Du-du-duuu-dudududu...the 5am alarm is back in action! My three week off-season was great and included lots of wine and chocolate, but I'm so ready to be back training. I hate not having direction. Plus, the restriction of only one activity per day results in me sleeping in (until 6:30am) and falling off of stairs in the mountain bike park (whoops!).
Training for 2017 began yesterday morning. The focus for the next month is on improving my swim, which is admittedly awful, relatively at least. The alarm went off Monday morning as I quickly hopped out of bed and into the pool. With my one activity per day off-season restriction, naturally I chose to do every group ride possible, ride the mountain bike trails on a CX bike, and sprint a short run to see how fast I could still go.
Soooo......swimming. After three weeks of not swimming I jumped into the pool Monday for a 6km set. After 100 meters my arms were about to fall off. And I still had 5,900 meters to go. But, I made it through the set and felt much better as it went on.
This morning I was excited to get back in the pool. I expected that my arms would feel even better than yesterday morning now that they had 6km in them. I woke up early, started my run workout at 5:22am, was back home at exactly 6:33am, then efficiently changed and speedwalked from my car to the pool by 6:44am. I was in the pool by 6:52am with the hopes of being back home by 9:00am.
In terms of efficiency, I nailed it this morning. I was back home AND showered by 9:00am. In terms of swimming workouts, I was the nail this morning. I made it through 4km of what I'm sure looked like flailing and slapping the water. My scheduling efficiency was great for making it to work but not so great for the workouts today. Perhaps I should consider apportioning some time to eating in between workouts...
My arms hurt, yet I can't wait to get back in the pool again tomorrow. It will pay off, I'm sure of it. Even though the training feels hard, I focus on making it through each day and giving it my best effort in every training session. This is just the beginning!
Friday morning I rolled into the airport bright eyed and bushy tailed excited for my first trip to South America. I felt prepared, confident, and ready to take on the world in my first race as a professional!!! I arrived, practiced my spanish with cab drivers, strolled along the beach and dreamed of the race only a day away.
...Then I walked into my first pro race briefing.
I felt like it was my first day of high school all over again. People knew each other and I knew no one, well, except from reading their blogs, following them in Instagram, etc. I tried to act cool, as I practially ran to a chair in the back of the room hoping someone would want to sit next to me.
Suddenly it was real. Only 8 more hours until I would toe the starting line with these ladies who I have followed for so long and looked up to for years, and they all had their game faces on. The confidence and preparadness I had felt in the airport? Gone. I was scared. They all looked so fast and fit and now I was supposed to race them?!
When I got back to my hotel after the meeting I called my mom and nearly cried on the phone. I messaged Siri about how good all of the girls were and how nervous I was. Both of them told me that I needed to focus on my own race and do the best that I could on that day.
Then, 4am on Sunday: "Boom, boom, boom," the bass of my first of four race day alarms went off...not that I had been sleeping anyways. I scrambled out of bed, downed two cups of coffee and headed to the race.
Body marked. Transition assembled. Walked to the dock for the swim start. Sit on the dock. Delay. Trying to relax looking at the media, competitors, and spectators lining a massive ship.
The Colombian Armada has a beautiful vessel that travels the world and for the IM 70.3 Cartagena, they arranged its schedule so that it would be in the port for our swim. It was incredible and they even shot of the cannons for the men's and women's starts. The cannons were so loud that they had to arrange the ship in a way that it would not blow out the windows of the convention center!
One of my biggest fears was getting dropped in the swim and coming out minutes behind everyone alone. And guess what? I got dropped in the swim after about 300 meters, came out minutes behind everyone alone, and it was incredibly embarrasing (I know what I will be doing A LOT of in the off season!!).
Onto the bike and with no one in sight until 35km. It was kind of strange. I was riding alone in a foreign country through small villages and through gorgeous landscapes. It was hard not to get lost in my mind without someone to focus on in front or behind me. I just kept telling myself to give my best effort each pedal stroke.
Then finally I could see life ahead! One tiny speck of a rider in the distance. A rabbit to chase! Slowly I could see a small group of riders appearing closer and closer. "I'm back in the race" I thought to myself. Maybe I can get a top-10 finish, how cool would that be?!
Despite what appeared to be a flat course profile, the last 10km to the turn around and the first 10km after the turn around were rolling. Well, at least according to Miami standards. I was coming up on the group and because I was so afraid of any kind of drafting penalties, essentially sprinted up the hills to pass. We u-turned, had a nice little downhill, some rollers, and then were heading back into town and onto the run.
The run course was incredible. It wove through the streets of the walled city. Up and down narrow, cobbled roads lined with thousands of spectators and volunteers. It was also HOT. As in, "feels like" 101F with 86% humidity hot, and that was the weather measured at the airport...where there is actually airflow. It felt even hotter than that in the old city where breezes are shut out at its walls. I was so thankful for the aid stations every kilometer!
