I am a newbie that is trying to figure out at least a few races to schedule in for tri season next year so I can have something specific to work toward. As a runner, this part comes easily to me. I am doing the swim clinic right now with Curl Burke and am biking a lot on my own and am hoping to be pretty strong in these areas as well come the start of tri season next year. I did my first sprint a few weeks ago (BRATS tri in Bristow 300m swim, 10 mi bike, 2.5 mi run) and did a biathlon (500 yd swim, 4 mi run) this past weekend. The short distance was really manageable and fun. I am looking for suggestions for some other really fun sprints to start me out next year, as well as Olympic distances, and finally, a half iron for the end of the season next year. So far I am thinking I definitely want to do the Angels race in the VA tri series (I went to college in Lynchburg, sounds like a good excuse for a reunion!) and Nations in Sept, because, well, its here.
Please let me know what suggestions you all might have for a beginner like me, in particular for races within relative driving distance from here or others .
I too am looking for a few good suggestions locally and otherwise.
Im particularly curious about ones in the Charlottesville area.
Others may have different opinions, but I wouldn't recommend aiming for a half-Ironman right out of the gate. Once you get into the long-distance tris you really need to commit to several focused months of training while backing off on racing shorter events - otherwise you'll wind up compromising the shorter events or the half or (likely) both. Bear in mind that though I label the sprints and Olympics "shorter" races it's certainly not to minimize the effort or training needed to race those events - 1.5 to 3.5 hours of racing is really tough. You can certainly experience the highs, lows, and in-betweens of triathlon by stringing together a season full of sprints and/or Olympics, trust me. My best seasons have been ones where I've decided "I'm going to get really good at the [name it] distance" versus seasons where I've been all over the place and consequently don't perform to my best in any event.
*clomp, clomp, clomp* [that was me stepping off of my soap box]
That said, if you're looking for potential events I'll point you toward some companies that put on really good ones:
Piranha Sports for the mid-Atlantic region, http://www.piranha-sports.com/
Set-Up Events for events in Virginia and points south, http://www.setupevents.com/
CGI Racing for more mid-Atlantic races, http://www.cgiracing.com/default.aspx
Tri Columbia, which has a few sprints still open, http://www.tricolumbia.org/
There are also websites like active.com and trifind.com that some people find useful.
+1 on those companies' events and websites.
As for your distance goals...if you want to simply finish each to gain experience, then that's probably possible with alot of dedication and some luck (avoiding injuries, body able to absorb the training w/o fatigue, etc.). Who knows, maybe you're a natural and it'll be no problem.
But if you're not in a rush, though, consider taking your time and focus on sprint/oly's, then working up to HIMs in 2011. Maybe less stressful and more fun. G'luck!
Hillary, two of my favorites around here have been the Diamond in the Rough Tri in Maryland, and the Charlottesville Olympic. Diamond in the Rough is usually second weekend in July, and Charlottesville Olympic is usually end of July, I think.
Join NTP (New Triathlete Program) if you want focused training with other newbies. New Jersey and Northeast Triathlon (CGI races), Nations Tri have been staples in our club. Philly Tri gets good reviews. Naylors Beach. Dewey Beach Sprint (best post race fun). Lake Anna tri's (setupevents) are very popular with us. Anything Columbia is a favorite of mine. Keep an eye out when we announce the Mid Atlantic Championship race - we will converge on that. Also we will be making a push for members to travel to the Club National Championships in South Carolina. Concur with Suz and Jason that a HIM in your first serious year may be a stretch. You could look to the Savageman Olympic as a serious test towards the end of the season (HIM difficulty in a Oly distance). Or focus on the club and national championship races. Or heck if you seriously want to push the limits....skip the HIM...Ironman.
I really had fun at the Montclair Tri at the end of June in VA, part of the Virginia Tri Series. It was a fun neighborhood race, with all the neighbors watching from their front lawns and cheering everyone on. The swim was warm - no wetsuit - yeah; bike was 3 loops over well paved road; run is a 5 miler - 2 loops in the neighborhood. The field was manageable and logistically it is close to DC and you don't have to go down the day before for packet pick up and bike drop off. Love the fun and low key aspects of the race.