Monday, November 24, 2014

Off Season-college, sports, friends, and trainer rides

Things really wound down quickly this fall as I fell back into the normal routine of school, and the race season came to an end; well, my race season ended with me face planting down a muddy hill in Edmonton two days before Age Group Worlds, but what seemed like such a big deal at the time, is now a valuable learning experience from the past. I have had much time to reflect. I feel that I learned more about myself at that race, than I would have had I podiumed.  Only downside of the experience is I have a nice slit in my eyebrow that will most likely never go away. That's ok, that's why they have pencils for that!

I have needed to prioritize this fall, and I feel as a student-athlete I am constantly working on that balance between school, sports, friends, the internship search, and life. It's a tough go, wanting to excel in multiple facets of life, and I realize there's a reason why so few people in school are able to sustain this lifestyle. This unique lifestyle choice at times can be lonely, but it is also what drives me: that will to be different. It has been an invaluable skill learning to compartmentalize: when I'm in class I try to be 100% there, and when I am training I am 100% there, and likewise with my friends. It is amazing what being in the moment can do to your life. It's all about perspective and choice. Choice of attitude is a great place to begin.

It has taken time management this fall with my classes, and training has been a positive outlet. I feel fortunate to have all the support I have with the influences in my life in and far from Boulder. As I put forth my best effort in the classroom and in the sport each day, my perspective of life and sport has continued to shape and change. I feel in awe of the beauty that surrounds me as I escape the busy campus with my snowy runs into the hills. Away from campus it is quiet, peaceful, and calm and it's the only time when you aren't bombarded by the noise pollution, therefore I really enjoy this alone time. The experience is spiritual, meditative, and moving for me each day I have the privilige to train and I always return to campus in an uplifted mood. This lifestyle isn't for everybody but it has been incredibly elevating in my day-to-day life.

I have learned to really enjoy the off-season, the good laughs with friends, and some great trainer rides with awesome company! I also feel I am finally learning an important skill: how to relax. My dad would joke that I could only sit still for approximately 18 minutes through a movie before getting up to do something more productive. Those days are over as I am realizing the importance of rest on the mind and body.
Me and my teammate, Kasia during a long trainer ride. 

What I'm noticing is that it gets a little easier each year as a student-athlete as you begin to figure it all out. There will always be a form of stress in one's life whether it is school, relationships, family, work, whatever! This should remind us that THERE IS NO EXCUSE not to embrace the journey starting NOW. 

Boulder Reservoir in November
This past while my focus has been on relative consistency of workouts and enjoyment of completing the small tasks in my training with the best quality possible on that given day. I have found a way to do what I love every day because I feel that when you really enjoy something, you find ways to fit it in, so I think others are definitely capable of doing the same. And yes, you can do this and still get adequate sleep, despite what some may think.

I am embracing the ride and enjoying the downtime, the workouts, the academic challenge and the friendships I continue to make at this stage in life since college will be done before I know it. I'm thrilled to jump back on the horse this Spring 2015 with some exciting new races to come! 
Mini vacation- Fall Break
The trainer corner in my apartment

my eyebrow slit

homemade pizza cooking
interview outfit this fall

Boulder from above

Doudy Draw; one of my favorite places to run in Boulder

Monday, August 11, 2014

Age Group Nationals

Age Group Nationals were held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin again this year. With about 5,000 athletes racing this weekend, the city was full of geeky triathletes walking around in compression socks all weekend. I stayed with my teammate Hannah and her mom, Margie, and needless to say it was a weekend of who could crack the most jokes.

I found out Tuesday, while packing for the race that my Nagypapi (Grandpa), Zoli had passed away at 90 years old. It's interesting to think that I was prepared for this event…I mean he was 90 years old, but you can't really prepare for these things and it reminds us to never take things for granted.  Instead of flying out to Milwaukee with Hannah, I was off to Toronto first thing Wednesday.

I was running on adrenaline. Although I have raced a lot this summer, my training has remained consistent and I have gotten stronger. I trusted the hard work both Ken and I have put forth all summer, while doing my pre-race workouts at the YMCA on Thursday in Toronto, where I got yelled at for not circle swimming. I did my bike warm up on a spin bike, positioning as best as I could into aero position, and I got the strangest looks; but heck, I've realized it's better to go all in and complete the small tasks in the best quality possible, than to worry about what others may think of me. It was when I walked into Second Cup (like Starbucks in Canada), asking the lady to "blend my beets," when they really thought I was crazy.

