Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Grand Event! Edmonton WTS

Yesterday I did something in my triathlon career I hadn’t done yet,
I competed in my first World Triathlon Series Grand Final event!
After some rough patches throughout this year,
I wasn’t quite sure what shape I would be in as it grew near.
Winning Kelowna was a really great feeling but it was a more low key race,
And in Stockholm I wasn’t happy with my performance, but was happy with my place.
After Stockholm I got sick with some kind of flu,
Apparently it got quite a few other athletes too.
Thankfully I kept feeling better and better as the week went on,
And by the time the race rolled around all illness was gone.

I got through the week really listening to what my body was saying,
Knowing that pushing too much at this point wasn’t a game worth playing.
The more rest the better to head into the biggest race of the year,
I couldn’t believe how fast it came up and was nearly here!
I started the race ranked number 22,
Diving into the swim knowing precisely what I had to do.
I tried to save more energy this time and swam farther back,
Trading clear water for a lot more contact in the middle of the pack.
Picture by Dean Hardie
I came out of the water and had a pretty good transition onto the bike,
Right away knowing this was a group I was going to like.
We had strong cyclists and Lucy Hall took control,
I think we were all in agreement we had a common goal.
Thanks for the picture Dean Hardie!
To try and get as far ahead of the chase pack as we possibly could,
And I would say we worked well together which was really good.
I was extremely happy with my riding in the race,
Excited to be a part of the pack and helping to push the pace.
Compared to Stockholm it was night and day,
Finally feeling comfortable, sometimes even leading the way.
Awesome picture by Rich Cruse
 Getting off the bike I may have had the slowest transition ever,
Which really cost me in this race, when everyone else started together.
Do not misjudge the importance of transitions is something I find,
Because I had to do a lot more work to catch up from behind.
Another cool picture by Dean Hardie!


But I slowly worked my way to maintaining 4th or 5th place,
However, unfortunately I had no sprint at the end of the race.
I got passed by four and was ninth crossing the line,
So happy to finish this race in the top ten that I really can’t whine.
I’m finishing the series in the 16th position,
Only 6 places off my original mission.
Picture brought to you by:Alejandro Maldonado
A couple months ago I never thought I would be able to rebound like this,
But I am so excited to be on the rise and learn from all the things that went amiss.
I could not have done it without my support crew for sure,
My family, Tommy, my friends, Bobby McGee and so many more.
And of course to my sponsors for their unyielding faith in me,
Having your support this season was definitely key.
To Team Psycho, Coeur, ROKA, Brooks, Powerbar and Endurance Shield,
You all stand out far above the rest of the field.

But it’s a trick the Grand Final doesn’t mark the end!
I actually have about 4 more races in which to contend.
On September 11th I’ll be racing the Las Vegas Super Sprint,
And thus will continue the final two month racing stint. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Stockholm's Successful Struggles

Well since I last wrote yet another race has come and gone,
And before I know it Edmonton will be here where I’ll be hoping to show my brawn.
I arrived in Stockholm after the fourth and final flight,
Arriving pretty late on Wednesday night.

I’d never been to this city before and it was a lovely place to be,
Even getting lost on the bike pre-race didn’t bother me.
I had a few concerns leading up to the race,
Mainly not knowing how to deal with cobblestones if rain was taking place.
 
At the same time I felt more confident than I had in WTS’ past,
Which I think came from learning from the ones that I’d done last.
Warming up for the race things got a bit rushed,
Typically I do a swim warm up, but this time the water was not touched.
I ran out of time and my run prime took precedence,
But I’d be lying if I said it didn’t make me a little hesitant.
 
However, when the swim began all turned out fine,
The chop made it challenging to keep a straight line.
With my ROKA wetsuit I hooked on the front pack when they came by,
Groff, Hall and I coming out behind Routier for the 2nd out of water tie.

The transition was on a hill,
And I came out thinking it was something I wanted to kill.
But that mean little bugger showed me it’s stuff,
And after doing it 8 more times at the end of the race I’d had enough.
 
