#4 Run a 10K/Do a Triathlon – Part 2 (Training)

9 Jun

With the decision to do the triathlon to support The Cycle Project behind me, it was time to start training. Training for me started with swimming. As I mentioned, I hadn’t swam since I was a little kid. I mean, I could swim from point A to point B and not drown, but there was definitely no form involved.

Our coach hooked us up with Mikey Flaherty who runs a program called Swim with Heart. Mikey was starting a Masters team and needed some people to help get it going. Now contrary to how that sounds, you don’t have to be a “master” at swimming to participate.

On the first day of practice Jamie Thibault, Kristin Finkle, her neighbor Heather and I showed up nervous, but ready to go. The only problem was that we were an hour late. Thankfully, another group let us join in on their practice though. This was however, one of the most challenging workouts of my life. Not only did I have no form at all…I couldn’t breathe! And let me tell you, it’s pretty difficult to work on your form when it feels like you’re going to drown from lack of oxygen. I specifically remember calling my parents after that practice and telling them, “wow! I really suck at swimming!”

I was determined to do it though, so I started going to practice four times a week and eventually I got the hang of it. Now, I’m still no Michael Phelps, or Mychael Shannon, or Mikey Flaherty (why are all the good simmers named Michael???), but I can do it.

Simultaneously, I had a second sport to pick up…cycling. I have handled the PR for a couple of big cycling races over the past six years and always thought it was an amazing and interesting sport, but it wasn’t until this new goal that I decided to take it up.

Fortunately, through my friends at Specialized I was able to get some advice on which bike to get. For the first couple of months I kept on the platform pedals (for the non-cyclists out there, those are the standard pedals that are on your beach cruiser), but after I started feeling comfortable I decided to step it up and clip in (this is what the pros do; essentially your feet are attached to the pedals).

The running part wasn’t as much of a concern for me because it’s the only one I had actually done before and I’m not half-bad at it.

Needless to say, my social life was starting to go out the window at this point. With swim practice four times a week, two runs, two bike rides and bootcamp three days a week, I was starting to feel like a real athlete. And after a while I didn’t mind that my bar nights were being replaced with early morning workouts. As a matter of fact, I was actually starting to really enjoy it.

As the official registration date began approaching we would have to make a decision – would we do the sprint distance or the Olympic? When I started training, my goal was very clearly the sprint, but over time I built more confidence, so now I was on the fence about which one to do. After a few weeks of consideration, a little push from our coach, and many, many conversations with Kristin and Jamie, we decided to all do the Olympic.

Man, was I crazy? A couple months ago I couldn’t even swim and now I’m going to do an Olympic distance triathlon?!?! So, now you can understand why I’m able to check the “run a 10K” off my list with this triathlon. Not only will I be running a 10K, but that will be after nearly a mile swim and a 25 mile bike ride!

The trainings started out with 30 minute runs and 10 mile bike rides, but they began to increase as we got closer to the race. We were doing brick workouts (two sports back-to-back; so biking and then immediately going for a run) almost every weekend. The awesome part though was that I felt myself getting stronger and as the trainings grew more difficult and longer, I was able to keep up.

I even got the opportunity to do a training ride with my dad during the Amgen Tour of California. It was pretty cool to be able to share that experience with him (especially considering I’ve never been very sporty).

Toward the end we did some pretty gnarly hill repeats. Yes, repeats. We went up and down the same hill multiple times on our bikes and running. I know…it sounds crazy!

For our final group training last weekend, we went out to San Dimas and tested out the actual course.

I felt really confident on the bike and with the run, but swimming in the lake brought a new challenge of not being able to see clearly. We practiced though and got ourselves ready for the big day.

Through it all, I think everyone on our team would say that we’ve grown stronger, more confident in ourselves and found something that we all really love to do. And one of the best parts of all is the new friends we’ve picked up along the way (I can be cheesy for a moment!).

It’s now the night before the triathlon. We just had our last team dinner, packed up all our tri gear, laid out the awesome outfits we’ll be wearing tomorrow and are heading to bed. Wish me luck!

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