Thursday, March 20, 2014

"I Won't Quit, Cause I Want More"

Do I remember how to do this? What does it feel like to race again? How do I make sure not to get clobbered in a mass swim start? Transitions? Can I still do a flying mount? What does it feel like to hurt on the bike? And then I have to run? What have my competitors been doing? Am I ready?

All these things were running through my head a couple days leading up to my first race of the season, the Mooloolaba World Cup. Typically before competing in my first race of the season I like doing a low key race just to brush off the cobwebs. I was supposed to do a local duathlon in Scottsdale, AZ before I left for Australia but unfortunately it got canceled last minute due to flooding (in the desert). So heading into a “big” race I was more nervous that I had forgotten how to race than nervous for the actual race itself.

Then moments of enlightenment kept popping in and out of my brain. Those Coeur type moments that were more meaningful than all those doubts or insecurities. The moments where I got back my courage and realized in my heart that I was beyond ready. It was the confidence in my training and in what I have achieved in the past. In the pool leading up to the race I had been swimming faster than I ever have in training. In biking we had been well prepared for race situations by doing a ride in Phoenix called the Underground Crit. It was rides like this where I tried to hang with the boys in a group situation
with attacks and turns that made me feel both mentally and physically ready for the race. I also had a solid block of running under my belt where I had not only been having good workouts but also doing a significant amount of volume. Realizing all these things made me believe in myself, masking any uncertainties I had. It didn’t matter what everyone else was doing because I knew I was probably more ready and prepared for racing this season than I ever have been going into a first race.

The race started out exceptionally well with me leading out of the water onto the bike. It was pretty awesome starting in that way. I was told to go hard until the first turnaround on the bike and then see what was going on with the rest of the groups. I first got caught by Sweetland from Canada and Routier from Spain. Then our group continued to get caught by two other groups and pretty soon basically the entire field was together. It was a tough course and racing hard on the bike was a bit of a shock to the system. I came into transition in a good position and was able to get out and onto the run somewhere around 5th. When fellow USAT athlete Gwen Jorgensen came up behind me I decided to get right on her heels. Knowing she’s a dominating runner in triathlon it was a pretty safe bet that if I could hold on to her for long enough I would run my way to a solid finish. So I was able to stay with her for about 2.5 out of 4 of the laps. Then it was me and Ai Ueda fighting for the next position. We went back and forth but ultimately I was able to hold her off in the end and get 2nd behind Gwen!

It was awesome having two Americans on the podium and really exciting to start my season in that way. I think what made me the most stoked though was knowing that it was a good race but it wasn’t extraordinary and it was nowhere near perfect. There were things in the race that I can do better, and I know I can be stronger and faster. Right now I’m at a good point, but I also know I can be better all around.

The biggest lesson I learned going into this race is to always be confident in your preparation. Look at all the things you have done to get yourself to the starting line. Think of all those workouts you finished, and thought about how ready you were to race. Then think about the tough workouts that may not have been the best ones but that you gritted your way through the pain and finished anyways. No matter what type of workout or how the workout went all of these have prepared you for the race. They prepare you for the speed, the hurt and the mental toughness you’ll need to get through it.

So when you’re standing on the line with a few butterflies you know they’ll all fly away as soon as the gun goes off as you put into action what you’ve been training for all winter. I’m not on a team called Team Psycho for nothing, we’re crazy to do some of the things we do, but that’s why I love being on a team with a bunch of other nutcases who like to do the same thing. My theme song for the past weekend was “My body tells me no, but I won’t quit, Cause I want more, cause I want more”! And oh boy did that start to the season make me crave more! Good luck to everyone this season!!