Going onto the bike there was no rain,
But I can certainly assure you there was a lot of pain.
My first three laps were ok, but I consistently found myself at the back,
And then after that I found myself 10 meters off the pack.
 
Luckily I stayed and didn’t lose too much ground,
But this was not an effective way to conserve energy that much I found.
As soon as I caught up to the group I’d pop right back off,
And the strength at which the front pack was working was nothing to scoff.
 
Getting off the bike and transitioning up the hill was a meer crawl,
It definitely felt like I was about to hit my wall.
And in a way I kind of did, my run really wasn’t very great,
But because the front pack worked so well my placing is something I certainly can't hate.
Sarah Groff and Lindsey Jerdonek celebrating awesome finishes!
I finished up 7th with my best WTS finish yet!
And was I happy? Yes you bet!
I don’t find this to be my best race by far,
But I held strong and still managed to raise the bar.
I’m excited because it means I have so much more,
Coeur’s heart and courage came in handy during this race for sure.
Not to mention fellow American Sarah Groff won,
And my dear friend Lindsey Jerdonek was 5th when she was done!
That means we had three Americans in the top 7,
And don't forget USA's Ben Kanute he was 11!
So what a great weekend and experience this has been!
Though there are definitely improvements that need to be made; I’m calling it a win.

So now I’m in transit,
To complete the Canada sandwich,
And as long as the Icelandic volcano doesn’t blow,
I’ll be in Edmonton tonight to begin the Grand Final show!



Most pictures brought to you by Victor Carapelho, our wonderful masseuse and apparently photographer :) 

Kelowna Pan American Cup

August 17th marked the beginning of my triple race tour,
The race taking place on the Okanagan shore.
So the first thing we did from the US was travel up,
To compete in the Apple Tri Kelowna Pan American Cup,

After NYC I was feeling good to go,
But also more nervous than I liked to show.
I knew who would be there and that the course suited me well,
But there were also more unknowns from what I could tell.
I was aware Summer Cook was a good swimmer and to hang on her feet,
And Paula Findlay would be coming back hungry as she had many goals to meet.
Though we didn’t discuss it much Paula and I both had a plan,
To work together as much as we possibly can.
Well last Sunday everything worked out just right,
And I ended up getting to be satisfied with a win that night.
The swim was solid and I came out with the lead pack,
Hopping on the bike getting ready to attack.
From the start of the bike Paula and I went real hard,
Dropping the rest of the field and still staying on guard.
Working with only one other person can be pretty tough,
There was no hiding when the legs had had enough.
We worked well together and got off the bike with a significant lead,
Which was good when my transition was not as fast as I would typically need.
I struggled to get my shoes on fast,
 And Paula went out on the run with a blast.
I followed behind making sure to keep her in my sight,
Reeling her in little by little wanting to make sure I paced myself right.
Once I got to her side I continued to push,
I kept being afraid she was going to pass me with a “whoosh!”
Coming down the final stretch I realized I had the win,
And couldn’t be more happy with how the trip was going to begin.
And then Tommy Zaferes won the men’s race too,
I realized being even happier was something I could do.
It was so much fun standing on the podium with my best friend,
And being able to completely celebrate with one another in the end.
It’s not often both partners get to be satisfied with a win,
But it is certainly something I think we’d both like to do again.
Next up for me is Stockholm WTS and I am in transit as I write,
Looking forward to racing hard this weekend with all of my might.

Thanks again to my sponsors for supporting me when times are rough,
Helping me back to the wins, because I can't get enough.
Team Psycho, Coeur, ROKA, Brooks, PowerBar, Endurance Shield you all are the best,
That is certainly something to which I can attest!

Ok, ok so my post of this may have been a bite late,
Because if you read my next post you’ll find out about my Stockholm fate J

Photo credit: KelownaNow

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Cheers NYC!

