With my biggest race ever right around the corner, triathlon has become as common for me as eating, sleeping and breathing. I have never been more excited to participate in such a wonderful event, and my teammates and I are very eager for the big day to arrive. As an average athlete, I have been forced to push myself above and beyond to mentally and physically prepare for Collegiate Nationals. While many people are solely in it to win it, I am simply looking to better myself and cross the finish line.
Being a part of the North Carolina State University Triathlon Club has easily been the best part about my college career. All of our teammates have a unique bond, and we encompass every ability level. Our practice schedule is not very time consuming, but we motivate each other to work individually as much as we can. To prepare for Collegiate Nationals, I have enlisted the help of our team coach, Brooks Doughtie, to help me focus on what I need to do more of as the race gets closer. With intense brick workouts in what we call “The Pain Cave,” my coach helps me push myself past the limit, which is where a lot of my motivation comes from. We work on distance and speed at different practices, and our club team does an excellent job at finding the right workout for everybody.
It has only been a year and a half since my very first triathlon, and my abilities have exponentially increased. Whereas most racers that I know have had the advantage of being a swimmer or a track star before college, I was only proficient in the doggie paddle and my run was definitely slow. My first race was a sprint triathlon with an Olympic-distance swim, and by the time I was finished, I kissed the ground and shed a tear because I was so grateful to be alive. Now, I actually know how to swim! Being able to work with my teammates and keep up a good pace is very uplifting, and hearing “Wow, I can’t believe how much you’ve improved” is one of the greatest lines an athlete can hear.
Balancing out school and triathlon has been a challenging task for me, but it is very doable. I am a sophomore in mechanical engineering, and am slowly discovering how incredibly challenging my major is. Fortunately, working out is a stress reliever for me, so as my classes get harder, my workouts become more of an escape. By planning out my workouts at the beginning of the week, along with my class schedule, work schedule and study time, I am able to accomplish more than I ever thought possible.
Traveling to Nationals has proven to be a very strenuous mission. With the costs of bike boxes, traveling fees and airfare, we have had to budget our club and personal funds wisely. Bike transportation has varied for each member of our team. Some people have found expensive flights with cheaper bicycle transportation, while others have found cheap flights with very expensive bicycle fees. There are also a few athletes choosing to rent their bicycles from local shops in Tempe, which is cheaper but not as personal as riding your own bike. I have chosen a cheap flight with a pricey bicycle fee, but I am much more comfortable knowing my bicycle will be traveling with me and arriving safely.
As the Collegiate National Championships quickly get closer and closer, I have found that motivation is key. I am nothing without positive words and people in my life, and having a team like mine has helped me soar. We are in a prime geographical location for triathlon, and I constantly run into triathletes in my daily life that wish me good luck with my future races. As the sport of triathlon is emerging, the mood around the sport is becoming more and more positive in Raleigh, N.C. This self-improvement lifestyle is absolutely wonderful, and I am confident that I will continue to improve up to this race and cross the finish with a big smile on my face.