What are you doing at 5:45 in the morning on an average day? Most people would answer that question with the obvious, “I’m still sleeping” response, but if you were to talk to junior Rachel Freeman, she would give a different answer.
At 5:45 a.m. most mornings, Freeman is out running. She doesn’t just do it for fun, although she does enjoy it. Rather, she’s in training. In May, the CapTex Olympic Triathlon will take place, and Freeman plans to be among those who are competing.
An Olympic Triathlon is a hardcore event. Longer distances than the normal sprint triathlon, the Olympic triathlon’s events include a 1.5k swim, a 40k bike ride and a 10k run.
“When I started training for this thing, I could only run half a mile. No joke, I was pretty terrible,” said Freeman.
She began her training this past September, based on her decision to participate in the triathlon after returning from her study abroad to Argentina this summer. Because she’s never participated in a triathlon before, the training is a whole new experience.
“I wanted to devote myself to a project that would last all year long. That’s why I decided to train for the Olympic distance and not just the sprint,” Freeman added.
And train she does. She usually trains on her own, but starting this semester, Freeman has found enjoyment in joining the local RunTex running group, a pretty intimidating bunch. A few are seasoned marathon runners, one woman is training for an Ironman in Idaho, and another man is a former five-time member of the Olympic team (who happens to be a coach here at SU). Freeman likes to run with them from time to time because they have the same level of commitment to training as she does, although she also enjoys just going out running with friends.
Because she trains for three events, Freeman finds herself splitting her time during workouts.
“I spent the first semester just working on endurance, making sure I could complete the required distance for each sport. Now I’m
working on building up my speed and putting the events together,” she said.
In order to do this, Freeman trains five to six days a week, alternating between swimming, biking, running and putting them all together. She’s been doing an increasing amount of bridge training where she’ll train for two events back to back, such as by doing a swimming workout and then jumping out and immediately going for a four mile run.
“It’s all about finding a balance between all three events,” she commented.
With training being such a full-time job, it’s a wonder that Freeman has time for the other demands placed upon her from attending a school like Southwestern. When asked about this, Freeman admitted it is indeed difficult to juggle everything.
“If I’m going to be completely honest here, there have been quite a few times when I’ve been seriously close to quitting this whole thing. You don’t just decide to train for a triathlon and then be done with it. I mean you actually have to do it. And that is the hardest and best part.”
Between training, an 18-hour course load, two jobs and a multitude of extracurriculars, it’s a wonder that Freeman still even has time to sleep.
“I told myself I couldn’t do this, just so I could prove myself wrong. I’ve had to give up a lot of the socializing I did in the past for something that I knew would require a lot of discipline on my part,” she said.
Despite the hardship, there have been some definite positives to her months long dedication to training.
“It’s been one of the best experiences of my life. I’ve met tons of amazing new people, become closer with friends I already had and have just grown so much in general. Not to mention I’ve really come to love the event of the triathlon. Not going to lie, you kind of get obsessed with it over time.”
Obsessed she may be, but the sense of accomplishment that Freeman will get from completing this triathlon will be amazing and worth the wait.