As I ran through Banbury Park by my Grandparents' house, I was flooded with memories of my childhood playing there. I was overwhelmed with gratefulness for all I have been blessed with. Loving this journey has given me much enjoyment and has reflected in what others sometimes think is an unrealistically optimistic outlook on life.

I have no words to do justice for Friday morning's funeral service, but it was a beautiful celebration of the life of one of the most incredible men I have ever met, my Grandfather, Zoltan Warly. The experience was surreal. I was proud to celebrate the life of a man who saved thousands of people's lives during the Holocaust, someone who selflessly gave to those around him, and a man who LOVED so much.

I overall had a solid race in the Olympic, finishing 5th (out of 92) in the 20-24 age group against some stiff competition. I exited the swim in 19th, moved my way up on the bike having the 6th fastest bike in our age group, and then took control on the run. I have worked hard on my biking this summer, as it has been where I have lost the most time in the olympic distance events, so I was excited to see the improvement. I knew I was racing for something bigger than me, which gave me the much needed strength this weekend.

I tried my best to recover, and normally I would be recovered to race the double as my fitness has been strong, but my legs weren't ready to race again on Sunday. Cramping during the run warm-up was a bad sign, but I ignored it; I got my legs taped in compression thinking that would get me through the 5k run. I knew the race was going to hurt but I never thought it would hurt THAT badly. I survived the swim hardly kicking, biked as hard as my legs could withstand, and then my left leg locked up cramping before the first aid station, followed up by my right leg in full cramp as well. Hobbling along the course as everyone passed me, I was determined to finish until my vision blurred and the world flipped sideways. Next thing I knew I was on the ground with an IV in my arm, and medical staff forcing water down my throat as the sky spun in circles above my head.

Not the way I had imagined to end nationals, but it's all part of the ride. I was a bit embarrassed at the time, but I guess it's good that I got my first DNF out of the way. On a positive note, I was the only athlete to be given a volunteer shirt…so that's cool I guess.

Amidst the chaos, I can say my experience at nationals was a positive one. These two years have required patience, and I feel my body is adapting to the heavier training/racing load. I seem to love this sport more and more each time I race and I live for the competition. Next up, preparing for Worlds in Edmonton in three weeks where I will be staying with family.

I'm sad the summer is coming to an end; it has been a fulfilling summer consisting of summer school, some of the hardest training sessions of my life, many coffee dates, and precious time with my PEAK family, but I look forward to the collegiate season ahead.
To finish this rather long post,  I am proud to share that I have overcome my fear of descending and I'm loving the thrill of the downhills! A few more races left this season, and I'm ready to go after it!
Evergreen Triathlon- enjoying the speed! 
on the run
Open water swim practice at the OTC 

cool souvenir right? 
Hannah and I after day 1

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Taking Chances by Brittany Warly

Some choose to float
Some choose to sink
Others choose to fly
Living life on the brink

We're trapped in what others think should be
Living out a part
But what if we truly followed
Followed our little hearts?

Some may think it's easy
Obviously clear
But if we were to do so
We'd live no life of fear

Fear can be a gift
But also a a hindrance
It can give us strength
But also restrict us

It can protect us when in trouble
A safety net for sure
But fear can be a tricky thing
Don't fall into it's lure

But now is a time to live
To live without the doubt
To trust in those who love us
Throw negative people out

To laugh with our friends
To openly shed tears too
To be a kind spirit
Love those as you truly do

So how can we know if we've succeeded in life
To know if we've reached the top
The only way to do so
Is never ever stop

To forget what once controlled us
To live our life unbound
Just take that leap of faith
And you will feel profound

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

For Love of the Game: TriMonroe/Summer Update

The summer began with a shaky start. I spent the past month moving from place to place in the Springs, as my initial arrangement had fallen through. It's been a tiring month of packing and unpacking three times, trying to maintain training, get adequate rest and proper nutrition, while taking two summer classes in which I spend more time working on than I would for a part-time job!

