In early-2009, some friends of mine decided to do a triathlon and persuaded me to do it with them. I had never done anything like that in my life. In fact, I hadn’t swum freestyle since I was a child. Although I was far from a triathlete, I was in moderately good shape and active, so I said, “why not?!” I only had about two months to train using an old mountain bike, swimming at the gym and running on a treadmill or at the park. And, guess what – I did it! I finished the Lone Star Quarter Iron Triathlon (965 meters swim, 28 miles bike, 6.2 miles run) in Galveston, Texas in April 2009. It was one of the biggest accomplishments and proudest moments of my life!
Adecco Win4Youth Ambassador Experience
Now, fast forward to 2018. I am nine years older, a few pounds heavier, less active, have a six-year old child, live in burbs and commute almost two hours daily. A lot has changed since 2009. Nonetheless, I’ve decided to go for it again – this time as an Adecco Win4Youth Ambassador!
When I joined Special Counsel, an Adecco company, almost five years ago, I learned about being an Adecco Win4Youth Ambassador (W4Y): a wonderful company program that encourages activity and a healthy life style for all its employees and associates around the globe. This includes sending a group of 70 W4Y Ambassadors to complete an annual Olympic-distance triathlon (swim 1 mile/1609.344 meters, bike 27 miles, run 6.2 miles/10K), which will be held in Lanzarote, Spain in October 2018.
Being an Adecco Win4Youth Ambassador never seemed realistic for me … until now. Seeing many of my colleagues participate in this amazing program and triathlon over the past several years truly inspired and motivated me to apply. So, I applied! And, low and behold, I was selected in April 2018. To say I was excited and honored is an understatement. But, I knew I had a lot of work ahead of me in the coming months. I was ready for the challenge!
Triathlon Boot Camp in Belgium
The first step was to attend a 5-day triathlon boot camp with the other W4Y Ambassadors in Ghent, Belgium in May. In anticipation of the boot camp, I tried to get back into moderate shape by running and doing some HIIT training 4-5 times a week. I even swam (not very far) at the local indoor pool a few times. I didn’t want to be too far behind the eight ball when I got to Ghent. Especially since I am approximately 10-15 years older than the average W4Y Ambassador!
The boot camp was one of the best experiences of my life! It was amazing. In addition to meeting and bonding with my wonderful North American colleagues (there were seven of us from the U.S. and Canada), I met so many incredible W4Y Ambassadors from around the globe. This included colleagues from India, Greece, China, Bulgaria, Japan, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, Austria, Poland and more! They came in all shapes, sizes, ages and physical fitness levels.
We were all assigned to and met our triathlon coaches in Ghent and spent the next several days learning a lot about how to prepare ourselves for the ultimate event in October. We swam, cycled and ran … a lot! We even rode bicycles with no brakes (yes, no brakes!) on an indoor Velodrome – it looked like a larger and steeper version of a roller derby track. But, instead of roller skates, we were on bicycles with no brakes!
We also learned a lot about nutrition, appropriate training, techniques, equipment and more. It was incredible! And, it was much more sophisticated than the training for my first triathlon in 2009. We had a huge party on our last night in Ghent to celebrate our accomplishments and what the next five months would hold for us. Alas, we said our goodbyes and headed back to our respective homes to implement our personalized training programs.
Continuous Win4Youth Training
Coming home was bitter sweet, but I was excited to start putting the training plan into action. For the past 3 months, I have been following a prescribed training program that requires activity 5-6 days a week. I got a proper road bike (not a mountain bike!) and started riding with a cycling club near my home. Although it’s not required for training, I enjoy going on long rides ranging from 30-50 miles on weekend mornings with local cycling clubs – I certainly wasn’t doing this before I was selected as a W4Y Ambassador. I’ve also gone to Austin and San Antonio a couple of times to change terrain and do some hill training (since half of the cycling portion of the triathlon in Lanzarote will be going up a mountain! The other half will be coming back down, presumably at a scary, high rate of speed …). I also run and swim several times a week.
The key challenge for me has been finding the time to train. Between work, travel, commuting, marriage and a 6-year old son, it gets tricky! But, thankfully, I have a supportive spouse (he’s doing the triathlon in Lanzarote with me!) who helps me tremendously. And, when traveling for work, I’m generally able to find a hotel with an indoor climate-controlled pool. Finding a nearby spin class and/or treadmill at the hotel has also been a great option.
Three months into training, I have seen huge progress in my physical fitness level. I am cycling faster and longer distances. I am running faster too – I went from running 12-minute miles to now running 10-minute miles – and I still want to get faster! And, I can now swim 1600 meters in the pool without resting. When I started, I couldn’t swim 25 meters without getting winded! It is so motivating and encouraging to see my progress. I feel great, and it’s been such a fun and incredible experience to have my spouse get involved and share this experience with me. In fact, as part of our training (and a little for fun), my spouse and I are participating in two Sprint-distance triathlons (.5 mile swim, 12 mile bike, 3 mile run) before the big event in Lanzarote in October – one at the end of August and another at the end of September. This training and commitment to be an Adecco Win4Youth Ambassador have transformed our lifestyle, and we really love it.
For me, the key to managing my time and overcoming my physical limitations has been setting my mind to “just do it” – like the Nike slogan! And, as one of my colleagues said during boot camp, “if you think you can do it, you can do it!” That has become my mantra!
Want to learn more about Win4Youth?
Click here to see how you can get more involved, or see recaps from previous years!
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