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!

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