Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Art of Being/ Patagonia Triathlon by Brittany Warly

 I am not really someone who has ever been good at poetry, however, this is something I came up with last night, the night before my last race of the 2013 season, Finis Patagonia Triathlon. My best friend, Ashley lent me the book The Alchemist and she really gave it to me at the perfect time. This book has heavily influenced my perspective of things. I have written about my weekend experience after the poem. 

 The Art of Being by Brittany Warly

The Universe is truly amazing
One can choose to believe in it and listen to it
But you can only hear it if you truly open your mind and heart
It will speak I promise

We are all part of the Universe
Small specks of atoms and stardust in the vastness of space
This is our being
We are therefore interconnected with the stars in the skies above, infinitely expanding

It is essential to realize this, for life becomes real
Life becomes magical
One will start to understand the language of the Universe
This revelation will be overwhelming
But embrace it; this power cannot be matched
This power is positive
Do not be scared

Everything that happens to us is happening because the hand of the Universe puts us into these experiences so we can learn something about ourselves we may not learn otherwise
Let that hand guide you and carry you like the fallen leaves in a smooth river
They don’t fight the current, they simply drift with it

Trust in your heart, for the Universe is working very closely with it to keep you on your destined pathway
Your heart will hurt sometimes but it will mend over time
In this, there is no need to fear
For what we are now is a reflection of the past and the present coming together in a different dimension
What we are now is the person experiencing the lessons we must learn

Every action, whether major or minuscule has an impact on the vibrations of the Universe and our personal pathway
Therefore help to better the Universe, work with it, allow the vibrations within to guide you
They will point you in the right direction

You will be discouraged, you will lose hope, you will feel as if everything is lost
This is only a mountain blocking your pathway
You will climb this mountain, you will persevere, and you will find a light on the other side of the mountain
But don’t be afraid to climb that mountain for fear of failure; instead, dream of reaching the other side of the mountain…what will it look like?
Without the struggle, how can personal enlightenment be attained?
There cannot be good without bad

This is the balance of the Universe
You will occasionally fall off track, but no need to worry
Unexpected coincidences will lead you back to your path
Trust in these coincidences and recognize them as the Universe speaks in many different ways
Everything will regress to the mean

This is the balance of the Universe
It is working with you if you simply listen and follow
Breathe, and allow it to guide you on your personal journey
It will reach it’s hand out to you
And you will confidently take it

     Events leading up to this race were far from smooth. I was hit with many obstacles preventing me from racing well or racing at all. I have been very busy with school and due to some minor tendonitis in my foot, I have barely ran for a few weeks and my biking has not been consistent; therefore, I had no reason to be confident going into this race. 
     Wednesday night, I was in the process of packing my bike and it turned out my pedals were completely stuck in the cranks because there was no grease on them. This has only happened one time before (due to me twisting the allen key in the wrong direction), but this time it was bizarre. My dad and I spent all night trying to remove the pedal. When I look back at how frustrated I was this humors me; my dad tried every method from hammering to getting a larger tool for more leverage...still no success. My patience was definitely being tested. We ended up having to change our 8am flight to a 12:30pm flight so we could go to the bike shop in the morning to remove the freaking pedals! So embarrassing! Was this good luck or bad luck? Perhaps either...nobody knows.
      We arrived in Patagonia and this city was very different from other cities I have been to; population was only 905 people, 4 restaurants total. After reading The Alchemist  I found it to be too strange that this race took place in the desert. Patagonia Lake was sort of like an oasis in the desert. It didn't really fit into the environment, and this is what made it so magical to me. I started connecting the dots; I was meant to go to that race. I truly had an amazing time with my mom at this race. We don't get to spend a lot of time together but I love you so much and we have so much fun together! Thank you for being my number one supporter!
      My mom and I ended up going to this restaurant called Velvet Elvis, owned by an amazing women whom I met, Cicilia San Miguel. She had this ora to her that was comforting yet confusing. I knew she was a spiritual women, and she and I really connected. She explained to me the beauty of the mountains and how incredible Patagonia was because the red mountains are full of crystals. Her friend, Dorothy who reads Taro cards happened to be visiting that day, and I asked if I could have a reading because I have never had one before (even though my mom reads Taro cards; she understandably refuses to do it for family). I never really believed in this type of spiritualism, however, Dorothy was a stranger I had just met and I knew I was meant to meet her for she already knew a lot about me. My session with her sort of gave me some reassurance that I am on the right path. If I hadn't gone to this race I would have never met these incredible people. After my experience with Cecilia and Dorothy, it was like this weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I realized I was meant to be at that restaurant at 1 pm on Friday.
     Race day I woke up tired and didn't feel too great, especially during the run warm up. Everything has felt a bit off recently, but I tried to stay positive. I have noticed that when I have a bad warm up, I actually tend to have a better race. It's like I release all that negative energy. I asked for a blessing before this race; I asked to be protected and to find some meaning in this race, something that could help me grow as a person.
Happy CU Tri family! You guys are like the
big brothers I never had!
      The race started and my mindset shifted. I suddenly felt calm for the first time in months. I felt like the water was pulling me and I was a part of it; I was swimming in the oasis. My transitions went smoothly and on the bike I focused on safety, for this course was dangerous, hilly, and technical. I maintained efficiency while staying safe, and instead of fighting the wind as I did in the past, I allowed it to carry me as the water did; it felt effortless. I put my socks on for the run because I am sick of getting blisters, and off I went. My legs were tired and I had little confidence in my run fitness. The run was difficult because my legs felt weak and it was hilly, but again I shifted my focus away from the pain. I trusted my abilities. I tried to high five every girl I could, to motivate them because I knew they were hurting too, and I think we helped each other; it sort of distracted me from the pain I was in. I respect anyone who finished this race.
      It was fulfilling to finish my last race with the win, but that was not the triumph of this weekend. My triumph was a personal triumph; I have found some additional meaning in my life and my purposes and I feel blessed to have received this from an outside energy source. You could call this a personal revelation. I tend to get these at times when I need them.
       I have so many people to thank for helping me get through my first season in triathlon. 
Pedals successfully removed, bike packed!
I know I am constantly thanking people in my life, but I feel you can never say thank you enough to those that have really helped you and continue to help you and that is just the way I am. It is important to appreciate those that help you and influence you. Ken Axford, thank you for always supporting me and pushing me at times when I maybe wanted to give in or not go as hard when I doubted my abilities; you have given me my foundation and I can only build from here. Your belief and unconditional support in me means everything; thank you for putting up with my drama-queen moments and showing me tough love at times when I needed to "sack up" :) Will Murray, thank you for giving me so much valuable guidance and for helping me stay balanced and level-headed in the craziness of my life. You have not only been a good mentor, always giving me advice, but you are a great friend and an influential person in my life. Mike Ricci, thank you for helping me transition back into school this year and for giving me the confidence to race well at times when I haven't felt confident or have felt scared, and pushing me in practices this fall when I have maybe lacked motivation or have been very tired. I would have not performed as well without your support. Thank you for being that person who is excited to talk about life and the meaning of life with me; it is fun to share our perspectives with one another. There are so many other people to thank, including my friends and family who have supported me during times when I was definitely difficult. Your love and compassion is incredibly comforting and not forgotten. Kim Baugh, thank you for being such a positive person, amazing friend, and support in my life. I consider you to be one of my best friends. Your advice is always so appreciated and I truly value our friendship; thank you for mentoring me through these past few months and showing me the ropes. I have learned and will continue to learn so much from you and all your experiences. Tracy Hankinson, you have been like a mother to me, and I will not forget how you have taken care of me. I truly value our relationship and always look forward to spending time with you, because I truly cherish these times. Moose!!! You are a great teammate and friend. I love having another girl that I relate to who I can trust, who brings out the best in me, pushing me every day. We both want the best for one another, and that is special. I know our times together are limited due to our crazy schedules, but you really have a way of refreshing me! George and Anna Heidinger, thank you for teaching me how to swim this summer. You both have helped me incredibly and have given me a better sense of the water and understanding how I can be a better swimmer. Grant Holicky, I only just started working with you but the progression has been noticeable. I really look forward to continuing our work together and I thank you for pushing me this fall, when you barely even knew me as an athlete or person. 
      In the meantime, I am looking forward to a shift from triathlon into spending more time with my friends and the people I love. Right now I look forward to eating a giant bowl of ice cream! Time to celebrate a fulfilling first year! Excited for the 2014 season. Finis=finished! First year down! Hopefully many to go!
CU Buffs!
The biggest award I have ever gotten!
A beautiful phoenix hand crafted,

