Sunday, December 4, 2016

Post Grad Adulting and Triathloning

Wow, a lot has happened since I graduated in May! I moved to Colorado Springs (leaving behind my triplet sisters), I started my first professional job, and I began my first season racing triathlon professionally. It was my first time living apart from my triplet sisters. We have been inseparable my whole life and they are the single force that keeps me the most grounded in my life.  If it weren't for my triplets (Alexa and Caroline) my amazing big sister (Dani) and my parents, there is no way I would have had the faith to push through engineering school the way I did; there were definitely a handful of days when I considered switching majors. As driven individuals, we seem to believe that once we achieve a certain goal we have laid out in front of us then we will be happy and all else will fall into place. I was thrilled to have achieved the goals I had worked for for my four years, but with that achievement also came the thought of "what now?" The entire process was quite anticlimactic and I was unprepared. I no longer had the structure I had lived in for the past seventeen years of my life.

My beautiful sisters (from left): Dani, me, Caroline, Alexa

The transition from being a college kid to a young adult proved harder than I thought. Becoming independent and trying to support oneself, while being an elite athlete is no easy feat. The Olympic Training Center environment also intimidated me from the get-go, which created another challenge. During my college years I enjoyed the team environment I had and the fact that we were competitive, but we had fun and didn't take ourselves too seriously; this environment helped take the pressure off me, given my type A perfectionist personality. Leaving the CU Tri Team, whom I can call family, was one of the toughest transitions I faced. I feel so blessed that my best friends to date were friends I made on the team. Go Buffs!

My graduation party: friends from CU and my sisters Alexa, Caroline, and Dani
Apart from my PEAK Multisport teammates, I only knew a few athletes at the Olympic Training Center, and that feeling of home that I had developed at CU was the last thing I felt here when I first arrived. The environment seemed too intense for me, and it was not until recently that I started to feel that I fit in.

My first two elite races this summer were a disappointment. I was swimming well in the pool, but it was not translating to the open water and my results suffered. I think the learning curve is steep when moving up a level in anything, and it definitely takes time to have the confidence to execute in the new competitive environment. During this time I questioned everything: my decision to move to Colorado Springs, leaving my closest friends in Boulder, giving up full-time job offers, and pursuing the sport professionally. Maybe I wasn't cut out for this...

As our team underwent some changes and I switched my focus from being an obsessive triathlete to being an overall well-balanced individual, we started to see positive improvements. I accepted a job offer at Keysight Technologies as an engineer and program manager this August. I am very fortunate that they are supportive of my goals and are allowing me to work part-time, flexible hours. This job has been one of the most balancing forces for me, and I truly enjoy going to work each day because of the amazing people I get to work with. Being able to shift my focus away from triathlon when I am not training has given me the balance I needed. I began to thrive in the new environment, and with the much-needed balance I was able to be the best sister, daughter, teammate, engineer, friend, and athlete I could possibly be.

Through the highs and lows, I have become closer with my teammates and my Coach Ken Axford, and for this I am truly grateful. I am also fortunate to have the best roommates, whom I feel are like my second family now. I have re-learned how to not take myself too seriously, and I am glad to be able to go home to an environment where triathlon is most certainly not the center of our conversations.
The roomies (and Stephen) on Halloween

Teammate, Tyler Evans and Coach, Ken Axford after climbing Gold Camp Road
This fall I went on to finish second place at the USA Triathlon Elite National Championships, only losing by eight seconds to Abby Levene and edging out Sarah Alexander by one second. It was a fun, fast race which ultimately came down to the run. This was the first race since I got here that I swam to my potential and it showed. After the race, my friends and I explored New Orleans and we had a blast learning about the culture, eating beignets, and dancing.

USAT Elite Nationals Podium

Exploring the French Market with Tyler Evans, Abby Levene, and Collin Chartier

My last race of the season was the CAMTRI American Continental Championships in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It was sort of a last minute decision to race, but I am glad I committed. I went into this race with the goal of a top 10 finish, and finished 7th to achieve that. I love to travel, but going to a foreign country where English is not spoken commonly can make things difficult. I did my race prep the best I could, but it was a hectic weekend overall. I arrived at the race with an ear infection, so in a way I was actually glad they canceled the pre-race swim recon :-p
During call-down to the race, my swim cap ripped, but I didn't allow it to phase me. I exited in the third group with two other girls who were luckily just as strong as me on the bike. I made the rookie mistake of dropping my electrolyte bottle on the first lap of the nine-lap bike course and this cost me. I had one other bottle of water, which instead of drinking to hydrate, I poured on myself to cool down (rookies mistake)! We worked together, pounding the pedals for just around an hour, but we failed to catch the lead pack. I ran as hard as I could in the moment, moving from 11th place to 7th, but suffered greatly from dehydration (and sun poisoning due to another rookie mistake :-p) so unfortunately I could not run to my full ability and bonked by lap three of four on the run. I wanted to DNF during the run, but I did not allow myself to do so; It gives me confidence that given the circumstances I was still able to achieve my goal and that I can hang with these girls who have years of experience over me. I am also so thankful that my mom took the time to come to this race with me. Having her there at my first continental championship and being able to share the experience with her (and the amazing food) was unforgettable. I also need to thank her for taking care of my sun burn and for only saying "I told you so once." :-p

I feel that I have finally settled into this new rhythm of lifestyle, and I am glad that I made the decision to pursue the sport professionally. I have a lot of work ahead of me, but I no longer feel the rush of being result-oriented right now. Celebrating the small successes along the way, enjoying my training, and loving my team and coach are what keep me going. Having a growth mindset is key in the world of professional athletics. Working towards growth each day, enjoying the process of meeting such incredible people and pushing our bodies beyond what we think is capable, are what make the journey worth it. We have now put together my schedule for the 2017 season I am thrilled to be competing in my sophomore season as an elite. Cheers to many more races, difficult training sessions, mistakes, successes, and failures! Big thank you from the bottom of my heart to my sponsors for continuing to believe in me and for supporting me: Aqua Sphere, Infinit Nutrition (Ryan Good), and Swiftwick.

Buenos Aires CAMTRI Continental Championships start

Mom and I in Buenos Aires
Mom and I in Buenos Aires

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