Saturday, March 14, 2015

Clermont Draft Legal Challenge Race Recap

This past weekend seemed like a blur: maybe due to the fact that I was sleeping for majority of the time apart from racing; we'd get in the car, I'd fall asleep, lie on the couch I'd fall asleep, I'd attempt homework and wake up with a smudge across my paper. Given that the past two years I have not made it to the start line in Clermont, I was motivated to take a different course this year. I wanted to prove to myself that I could balance my hardest year in school and properly execute a race.

Back in the fall, Barb Lindquist sent me an email, reminding me that "champions are made in the off season." I took this to heart and did my best to stay disciplined with training, academics, and recovery. This being only my third season in the sport, and growing up as tennis player, my body still has a long ways to go. I have struggled with consistent training in the past, due to injuries, but I feel this off-season was the most consistent I have been. I began working with Erin Carson at Rally Sport in the fall and she has done wonders for me; She has a way of bringing the best out of people, and I always leave her sessions with a smile on my face. Her exercises, which I once thought were unorthodox, have proven to make me more durable.

I stayed patient and motivated, even though it was hard at times, especially the days I'd be alone on the trainer in my Boulder apartment. My teammates along with Ken Axford,  Brad Seng, Dave Sheenin, and Erin Carson have helped and continue to help me stay on track. I was healthy until the month leading into the race. I developed some inflammation in my achilles and was sidelined from running. It was frustrating, but my team around me and my family gave me the courage to keep pushing the pool running, strength training, and stretching routines. Simulating 800s on the track in the pool for an hour can become quite monotonous and the boredom can feel like torture, but I feel that these pool running sessions gave me the mental toughness and tenacity I needed to be successful racing.

This winter was the first time I trained with a power meter and this helped my bike a lot, along with the killer rides I did with the guys on the CU Tri Team. I feel lucky to train with some of the strongest, funniest, nicest athletes in Boulder who can average well over 200 watts for a 3 hour ride!

I made some changes in my training group/influences and along with the CU Tri Team, I joined the masters team at Rally Sport. I realized what I needed was to enjoy swimming and the people I was swimming with. I found this connection with the group at Rally and I am grateful for all the mentoring I get from some of the amazing people I swim with each morning, plus there's no better way to begin the day than watching the sunrise before my classes begin. This place has become my home and I am fortunate to have that.

I never go into races feeling confident, but I was relatively calm going into this race; I credit much of this to my boyfriend, Jeremiah, who helped me get ready for the race.  Having someone who reminds me that I am doing well each day as a person and athlete and someone who elevates me, has made a big difference in my life. Also, having someone offer to help me with the simple things like laundry, cooking, and groceries was a huge help leading into a race when the to-do list is longer than any normal person can handle. My roommate, Sam Haro, has also been an incredible support this semester and I am so glad I have a cooking buddy and a new friend!

I did spend majority of race-weekend doing schoolwork, but I think this was actually a positive outlet to get my mind off the race. As I was packing for the race I kept forgetting that I was racing, due to the fact that my bag was full of more books than clothes; we engineers need to prioritize :)

Day 1: I didn't position myself properly for the swim. I doubted myself and positioned in the middle of the group, in order to avoid swimming through the weeds; the water was choppy and I panicked. I paid for it, exiting the swim 50 seconds back. I redlined the bike. Me and Hannah Rae Finchamp put in some solid work on the bike. It's crazy to think that just two years ago when I did my first draft legal race, these were the girls who lapped me out and now I was hanging with them! Even though we had some work to do, I felt calm and trusted my bike strength. We came off the bike 20 seconds back from the lead group. I ran my way into third. I recovered well, ice bathing with my teammates and eating A LOT. I brought a bowl of cereal up to bed with me and munched before bed; tired, I crawled into bed quickly noting my gratitude for having a safe day and willing myself to have strength and safety for the next day.

Photo Credit: Eli Ricca

 Day 2: I woke up feeling groggy and my body ached all over. I watched as my teammates, Yana, Liberty, and Carly walked backwards down the stairs because their calves were so sore; "good idea," I thought, so I did the same. I made an effort to stay calm and relaxed, knowing some athletes who were racing both days were in the same boat as me; other athletes were fresh on the start line which provided more of a challenge. I watched as my thirteen-year old teammate, Liberty Ricca, won the F1 race. This is what gave me permission to go for it in my race. It's amazing how this team builds off one another. I am older than most of the girls on this team, but I learn and continue to learn so much from them, and I hope to mentor them in any way I can. I now positioned further to the right for the swim. The gun went off. I was surprised as I ran through transition with my friend, Haele Jasen, who is a strong swimmer. For once, I was in the race early on! We put in some solid work on the bike, before a big group caught us from behind. I came off the bike in third and calmly made my way through transition and onto the run. Savannah Dearden and Ann-Sophie Chalifoux went out like bullets. I slowly built up my speed and caught them, taking the lead after the turnaround. My legs hurt but I quieted my mind. I was in the zone, and was lucky to finish the day first. As I ran through the finishing chute, I kept thinking "was this a mistake? Did I cut the course?" I grabbed the tape at the finish line and awkwardly held it up. I have done a lot of visualization growing up in sport, but I never visualized this. The experience was surreal and a bit emotional for me. Sleep deprived, tired, sore, and the salty tears under my black glasses, I hugged the others as they finished, for all I have is respect for my competitors.
Hannah Rae and I at the finish line Day 2:Photo Credit J5 Imaging
The result of the race was a positive affirmation that I am on the right track, but mostly what I am proud about was the fact that we made it to the start line this year; and yes I mean WE. I couldn't have done this without the team of people I have around me. I am excited for the collegiate races coming up and to continue having fun with this journey. I want to thank Ed Bennett and Eli Ricca especially for all of your support over the weekend; they sacrificed their weekend for our team and we wouldn't have had the results we did as a team if it weren't for your help with keeping everything on track with cooking, bike maintenance, and just being an awesome support to this team; and Ken Axford, for teaching me everything I know about the sport and for being like a dad to me at times. I am excited to travel to Havasu next week over Spring Break with the CU Tri Team and to hopefully watch and mentor some of my teammates racing their very first triathlon. I really have the best of both worlds with my PEAK Multisport family and the CU Tri Team, and I am so grateful for the friendships I continue to build. I am excited to get this season rolling and watch as others achieve their personal goals.
The PEAK Multisport Family

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