Friday, September 20, 2013

New School Year/London Age Group Worlds Race Report

       I just back home to Boulder Monday night from the World Age Group Triathlon Championships in London, England and have had some time to reflect on my experience. What an experience! I was a bit nervous going into this race, knowing I would have to miss an entire week of school; if you are an engineering student you would understand the concerns I had. This was also my first international triathlon experience. I made an effort to stay on top of my classes and spoke with my professors. After using up all my mental capacity I finished a week's worth of homework over the weekend, so I could put all of my focus into the race.
Running in hyde park in the rain. Did not bring enough
warm clothes but still had fun!
       It was a major transition for me leaving everyone I care about in the Springs: my Coach, my teammates, mentors, and close friends I had made over the summer. I really had to start fresh in Boulder, and with the demands of my academic schedule, we really had to come up with a new training plan around all my classes; change is never easy. I thought it was a challenge training 18 hours a week while working a part-time internship at Sram and taking Calculus 3 online, but that was nothing compared to my fall schedule. Having a full course load on top of a full training week is a challenge, especially in my academic field but I accept this challenge and I know what I signed up for! I think it is important to have a balance between school and sports; if you put all your energy into one, the other component suffers. Being in a sport that challenges me so much physically and a major that depletes me mentally every day, I think has given me that balance. As my dad always says, "like you exercise your body every day, you must exercise your mind." Sometimes it can be hard for me to find time to breathe, and I have to remember to take time to myself where I can recover and relax; this is crucial to be successful and maintain my motivation and energy.
My CU teammate, Ashley and I
       My best friend on the Colorado Triathlon Team, Ashley Limes really helped me a lot the first few weeks of school. We hung out whenever it worked with both of our schedules. One night I was a bit stressed, and she told me "we are getting ice cream." I knew it would make me feel better so even though I had a ton of work, I agreed to get ice cream with her. We went to Ben and Jerry's on Pearl Street and sat on the benches, talking about life and people watching. She was right; it did make me feel better. I think we had ice cream every night that week! We finally decided to go to Safeway and buy the big jugs of ice cream because they were more financially reasonable for the amount of ice cream we eat! We looked like two girls who had either just been dumped or had just broken up with their boyfriends haha! I think it is really important sometimes not to take life so seriously. Sometimes I get caught up in being the perfectionist I am and I forget to enjoy all the beautiful people in my life.  Ashley has really helped me keep a good perspective on my college life, and has given me an incredible friendship and so much support here at CU that I truly value.
Moose and I high-fiving the giant blow up man
       My PEAK Multisport teammate, Moose, came and visited me for the weekend before I left for the race. She really has a way of de-stressing me and making me feel good. She competed in the Littlefoot Triathlon where she was first out of the water and finished second overall, first women. I wish I was that badass! I find it incredible how humble and down to earth she is, considering she is one of the strongest triathletes I know and she has competed against the best in the world. She has achieved much of the success I have only dreamed of. She spent the weekend with me, and it was really refreshing to have her around and have someone who is just as motivated as me to push me in my workouts and someone I can laugh with! One of the exciting parts of the weekend was our numerous Whole Foods runs because we are both obsessed with there salads, smoothies, and avocado pudding yum! Moose kept me company on my long run when it was 95 degrees outside, after she had raced! What an incredible teammate! We did our long ride together the following day, and we had a blast while pushing each other . We even met a giant blow up man, who matched our PEAK cycling kits!
      It was finally Tuesday and time to head to the race. I tried to plan it right so I could adjust to the time difference. I was already really tired from school so I had no trouble sleeping on the plane. We arrived in London, and first thing I did was put the bike together. Luckily I'm getting quicker at this. Only took me 10 minutes to reassemble when I returned to Boulder!
      The week leading up to the race was a taper week. I honestly don't enjoy taper weeks or taking time off from the sport because I have the sense of excitement I get for each and every workout I do, and I love to challenge myself in every workout. I think it's a chemical thing; when I don't train as much I feel like crap. One of the main things I still work on managing is holding myself back when I need to. There are times to push and times when you really need to do a recovery workout. I reminded myself before this race that I had put in all the training, and needed to trust my coaches.
meeting Gwen Jorgensen!
Dreading the cold water! Just kidding, pre-race focusing
      One of my goals in London was to meet my favorite triathlete (apart from Moose), Gwen Jorgensen. She has a similar build to me, and I really look up to not only her athletic abilities but also her kind personality and professional demeanor. I had just finished my run in Hyde Park and was crossing the street back to the hotel when I saw her directly in front of me. We crossed paths and I turned around in awe; I have watched her race on the Triathlonlivetv, but I have never seen her in person. It was such a cool experience for me.

