"The Training Diaries" is a monthly series of posts by Lindsey Jerdonek, a DC Tri Club member, and third-year professional triathlete. In January 2012 Lindsey quit her day job and made the move to racing as a full-time pro triathlete. You can follow Lindsey's Blog where she documents this new endeavor.
I’ve been given the opportunity to carry the torch of the Training Diaries column that Zach Britton authored last year. My monthly column has yet to be named, but given my childhood history with diary entries, and the tendency to write in size 20 font, “My dad is making me write in this. Today I ate x, y and z,” perhaps, some creatives in the club can suggest an inspiring title?
Now to the crux of what I am writing, which is how and why I decided to quit my full time job and leave my Cleveland Park apartment to become an itinerant (and I hope, not impoverished) professional triathlete. The 2012 season will be my third year racing as a pro in the sport, although I have always balanced triathlon with my real job, like most people.
In 2011, I made significant gains on the bike and run under the guidance of another local pro, Margie Shapiro, and it changed my racing experience entirely. When I first made the transition from age group to pro, in races I would be passed from the moment I got out of the water until I hit the finish line—believe it or not, former swimmers have it hard, too. Last year, though, with a higher level of fitness and a strong mental approach to racing, I found myself contending for podium spots; I was making cash-money, to boot.
After the first half of my 2011 season, I reflected on the results: 1st at Columbia, 4th at Escape from Alcatraz and Life Time Fitness Minneapolis, and a 5th in Philly. It was finally clear to me that my aptitude for the sport was real. I was told in the past that I should train for triathlon full-time, but the advice did not sit well with me, and I was reluctant to make a move. However, when I saw for myself what I could do, my belief and conviction in taking triathlon to another level became a natural next step.
I decided then that I would leave my full time job at the end of the season to give triathlon the attention and focus necessary to perform on a higher level. I prioritized draft-legal racing for the remainder of 2011 and met the criteria for Project 2016, one of USA Triathlon’s Olympic development teams, which provides support to athletes. Hooray!
I have a strong belief that what I am doing is a sensible move. Everyone in my life has supported the decision, even if it caught some of my former colleagues by surprise. They thought I was taking a sabbatical or some twisted vacation, but you can actually make a living at this!
January 27th was my last day at work, then two days later I packed a rental truck with my father and uncle, and deposited my worldly possessions into the cheapest storage unit I could find—my father’s basement in Cleveland, OH. Shortly thereafter, I drove to Florida, which is my home base through March. I’m less than two weeks into being a ‘professional triathlete’ and thus far, the biggest change has been the glorious amounts of sleep I enjoy. I will keep you posted as I figure out this new endeavor.