When I found out I was going to be racing Lifetime N-Y-C,
I was excited thinking racing a nondraft would be fun for me.
To be honest New York City overwhelms me quite a lot,
A girl conquering the big city is just something I am not.
But I was excited because before the trip was through,
I got to see my family as well as a bunch of friends from SU!
So many people who had made it out to the race,
Giving me the motivation to keep pushing when I fell off the pace.

You see my swim started out quite well,
But everyone exited the water together as far as I could tell.
Then began the long run to transition and I was second onto the bike,
And for me this was quite a brutal hike.
After only riding my TT bike three times before the race,
I quickly figured out I was in an uncomfortable place.
I rode up on my hoods and never found rhythm in the ride,
Did you know within NYC there are a lot of hills that hide?
Well anyways I struggled a lot and came off the bike quite behind,
And starting the run I was finding it hard to really grind.
Just when I wanted to give up I saw my friends in the park,
And them being there gave me a spark!
I could only see one person up ahead,
But started to pick up those legs full of lead.
After picking off one there was no one in sight,
So I tried to keep a rhythm as hard as I might.
Finally I saw two more in the distance,
And came up on them without too much resistance.
And that is where I finished the race,
After all that I ended up in 5th place!

Not a bad finish with a bike that was lacking,
Happy all considering my TT training has been slacking.
It was a good first race back from an injury and this time there were only good kinds of pain,
And by racing, even if it wasn’t everything I had hoped for, there was certainly a lot that I gained.

Without my friends and family there I may have checked out,
And I know that them being there helped me stay in the game without a doubt.
When I was racing at SU I always loved cheering for one of my friends because she always listened,
If you told her to stay on a girl during a run- right on that girl’s hip she would remain positioned.
It was so much fun to cheer and feel like I was really helping in some way.
And that is exactly what happened for me today.
What’s even better is that friend was one of the ones who came to watch,
I took a bit of Spags toughness and when I saw them I picked it up a notch.


I thought about how lucky I must be,
For everyone to wake up so early and stand in the rain just for me,
Their cheers and support kept me in the game,
So that in the end I didn’t feel shame.
Today on the course there were always people keeping me going,
As the hills in central park continued rolling.



Just know when you cheer at a race for someone you know or a random athlete,
That your words might be the reason they’ll be able to push harder the next few feet.
Never underestimate what encouraging words can do,
Because during today’s race that got me through.
And as always the support of Coeur, Team Psycho, ROKA, Brooks and Powerbar cannot be missed,
I’m backed by such encouraging companies that are so much better than I ever could have wished!
Thank you to all and to all a good night,
In two weeks I will be on my Kelowna flight!




Saturday, July 12, 2014

A Late Update

So it’s been a while and a lot has happened since I last wrote,
Training in Spain, London WTS and Tommy’s seizure are all of note.
After Japan I headed to Spain,
Where I was a little too eager to get back in the game,
After thee weeks off running I tried to come back too fast,
And ended up injuring my Achilles, not learning from the past.

I raced London WTS anyhow, something I do not regret,
I led out of the water in one of my best swims yet.
Scrambling out of my ROKA wetsuit to make the front pack,
Working hard with fellow competitors; rotating through front to back.
Off onto the run, trying to put myself in good position,
Ahead fellow Americans Gwen and Sarah out on a mission.
I wanted so badly to be able to hang with them on the run,
But unfortunately the fact I hadn’t run in a while stung.
I fell back and ended up finishing thirteenth in my best WTS finish yet,
But being able to taste the potential of an all-American podium is something I will not forget.
I finished London knowing if I was injury free,
Up on those steps is where I would be.
I was really happy with my race considering the past few weeks,
But to get back to where I was I needed consistency rather than little peaks.
I was happy but not satisfied and a fire had been set,
To set myself up to reach the goals I hadn’t met yet.

 Later that night when I was enjoying my fish and chips meal,
I found out that Tommy had suffered quite an ordeal.
Upon his finish in Dallas he had two seizures resulting from heat stroke,
And when I found out he was in the hospital my heart completely broke.
 So I headed to Dallas to be by his side,
The flight there being by far the longest plane ride.
Although scary moments; after a few days he was released,
And then it was off to Santa Cruz to recover by the beach.