        I felt I had waited forever for this race to come! It had been freezing cold and raining all week, and I knew race day would be cold! Anyone who knows me knows that I am a warm-weather person (despite growing up in Colorado!); it has been hard for me staying warm in the past in cold conditions . Luckily the roads were dry, but it was really tough conditions for me. The water temperature was around 58 degrees and it was maybe 60 degrees outside. I remember coming out of transition and everything was numb. I jumped on the bike and was frozen for the 40k ride. I felt like I was getting passed by everyone. I could not get warmed up, and my legs couldn't push! I remembered my purpose in this race and focused on staying safe since the course was a bit sketchy with the technicality of it and number of racers on the course. I got off the bike, slipped my hokas on and ran myself back into the top 10 in the 20-24 age group. I was one of the youngest competitors in my age group (obviously), so finishing 9th was a pretty good achievement for me, and most of all I was happy that I PRd on my 10k. This result gave me the confidence to know that I can still race well even with everything I have on my plate. I realized that a lot of these girls are simply stronger than me and have more experience than me. I didn't really make any mistakes on race day, I just don't have the strength that they have...YET!! It was a really cool experience racing in my first international triathlon event, and I hope to do many more in the future. I love the lifestyle of this sport and the traveling that comes with it.
        In the meantime, I'm back to reality; at school in Boulder balancing the life of training and school. I look forward to the fall and competing in my first conference races of the season with the CU Tri Team as well as some local running races. Overall, London was a valuable learning experience in many different aspects. I really enjoyed racing in front of the crowds; it was truly great to have so much support from strangers! I realized how good some of these girls are, and this really motivates me to keep working and getting better. I also realized that I have come incredibly far since last year and especially over this summer with consistent training and hard work. I would never have imagined myself finishing top 10 in my age group at worlds last year. This is all a process and I have enjoyed the complexity and challenge of facing all the processes in my life, for life is incredibly complicated and twisted! I will continue working diligently in all my endeavors, and remember to focus on the small tasks, completing them well. I am excited for the new experiences I will have this year, and I feel this is the beginning of what I hope will be a fulfilling year!

Taking Clare (my mom's friend's daughter) for frozen yogurt in London.
I don't understand how she could eat it, considering
how cold it was!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Age Group Nationals 2013

