There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to training for a triathlon. Unlike other sports, there are three different disciplines that demands attention and time in order to be ready to compete on race day. So training requires three times the normal commitment. Including those commitments into the normal life, especially when you are working Mom and Wife, can be difficult.
But what can be difficult, can also be one of the beauties of the sport. You stretch your boundaries further than you ever imagined. So with each new mile gained and each training session completed, at the end of the day you are closer to your goal.
MiTi TITAN Erika Kuhnle did it all. As a full-time working Mom and Wife, she set out to expand her limits. Here is her story.
I am a TITAN, Meet Erika Kuhnle
City: Grand Rapids
Distance: 140.6-Mile Full
How did you first get involved in triathlon?
I was seeking a new challenge and wanted to participate in something that was new and scary. I wanted to stretch my boundaries.
What is your favorite discipline? And strongest?
I enjoy the challenge of swimming because it’s not my strength. It offers a quiet meditative escape. I love to ride my triathlon bike, it’s a free space in my life with cool breezes and solitude. Running is my favorite discipline, I am primarily a trail ultra runner.
What was the first triathlon you ever raced in?
Millennium Triathlon was my first. I had the traditional panic attack in the water. Everyone told me this could happen and it did!
What made you first decide to race the full 140.6-mile distance?
I slowly built triathlon mileage and tried harder versions of what I’ve successfully completed. I never considered Iron distance a possibility until I got close enough to realize I could do anything with training. Opening that door offers you so much opportunity for internal growth that you use in work and home life.
What was your training schedule like for that race?
As a working mom and wife, I plan out my longest training distance for the bike and run disciplines and build towards that to a point three weeks out. With swimming, I train laps three or more times a week with one open water swim on the weekend. I don’t want my training to be another job, I want to train for fun and to be with friends.
How was your race experience? Did you accomplish your goal? Did you enjoy the distance?
My race experience was a dream come true. I had trained so long before the race, with a training half Iron distance race, and implemented that work during the full Iron event like it was built into my brain. I could enjoy the splashing water around me in the swim and tick off buoys. Breathe fresh air and turn my legs on the bike, thank volunteers at each road intersection. Offer smiles and encouragement during the run, and tick off each lap that got me closer to the finish. I enjoyed the distance so much because my friends were there to celebrate the day. They cheered for me as I was overwhelmed with happiness when Larry Crabbe announced I placed first in my age group. I put my hands to my face and couldn’t stop smiling.
What did you like specifically about the MiTi race experience?
It takes place where I grew up. I biked through Cannonsburg where I was a kid, who had no idea of the fierce, unstoppable adult she would grow up to be someday. I made the kid version of me happy.
Would you ever complete that distance again?
Again and again and again.
What advice would you give to someone looking to do the full distance for the first time?
Go for it because you’re worth it! Take risks and try hard things. You’ll only gain in taking chances.
What makes you a TITAN?
My dedication to my active community. I believe our only option is to give and to take. Do the events, but also volunteer. See for yourself what it takes to make these events possible and support your friend’s efforts to create a strong community. We want our community to be a strong group of friends like family and we do that by working together.