 We were both taking our time getting back to training,
Me still getting over Achilles issues that were remaining.
It was the perfect place to be and we had some fun,
We got to meet his new nephew for one,
I also celebrated my birthday learning how to surf,
And did some rides on the coastal Santa Cruz turf.

We drove down the coast on Route 1 to pick up my car,
From Cathy Holl who had done a great favor by driving it up so far!
We were surrounded by all the love and support of family and friends,
And in time with that and some rest, both of us were on the mend.



So where we are now? Well we went on quite a long drive,
And after three days of driving finally in Boulder we did arrive!
It’s been great getting back into things and figuring everything out,
I’ll be finishing this season even stronger; I have no doubt.
I learned a lot throughout this trying part of my year,
First being that I am not invincible I fear.
It was a hard truth to swallow but leads me to the rest,
That sometimes taking some time off is going to be best.
 Listening to your body is a very important skill,
And when it says no, well you better just sit still.
When it’s ready you’ll be good to go,
But if you keep pushing, your recovery will be slow.
Currently I’m getting back into things and being smart,
Hoping to race soon with both Coeur-age and heart.
At the moment I'm not quite sure what my next race will be,
But I'll keep you posted when I figure out what path is going to be best for me.
Thank you to all my family, friends and sponsors for your unfathomable support,
I’m excited to be back at training in all three aspects of the sport!



Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Brains over Brawn

It's not exactly how I imagined my race morning; unconcerned of when exactly I woke up, no need to meticulously go over what I would take down to the course and the timeline I would need to follow for my race day schedule. I wasn't applying my race tattoos or checking to make sure everything on my bike was good to go. Rather, I found myself doing my best to maintain normalcy around the people who would be racing. Hoping to do anything I could to be useful to others on race day. Even if all it was was carrying a spare wheel to the course or returning a wetsuit to the athlete lounge. You see, WTS Yokohama was the first race I've ever sat out due to injury. After crashing in Cape Town the doctor had told me at best it would take 2-3 weeks for my ribs to recover. Well as many athletes in my situation would believe, that doctor must be telling me the recovery time for a "normal" person-- not me. So I had every intention of traveling to Japan and racing.

It turns out I am a bit more human than I'd like to believe. My ribs didn't mend themselves as quickly as I had hoped. It took me until the day before the race, doing the swim course recon, when I realized racing was not going to be a smart idea. Even if I was able to get through the race, what would be the future cost? Sometimes it takes heart and courage to decide not to race and it was a risk I ultimately decided I was not willing to take.

It's funny how many personalities I found myself to have when making this decision. There were two little consciences sitting on my shoulder battling it out. One of them telling me to be tough and fight through; telling me that I could finish and that the pain would be worth it. The other one taking the more rational side reminding me of the physical demands a triathlon would require of me. Also reminding me what toll a race could have with my body not fully repaired or ready. I sought out advice from others, but ultimately I knew I had to make the decision myself. So all leading up to the race I prepared to take my position on the starting line. Then the day before the race clarity hit, and my thoughts were reaffirmed. Racing=mistake. As hard as it was for me to come to that decision I was confident that I had made the right choice.

However, all was not lost in my trip to Japan. Due to the fact I was getting ready to race I got very familiar with the course. I rod the course everyday leading up to the race and even though the stop lights were quite cumbersome I grew to love it (which made choosing to race even harder, because I felt the course suited me). I really liked the swim with its two lap course and dive in right after coming up the ramp. So although this year did not work out, I am already anticipating a return next year and I cannot wait to race at this lovely venue!

 I also got to experience a wonderful culture with great people who follow the rules. There is no jay-walking here and even with a severe lack of trashcans the streets are so clean! There is so much pampering in the bathrooms where the toilets are bidets with heated seats and rushing water sounds to aid in the process. It was pretty cool, though at times challenging to come to a place where English speakers are a rarity and you order your food based on pictures.