          Age Group Nationals in Milwaukee, Wisconsin was my first Olympic Distance race back since Collegiate Nationals in April and my bike crash in June. Coach Ken was a little skeptical of having me compete in this race since my longest run since the crash was 60 minutes long, and ideally I should have been doing 90 minute runs before an Olympic distance event. We thought another option would be to do Rattlesnake Triathlon, a local race where I could also compete in the Olympic distance, however, I decided to give Age Group Nationals a go! I booked my flight a week out from the event and made travel arrangements to stay with my CU coach Mike Ricci and one of my teammates, Davide Giardini. Ken was the bike course coordinator at this event, so I could only see him briefly.
         I have never been to Milwaukee, let alone Wisconsin before, so I was really excited for the new experience. I love traveling to new places. It was good to travel with a group that enjoys Italian food: Davide really hit it off with the owners of the restaurant Trattoria Di Carlo since he is Italian. We ate at the same restaurant both nights before the race, which was great for me because I love sticking to rituals! I had some trouble putting the triathlon bike together since I had never done it before with my teammate, Adam McKittrick's bike. I am so grateful he has lent it to me for all of this time! Coach Ken ended up coming to my hotel to double check the bike for me, which I needed, since I definitely messed up a few things, including having an extra spring on the skewer. Amateur hour!
         Age Group Nationals is definitely much more hectic and tiring than other races due to the big crowds and everyone trying to get their pre-race plans done at the EXACT same time! This trip involved a lot of running around from place to place, and adjustments on race morning, due to increased security measures. Luckily I got in all of my pre-race stuff, racked my bike and we were out of there. Honestly I don't like these types of events where it's super crowded. Creates more room for error and adds stress.
         I was definitely a bit nervous for this race since Olympic distance events are completely different than Sprint distance. I knew I needed to be smart in terms of energy management, hydration, tactics, and mental strength. I reminded myself of all of the training I put in this summer, and even though my fitness was maybe not where it needed to be, I trusted that it would be enough. 
         On race morning we were rushing around a bit because they closed the freeway we needed to take to get to the venue so we didn't arrive 1.5 hours early in transition as I usually do, which kind of stressed me out. I also forgot my helmet from the car, so Mike had to grab it for me and I didn't finish fully racking my bike until 7:15am, 15 minutes before transition would close. I was definitely a bit jittery and not thinking straight since I felt rushed; I did not double check all of the things I normally check on my bike, and this would later punish me and greatly alter the results of my race.
Towards the end of the run, my CU Teammate,
Matt Wolford cheering me on!
         I think I had a really strong swim start and this set me up for a good race. My swim was a 22:14, which is good for me. I was not too far back from some of the girls that used to beat me by minutes on the swim. I was only maybe 35 seconds back this time around. I had a great T1; this involved a long run since my bike was racked by the bike exit, but I caught a few girls here. I hopped on the bike and after a few pedal strokes I realized something was really off. The whole bike course I did not feel comfortable on the bike; it was not shifting well and it kept jolting and skipping gears every time I would stand up, making me almost fall numerous times; I did not want to crash again, so I stayed seated for the whole bike portion. My hamstrings and calves took the toll from this, but I did my best. I dismounted my bike, ran into T2, hitting a small bump and the back wheel nearly fell off; I jammed it back into place, realizing the skewer was completely open. This could have been really bad...
        I knew I needed to make up the time on the run since I literally lost minutes on the bike. I was 2 minutes back from some of the girls I try to be competitive with, but slowly I started catching them one by one. I felt like my calves were going to cramp for the first 1.5 miles since I pushed it so hard on the bike, due to my power going nowhere with the rubbing of the chain and awkward shifting. I was 16th out of the swim, then 11th off the bike, and finally on the run I moved my way up to 5th over time. I caught the 6th place girl about .5 miles from the finish. I had timed it perfectly without even knowing it. I remember seeing her at one of the out and backs and she was at least 2 minutes ahead of me! Woah, I had a good run! Considering everything I have been through I was really pleased with running a 40:33. I always knew I was capable of running that pace if I stayed healthy, but honestly if someone told me that's what I was going to run on that given day I would not have believed them, based off my run fitness level. 
Happy to finish! Sprinted until the finish!
       In this race I learned how important it is to trust yourself and believe in yourself, and that even if you have a mechanical on the bike or a poor swim, you can always come back...always! During the whole run I kept telling myself to stay strong and never quit. I knew that if I stayed strong, I could catch the other girls in front of me. I made sure to stay mentally focused and very aware throughout the whole race, which I have struggled with in the past. I focused on my breathing and really settled into a good rhythm at the turnaround for the last 5k. I knew I could outrun some of the girls but I needed to be patient, otherwise I would blow up. I did exactly that, staying on top of nutrition and staying cool.
       The whole week leading up to the race Coach Ken put me through my first real taper. "Taper, what's that and why do I need it?' I thought at first. I felt strong and wanted to keep training, but I trusted my coach and it paid off. I think if it weren't for that taper and training smart for this summer and the past few weeks, the race would not have gone so smoothly and this comeback would have come much later. 
       Post race was fun. This included burgers, pizza, and ice cream! Although this does not fit my normal diet, it was so good and so worth it! I had a fun trip getting to see some of my friends I don't always get to see during the school year, getting to meet new triathletes, and learn new things about racing and myself; I know I will be much more prepared for my other Olympic distance events now. I remember going into this event thinking that I am only suited for sprint distance and that's what I'm fit for, but I realized after this experience I can do well at the Olympic distance too, and that in itself is a huge confidence booster and helps me look forward to Age Group Worlds in London and the upcoming Collegiate season. I'm a new athlete this year, 100% committed and excited to keep training smart, racing hard, and staying healthy! There are so many more things to learn and that in itself is something to look forward to!
5th place 20-24 Age Group. Some competitive girls!
My first real USA Triathlon trophy.
So legit!


