Meet Lauren. Fresh out of our Beginner Program which trains for a sprint distance triathlon, she decided to instead compete in an Olympic distance race as her first triathlon! We’re excited to have Lauren share her journey with us as she prepares to dominate the inaugural Lake Placid 70.3 on September 10th, which will be her first Half IRONAM distance. Join us here and on social media to follow along as we #trackhertraining!
The question I get all the time when I tell people I’m training for a half IRONMAN is “Wow, how many have you done before?” They are always a little shocked (but very supportive) when I say “This will be my first one.” Even more surprising when I’m talking to fellow athletes is when I say that up until this year’s NYC Triathlon, which was only about a week ago, I’ve never even done a triathlon. Yep, you read that correctly – I signed myself up for a half IRONMAN before I’d even done so much as a sprint triathlon.
So where did this come from and what makes me think I can do this you ask? Well, I’ll spare you the FULL backstory but I will say that it all really started when I volunteered at the Lake Placid full IRONMAN in 2016. I had gone up with one of my coaches and knew two good friends (and awesome athletes) racing. For anyone who wants to be inspired beyond belief at the ability of the human body and determination of the human spirit, go volunteer at an IRONMAN race.
The second I saw the first athletes come by the aid station I was at, I knew I had to be a part of this. The yearning I had always had to do a triathlon was palpable. I knew I needed to sign up for one while I still had this feeling of excitement before it faded. Now, I’m most certainly an optimistic person, but I’m also very realistic – so I knew a full IRONMAN was not quite something I was ready for; but a half IRONMAN seemed challenging enough of a goal. Not completely out of reach but most certainly something that would push me out of comfort zone.
It just so happened that IRONMAN was going to be holding its first ever half IRONMAN in Lake Placid in 2017. Fast forward to about a week or so later and I was officially registered for the Lake Placid half IRONMAN. I, somewhat surprisingly to myself, hit that “submit” button so fast – I immediately thought to myself “What did I just get myself into?” A moment of doubt crept in, but I assured myself that I was a good athlete and with proper training, I would be more than capable of doing this – I mean, it was over a year away.
After that I kind of put it on the back burner and told myself that in January I would start really looking into training plans, getting a bike, training for training…yada, yada, yada. January rolled around and I started the process. I know myself as an athlete well enough to know that yes, while I would diligently follow a training plan on my own, I’m much more motivated in training with a team. Even before I signed up for the race, I had been talking with friend and fellow Empire teammate Howard Voletsky (who also had a big part in convincing me I could do this), so he was the first person I went to, to chat about training. He immediately recommended Empire – so after a few months of research, attending an info session, and a lot of emails with Ali and Claudina, I was officially signed up to be a part of Empire Tri Club!
I came into Empire having completed a few marathons, but had never really been on a bike before and I was a self-proclaimed decent swimmer. Ali recommended I joined the Beginner Program and then from there, since Lake Placid was a race the team was doing as well, I could join the club and continue training with the team. That program is over and I’m now part of the team, but I’m so glad I did the Beginner Program instead of just jumping right into the club. For anyone who even has the slightest inclination of wanting to do a triathlon but isn’t sure if they can – I highly recommend Empire’s Beginner Program. The whole program and training plan was perfect and the coaches are so helpful and so supportive.
I’m now happy to say that so far in my training with Empire I’ve successfully completed my first ever triathlon at the NYC Triathlon on July 16. It’s such a great feeling to know that I have the first one under my belt – and NYC Tri couldn’t have been a better one to do! Since it was local, it was nice to not have the added stress of worrying about travel/hotel logistics. Because this was my first triathlon ever I was a little nervous that I was jumping right into an Olympic distance and not doing a Sprint distance first, so I went into it with absolutely no expectations whatsoever. Literally my only goal was to cross the finish line, have fun, and feel strong the whole way – and that I did. It was absolutely a great learning experience, there were some things that went even better than I expected and there were also most certainly some things that need some fine tuning and attention to over the next few weeks.
So, here we are – Lake Placid half IRONMAN is about 7 weeks away and I cannot believe how fast this training is going by. I’ve been having the absolute best time in the process. I’m one of those people who loves having a race to build towards, but in all honesty, I actually love the training process way more than racing. To me race day is one day in a training program – a day that could go perfectly as planned or a day that could go all wrong – but it does not define who you are as an athlete. We all have good days and we all have bad days and race day is just another day where it’s luck of the draw.
I’m so excited to take you on my journey for the next few weeks as I keep building towards what I know is going to be a life changing day on September 10, 2017. I’m a total nerd and love talking about training and hearing about other people’s experiences in training so feel free to reach out to me with questions, comments, concerns, anything really – let’s make this an open conversation!