Triathlon Dress Rehearsal: Two Training Approaches. Two Outcomes. One Big Adventure

By Jodi

Swim.  Bike. Run.  This weekend Carissa and I exercised our way through a dress rehearsal of the Olympic distance triathlon we plan to race in two weeks.  Above all else it was eye-opening for me.  There was a clear distinction between Carissa's well prepared, thoughtful training program vs. my winging it, it's-summer-so-I-don't-want-to-train-for-anything "schedule."  Carissa was much faster than I was on all three disciplines.  But I expected her to be.
This was our finished picture.  Notice how refreshed Carissa looks?  And how exhausted I look?
Carissa toyed around with the idea of a triathlon last fall, took her first swim lesson in December, and  got serious about triathlon training after she finished the Boston marathon.  She has trained with the determined consistency that defines who she is, following a rigorous schedule and mastering two skills that were foreign to her a matter of months ago.  Carissa has worked hard and her training has clearly paid off.  She was fast, strong, and capable on all three events today.  On race day she will reap the reward of her hours of effort.

I, on the other hand, didn't decide to do this triathlon until the middle of July.  While I learned to swim and cycle three years ago these are not sports I have not done with any consistency.  Saying yes to triathlon training was like starting over from scratch, especially with swimming.

At the beginning of the summer I made a decision to not train hard for any event.  It gave me flexibility and freedom to really play with my kids and hang out with my family on the weekends without a training schedule looming in the background. It's not a decision I regret but it has led to a Winging It approach to training for this race.  The only thing I've done consistently at least twice a week is swim.  I've spent so much time in the pool trying to learn to swim efficiently and overcome my panic in the water that my running speed has suffered dramatically. This weekend's dress rehearsal was H-A-R-D for me.
Post-swim.  I have yet to invest in a real "swim suit" because I didn't think I'd swim consistently enough to warrant one.  By contrast, Carissa bought one right away.  When she sets her mind to something, she follows through.
Swimming is finally coming together for me.  I was able to swim all thirty laps today smoothly with no panic.  I was slower than Carissa by six minutes (I stopped counting how many times she lapped me), but I was actually swimming.  It felt like a real victory.  Now that I'm finally getting the hang of it, I wish I had more time to practice getting faster before the race.

On our 25 mile bike ride through Beaverton and Hillsboro
Finishing the bike portion of the tri has never been a concern for me.  But I trend toward meandering when I ride, especially if I'm by myself.  Cycling purposefully with Carissa today makes me wish I would have put more thought into pace/distance/desire to make my once-per-week ride more effective.

And then there was the run.  DISASTER!  Seasonal allergies have been kicking my booty this week and today was no different.  When we started the run our legs were heavy and tired.  Once we got rolling though, our legs cooperated and loosened up.  Not so with my sinuses.  I was a wheezing, side-aching, SLOW train wreck.  Poor Carissa had energy to burn while I mustered every mental and physical resource to finish the run.  I was shocked that I tanked so badly on the one event that I was banking on being successful at.
at the start of our run.  I was still smiling.
This weekend  was another example of "not wrong, just different" training.  Two different training approaches with two different outcomes.  Carissa demonstrated clearly the results that come from consistent, focused, disciplined training.  She is ready to race and my guess is that she'll place high in her age group.  I'm excited to see what kind of crazy success story she has and look forward to celebrating her victory post-race.

While the competitive side of me wishes I could hang with Carissa on race day, I have thoroughly loved this summer of relaxation and fun.  The kids start school on Tuesday and that leaves me a week or so to intentionally work hard on my deficits before I start to taper for the race.  I won't be fast, but I will be equipped to finish the entire race.  The bonus of always being the slower partner is that I know Carissa will be waiting for me on the race course, cheering me on to the finish where we can celebrate another adventure together.  I think on race day, we'll both be pleased.

I'm so glad to have a friend like Carissa.  She dreams big and drags me - sometimes kicking and screaming - into her journey.  Being her friend has made me realize I'm capable of more than I ever thought.  If it wasn't for Carissa, I would NOT be racing a triathlon in two weeks.  Not in a million years.

Thanks Carissa for always pushing.  Always dreaming.  Always believing we can do more.  I love being your friend!

What about you?  Do you have a Sole Sister who dreams big and drags you into her journey?  We'd love for you to give her a shout out and celebrate the role she's played in your life.


  1. I love that you two did the training test run together! I've been following much of Carissa's training on DM so I knew she would be very prepared. Great job out there! This makes me want to go do a tri! :-)

    1. Hi Tia. Is it bad that I have no idea what "DM" is? We love having you part of our Sole Sisters family. Thanks for the continual encouragement and informative feedback. It's always good to hear form you.

  2. Knowing where to start to place all of this triathlon training stuff together may be hard. Several things can go wrong if you don't have a guideline, like you'll get confused, you could be frustrated with yourself which would finally make you want to stop, training too much, under eating, hurting yourself, making yourself think that you're ready when in fact you're not, and even having your spouse mad at you.

    training for a triathlon