Friday, August 2, 2013

Evergreen Triathlon- A Personal Comeback

     Wow it's been a month since I last wrote a post on my blog! Things have been hectic with finishing up my summer calculus class, working, training, and recovering mentally and physically from the bike crash. I can truly say things are really getting back to normal again. I could not be more humbled and grounded from everything that has happened. Sometimes I feel that when things are going well, one can become contemptuous of their situation and forget where their core beliefs lie.
     I can say that I have dealt with an ocean of emotions this past month. After the crash, I wanted to be tough and pretend like nothing happened. I jumped back on the saddle 3 days later despite the pain, because I wanted to avoid that fear of getting back on the bike and I was really in denial about the whole situation. Will Murray, CU Tri Team sports psychologist helped me a ton. He and I spoke almost every day on the phone during the early stages, and he really helped me get my perspective right. I think it is incredible the patience and time that Will gave me. The first two weeks of training, the pain was really overwhelming, but I continued to train. Surprisingly it was the worst when trying to kick in the pool, so I swam with only my arms for a few weeks; good news is my arms got stronger.
      Coach George Heidinger has been incredible. My first day back he told me not to let any of this define me and my season; he reminded me that this is all a process and I need to be patient because I am still young in the sport. He told me he would take care of me, and this was comforting when I felt a bit alone since nobody could understand the pain. It really shows what an incredible coach he is. I feel the accident was kind of like a blessing in disguise because my swimming improved a ton since I decided to put all of my focus into that.
     I bought myself a cool gel seat cushion for the bike to take the pressure off my tailbone, and despite me looking like a grandma, this really allowed me to keep up with my biking and get more hours in the saddle, which I think was important after a crash in order to become confident again on the bike. For the first few weeks, Coach Ken was nice enough to write me elliptical workouts to do so I could keep my run form. I think these workouts really made it easier for me to transition back to weight-bearing activity. It only took 2.5 weeks before I could run, which was a surprise since I was told it would take at least 5 weeks.
     I think it wasn't the physical pain that hurt me the most, but it was the emotional pain. I think it is important to be open about one's feelings; bottling them up may seem like the right decision at the time, but in the end a person can only bottle it all up for so long. Once the physical pain had left after about 3 weeks, the emotional pain really hit me. This was my first crash and the whole experience was really scary for me. Thank God it was not worse than it was, but it was still traumatic for me.
     I had trouble sleeping for the first few weeks, so mentally I was not really aware of everything that was happening; I was just going through the motions and my mind was racing. This is the worst feeling to have; I am sure most people have felt at some point that they don't have control of their life, that's how I felt. I realized that it was important to talk to someone, so I fell back on my parents, and they helped me a ton. I was told that everything I was experiencing was normal, and I would be back to my usual, happy self in a few weeks. They were right. "This too shall pass," my dad would always say. One of the main things to conquer for me was the fear I had developed with biking in a pack and holding speed on the downhills.
     On Thursday, July 25th we had our usual long ride in Fountain with the team. It turned out I was the only girl there, so I didn't have anyone to work with really. It was really windy and the first main stretch  on Squirrel Creek Road heads about 12 miles east in the middle of nowhere. I couldn't hang with the guys so I pedaled furiously on my own trying to keep them in sight. This ride was a great test of my mental fitness. I would get a bit startled when a big truck would pass me once in a while, since they would sort of make an air pocket and as they passed it would spit the wind out at me. I kept feeling like I was going to fall over because it was that windy, but I accepted the challenge (not only mentally but physically). The guys and Coach circled around and picked me up, and we made the right hand turn so finally we had a tailwind.We sped down Peyton Highway at 37 miles per hour and I was geared out. I was really nervous, and could feel the tension in my neck and back; I was holding on to the handlebars so tightly that I ripped the tape off of them.
      Coach Ken kept telling me to relax and he really helped me  get out of my comfort zone, by pushing me to stay close to my teammates on the bike. I accepted the challenge and realized that this was the start to me overcoming the fear I had developed; this was all a process. I pushed and pushed through the 2.5 hour ride, getting dropped and then Coach Ken would yell "get out of the saddle, catch up." This is how it was the whole time; get dropped, catch up, get dropped, catch up.
      My legs were done, and mentally I was on the verge of cracking due to my state of fatigue, but I kept telling myself "legy eros, legy eros!" "be strong, be strong." It's amazing how one's inner voice can control the outcome in a situation. Although I knew I was going to have my first race back on the Sunday, I didn't hold back on this ride. I knew it was more important to conquer the fear I was having than to have a good race on Sunday, so I never backed down, effort above race pace for the majority of the ride. I was actually pretty proud of myself that I could hang with the guys for a bit, but my body took the punishment for sure! Near the end of the ride I started hallucinating, I was obviously spent, since my vision became a little blurry. On the last hill, I started to feel myself crying. It's one thing when you physically can't push your body any more, but for me I was mentally exhausted. I have not pushed myself to that extent on a ride before, and I seriously thought I was going to pass out when we arrived back at the car hence me sideswiping it since I was so dizzy and couldn't unclip. I didn't drink enough water during the ride since I was so focused on catching up to the guys, staying with them, and not tipping over in the wind! I felt overwhelmed after the ride, and held back my tears; it may have been more exhaustion than anything. I would not advise doing what I did to myself that day, but I think it was important to push myself past the limits I thought I had. I realized after that ride that I can overcome anything, I realized I was back on the horse.
Caroline and I
photo credit: David Solsberg
My mom and I
photo credit to my dad
David Solsberg
     Evergreen Triathlon, Sunday July 28th was what I think a huge comeback for me. I was terrified to have this be my first race back because the course is very hilly and technical, with a five mile descent to finish the bike. I love climbing hills, but I was scared about the descent. To make things worse it was cold and raining race morning, which isn't ideal for me.
       I decided that this was the perfect opportunity to test myself, since I don't have much experience racing in the rain and I was fearful of slipping.  It was good to have my CU Tri Team Coach, Mike Ricci, there at the race with my teammates because having them around made me relax. Mike gave me a pep talk before the race and reminded me that it's just a race like any other race, and that this race was an opportunity for me.
       I really went out of my comfort zone and pushed myself for this race. Things went pretty well, and I took 2nd overall women behind my teammate Moose, which I was pleased with. This race was not about the results though. This race challenged me more mentally than most races have, and I feel I really conquered much of my fear. I remember finishing the bike and feeling a huge sense of relief; I wanted to celebrate in transition but I had to go run and give Moose a run for her money :)
PEAK Multisport
photo credit: David Solsberg
     Overall I have learned from all of this that things don't always pan out the way we want them to, but people are resilient. We can bounce back up when bad things happen. I've learned that sometimes it is important to share the way you are feeling with others, especially those that love and care about you, and sometimes it's okay to cry. There are a lot of bad things in life, but when things get tough, I think it is really important to look at all the good things and focus on those; focus on the things you have rather than the things you don't have because the things we don't have are infinite. I have realized that I have more inner strength than I ever believed, and I think that in itself will be very important in life. It is easy to feel sorry for yourself, and I'll admit I felt sorry for myself for a while; this was my summer and I felt it was gone and wasted, I believed my race season was done; In fact, I think it's the opposite. I have had the best summer, and after this experience I have realized how good my life is and all that I have going for me. I have no regrets. I wouldn't change the accident or what happened to me because I wouldn't have become the person I am at this very moment. At times I felt like my coaches would maybe throw me on the back burner and they did the exact opposite. Both Coach George and Coach Ken really showed me their support this past month, and that in itself kept me going and meant the world to me when I lacked belief in myself. I have learned that all of this is about the process. It's not about winning races or being the fastest athlete out there; it's about the process and dealing with the things life throws at us. I am blessed to have my family, my teammates, my Coach Ken, George, Tracy (who has become a second mother to me), Kim (my big sister and mama giraffe), Will Murray, Mike Ricci...and so many other wonderful people in my life, too many to list! I think it's important to support each other, and their support and compassion has been unforgettable. Such good people in my life, and for that I am truly grateful. Every time I swim, bike, and run now I have a new appreciation; an appreciation to have the opportunity to push myself once more and feel fulfilled at the end of the day. I feel I have started fresh once again. I have a new perspective on things.
“Often it isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the little pebble in your shoe.” -Mohammed Ali

Happy to finish, happy to be back. Love you papa.
photo credit: David Solsberg

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

My First Bike Crash

   “Life doesn’t get easier or more forgiving, we get stronger and more resilient.” ― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

