Sunday, August 30, 2015

Interview with Rebecca on Training for and Competing in Her First Olympic-Distance Triathlon

Rebecca and met when we played on the same softball team when we were about five or six years old, and late we swam together on our high school swim team. In the past few months, I kept seeing her facebook posts about training for her first Olympic triathlon. Reading about her training and race-day goals, and then seeing photos of her looking strong and happy at the end of the race inspired me as an athlete. I am so excited that she has been willing to share a little bit more about her athletic experiences with us here, and I hope her story inspires you, too.

Rebecca after completing her first Olympic triathlon at the New Jersey State Triathlon event.

What has been your previous experience with competitive sports?

Rebecca: Before a duathlon in October 2014, I hadn't participated in competitive sports since high school swimming, but I always enjoyed working out and even taught indoor cycling classes at my gym. I'm a big believer in using exercise to maintain mental health, and staying active helped me cope with the stress of undergraduate and graduate school, a career change, moving to another state, and getting married. But once I turned 30 and life settled down, I decided I needed a hobby and started training for and participating in some local races.

For months you inspired me with your facebook posts about training for your first Olympic triathlon. How did you decide to compete in this triathlon?

Rebecca: Competing in a triathlon has always been a huge pipe dream of mine, probably since college. I have a swimming background and have recently gotten into road biking. But I always hated running, so I didn't ever see a tri happening. Then one day, when forcing myself through a three mile treadmill run in 2013, something clicked and I felt like I could keep going. I ended up running six miles that day, then started taking my runs outside, and ran my first half marathon in November 2014. I had only competed in one sprint triathlon before Jersey State, but I'm glad I challenged myself with the Olympic distance because the sprint distance the day before was cancelled due to a thunderstorm!

I love that you keep pushing yourself to try new races with new challenges. What was your training schedule like for this event?

Rebecca: I followed a 12-week plan and generally trained 6 days a week including one brick (bike to run) session. It was tough because I was also teaching 2-3 Spinning classes per week in addition to my own training.

Did you have any routines for training or on competition days?

Rebecca: I always do at least 20 minutes of yoga after a run or brick. I used to have a lot of IT band and patella issues, and yoga been the magic fix. After that, I treat myself to a couple glasses of wine. :)

Yoga and Wine: an excellent way to relax and recover! What made you most nervous about competing? Most excited?

Rebecca: I still don't know how to change a tire, so I'm always nervous about getting a flat. I think what was probably most exciting about the Jersey State tri was the size of the event (there were almost 2,000 triathletes competing in my event alone) and the fact that it was my first Oly.

Wow! I bet that made for a hectic transition area. In a few sentences, please describe what the race was like for you.

Rebecca: It was HOT and humid. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of under-hydrating on the bike, so I bonked during the run and did a lot of walking. Afterwards, I saw a lot of people with heat exhaustion in the medical tent. Luckily, all of the water stops had volunteers giving out cold towels and cups of ice, which I kept dumping down my tri suit. I remember running next to some random guy and saying to him, "I'm going to need so much wine when this is over!" The best feeling was the "misting tent" after the finish line, where they literally hosed down all of the finishers with ice cold water. I was so exhausted and overheated that I couldn't speak full sentences until I cooled off.

That’s awesome, though, that you were able to keep going and finish with adverse racing conditions. What were the best/worst parts of the race?

Rebecca: My proudest moment was passing swimmers two waves ahead of me during the swim. Least proudest moment was getting passed by 60-year-olds on the bike -- haha. But that didn't bother me too much because I still had a really strong bike and that's usually my weakest event. Part of my motivation was another woman who really pushed me on the bike -- we kept passing each other, and then the other would catch up, and every time I passed her again, she'd yell, "Go get 'em!"

In what ways, if any, has the experience of training for and competing in this event changed you?

Rebecca: The biggest change I made was after the tri -- I decided to quit teaching Spinning so that I can focus more on my training.

Are you planning to compete in any more races? If so, which ones and why?

Rebecca: I'm doing my first full marathon (Marine Corps) at the end of October. My uncle has run it before and convinced me to do it with him this year. After that, I'm toying around with the idea of a Half Ironman in 2016, if not 2017, because why would I stop at an Oly?

Exactly! Why stop there if you’re having fun? Thanks so much for sharing you experience with us. Good luck at your first marathon and half Ironman! Maybe in 2018 or 2019, we can talk about your first full Ironman...!?

Please post any comments or questions for Rebecca about her racing experience in the comments section below.

Do you have a sports experience you'd like to share? We'd love to hear it!

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