Sunday, August 17, 2014

USA Triathlon Nationals and Qualifying for Worlds

Everyone has dreams.  Most people have something they are passionate about.  I have always loved swimming and exercise.  I was always the kid who got out after everyone else did when we went swimming.  I remember I wanted to join swim team in HS, but there were 7 grade schools in my city, and my mom wouldn't take me out of school early to make it to practice.  I guess swim practice was during my school time.  However, what made me a decent swimmer was that she had Kristen and I in swim lessons from the age of 5 or 6-12. When I got to 7th grade, I remember that being a big adjustment.  So I didn't join swim team until 8th grade.  From then on, I got to swim varsity in HS. 

When I got a shoulder injury at the end of HS and had to go through some PT, I decided that I wanted to go to school to become a physical therapist. Long story on this that is written in a previous blog, but basically I majored in exercise science as an undergrad, and got into PT school at UT and Gannon that way.  I chose UT.  However, I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  I think back now and wonder if things went differently if I'd have made it in PT school.  Guess I'll never know, but in the meantime, I took an assistantship at BGSU for kinesiology (the study of human movement/exercise science), and got my master's in it.  I LOVED that program.  Anyways, I was pretty down after not making it in PT school.  I started to work, personal train some and teach fitness classes at the YMCA.  I waited a semester and a summer before I could start my master's in exercise science.  So what did I do...I decided to train for triathlons.  What the heck was I going to do with all that spare time anyways?  That was 4 summers ago.  I haven't stopped since. 

So it took me 4 years to figure out how to train somewhat correctly (I still have ways to go).  No problem, I think having a degree in exercise science helped me out, and my background as a swimmer, the marathon and ultramarathon I trained for, and the two 10k swims I had trained for, as well as the numerous other tri's I completed over the past 4 years, they all helped me get to this year and I learned something about myself and training through it all.  Also, there were many key people who helped and inspired me along the way, and who I think about when I train and race.  Too many to name, but thinking about them and how they approach training and racing always keeps me going! (Ultrarunner and triathlete friends!)  Mike also helped me get to where I am on the bike, and I owe much of it to him!

This year, I finally had the money and fitness to compete at USAT nationals.  I had qualified in my first year of triathlons, but I didn't really want to compete in it unless I was going to do very well.  So I think I signed up sometime in December for Nationals.  Beginning in January, I started my regular training.  I had a set-back, where I couldn't swim or run for 7 weeks because I got frostbite on both of my heels from doing something dumb.  The only exercise I could do was bike, because my bike shoes cut just below the wounds, and didn't both me on the trainer.  Also, Mike bought 2 computrainers in December.  I really enjoyed killing myself on that thing, and I still do :)  The workouts...are awesome.  I LOVE seeing my power.  I went ridiculous with it, sometimes I'd ride it 5-6 days a week 90min-2 hours or more.

This year, after the frostbite healed, I swam 3x a week (pretty intense) 3000m, biked 3-4x a week, with intervals (usually 2x20 min at my threshold), and run 2, sometimes 3x a week.  In June, I biked the same, added run intervals in, working up to 5.5mi of speedwork, and added another day or 2 of swimming in (ramping up swim meters toward the end, too).  My running was low mileage because I have a tendency to get injured on the left side (I have a weak hip).  However, no injuries this year, I think I did so much swimming and cycling, that all I needed to do was run an easy run or two, and have one intense run a week.  That really helped improve my time.  I never thought I would break 24min in a 5k, especially at the end of a triathlon, and I ran a 22:34 in one of them.  I also never thought my body could break a 49min 10k, and that happened at nationals with a time of 47:40. After a hard bike and swim!

So I went into USAT nationals pretty confident.  My original goal was to make it on the first page of results for my age group.  I made that goal come true!  I had an idea that I might have the chance to make it to worlds.  So I gave that race everything I had.  I have never raced so hard for anything in my life!  The run was the worst, the hardest.  (as it always is with me!).  I REALLY had to push myself to not slow down.  I wanted to walk SO bad, especially during the last 3 miles.  It's always a constant battle in my mind to stop running so hard, slow down, or walk.  But no....I must keep going is what I tell myself!  I finished with a time of 2:21:37, a PR.  I PR'd in each sport by a significant amount of time, as well. 

For some reason, I have a drive to keep training, and keep doing triathlons.  It is a lot of work, hard work, but it is always worth it in the end.  It makes me so happy. There is really nothing I'd rather do in my life than train.  I love it so much.  I am so proud, and feel so honored that I made Team USA to compete in the ITU Worlds Triathlon next year and get to wear that uniform!  I took the very last spot in my age group to compete, but that doesn't matter, I still made it!  I will be training hard for this...switching some things around and adding in a few different things in training.

For now though, a bit of a break.  I won't start swimming until probably after my honeymoon, when I can get back at the end of October and focus again on training.  I will still run and bike, but with no particular goal in mind except to stay in decent shape and make it up Mt. Haleakala crater in Hawaii on a bike!  Training for worlds is going to be hard work...the hardest I have ever worked in my life.  But I have higher goals now, now that I know what I can accomplish.  Goal setting is very important if you want to accomplish your dreams!

I hope to one day find a job in exercise science that I really enjoy.  It would be cool to train triathletes, or work for USA triathlon somehow, or just personal train more.  Or test VO2max's all day.....haha.  One day :)  For now I just keep searching and hoping :)  And trying to figure out what the heck I'm doing with my life.  At least I'm getting married and get to go to ITU Worlds!  So happy.