  This past weekend I had my first bike crash. It was only a matter of when, being in the sport of cycling within triathlon. This is my first year in the sport, and with increased time spent on the bike, my chances were much higher of being involved in some type of crash (as every cyclist will be). I thought I would share this experience with everyone who reads and follows this blog (well everything I remember!)
   Last week was a hard training week for me, coming back from TriMonroe, a U25 Elite Development draft-legal race. I was really happy with my results and how training had been going. I felt I was improving all around, especially after having two good races back to back. I was ready to get back into training when we returned to Colorado Springs, but my body felt really tired all week. I pushed through the week; it was a 16 hour week for me. Although 16 hours does not seem like much to a full-time or professional triathlete, a 16 hour week is considered to be a longer week for someone like me. Although I was tired, I mentally felt good and did my best in all of my workouts, trying to keep a good attitude and accept the fatigue. Whenever I feel tired like this, I always tell myself to do my best, because then I cannot be disappointed. Coach Ken gave me the choice for the weekend whether I wanted to do a criterium, the Acacia Group Ride in the Springs, or an individual workout. A part of me wanted to do the crit, but I know crits can be dangerous, especially if you are feeling tired like I was. I did not want to ride alone, and I wanted to see how well I could do in the group ride, since it's probably the toughest ride in the Springs (it really feels like a race at some points). I had actually written an email to Coach Ken on Friday night that I thought it was a bad idea to do the group ride because I was really tired, and that I wanted to do a workout on my own, but his beautiful wife, Brandi, had just delivered their baby girl, so I decided to suck it up and not bother them. I deleted the draft, and told myself I would suck it up and that I needed to push through it.
   I'm wondering if everyone was so much more vamped up in the group ride than usual due to the fact that the Tour de France is going on (that was Kim's hypothesis). The warm-up was much faster and more aggressive than I had remembered, and I figured it was because some professional triathletes or cyclists had shown up that day. I kept my head down and made sure to stay towards the front of the group to avoid any possible hiccups that could cause a crash.
   We made the right hand turn onto MarkSheffel Road, and everyone took off (as usual on this ride). My Coach Ken told me what to do in this situation, and I took his advice and stayed with the pack! Last time I had been dropped at this point because I got stuck behind a slower wheel, but I was positioned perfectly (or so I thought).
    I was in the middle/front of the pack (if that makes sense). Everyone had been really aggressive going into the right hand turn and I didn't want to move around too much so I let some people pass me on my left, while staying with the group. This was a bit uncomfortable because I was on the left side of the pack, and got boxed in. Someone a few bikes up slammed their brakes. I remember this moment perfectly. I saw a few bikes in front of me start to go down, and this was when my heart definitely skipped a beat because I knew I was helpless. The girl in front of me went down, and it was like slow motion from there. She completely spun sideways and I tried to veer off to avoid the crash (as I have done in the past), but it all happened too fast. Next thing I know, I am flying through the air, I land on my tailbone (kind of fell backwards and sideways) and my head got whipped backwards and hit the concrete. Forgot to mention we were going 30mph when this happened. It took me a few seconds to realize what had happened, and the pain instantly hit me. The pain was so bad that my vision was blurred, and for a second had no idea where I was (probably because I hit my head and/or got bad whiplash); either way, my pretty blue specialized helmet was cracked.
   I finally realized what had happened and my body sort of went into shock. I was still lying in the middle of the road, and I noticed I couldn't physically get up because I had excruciating pain in my tailbone. My bike was no where in sight, and I was the only person who did not get up after the crash. I have not felt pain like that in my life, so I started hyperventilating and my whole body was shaking from the pain. I could not control it, and this scared me a lot. A big chunk of the pack stopped after the crash, and one rider in the crash rushed over, "I am a doctor. What hurts? Are your legs ok?Your neck?" I couldn't speak at first because the pain was so bad, but I finally spat out that my tailbone was all that hurt. They picked me up from the middle of the road because I was stopping traffic.
   A stranger who had witnessed the crash offered to drive me home. It is amazing how people respond when others need help in situations of crisis. I am thankful for this stranger, whose name I unfortunately did not get. I would like to thank him sometime.
   I sat in his car shaking as he drove me back to Tracy's, and the pain got worse as the adrenaline wore off, so by his judgement he decided I needed to go to the hospital. We arrived at the hospital and it all felt surreal. I was overwhelmed by the situation. I've never been injured like this before. The man helped me hobble into the hospital (more like he carried me in haha). He got all of my things from his car, made sure they got my name down, and left. I thanked him and gave him the best hug I could at the moment. I stood in the front lobby for 20 minutes, leaning against the front desk shaking in pain and my heart rate was still at about 180bpm. I started to pray that someone would come and help me and take the pain away, because I felt they were completely oblivious in the front  (I felt at the time). They finally came and got me, and I was actually able to walk to the back. I had called Tracy and Kim in the car, but did not want to burden my parents with my drama, so I hesitated to call them. I was told to call my parents, so I finally did that and they drove down to the Springs.
