Michelle Mehnert's triathlon diary, entry #2

Michelle Mehnert is a triathlete and University of Illinois swimmer who is currently training for the Short Course Triathlon World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, in September. She is writing a series of guest blogs for The Starting Line, talking about her experiences as a triathlete and her training for the world championships. This is her second guest blog.

Hi All! I don’t know about you guys, but I really hope it cools off soon! I’ve been battling the heat these past few weeks while trying to get the last weeks of training in.

My life is a little crazy right now, like most kids my age, I’m getting ready to head back to school and working a summer job (two actually). Besides those common points however, I also fill my days with training. In my typical week this summer, I’ve done four swimming workouts, two weight workouts, four bike workouts, and three running workouts. For me, this adds up to be about 75 miles of biking, 20 miles of running, and 13 miles of swimming a week.

Numbers aside, triathlon training is all about preparing your body to adapt to three very different disciplines and do it quickly. I want to be in the best possible shape for each event; making my weakness (biking) stronger, and my strengths (swimming & running) even better.

For those who don’t know, a triathlon consists of a swim, a bike, and a run…in that order, with no breaks in between. They come in a variety of distances: Sprint (.75K[swim]-20K[bike]-5K[run]), Olympic (1.5K-40K-10K), Half Ironman (1.2mi-56mi-13.1mi), and Full Ironman (2.4mi-112mi-26.2mi) are the most popular. I race the shortest two distances, the Sprint and the Olympic.

Since I will be competing in the Olympic distance race in Budapest, I’ve concentrated my training for that distance. This involves pace work, speed work, nutritional balance (the race is 2+ hours long), and racing at that distance.

At the beginning of the summer, I concentrated on getting back into the flow of racing and pushing myself, to better know how I should be training. I used the results from those early races to guide me in where I needed to improve training-wise. Now in August, I’m doing races to fine-tune my training and give me confidence before the big race. I did the Naperville, Ill. Triathlon (a Sprint) last weekend, and am registered for the Ludington, Mich. Triathlon on Aug. 22 (an Olympic).

Last weekend in Naperville, I was able to improve my time by about 5 minutes from last year, and was the third female finisher out of nearly 1,600 people.  It’s fun for me to do the sprint distances, because I get to really push to the faster paces. For example, I’ve been going 7 minute/mile pace for my 10K runs; could I go under 6:30/mile pace in my 5k run? Yes!

It’s great experience for me to race with different people, especially the fast bikers, to help me strive for those faster times. I also got to meet up with a couple of my buddies from the Fighting Illini Tri Club, always fun!

I’ll leave you now with some scenes from my race this past weekend in Naperville! I should be back soon with another update. Exciting things from Team USA seem to be rolling in every day!

Happy Training!

Michelle

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