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

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