   I stood in one of the rooms for another 20 minutes, same thing, shaking and breathing uncontrollable and someone came in to take vitals and everything. Kim and Tracy arrived shortly and the pain decreased a bit. It was comforting to have them there. I remembered something my father had told me when things have gone wrong in the past. "Experience it," he would say. That was exactly what I did. I decided I was going to accept the pain, accept the situation, and experience it. Surprisingly, this calmed me down. I kept telling myself "adversity builds character, adversity builds character." It doesn't matter what life may hit you with; what matters is how you react to it, and the person you become from it. If adversity builds character, I have built a lot of character this past month (Tracy and I have joked about this a lot) :)
   The nurse finally came in and gave me two vicodin pills to help with my pain. 10 minutes or so later the doctor came in and I asked him in a slur "how long does it take the vicodin to kick in?" He said since I'm lean with little body fat, it wouldn't take too long, as he chuckled knowing it had hit me. The rest of my visit became a little dreamlike. The pain had vanished and I thought "I am fine, the pain is gone!" I went in for x-rays and received good news that I had no broken bones visible in the x-ray. I walked down the hallway and Whitney(Nadia's mom) and Nadia Duncan(my 14 year old adorable teammate) were sitting in the waiting area. "Oh hi," I said. I remember starting to feel a bit drunk at this point because the vicodin had really kicked in. I hope I did not embarrass myself too much. I can't quite remember the full conversation, but it means so much to me that the Duncans came to see me.
   My parents arrived and my dad saw the x-ray and had a bad feeling. All the imaging centers in the Springs were closed during the weekend so my dad decided it would be better for me to get an MRI in Denver on Monday. They picked me up and we went back to Tracy's to get my things (Tracy was nice enough to take Bikey home). Bikey was the first thing I checked, and I remember the stem was all unaligned (the handlebars and the front wheel were all torqued). I picked up my parktool, and was about to start working on the bike to "fix it myself," but my dad wouldn't let me. This is just me. I am more concerned about Bikey than I am about myself!
   On the way home I had my dad drop Bikey off at Cafe Velo as I lied completely drugged up in the back seat of the suburban (I couldn't sit because of my tailbone).
   I spent the weekend in Denver, and it was good to see my best friend Keiko (who brought me frozen yogurt!), my amazing sister Caroline, Julci, and my parents. Everyone was so incredibly caring this weekend, and I am so grateful for that because I know it must have been hard.
   I got the MRI Monday and we found out that I had a fractured sacrum. Luckily it was not the weight bearing part, however the news was not what I was looking for. I was hoping it was only a bone bruise. I broke down crying, and my dad comforted me, telling me it is called an accident for a reason and that I need to accept the situation. It was hard for me to accept the situation at the time. "Why me, why now?" I thought. Apparently it wasn't as bad as I thought. I could do the elliptical, swim, and attempt to bike depending on the pain. I decided I wasn't going to ruminate about it because that wouldn't be conducive toward anything.
   I headed straight back to Colorado Springs after the MRI, and slept for most of the afternoon. I spent yesterday morning with Coach Ken and the youth team. I really enjoyed spending some time outside with one of the 14 -year- olds on my team, Yana Brown, while watching the youth practice. If I can mentor them in any way, even if it's just by a few things I can say or do, that means so much to me. I would love to teach them some of the things that I have learned in my short life as well.
     Yesterday I met one of my favorite people, Joe Turcotte, the man who got me to pursue this sport at a high level after my tennis friend Jevgenij Cariov had gotten me to do my first triathlon. Joe stayed with me while I did the elliptical at Lifetime Fitness. He is a trainer there. I was able to do the elliptical for 30 minutes and then I swam for about 30 minutes, but my range of motion was definitely not 100% due to the whiplash in my neck. Overall I felt really relieved that at least I could do something!
    My phone rang in the car ride home. Cafe Velo was calling me to tell me that Bikey had been destroyed, the frame, the fork, and the wheels. I felt terribly because my good friend and CU Tri Team Sports Psychologist, Will Murray, had lent me his power tap and rear wheel. I felt as if things could not get any worse. Feeling overwhelmed and empty since Bikey was gone, I started to cry. It had taken me a year to get comfortable biking, and it wasn't until recently that I truly felt connected with Bikey. Coach Ken and my Dad told me not to worry so much, because Bikey is only a bike and a material object; "only a bike" I thought. Bikey was my baby. Bikey was a part of me.
    I was emotionally broken. I met with Kim and we had a nice afternoon walking the lake at the Broadmoor Hotel, and drinking an iced coffee. We then watched a movie at her house and went to bed. She really knows how to make a person feel better, and I feel grateful to have a friend like Kim in my life.
    Although I'm devastated that Bikey is gone and I've been thrown some curveballs this past while, I want to thank everyone who has cared for me, supported me, and loved me, especially in my most vulnerable times. I appreciate you all so much. I really do have such incredible parents, friends, teammates, coaches, and a wonderful community I have fallen in love with here in Colorado Springs.
    I continuously realize that we must appreciate every moment we have doing what we love, for you never know if it is the last moment. This includes loving those around you, being the kind of person you should be, and appreciating all that you are blessed with. I feel incredibly blessed and hopeful that everything will return to normal. In the meantime I will take it day by day, and experience this to the fullest. I hope to be healthy enough to race the State Games Triathlon in three weeks! I will not give up,  I will fight, and I will keep my head up as I have always done.
-thank you all for taking the time to read this.
p.s. I hope you all like my new helmet

