A Time for Firsts

By Katie Hursey | March 06, 2013, 12 a.m. (ET)

In May 2012 I graduated from Syracuse University and competed in my final season for the Orange. After graduation the big question is always, “What are you going to do now?” I remember someone asking me that question after my graduation. I responded that I was going to train for triathlons. When asked if I was going to get a job, I responded, "No, I am going to put off the real world for a bit and try my chances at pursuing a career as a triathlete." I felt a little silly with my response, knowing that person probably thought I was crazy and was pretty skeptical of my future plans. However, I never was. I always believed that I could be a professional triathlete and earn a living.

This weekend is going to be my first race as a professional triathlete. It will be my first draft-legal race (having earned my pro card in all non-draft legal events) and most importantly it will be the first time I get to wear a uniform with my name across my butt. The same uniform that shows I am representing my country! Going into the race I’m nervous. I’m excited. I’m anxious. During the past few months, I’ve had waves of emotions go through my body. My coach and I have planned on Clermont being my inaugural professional race since October, and in October Clermont seemed so far away. Now with the race just days away, a certain calm has come over me. I will trust in my training and see what I can do out there.

These past few weeks at the Olympic Training Center have really helped me prepare for Clermont and Sarasota. Training in a 50-meter pool has me feeling stronger than ever! I have been having so much fun attempting to mix it up with the other triathletes training here and getting my butt kicked on a daily basis. The group rides out to the Air Force Academy have been another learning experience I have enjoyed riding close with other riders, responding to the attacks and pushing my limits to stay with the breakaway; it’s my favorite workout of the week. I’ve definitely been learning how to push my limits on the bike and move out of my comfort zone.

katieWith the run, I feel like just running at altitude is making me a stronger runner. Furthermore the race simulation brick workouts have helped prepare me for swimming in chaotic situations with other people, bike race scenarios, transitions and running hard off the bike.

I’ve not only been prepared physically but also mentally. I’ve been given race advice from Olympians like Hunter Kemper and Barb Lindquist; plus, the Elite Triathlon Academy athletes, my fellow Collegiate Recruitment peers, Greg Billington and all the coaches have also had great advice to share from their past experiences.

Although I am feeling ready for the race, I have to say I am most excited for the experience. I am well aware that I am back at the bottom of the stack and I am excited to finally get a taste for this whole pro racing deal. Claiming a starting position, swimming with strong swimmers, having a small transition area with a box to aim all my equipment into, not having to worry about draft zones but rather embracing the fact I get to draft and being in a competition with the best of the best; athletes I look up to, athletes I admire and athletes I hope to be up with someday.

For me, Clermont is the first race of what I hope is a long triathlon career. It is the starting point and from there I hope to swim, bike and run towards my goal as a top professional triathlete. What are you goals for your first race this season?