The other day, a guy at the gym said to me, “Oh, I heard you did a triathlon.” Which I didn’t really know how to respond to. I went with, “Yeah, thanks.”

People say lots of things to me I don’t know how to respond to. Aren’t you a big athlete? Ho, ho, that was a lot of laps in the pool. Look at you go. How many laps did you do? (They’re really in to counting laps at my pool.) Are you doing the Ironman? My brother-in-law did a triathlon one time. What are you training for?

What are you training for?

That’s the question everyone always wants to know. Implied is the obvious: you definitely train too much for it not to be for something.

Since Kona back in October, I took a break. Duh. Some of the break was necessitated by the fact that I couldn’t get off the couch; some of it was necessitated by the need to want to start training again. In January, I ran a trail half-marathon that went well. (4th overall, 1st woman, what.) And a marathon that didn’t go well. (Let’s just not even talk about it.) And now it’s time for this to really get started.

What are you training for?

The season. Racing professionally this year. To not get my ass kicked.

I’m not actually one of those people who loves training for the sake of training. I like some of the things. I like running trails and long bike rides. I’m OK with hard track workouts. Swimming is usually annoying. Left to my own devices, I end up doing whatever randomly pops into my head. That inevitably involves more Crossfit and obstacle courses than would be advisable for a triathlete. (Which is why I do not leave things to my own devices anymore.) I don’t love training just for the sake of training, but I do love racing hard, and you have to train to be ready to race.

Oceanside will be my first race of the year and I’ll be lining up with the big girls and I will almost definitely get my ass somewhat kicked. It happens. I’ve been in my head a lot lately worrying about the ass-kicking to come, but I’ve also been training. And I’m telling myself: this is what you’ve been training for, to know you have put the work in. You owe it to yourself to see where the chips fall now.

A couple weekends ago, I went to Tucson for training camp with some friends. It was hard. Really hard. And fun and not fun and all those things training is. And, after swimming 10,000y, we tried to perfect our jumping out of the pool GoPro shots, with mixed results. And no one asked why we were doing what we do.

Let’s get this season started.

Photo: Lauren Palmer for the win