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

It's Better to Be Nice by Caroline Warly

Another amazing poem, written by my beautiful sister, Caroline Warly.

It's Better to Be Nice
don’t yell because they say you’re wrong
don’t live a life of vice
be the person you’d like to be
and for goodness sake, be nice

don’t avoid saying sorry
don’t say things cause you’re mad
cause one day you’ll regret it
and you’ll wish you never had

don’t show off if you’ve done well
it may hurt those whom have not
and if you think you may have pained someone
apologize a lot

tell your friends and your family
that you appreciate what they do
tell them that they make you smile
and make you thankful, too

it really shouldn’t be too hard
to treat each other right
more good things always come from hugs
then ever from a fight

Thursday, June 27, 2013

TriMonroe EDR Race Report "Race with Passion!"

    It has been a few days since my race, but after catching up in my calculus class this week, I finally have time to write my race report!
    TriMonroe marks my first year training and competing full time in the sport of triathlon. I felt a bit emotional in the process of preparing for this race and even during the whole race experience, because it really just hit me how far I have come as a person this year and how my life has drastically changed. This year was not only a transition in my academics and athletics, but it was a transformation of my identity in a way. I like this new identity better though, so it was all worth it I think.
    I usually only get nervous the day before a race after packet pick-up and pre-race briefing; However, I was nervous on the Wednesday night before leaving Thursday. Woke up at 3:40am bright-eyed and bushy tailed (not really I was exhausted!) I really tried to stay relaxed, even though I was already having trouble maintaining my cool-calm composure, which I try to do in public. I tried to sleep on the plane, which helped me catch up on sleep. We arrived in Seattle, and played tourist for a couple hours, going to explore the Pikes Market. I love traveling because we get to see so many new places, and honestly it is really fun people watching and feeling out the energies of new places. We went back to the hotel and assembled the bikes; Funny thing is, it took me probably twice as long as my teammates! I need to get better at this. I am a mechanical engineer for goodness sake!
    We went for dinner at this really good Italian restaurant, but we were all pretty tired so we went to bed early. I finally got a good night sleep; noticed that I sleep so much better at low altitude. I woke up in the morning refreshed. We went to the venue, Lake Tye Park, and did all of our pre-race rituals. I felt pretty good, better than I had felt in a while. I think with all of the hard training and efforts you put in mentally and physically into training you become tired; when you have the few recovery/taper days before races you really build back up and come race day the plan is to be energized and ready to race. I definitely felt energized and recovered, but mentally I was not in the right place. I was really doubting myself and my nerves were getting the best of me for sure. My teammate Kathrine Warren (we call her "Moose") helped me a lot during this race; she kept telling me to loosten up all the time, which is what I needed. "It's just a race," she said. She was absolutely right; it was just a race, like any other race. She said I looked like I was really freaking out, which I was! Sometimes when you feel like you are panicking the best thing to do is accept it and acknowledge this feeling. That is exactly what I did, and it helped with some of my nerves.
    Everyone is probably wondering why I was so much more nervous for this race than any other races. This race last year was my first race on my team, PEAK Multisport, and I had just started working with Ken Axford, my current coach. I was not a strong swimmer last year; I almost got lapped out on the bike (made it by 15 seconds!). I have always been a decent runner, so I made up for it on the run, but last year I had no idea what I was doing. It was a terrifying experience! Naturally, one would feel a little nervous going into the same experience the following year. In draft legal racing the swim is that much more important; my main goal for this race was to exit the water with others.
   Race morning I woke up nervous, but my race wasn't until 2:15 so I knew I had a lot of time before I had to be ready to race. I paced around in the parking lot and at the venue all morning, trying to stay relaxed, but struggled. I finally went into a shady spot on my own, listened to some soft music, and tried to relax, which helped. My dad and my sister Alexa arrived at the venue (my dad was visiting Alexa because she is working at Boeing). It was nice to spend some time with them and have them watch me race. Everyone told me before the race that I was going to do great and that I was a new person and athlete this year, but I still doubted myself. I felt that Greeley Triathlon was maybe just luck (that I just had a good day), and I really wanted to prove to myself that I CAN repeat with another good race. Coach Ken asked me "you nervous?" before my swim warm-up. Typically he asks me this when he can tell I'm nervous. I was nervous, excited, and freaking out at the same time!
    Right before my swim warm up, I did something which I don't normally do at that time, but it helped a ton. I closed my eyes, then opened them; with a new perspective I really studied the swim course. I imagined myself starting the swim strong, committing 100% and swimming a straight line. I then imagined myself exiting with others, and having a pack on the bike. That was it, I wouldn't allow myself to see anything different. This was the last image in my head so I had that feeling inside me at the race start that I was going to swim my heart out and exit with others. My friend, who is a professional XTerra Triathlete, Kim Baugh, wrote me before the race to "race with passion." I really took this in and told myself to "race with passion" and then no matter what I couldn't be disappointed. If you never give up, if you always fight, there is nothing to be disappointed about; this is my attitude in just about everything in my life. I often tell myself in Hungarian"legy eros" meaning "be strong."
     I had probably one of the best swim starts I have had, and my swim went just as I had seen it. I exited the water with two girls, and we went into the bike together. We caught two other girls on the way and worked really well as a pack of five. I am really glad my Coach Ken had us do all of the paceline drills because it felt natural during the race, and for once I was one of the people communicating with the pack. I felt really strong on the bike. They were calling times on the side "1min...40 sec...20 sec.." I was confused because I thought they meant 1 min from getting lapped. Typical me! They meant 1 minute from the leaders! We really made some ground on the bike, and I had the fastest U25 bike split, which was exciting, since last year I couldn't even stay with one girl who tried to work with me.
  I saw the leaders just ahead. I knew that I probably wouldn't be able to podium, but I didn't care. I wanted to do the best I could possibly do. I came off the bike last out of our pack, but caught most of the girls, except one girl in the first lap of the two lap run course. I was in fifth place, fighting to catch the girl in fourth, who was in the 25-29 category. I almost caught her at one point! In the second lap, I heard Coach Ken's voice yelling "go go keep it up catch her!" from the water. I find it amazing how Coach Ken really sacrificed his race for his athletes. He was cheering for me during his swim warm-up; made me laugh a bit. I put my head down and made some ground on the girl running with her for a while, but into the last straight away I lost my kick a bit and my legs weren't as strong. The run course was a little longer (around 3.3 miles)' maybe if it was exactly a 5k I would've caught her; need to get stronger! I crossed the finish line in fifth place, which I was pretty proud about. I really surprised myself in this race, and it showed me how much I have improved in a year! I realize that a lot of the time, my worries are irrational; they are completely in my mind, and this demonstrates just how important the mental toughness side of sports are and how important confidence is in athletics. I feel that this race helped me build the confidence to continue to improve; it also gave me the confidence to know that I am capable of doing well in draft legal racing. The goal is to get my swim stronger, which I am working on!
    I have said this so many times, but I truly feel blessed to be on this team, and to have such an organized, methodical, and thoughtful coach. I also feel lucky that I had the support of my sister and my dad at this race. I love my family so much, and it means the world to me having their support.
    Over time, I will build a base in training and with that I will build confidence to know going into races that I can do well. I am excited to keep training and racing this summer, and to enjoy the process of trying to be the best athlete and person I can be. Go PEAK!

How to Stay Motivated in the Winter

I get asked the question "how do you stay motivated in the winter?" quite often really. I am human, like everyone else, and t...