Tuesday, March 20, 2018

2018 Season Intro

The 2018 season has finally begun with my first two rust busters in Clermont and Sarasota, Florida early March. I spent the winter months putting an emphasis on my swim technique and overall strength. That being said, my Coach and I believe that it is essential to still maintain the other sports and never to fully neglect one; yes, this does not give us the instant gratification I so desire, but I think building up as an overall well-balanced athlete will serve more benefit in the long run. Mentally I was really driven on the swim, because I knew my run was top five to top ten contention in most races, but I needed to have the swim to put myself toward the front. I put my emphasis on it, but I never fully let go of the other sports.

this pic says it all. Sore arms!
I started back up with my strength coach Erin Carson, whom I worked with in college in Boulder, Colorado. I remember my first two years of triathlon I couldn't seem to find consistency in my training because I did not have the durability in any three of the sports due to my lack of background in any of the three. Erin really helped me build up my durability and taught me the importance of muscle activation and specific exercises for triathlon. This winter, we saw some drastic improvements in my swim. I decided to travel out to Siesta Key, Florida in December to do a winter swim training camp for one week with Greg Mueller and Team IE. I only had around a week of training since my season break, so my fitness was not there yet, but I wanted to go for the experience and change of setting. I had fun chasing Sarah Alexander, one of my good friends and competitors all week. I had never swam so much in my life, but I felt that this week and the increased experience in some pretty rough ocean conditions, gave me the confidence I needed in the open water. 35k of swimming in five days and I could barely lift my arms, or sleep, for that matter because I felt I was still being jostled around in the ocean, but this made me happy in a masochistic way. I used to be very fearful of feeling out of control in the chop, but I learned to embrace it and to flow with the water.

fun training with this group for the week!

I returned home to Colorado Springs with a new love of the water and I found some consistency in training the past few months which is something I had lacked before. My Coach Ken and I worked hard on my nutrition, putting an emphasis on muscle, weight, and fat gain, for we knew this could help my performance and overall health. Being a naturally lean person, and one of premature triplets, this process has been difficult, but I gained five pounds this winter, which has helped me better recover from hard sessions. I am still working every day to continue the gain, even if that means eating when I am not hungry and over eating to the point of discomfort. I had some of my best workouts this winter, setting PBs in all three sports this winter, which gave me confidence going into the race season.  I also feel that I found a level of balance with work and I am extremely lucky to work for Keysight Technologies, a company who supports my athletic ambitions and allows me to work a very flexible schedule. This lifestyle would be very difficult without them!

Race#1: Clermont, FL
I had a solid swim in Clermont exiting 8 seconds down from tail end of the lead pack. It was rough conditions, but I swam well and was so close but not close enough! I was happy that my swim improvements were showing in a race setting. I hopped on the bike with Severine Bouchez and Sophie Chase, two girls who I was excited to work with and I knew we had the potential to bridge up together. Unfortunately Sophie had a mechanical and Severine took off, and I could not hang onto her wheel so things quickly turned south. I panicked a bit, being in no man's land, and spent a lap chasing the lead pack when I should have been more aware of who was right behind me. I was caught by the chase group of three girls who are all strong on the bike. I had exerted too much the first lap chasing solo, and I made some tactical errors, not allowing myself to recover in the draft, so I was dropped again. Really frustrating after the improvement on my swim but that's all part of racing! I fell back to the third group and settled in. Lesson learned. Did my best on the run but legs were pretty flat, so could only run up to 11th. I was disappointed that my hard work didn't come together on race day, but hungry after this race because I knew I made some mistakes that were in my control, which I could improve at my next race opportunity.
Race prep with PEAK Multisport

Race#2 Sarasota, FL

Sarasota Race Start (credit: Jarrod Evans)
I spent the week between races laying low and doing some short race-prep workouts with my coach just to keep my body sharp. I also worked remotely, but with all the free time (which I am not used to), I felt pretty antsy all week. I already bought myself a coloring book for next time :) By race day I felt like a caged animal, and was motivated to explode off the line. I once again had a good swim, and luckily grabbed onto Erika Acherlund's wheel who helped to pull me up to the lead pack not far ahead. It was a big group and the first time for me in an elite race I came off the bike with the leaders. I had a solid first lap of the run, holding onto fourth and chasing the third place girl, but my form fell apart in the second lap, and I think this was partly physical/partly mental being in an unfamiliar position. I was passed about 400m on an uphill before the finishing shoot and with the time adjustment (race course was long) I ran a 17:51 5k. I am where I need to be at the beginning of the season but I am driven to increase my focus on the run now and to see how it progresses.
 I was thrilled to have executed all three sports reasonably well for the first time in 1.5 years. I have learned how hard it is to put all three together in one day, so even though this was not a podium performance, it gives me a taste of success and progress is progress.


on the run

Coach Ken and I post race. Happy with the progression.

I am motivated to continue the consistent training in both the mental and physical aspects of the sport and to build up my run volume, fitness, strength, and throw in some more intensity this next little while. I have five weeks until the next race and the summer season will start shortly afterward. I will have a squad to train with this summer, a group of positive girls, all of whom have their strengths so we can really push each other and help one another grow each and every day. I am embracing the grind and loving the journey, cause it's a hard one but it sure is fulfilling.

"I don't wish it was easier. I wish I was better"-Shalane Flanagan

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