While the run course was incredible, my run was not. I was having some breathing problems and it felt like I was trying to suck air in from a straw. After the first loop of the run I realized I was actually in 6th place! I did my best to keep plodding and shuffling along and luckily was able to hold onto that podium spot until the finish line.
While my race might not have been the best, I gave the best that I had on the day and I was ecstatic that it was enough for 6th place and the podium in my first professional race. It was a beautiful race course and the amount of support by the police, armada, and volunteers made the day truly special! Also, it turns out the other women I competed against are incredibly nice and welcoming!
Thank you to A4C Bike shop for making sure I was fully equipped to race, Aminorip for providing recovery products that allow me to train day in and day out. Thank you Siri for preparing me for my first pro race in only three months of training; Nicholas for helping me actually get to and from the race so I didn't have to think about it; Gunter for telling me it will all be okay or to toughen up when I need it and for being the best training partner. Finally, thank you to all of my friends and family for the motivation, encouragement, and support.
Now it's time to take a break, drink beer, and refocus for next year!
This post has been a long time coming, actually it feels like that's how most of my posts end up. But, alas, thanks to the Scicon case I have so much extra time after packing my bike for Cartagena 70.3 this weekend that I am finally sitting down to write.
I'm a triathlete again! I know how it sounds,
"Wait, so you were a runner, then triathlete, then cyclist, and now triathlete again?"
It sounds like I am indecisive (not completely untrue) and all over the place but I promise you, it was all a necessary part of my journey back to the world of swimming, biking, and running.
I was burnt out after running in college. I loved my team, the program, the coaches, but my personal struggle with trying to be the best dug me into a hole that it became difficult to climb out of. There were days I would eat no more than a few carrots, or nothing at all, and my mind felt like I was in a trance. My body just a vehicle to move around campus, my mind foggy, my eyes filled with stars. But, I was on the cross country team! I was running so well and it was clearly because I was not eating and running 95-100 miles per week (kidding). Oh, my training plan said that I was supposed to be at 98 miles this week and I was only at 97.45 after Sunday's long run, well of course I needed to run the extra .55 miles around the parking lot!
This worked for one season then the string of injuries began - stress fracture, near tears of both of my Achilles tendons. It was exhausing, one thing would heal and the next injury would come. To make a long story short, I felt that running wasn't for me anymore. So I decided to train for an Ironman (maybe I didn't realize at the time that this still included running). But who was I without running?
In 2012 I signed up for my first half ironman and the rest is history...until 2013 when I realized I still hated running. Instead I decided to ride my bike. All the time. As many miles as I could per day. Oh, you did 95 miles today? I did 106...for the past three days. This didn't make me a good cyclist but it gave me some sense of purpose each day.
In 2015 I raced in Italy on a professional cycling team. It was...interesting. I always tell people that while I don't regret it at all, I wouldn't do it again. In 2016 Jono Coulter and Lindsay Bayer took a chance on me to race on their new Hagens-Berman Supermint Pro Cycling Team. I will forever be greatful to both of them for that opportunity when at the time my future was so uncertain. The people and the team were a MASSIVE change from 2015 and continually exceeded my expectations (you mean we actually get to drink beer and eat ice cream after a race?!).
In the offseason I decided to dabble in triathlons. I started to "train" which mostly included running a little, swimming an hour three times a week, and sprinting through a long run on Sunday. It was refreshing and fun and I was SO happy again! So happy to feel the high of a great run, or the water rushing around me diving into the pool. I knew it was time to go back to triathlons. I always knew I would but I just wasn't sure when it would happen.
I sent a desparate email to Siri Lindley and essentially spewed my story while asking, begging really, for her to consider coaching me. Thankfully she agreed. The first week we started working together I eagerly checked my training schedule and quickly realized I had not really been training. Six weeks later (including two weeks of nothing due to illness) I raced Miami 70.3 and qualified for my elite license.
This brings us to December 1st, 2016. I have my elite license and passport in hand ready to head off to Cartagena, Colombia for my first professional triathlon race on Sunday. While I always tell people, "oh, I have no expectations for myself, I mean its my first pro race, I'm just going to go and enjoy the experience," that is totally false and I do have expectations for myself. Big expectations and big goals. I know these things take time and most of the time I am impatient. I have no expectations for myself but this weekend and every race I know that I will push my body to the limit, harder than ever before. Regardless of the outcome, this is what I love about triathlons. There is no other sport where I have ever felt I could push myself so hard, past any limits I had, a true test of the mind and body over 70.3 miles.
So with that, I'm back and all in!
Professional cyclist turned professional triathlete living in Boulder, CO.