Luckily I had a lot of help from my teammates, which made the moving process easier. Over this month, I have realized that it is not the place, it's the people who surround me who truly matter. I have found much comfort enjoying quality time with my teammates outside of practice watching movies, going on coffee dates with my new summer teammate Hannah who I have grown especially close to, and simply just being there for one other. I think this is what makes our team so special: it's the team camaraderie. I'm lucky to have a group of individuals who share the same goals as me. I think we really build off each other's energy in practice, pushing one another, enabling us to rise up as a whole rather than individually. This positive energy has really kept my spirit alive at times when I maybe felt a bit rattled.

Monroe not only marks a turning point for me, but it also serves as a checkpoint for my second year in this sport. TriMonroe was my first official triathlon being coached under Ken two years ago; at 19 years old, having just quit the tennis team at Santa Clara University two days before the race, with little to no training, you could say I didn't really have experience or confidence on my side. Ken really threw me into the sharks, missing the lap out by 15 seconds. I remember how uncertain I was of my ability to hang with girls who had been swimming, biking, and running for years. Although I was slow, I loved the sport, and that is what has kept me going. There is no magic formula other than hard work, grit, and love.

My results improved last year, although the cloud of uncertainty always hovered above.

Training has been relatively consistent since school finished, which has been key for me, since it has really been the only consistent thing in my life this past while. Not all my workouts have been great, however, I have stayed focused on good quality no matter how badly I may have felt. My goal each practice has been to train with purpose for every stroke, stride, and pedal; having the mindset of completing the small tasks well has been especially important as they add up and make all the difference. I started focusing on the process, enjoying my teammates' company during workouts, really being in the present, and this has allowed me to truly tap into my body being able to better understand the way I am feeling in the moment, making the sport so much more fun, which is why I do it in the first place.

I can't quite say yet that I go into races feeling confident, however, I will admit that I felt more prepared for TriMonroe this year than other races I have had in the past. It wasn't only physically, but mentally I felt ready to race, hungry to build off of the training I have put in the past few weeks.

 I had a good swim start, aggressively entering the water, desperately trying to get any advantage I could get over the strong swimmers. I stayed relatively strong and redlined the whole swim, exiting the water 15-20 sec back from the last girl in the lead pack.  I was in "no man's land", stuck between two small packs. I knew I had to book it through transition and really push myself on the bike to get back into the race. I didn't panic, I just went through the processes methodically.

If anyone has seen the movie "For Love of the Game" they would understand what happened next. I "engaged the mechanism," hyper focusing only on the task at hand, doing whatever it would take to catch a pack of five girls working together in a pace line. I was all alone, hypoxic for about 8 minutes but I believed in myself. Any doubt that entered my mind vanished, for my stubbornness to catch the pack took over. I trusted my abilities. I knew that if I could hang with the guys on my team for our long rides, this would be no problem for me. I remained calm and each lap all I could hear was Ken's voice from the sideline. Everything else in the background seemed to cancel out; this is what we call "in the zone." I caught the pack, and with that came an uproar from the sidelines from my team and family, only further fueling my fire. The next three laps felt effortless.

I exited T2 in second, running alongside a strong athlete from the collegiate recruitment program. I stayed with her for a while, but soon she took off; she has experience and strength over me, and I knew I couldn't physically run her pace at my current stage in training, which I accepted. I couldn't catch her, but I held off the girl behind me to take second. I was overall happy with my execution on the day, and surprisingly qualified for my elite license. Never would I have thought two years ago that this would happen so early in my triathlon life, nor will it really change anything in my life right now, but it's a good feeling to know I am capable of doing it.

Although, many would think the highlight of the weekend was the race result, it wasn't. My highlight was spending quality time with such an incredible group of individuals as my PEAK Multisport team and my family. As a team we pulled out some good results, and that was all made possible from the love and support of the parents, my family (Alexa, Dad, and Caroline) and Coach Ken. We couldn't have done it on our own. In all of this, I have understood the power of love; love of the sport, of my teammates, and of the challenges of competition. This love is what motivates me each day; knowing I will share smiles and laughter through the hundreds of miles of hard work with my teammates is what prevents me from hitting the snooze button some mornings. Not one successful person can admit they did it all alone. Until next time!

