (don’t have any yet!), so I think that may have slowed me down on the bike.


As soon as I got home, I had to fly into action. I needed to shower, prepare a dish, and take the subway to my cooking club meeting in less than 90 minutes!

The theme for this month’s cooking club was “German Food”. Inspired by a recipe in the January 2010 issue of Bon Appetit, I prepared a red cabbage salad with green apple, lingonberry preserves, and toasted pecans.

Red cabbage and green apple salad with lingonberry preserves and toasted walnuts

Red cabbage and green apple salad with lingonberry preserves and toasted walnuts


  • 3 Tbs lingonberry preserves
  • 1 Tbs dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbs apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 4 cups of red cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1 large Granny Smith apple, coursely grated
  • 1/2 cup pecans, toasted


  • Whisk together 1 Tbs lingonberry preserves, dijon mustard, and cider vinegar.
  • Slowly whisk in the canola oil, add salt & pepper to taste.
  • Reserve 1/4 of grated apple and several pecans for garnish.
  • Toss cabbage, remaining 2 tablespoons preserves, apple, and pecans in large bowl.
  • Toss with enough dressing to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Garnish with reserved grated apple and pecans and serve.

Once I arrived at the cooking club meeting locale, I was very impressed with the spread of food.  Unfortunately, I started to feel sick and nauseous and close to passing out – oh low blood sugar and the crazy things you do to me! I ate that luna bar around 11:30am and we didn’t start the German food meal until after 3pm. In retrospect this was WAY too long for me to wait (especially since I just finished a triathlon). I had a few crackers while waiting for everyone to arrive and started to feel better immediately. Once I ate some actual lunch, I felt back to normal. Lesson learned: I need to always, always carry some sort of quick sugar source with me. Any suggestions? I was thinking dried fruit or honey packets…

On to the meal!

Cooking Club

I started off with a bowl of split pea soup (made with Kristen’s homemade chicken stock!) – it was the perfect dish for a cold, January day.

Split Pea Soup

German Food

My plate included: zwiebelkuchen (a quiche-like dish made with cream, bacon, and onions), sweet & sour cabbage, red cabbage salad with green apple lingonberry jam and toasted pecans, potato pancake with applesauce, and beer braised sausage with apples and sauerkraut.

And german chocolate cakefor dessert. Oh.My.Goodness. If you’ve never had german chocolate cake, you NEED to! It’s a delicious combination of dark chocolate cake and an ooey-gooey coconut frosting. Yum.

German Chocolate Cake

I spent the rest of the evening catching up on my to-do list and around 8pm, my stomach reminded me that it was time to re-fuel again. I sliced up a banana and added it to a cup of Fage 0% yogurt, a cup of Kashi Go Lean cereal2 Tbs peanut butter, and a few spoonfuls of lingonberry jam.

Yogurt Mess

And since my throat was still hurting, I needed to medicate with a little Ben and Jerry’s phish food ice cream🙂

Phish Food

From the NY Times:  Yummy alternatives to beef burgers

Questions: Have you ever participated in a triathlon? Any advice for a newbie?

What’s your favorite dish to bring to pot-lucks? I need ideas for next month’s cooking club!

  • Congrats on your first tri!! You did good on your swim!! And gosh you’re a speed demon on the bike- and the run!! I did a triathlon last summer- my advice for a newbie would be to learn bike maintenance. My chain fell off and got wedged in between the gears and I was stuck on the side of the road completely helpless haha. (It all worked out in the end though)

  • Congrats! I’m going to do my first tri this year and I’m really excited, but been having a really hard time getting into the pool to start swimming. I don’t normally swim as a workout, so I’m a little intimidated. Any advice?

  • pen

    My only piece of advice (besides seconding Heather’s) is to do lots and lots of brick workouts. You really need to get physically and mentally used to the feeling of running after cycling hard…and having your legs feel like jello.

  • good work on the tri. i suck at swimming & my closest race to a triathalon was the muddy buddy — most fun race i’ve ever done though!

    for your quick blood sugar fix try carrying around those dried fruit strips – not sure who makes them but trader joe’s and whole foods always have them

    and for a potluck recipe – try a quinoa/broccoli/cheese casserole – very homey/comfort foody with a twist.

