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Rachel Eberhard {January 2013}

I’m sitting here on a Monday morning with my muscles feeling sore and stiff as ever. The weekend left my body battered and bruised from snowboarding, only before grinding through a challenging interval workout in the pool the following morning. All the while, I’m having an internal struggle to muster up the motivation to get my 2013 race schedule finalized. A quick glance over my Google calendar makes the thought of tackling several Olympic-distance races sprinkled in with a few half-marathons unbearable, and the twinge in my right shoulder serves as a reminder that I have quite the road ahead of me.

I recall signing up for my first triathlon with NTP last April. I told friends and family that I was going to drop a pretty penny on gear that seemed excessive, pop out of bed at o’dark thirty on weekends, and willingly swim in the Potomac. Yes, that Potomac. Some found it crazy, others inspiring. Regardless, I remember sitting in the welcome session surrounded by fellow newbies thinking, “What the hell do you think you’re doing, Rachel?!” Yet I trusted in the training plan, carved out time to commit, and made a list of reasons why I wanted to do this: for fun, for health, and it's always satisfying to throw up a proverbial middle finger to the naysayers. I got into the best shape of my life, completed Nation’s Triathlon in September, and started to delve deeper into how I could improve. What if I integrated weekly track workouts into my plan? What if my shoulders and lats were stronger for swimming? What if I was 5 pounds lighter? Living a data-driven life was suddenly addicting and my stress tolerance shot through the roof along with my energy. Completing a triathlon was the ultimate paradigm shift for me.

As I emerge from a sloth-like slumber over the past 3 months, I’m 10 pounds heavier and seem to crave one too many handfuls of peanut M&Ms. I’m suddenly back to where I was in April 2012, focusing on the inch-stones instead of the milestones. Fortunately, completing my race with NTP also provided a breeding ground for fellow nutcases, all of whom empathize with the offseason lull and share the same enthusiasm for ramping up again. The social aspect of the training always seems to magically dull the aches and pains. Our weekly gossip involves our reactions to Lance’s interview or our new favorite on-the-bike fuel instead of who was recently voted off The Bachelor. It’s the time when tentative race schedules bounce back and forth through email threads, and there is compulsive checking of the D.C. Tri Club forum instead of TMZ. It’s a yearly cycle of sorts, so I’m back to trusting in my training plan, and scribbling down new reasons for continuing to live a multisport lifestyle.