With my triathlon season beginning in March and ending in October, it makes for one long year.
This year marked my first full year as an elite International Triathlon Union (ITU) athlete and the recent World Cup in Cozumel was my last of 12 elite races this season. The last several races I noticed how tired my body was from the 10 months of hard consistent training and racing, but nonetheless, toeing the line at a World Cup event like Cozumel holds excitement that even my body couldn’t help but get fired up for. The start list included many legends in the sport including Olympic gold medalist Nicola Spirig.
We stayed at a beautiful resort about 12 miles from downtown that had many crazy animals wondering around including flamingos, parrots, turtles, resort cats and big iguanas. The crowd and people of Cozumel were awesome and all came out to support us on race day. The city of Cozumel hosts several big races every year and showed great respect for triathlon. Having had some experience racing in Cozumel on this course, I knew the swim would be fast, bike would be tight and run would be hot.
The morning of the race started off hot as we expected it would. The swim was brutal with lots of kicking and punching the first 300 meters, but luckily I was able to sprint and grab a spot near the front of the pack as we made the turn for the first buoy. I came out of the water more exhausted that I hoped and in 10th position, but I was able to latch onto the back of the front bike pack as we headed out of T1. It didn’t take long before the second and third bike packs had all come together and we merged into an extremely large pack of about 45 women.
The bike course had four laps and was tight with one 180-degree turn, which forced us all to slow down each lap. This really tested our bike handling skills. Although we rode handlebar to handlebar, there were thankfully no crashes. But with a pack of 45 women, you can only imagine how crazy T2 was. The second transition was definitely a zoo as all the women rushed to rack their bikes and throw on their running shoes. The run was extremely tight for the first half mile. The pavement was painted over most of the run course which made for a very slippery run as athletes poured water over themselves at each water station, trying to keep themselves as cool as possible in the 90-degree heat.
I felt good on the first mile, but the heat quickly caught up to me. I began to find myself fading the second half. I finished and was a little disappointed with my run because usually that is one of my strengths. However, as I reflect back on this year, I can't be disappointed. I have learned so much about the sport of triathlon. I raced in my first World Triathlon Series (WTS) event, competed at the World University Games for Team USA, traveled to China to race the Chengdu World Cup, got my first podium finish, learned many strategies of draft-legal racing and learned to admire the dedication and determination of all the athletes that I have gotten to race against.
As I begin the offseason I have so many things to reflect back on and yet so many things to work on before the 2015 season begins. I am very thankful for the opportunity that USA Triathlon has given me and the support from all of my sponsors and supporters. After 12 races this season I am ready for a couple weeks to enjoy the offseason. What an experience this last year has been. It is truly an honor to be competing against such amazing athletes.