Then it was race day where I watched my friends and teammates prep for a race that I should be doing as well. I learned a lot watching the race. It was my first WTS race I'd ever viewed and I got quite a different perspective watching it rather than being in it. Watching it I was able to see how much those precious seconds count; whether it be a gap in the swim, a speedy transition or watching the time between bike packs deteriorate and all of a sudden the race had become a road race. It's fun witnessing true grit take place on the course and seeing how different strategies play out. Seeing some athletes have breakthrough performances while others struggled a bit on the day--every single person leaving it all on the course.

Watching the race was inspiring. It makes me even more motivated to get back out there as soon as my body is ready. As I've been reminded there are plenty more races to come and I can't wait to perform at the level I know I am capable of. Competing not with just a "race to race" attitude, but rather with a "race to win" one. I really can't thank my friends, family and Coeur Sports enough for being there for me as I made this decision and supporting me in my choices. Now onward to the next race where I am so looking forward to embracing the Team Psycho in me.

Monday, April 7, 2014

So you had a bad day...

This past weekend’s race at the Auckland WTS did not go as planned or as hoped. I started out the race with a solid swim which gave me good positioning on the bike. However very early in the bike I found I did not have the legs to get me up the hills of a very challenging course. Throughout the eight laps I continued to get dropped from pack after pack. In addition I got a bit caught up behind a crash (first one not to hit it, so body completely intact), but to be honest I don’t think it really affected me other than just creating another challenge. Towards the end of the ride I thought I was going to get lapped out, meaning I wouldn’t continue on to the run. I got flustered when that didn’t happen and came into transition unprepared to dismount my bike. This is where I made my biggest mistake of the race. In allowing myself to get frazzled I dismounted my bike and unclipped my helmet before racking my bike. The moment I did it I knew it was wrong and that I would be serving a penalty, but off on the run I went.

At this point my legs had nothing, but I have vowed to never let myself quit a race. And so I mustered up all the Coeur I had inside me and I continued on to the run. I was able to pick off a few people ahead of me but my run was far from spectacular. On the second lap I passed the penalty box and saw that my number had been removed from the board. After asking twice if I needed to stop I was told to just continue to the finish. My incorrect assumption was that I was too far back and that my penalty no longer mattered.

Finishing the race I was disappointed in myself. I wasn’t sure what went wrong or why I was unable to perform to my potential. However, after a bit I was able to regroup and get myself to a happier place where I realized not all was lost in the race. I had a solid swim and I finished the race without giving up. It also helped me identify weaknesses and reflect on things I could have done differently to change the outcome. The race didn’t go well, but it was done and it was time to move.

 And then I found out I was disqualified. I was devastated. Turns out that unclipping your helmet when still in possession of your bike is grounds for disqualification. The call could have been contested but only within the first five minutes of my finish and after that there is nothing that can be done. I was now physically and emotionally defeated. To me placing 36th is a lot better than a disqualification.

And then the support came. So much emboldening and consolation from many different people. Coaches of other athletes giving me encouraging words. Athletes who had done spectacularly and should be celebrating their own performances comforting me. New friends from New Plymouth reminding me not to forget accomplishments of the past. Veteran triathletes reminding me that it happens, it sucks but it’s no big deal and to move on. Friends and family from back home sending their love. Messages from my Coeur family being unfathomably supportive and reminding me to keep my head up. And Tommy who was there to listen to me as I talked everything out.

So now after having time to digest everything, I’m still disappointed but I also have learned invaluable lessons. The biggest, is that by not giving up I felt the hurt, I suffered through it and I know I’m a stronger athlete today than I was yesterday because of it. I’m also driven to not let that happen again; to compete as the strong mental and physical athlete I know I am and to not make silly mistakes that can cost me a race. I’m ready to go back to Scottsdale regroup and better myself. Yesterday was no bueno, but it’s now time to learn and move on and get ready for the next one…Capetown WTS!