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

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