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My Motivation

By Hannah Feinberg | April 17, 2015, 12 a.m. (ET)

“Hey, are you from Vermont?” asked a Cal Poly athlete. Proudly, I said, “Yeah!” To which he questioned, “Isn’t it cold and snowy up there? How in the world do you train (for triathlons)?”

cycling cow crossing
Snow or cows. Training in Vermont is never boring.

The answer is yes, it’s VERY cold and VERY snowy, but I’ve become best friends with the pool, the trainer and the treadmill. This was a conversation I had with an athlete from California last year at Collegiate Club Nationals. I don’t know who was more in awe of the other person; him pondering how we manage to train in -20 degree weather and 3 feet of snow or I, jealously envisioning him training outside, never on a trainer.

Anybody who lives in the Northeast will agree with me when I say 2015 has been the longest, coldest and snowiest winter in a very long time. This is great for skiing! It’s not so awesome for triathlon training. I read this quote in January during the midst of my mentally challenging winter training, “Triathlon is a winter sport that is merely played out in the summer.” When I reflected on my training I realized that this quote was spot on. It makes me nauseous to think I rode the trainer from November through April! That’s six months — half of the year — INSIDE! Once the snow melts and I can train and race outside, it makes those awful months completely worth it.

So, how did I stay sane for all of these miserable months? My AMAZING coach, Amy Farrell of High Performance Training, helped keep me on track toward accomplishing my goals. Amy helps hold me accountable for my training, especially during those days where I wanted to smash my bike in half because it was so mentally challenging to ride the trainer. She’s great because she has me doing workouts that I never would have thought I could physically do! It also helped having my best friends as my teammates, especially since they live in my building! Multiple times a week we would get together in somebody’s room, blast the music and/or throw on a movie, and fight through training together. Riding the trainer is SO much easier in the company of friends!

uvm triathlon
Hannah and her UVM teammates who will be competing at Nationals.

Would you mistake five collegiate triathletes/cyclists riding the trainer or rollers in a dorm room as a party? I would definitely say it’s a party! Only it’s not the ‘classic’ college party consisting of loud music and keg stands. Could somebody please tell that to the RAs!? I can’t tell you the number of times we’ve had a trainer party get ‘busted’ by the RAs, only for them to realize we’re a bunch of ‘weirdos’ jamming out in the pain cave wearing really tight, fluorescent spandex and mid calfs. Some people just don’t understand ...

My biggest motivation this winter has been two of my best friends Laurel and Alison Avery, who are living with the disease Friedreich’s ataxia, a very rare, debilitating, life-shortening, neuromuscular disorder. I decided two summers ago after crossing the IRONMAN Lake Placid finish line, that I would dedicate training and racing my next IRONMAN (Lake Placid 2015!!) to raising money and awareness for Friedreich’s ataxia. The days that I really truly don’t want to train or I am training and it hurts so bad I think of all those affected with ANY disease and remind myself how fortunate I am to have a body capable of doing everything I demand of it. I invite you to take a peek at my fundraising page to learn more about the amazing charity I am raising money and awareness for! I also want to challenge you to change the way you think about training. Instead of thinking “I have to go run 10 miles,” think “I am so lucky that I get to go run 10 miles.”

Training for a triathlon, Collegiate Club Nationals in particular, is extremely challenging. Think of all of the countless hours you have spent pushing your body to the max. Those early morning wake-up calls to sneak your workout in before work or school. The hours spent cleaning your bike (or watching your awesome friends clean your bike for you — thanks, Tyler!).The social events turned down because you know sleep is probably more important. The discipline with your time management. All the sacrifices are 110 percent worth it once you cross the finish line; any finish line!

We’re just about a week away from race day, YAY! The training has been done and it’s time to gear up for one of the best triathlon weekends of the season. To all the northerners, I hope you’re getting excited to do our first open water swims of the season in Clemson! To all you warm weather folks, don’t take your awesome weather for granted and please feel free to send some of it to Vermont!

I look forward to seeing you in Clemson!
P.S. It’s snowing as I write this.

Tri Hard and Stay Aero,

Read about the decision that changed Hannah's life in her first post for the USA Triathlon Championships Blog.