All Woman

Mother-daughter triathlon face-off

By NADINE WILSON All Woman writer wilsonn@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, October 29, 2012    

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SHE describes herself as the turtle that simply trudges along, but this has not stopped fitness trainer Rachel Hernould from competing and winning in the women's category for several of the local and international triathlons she has competed in over the years.

The mother is set to compete in yet another triathlon this November, but this one will be even more meaningful as she gets to face off with her only daughter for the first time ever. It's a competition both are looking forward to, with one citing youth on her side and the other, experience.

Hernould first started competing in triathlons over 10 years ago when her friend reached out to her for help training. Although her friend eventually stopped competing, the mother of two does not have any immediate plans to do likewise.

"She wanted to get fit again and she needed a goal and she asked if I wanted to join her in training and I was already at a fairly decent fitness level and it sounded like something exciting to do," Hernould explained.

The personal trainer has entered several competitions in Jamaica, two in the Cayman Islands, another two in Tobago and one in Vietnam where she was living for two years with her husband who was a pilot in that country until he relocated to Saudi Arabia.

While running, swimming and walking long distances in a tropical country is torturous, Hernould prefers this to competing in the cold.

"One of my rules of thumb is that if you have to wear a wet suit, the water is cold and so I am not interested, so I haven't strayed to anywhere that is cold," she said.

Regardless of the country, however, she finds that a common thread running through most of the competitions she has entered, is the fact that there are relatively fewer women competing. This she feels — and not necessarily her athletic ability — is the real reason she has often been among the top performers in the women's category.

Although she competed a lot during the earlier years, the 48-year-old fitness instructor said she has since cut back drastically, and only competes once per year to remind herself that she is still young at heart. In the case of Jamaica, the standard for a triathlon is a half-mile swim, then a 13-mile bicycle ride, followed by a three-mile run. The training for such events are just as taxing, with the running aspect always proving to be the most challenging for her.

"The training requires a lot of your time, because you are training for three sports at once," she said.

Hernould's 22-year-old daughter Bianca has never competed in a triathlon before, but she is a great runner and plans to use this to her advantage when she makes her debut next month. She competed in athletics while attending university in Atlanta and has also participated in cross country events and at least one half marathon, which has further strengthened her endurance.

Her strategy for this upcoming event scheduled for Montego Bay, St James, she said, will be "to get lots of sleep and stretches".

Both try to get as much training done in the early mornings before Hernould has to turn to training her clients. Thanks to the flexibility of her job, the personal trainer gets to reserve some time during her days and on the weekend to take part in those activities she loves. One such is cycling, which she has been doing for over 14 years.

Initially, Hernould started cycling with a small group of men on Jamaica's busy streets, but after an accident one day which saw three of her friends being hit by a driver who fell asleep around the wheel, she joined the Cutters Cycling Club, so she could have a much larger group to ride with.

"We have been all over Jamaica on those bicycles. We have seen some hills and gullies that I think a lot of Jamaicans haven't seen," she said.

Hernould takes a lot of pleasure in contributing to the improvement of the overall health and fitness levels of her clients. It's a job she has been doing for over 17 years, and still loves doing today.

Being a fitness instructor is not as lucrative as her previous job as the owner of a small bakery which she sold when she became a certified fitness instructor, however, it is much more rewarding. Having been in the fitness industry for so long, she feels that the country is gradually becoming more health conscious.

"I think Jamaicans have become more aware of health and fitness and how important it is," she said.

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