Sunday, May 1, 2016

Last Time 'Round-USAT Collegiate Nationals 2016

Wow, five years done! Crazy to think I went into college, thinking I was going to be a division 1 tennis player my four years...

I have had a week to soak in my experience at Collegiate Nationals this year, and regardless of the place in which I crossed the finish line, this last race experience with my CU Buffaloes was unforgettable. For the first time since I arrived in Boulder four years ago, I was able to find some consistency in my training, only missing two sessions since February leading into nationals. I felt myself finally relax and really enjoy the friendships I have not only on the tri team but also within the engineering school, which kept me from taking myself too seriously as I have in the past. Going to class is soooo much better when you know you will be sitting with your friends. Like triathlon, I made this a fun social gathering, even though thermodynamics isn't always my topic of choice to discuss in gatherings :-p Thank you Shawn Sprinkle, Tyler Smyth, Brian Atkinson, Niki Barney, Thomas Lund, Mitch Klein, and Henry Knutzen for always making me laugh. Remember that time we made a drill powered bike? That was pretty cool I think.
From the left: Tyler, me, Shawn, and Henry

I had a different approach with my training this time around. Don't get me wrong, I worked my butt off, but I really made an effort to enjoy the hard sessions and to work with my teammates. On days when I woke up tired, I would sleep in and move my morning sessions to the afternoon. My focus was on quality not quantity.

There were countless number of practices when I simply wasn't feeling it, was overwhelmed with school or life stress, and on these days I allowed my teammates to pull me through. Senior Design, which is a year-long project in which you work with industry along with my other classes, made this year busier than expected; however, with meticulous planning, meal prepping every Sunday, discipline with trying to get adequate nutrition and sleep, I somehow made it happen while maintaining a social life. My friends are a huge part of my life, and they have really helped me get through times when I maybe felt overwhelmed the past couple of months. Kasia Rasker, thank you for being my best friend in the world, and for always being there for me no matter what. I seriously talk to you more than I talk to my family!

My girls from left: Sara, me, Skyler, Kasia
Day 1 was the Draft Legal Championship race. Going in I knew this was a FISU (World University Championships) qualifier, and after losing the championship by only 10 seconds last year, I wanted to improve on that. I had a solid swim, coming out in 8th place in around 10 minutes; I am rarely top 10 out of the water, but I have worked a lot on my swim this winter. My group had some trouble working together on the bike, and into the second or third lap, I made the decision to make a move. I bridged up to the next group and luckily had Kelly Cosmo to work with. We came off the bike around 50 seconds down from Erica Ackerland, a strong cyclist from Montana who rode solo the whole race. I had visualized this happening, so I didn't panic; I knew what to do. I trusted that my run fitness was adequate and stayed calm, despite the deficit. I was slowly gaining on her, but I ensured to stay patient so I wouldn't blow up. Before going into the second lap of the 5k run, I managed to catch Erica, ran into the lead, and held the lead.  Lots of emotions crossing the finish line as memories of these past four years flooded my mind. High fives and hugs all around from not only my teammates, but my friends on other teams. This is why I love this sport; Not only quality athletes but quality people. I won't forget one of my closes friends and teammates, Scarlet Kaplan crying at the finish line as I crossed; that's a true friend there. I love you so much Scarlet!
This pic says it all :)

me and my freshies: Ryan Sotebeer, Heidi Stimac

Me and Kelly Cosmo on the run
Day 2 was the non-draft Olympic distance race followed by the mixed team relay. I knew my fitness was the best it has been in college, however, I was awake most the night before the non-draft race with diarrhea and muscle cramps, probably due to residual fatigue of the past few months of engineering school. I was nervous on the start line, not knowing whether my body would allow me to finish that day. Long story short, it was a very painful race, and I pushed through muscle cramps, doubt, and fatigue to finish 5th on the day, surpassing my goal of a top 10 on day 2, and helping the CU Buffaloes to our 7th victory in a row. Huge congratulations to my friend Erica Clevenger for the overall win!!! Later that afternoon was the draft legal mixed team relay race. With nothing left in the tank, I decided to simply have fun and go for it in my last collegiate race. All of us were exhausted, and our nerves were already gone from the previous races, as we joked on the start line. I had a good leg of the race and gave our team a 30 second lead.  Ouch, 17 minutes of sprinting after 3+ hours of hard racing in 2 days! In the end we finished 4th, but it was such a fun, fast race!
Me and Scarlet Kaplan before the Olympic Distance race start

Through this experience I was reminded of how strong the human body, the mind, and the spirit is. I watched this video the other week from the US Navy Seals about the 40% Rule. The 40% rule says that at that moment when you think you have nothing left, you are only 40% spent, and therefore have 60% left in the tank. Through my experiences, I am learning that this is true.
Mixed team relay= shear pain!
Mixed team relay

Yes our team won, and yes I won an individual national championship, but it is not only the result that will be remembered; it is these past four years of the grind through engineering school and training, days when I suffered and cried because I wanted to give up or was beyond exhaustion, the team camaraderie and some of the best training sessions with the CU Tri Team, and all the amazing lifelong friendships I am blessed to have made on this journey.

Me and Coach Dave Sheanin

CU Boulder coaches (From left): Leigh Dodd, Brad Seng, Dave Sheanin, Henry Winterbottom. I love you guys!!!

Huge thank you to my parents for flying out to watch me and for helping me prepare for back to back racing, the rest of my family (Alexa, Caroline, Dani, Julia), the amazing coaches here at CU Boulder (Brad Seng, Dave Sheanin, Leigh Dodd, Henry Winterbottom), Ken Axford, my classmates, the CU Mechanical Engineering Department, my teammates, and my dear friends. Love you all and can't wait to experience this next chapter together! CU Boulder- Graduating Class of 2016!!!

Buff for life

Skoooooo Buffs!!

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