  • I think I have commented before but maybe not?? Congrats on finishing your first try!! I have done two sprint tris and the swimming is always the hardest for me, I dread it. If you do any big ones, making sure you have your transition station set up just right and practicing the transition is important! Put your bike closest to the end of the rack as possible so you aren’t stepping over tons of people. Other than that, just good training! I want to do a longer tri but not sure when yet.. are you going to do another? Congrats again!

  • I love to bring cookies because they’re grab-n-go crowd pleasers.
    Glad you liked the new luna proteins, and awesome triathlon times!
    All the eats look awesome

  • Anna

    Hey Megan, congratulations on the tri! I am beginning training for my first tri this week, so it was great to hear about your first experience…sounds like you were awesome!
    I also have the same low blood sugar problem…especially after exercise. I always carry bars (Clif, Luna, etc.) with me, but also always have a mix of dates, dried apricots, and raw almonds in my purse. The natural sugars in the dates especially always make me feel better very quickly.

  • Congratulations on the triathlon! I’m curious as to how long one length of the pool was and if you know what the average time for that portion was? I used to be a swimmer many many moons ago…
    Ugh, HATE that low blood sugar-about to pass out feeling. So awful. Glad you avoided anything too terrible happening!
    I would carry something with you at all times for sure but make sure it is something you won’t be tempted to eat except in an ’emergency’ i.e. not granola bars! I think dried fruit packets or nuts would be good.
    Any plans for another tri?!

  • Congrats on your first triathlon! I’ve never done one but an indoor one sounds like it would be awesome for a first timer. Hope you’re feeling 100% soon!

  • Congrats on completing your first triathlon. I am doing my first next month (Feb 13th). It is an indoor as well. It is a 15 lap swim, 18 mile bike and 5 mile run. I am very nervous!

  • Great job on your tri! My one bit of advice is probably a bit obvious, but don’t try anything on race day. There’s nothing worse than unsuspected chafing creeping up

  • Bridget

    “but I was happy just to have finished it with drowning” oh my gosh, i laughed out loud at this. congrats on finishing your first triathlon!

  • I have done one triathalon…it was called The Rookie! It was fun…but I am definitely NOT a biker. I haven’t done another one although I am sure there will be one in my future again. I didn’t train for it at all and still did well. I think if I did another (longer) one I would need to actually figure out how the bike gears work! haha!

  • Sarah

    Great job on the tri! Best advice – if you are going to swim in open water, practice swimming in open water, or at least in crowded pool lanes, as often as possible. And if you are doing a really long tri (half IM or IM), change bottoms/shorts between the swim and the bike. Your arse will thank you! Love your blog by the way! If you come race in Phoenix, AZ, let me know!

  • The fact that you can do something as tremendous as an indoor triathalon and just bounce off to a cooking club get-together afterward really impresses me! I’m pretty sure that if were me, I’d be down for the count for the rest of the day. Also, congrats on being the second fastest runner!

    I love German chocolate cake! A nice slice of it is alays such a treat.

  • Way to go on the mini-triathlon! It’s always fun to try new things (and to be able to eat German chocolate cake afterwards)

    I have been toying with the idea of a min-triathlon too, but I need to find one first, and it looks like they’d all be open swims. Though I’m a good pool swimmer, I’m still a bit freaked by open water and I’m very clumsy after swimming, so being on a bike right afterwards would take some practice…

  • Awesome job on the tri! I have never done one and don’t think I ever will. I’m pretty sure I would fall off the bike or crash into someone. Holy cow you are fast – you will be leaving me in the dust at the half in less than 2 weeks!

    And the German food looks amazing…but being a sucker for chocolate the cake completely caught my eye and stomach. Is it lunch time yet… and is it wrong to want cake?

  • Love your blog! I was just wondering – I’m a beginner when it comes to Tempo runs. Do you have any advice? Thanks much! 🙂

  • Good work on your first triathlon! I literally just learned how to properly swim laps so I never could have completed the swim part as quickly as you did.

    I would say to carry about fruits/nuts bags. Maybe a homemade trail mix?

  • Emily

    Megan, GREAT job on the triathlon! I’m impressed – well done!

  • Thank you for all the encouraging comments! Perhaps an outdoor triathlon will happen someday soon 🙂

    Patricia @ Run Foodie Run – my advice for starting out with tempo runs would be to include a mile or two warm-up and then gradually drop your pace until you’re running about 30-60 seconds slower than 5K race pace. Tempo runs are usually 20-40 minutes long. Make sure to cool-down with some easy running or walking and good luck!