Triathlon training: In the homestretch

by Heather Kendrick

Ten weeks left until the triathlon. Ten weeks. I’m memorizing scripture. I’m visualizing success. I’m training like crazy.  

I’m thinking, what did I get myself into?!?!?

I remember being pregnant with my first child. I was so very excited. I loved everything about being pregnant! I celebrated each and every pregnancy milestone — from feeling the baby move and finding out he was a boy to the baby shower and registering at the hospital.  

And then one night I was lying in bed and it hit me. “I have to actually HAVE this baby.” And I was suddenly petrified. (At this point I started praying to God that pregnancy could last a little longer!)

That’s where I am right now with the triathlon. I’ve been talking about it forever and actually training for it for three months. One by one, the “milestones” have been completed. I finished my swim lessons. I bought my bike and all the bike gear that comes with it (not an easy or cheap process). I got my all-important “Tri Outfit.” 

The weeks keep flying by, and pretty soon I’m going to have to actually DO the triathlon. And I lay in bed at night fighting fears and doubts, trying to picture myself as a confident, strong triathlete.

The event itself is three parts — swim, bike and run. I’m practicing and training on each part separately and then also putting them together on occasion to get used to that as well. The swim is where I’m concentrating most of my training efforts because that is my weakest area. I’m working hard at being able to calmly cover the distance required, which is a third of a mile (about 10 laps in a pool). I say “calmly” because there is nothing in me that is naturally calm in the water. It is not my “happy place.” Even though I have come a long way, I am still not totally comfortable putting my face in the water. I am still learning to breathe evenly, and I still have to build up my endurance to be able to swim that distance without stopping.  

To say swimming is difficult for me would be a massive understatement. The struggle has been very hard on many different levels. It’s difficult to try your hardest at something and still not be able to “get it.” It’s hard to understand something in your head, but not be able to get your body to do it. And it’s hard to know the key to success at something is to “relax” when that something makes you tenser than anything else you’ve ever tried to do! Such frustration! But I am making some progress, and I’m determined to get there.  

The bike portion is also an adventure (to be chronicled in my next article!), but I am having fun with the bike. You can’t help but feel like a kid again out on a bike ride! There are definitely differences between an indoor cycling bike, which I have done lots of training on, and a “real bike” — but I have transitioned pretty well and have survived without too many incidents.

And then there’s the run. Running is my favorite sport of choice, but it has unfortunately had to take a back burner to all this other madness during this training time. The run comes last in the triathlon. It comes when your legs are tired and your resolve is weak. My training partners and I have been practicing running on tired legs for a while now, so we will be ready for that “jelly legs” feeling. 

At this point, it’s “gut check” time. Three miles to go. When I get there, I’ll remember all the hundreds of other times I’ve run three miles, and I’ll gut it out any way that I can get it done. Sights set on home . . .

Swim, bike, run. Sounds simple enough, right? One thing at a time.  

But there are still A LOT of unknowns, lots of questions that creep into my mind as I am trying to fall asleep at night and lots more training to be done. Ten weeks left. Only 10 weeks. Just 10 weeks. 

I can do this . . . right?