Hannah and I riding Black Forest
swim exit
trying to catch the lead pack
in the lead pack
on the run

Caroline, me, and Alexa

Ken and I

podium pic

Friday, April 11, 2014

USAT Collegiate Nationals 2014

2014 National Champions!

I will begin by saying how proud I am of my team and our coaches, Dave Sheanin and Brad Seng for pulling out the win this year at the USAT Collegiate National Championships. It is incredible how Coach Dave was able to put this team back together and lead us to our 15th national title. It was a year of uncertainty for the team, as Dave would consistently remind us that "champions adapt."

Bryn and I onto the bike!

The draft legal race started as planned as I had managed to stick with my teammate, Bryn Morales, on the swim and we had a nice pack to work with on the bike. The plan fell apart when I began to feel nauseous 2 laps in and started to have some difficulty breathing. I had a bad feeling about this, given the week leading into the event I struggled with a virus plus I began to regret my decision of eating pizza the night before a race (which I have never done before, oops!). I spent majority of the run coughing up mucus and trying to keep down my breakfast, falling out of contention for a top 10 finish. What I won't forget was the support of my CU teammates, and PEAK teammate Max Bennet (who cheered me on even after having pulled out of his race, due to severe illness, pneumonia). I remember Coach Dave and Coach Brad telling me to slow down on the run, which I've never been told before...I must have looked pretty ugly :p

I have never felt so unwell during a race;  I was competing against my own mind and I knew I had to directly face that; my competition no longer existed for my focus was set on simply finishing and ending the discomfort I was in. I crossed the finish line in 16th place and the emotions spilled out as I was mentally a bit depleted. The fact is I did what was needed for the team and I executed the plan the best I could under the circumstances. Sometimes there are times like that when you simply need to "get it done."

keeping the breakfast down!

I recovered hard and went into the olympic distance race feeling good, but once the race started I could definitely feel that my body was not as strong as I had hoped it to be...

I remember writing my race report for Collegiate Nationals last year, and it being very different from this one as it was only my 3rd olympic distance race and I was such a newbie, eager to learn more about the sport,  thrilled just to cross the finish line. I write my report this year, having a little more experience under my belt. I finished 69th overall last year and improved to 38th place this year, dropping 9 minutes off my overall time, and although this is a drastic improvement, I felt disappointed in my results...

What I realize from this is that sometimes my perspective can be skewed, and being the perfectionist I am, I truly believed that with 7 weeks of "perfect" training I could have the race of my life. The truth is, it doesn't work like that in sports. Looking back, I was trying to squeeze an entire winter's worth of training into a 7 week period and thats a lot for the body and mind to handle, no matter who you are. I was simply being too hard on myself, exhausting myself mentally and physically. If one were to look at it scientifically or from a coaching standpoint, I did great relative to the amount of training I put forth in preparing for this event! A 9 minute improvement is unheard of!

Less than two months ago I was dealing with a thrown out back and plantar fasciatis, lucky enough to get it in both feet!! (which had returned from the fall season); I was basically on bed-rest for 10 days for my back, taking celebrex (a muscle relaxant)  since the pain was so sharp and I hadn't run in months; we found out from an MRI I had a bulging disc. I experienced chronic pain for a few weeks. The upcoming season was questionable. I found a new team of people to work with in Boulder for rehabilitation including a chiropractor and run specialist, who continue to back me (no pun intended :) ) I also started working with Brad Seng and Max Muscle Nutrition on a focused nutrition plan. I have gained 7 pounds of muscle since starting the plan and my body feels the strongest it has felt. I'm ready to train hard now, so time to build up the speed!

Great to have my Papa come support me!
Reflecting back, I think it was more important how I raced rather than the position I came in. Despite knowing that I wasn't in contention for a notable finish, I raced with heart and gave it my all with a sprint finish; I unfortunately lost it, yet I gave the crowd and my teammates a show! It is those with heart who pull through in the long-run.

I will not lie to say that I have not ruminated about all that I should've done differently, but I will also note that I am not one to give up. I have never given up, and I do learn from my mistakes. I will not make the same mistakes I made last winter again.
Race with heart

What I have taken away from this is that I do have the ability to race back to back relatively strong, and that my body has finally built itself up so that I can start to train consistently for the first time since I started this sport almost two years ago. Consistency breeds confidence, and this confidence will be critical leading into some bigger events I have planned for the summer. Instead of looking back and analyzing all that went wrong, I choose to look ahead optimistically at the yellow lines on the road of opportunity before me; as I will furiously pedal alongside the sunflowers that line the road, speaking to me "you can do it."

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...