Senior Raz Perl started triathlons when she was 12 years old. After a short break, she started training for triathlons when she moved to the States from Israel her sophomore year of high school. She is currently training for the Pan American Maccabi Games in Mexico City, Mexico this July 5-15. According to the Maccabi USA website, “Maccabi USA supports Jewish Athletic endeavors enhanced by cultural and educational opportunities at home, in Israel and throughout the Diaspora.”
Riley’s athleticism is no surprise given her grandmother, aunt and older brother have competed in the Maccabi Games. In 1936, Perl’s great grandmother was prevented from competing in the Berlin Olympics as Hitler prevented Jews from competing. According to Perl’s fundraising page, her great grandmother carried the Israeli flag at the Maccabi games. This summer Perl will aim to compete at the Pro level. She hopes one day to compete for Team USA.
How are you training?
I’m training about 12 times a week. I’m waking up at 5 am everyday, and I’m going either to swim or run. Then I go to school. After school, I do a strength workout or bike, and that’s my week. I work out more on the weekends, so I bike on Sundays for about two hours. My weekday workouts are about one hour. This weekend I will run seven miles and bike two hours and bike and swim. Everyday is different. I do each thing three times a week because triathlon is biking, swimming and running.
How do you plan your workouts?
I have a private coach. We have a spreadsheet where she plans my workouts. It’s different every week. For example, this week, I swim before school on Monday. I wake up at 5 and got to the West Suburban YMCA at 6 and then I swim for about an hour before shower and go to school. When I get back from school, I do my homework and at 6 or 7ish I go back to the Y and work on weights.
Do you often feel exhausted?
Yes, but I keep going because I love it. One day when I didn’t wake up because I was too tired. So instead of running before school I ran after school. I was not feeling it in school. I felt so off. When I’m working out I feel good about myself, productive. My workouts are good for me.
How has training for triathlons shaped you as a person?
Triathlons are so much more than just a sport. It’s all about mindset. You work out a lot and you have to set your mind to it. Just do it without asking questions. You have to fully trust your coach. That benefits your life because if someone tells you to do work or homework or you need to do this and this and this in order to be a professor in college or be something. And you just do what you’re supposed to do. That’s just part of the routine for you to get to where you want to be. If you run a race for example, you just do everything you can to get ready for that race. That’s the same idea with life.
Will you run a triathlon before the competition?
My race is going to be a .9 mile swim, a 25 mile bike, and a 6.2 mile run. That’s an Olympic distance triathlon. When you’re preparing for a race, you train: you swim, you train, you run, and you do all the exercises. When the season starts, you have competitions. So you go from a 5k race to a 10k race to a shorter triathlon to a longer triathlon.
You never stop moving. There are certain things you have to practice. I leave my shoes on my bike for example. So when I start pedaling I slip my feet into the shoe.
How long does a race take?
I’ve never done an Olympic triathlon, but I’ve done sprints which is a .5 mile swim, a 12.4 mile bike, and a 3.2 mile run. The fastest time I did was 1 hour and fifteen minutes. My goal for the race in July is close to two hours. Before the competition, I will have a 5k and 10k race, and possibly two sprints and two olympics.
How did your great grandmother and mother encourage you to start triathlons?
My mom runs triathlons. She has also lost a lot of weight from training for triathlons, and she looks really good. I think the whole idea of getting the benefits from triathlons to making a lot of friends.
What do you like about training with adults?
I train with older people. My coach is almost 50, and I’m training with my mom because she’s very good. I’m basically training with all adults. I like being surrounded by adults.
I like that they have life experience. They know why they want to do stuff. They have reasons why they want to run triathlons. When a person wants to do a triathlon, he says that he wants to do it and he does everything it takes to do it all the way through because you know you have to train a lot to finish one. A lot of people I know don’t really want what they tell themself. They don’t say I’m just going to do it and go all in. I feel like I can relate to the adults.
Who are some people that you look up to?
My mom and my coach. My coach was fourth in the Iron Man Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, so she’s really good. Of course there’s the people I meet. I want to do faster like them. I also look up to Gwen Jorgensen, but she quit. She was really good. She won gold in the Olympics. Sarah True is also very good. There’s also Summer Cook.
What are your goals?
I started when I was 12. I took a break. Then I moved here, and I’m back at it again. I need to build myself up. My goal is to be close to two hours in the Olympic distance. Two hours is my goal because if I break two hours, I can run in the pro race. I want to be pro. If I get the chance, I want to be on Team USA. I would really like to be a pro triathlete and that comes before being an architect.