by Quintana Roo Triathlon October 05, 2021

We’ve all been there. We know the feeling.

Excitement. Trepidation. A bit of fear. Some nerves. And tons of electricity. That first triathlon is one you never, ever forget. From the transition area nervousness to the camaraderie and sheer joy of accomplishment in finishing that first tri, there’s nothing more palpable.

Quintana Roo marketing associate Sarah Hinchman just got all those feels this year, and is ready for more.

Fall Creek Falls State Park in Tennessee in August was the venue. After months of dark mornings at the pool, tons of runs after work, and quick lunchtime runs, the Calfkiller Triathlon—Hinchman’s first ever tri—was on. 

Quintana Roo Get to know us Sarah Hinchman riding a PRfive

The 22-year-old Hinchman grew up playing. If it was an outdoor activity, she was in. From swimming to competitive soccer to Ultimate Frisbee, she was active. It was her soccer team’s volunteering at Ironman Chattanooga a few years ago that piqued her interest in multi-sport and possibly taking on a tri. But it was her joining the Quintana Roo team that put it into action, as her colleagues loaded her down with gear, and QR CEO Peter Hurley’s wife, Lorraine, became her coach, building a training plan for the newcomer.

Before the race, she had the same fear all triathletes have: did I train enough, or did I do too much training? In Hinchman’s case, her fear was the latter.

“I have a Garmin that shows my fatigue, and right up to the day before the race, it showed I was in the negative, indicating I was fatigued,” she says. “I asked my coach ‘what’s going on?’ My energy was low, and she said it was normal. I was  thinking I’d passed my peak.”

Sarah stretching and running

But race morning, the tech gods shined on Hinchman. “I looked at my Garmin and the fatigue meter had me in the positive! I got there five hours early, set up and walked transition, made sure I understood the flow of it all.”

The pre-race nerves were more of an excitement.

“I walked down to the swim and was just jumping around—I didn’t know what to do with all the energy I had. Someone said it was maybe gonna rain, and maybe the race was gonna be cancelled, and I was like ‘noooo! I wanna race!’ People asked if I was nervous and I said ‘no’, but my adrenaline was soaring.”

Sarah Hinchman Running down the road

As we all experience the chaos, confusion, and fear, it all goes out the window once the gun goes off.

“They announced ‘90 seconds to start!’ and my heart was just pounding, but once the race started, everything just got quiet and calm, all I could hear was the water,” Hinchman says. "I felt like I exploded forward in the water… it was just so fun!”

After crushing the swim and coming out second in her age group, she smashed the bike in the rain, and dashed through the run. “I was just having so much fun,” she says. “I was passing people on the bike, just getting pelted by rain, and I was like ‘I love this!’ I didn’t want it to end.”

When it did end, she crossed the finish wearing a huge smile after beating her pre-race goals. And she was hungry for more races.

“I’m gonna skip the Olympic distance step-up and go right to 70.3s; I signed up for 70.3 Chattanooga in May,” she says. “I’ve been telling everyone, this triathlon, it’s the best thing ever. I mean, I get to be in this space, inspired by people like Jeanni Metzler or Lucy Charles. They’re on a whole other level, but to know we’re doing the same thing on the same course, it’s amazing! I just love to be around people who inspire me."

And for now, Hinchman can be the inspiration for many ready to dive into their first triathlon, for she's a rookie no more.

Close up on PRfive bike

So as someone who can now claim being a tri veteran, what five top tips does she have for first-timers?

  1. Join the tri community “Connect with other triathletes, join a tri club, because there are tons of people willing to give you advice, invite you on group rides, and just make it fun. I mean, I realized after talking to other triathletes that, ‘oh, I have to go get a race belt, the race doesn’t provide them?’ People are just so helpful.”
  2. Apple sauce or coffee pre-race. Always. “You don’t think about it but it sucks when you have to 'go' mid-run. I didn’t have to worry about it for a sprint, but know I’ll have to factor it in when I do a half Ironman.”
  3. Have a swim buddy “It’s always daunting to ask at first, because you think everyone is so much faster and won’t want to swim at your pace… but I found people want to help, especially in the swim.”
  4. Take care of your bike “I knew how to change a tire, but to clean it, to make sure the chain is lubed, I learned that along the way.”
  5. Practice your weakness “My coach Lorraine taught me practicing your weakness makes you a stronger athletes. It’s always easier to do the training you enjoy, rather than something you're less good at. It makes sense."
Quintana Roo Triathlon
Quintana Roo Triathlon



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On the border of two sizes?
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Measure for Maximum Performance
If you're not transferring measurements from a similar triathlon specific bike, to get completely "dialed in" for maximum performance, we recommend you see a reputable professional bike fitter that can fit you to your new Quintana Roo.