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Ending the Year with a Successful World Cup Finish

By Kirsten Kasper | Oct. 23, 2014, 9:36 a.m. (ET)

Where do I begin?

I can’t believe I have finished my first season of triathlon training and racing. This past weekend, I raced the Tongyeong World Cup and finished off the season strong by placing eighth overall.  I arrived in South Korea four days prior to the race, which gave me time to adjust to the 13-hour time change. By arriving early I had the opportunity to open water swim, bike the course and get in one last solid run workout.

I was well rested going into the race and felt mentally prepared. The plan for the race was to not be afraid or intimidated by the competition. I wanted to place myself in the front of the swim by being a leader to the first buoy. The plan worked out perfectly as I came out of the swim in 12th place in a field of 54. On the bike, I was riding in a small chase pack with the leaders in sight. I took one lap at a time as the bike course was extremely hilly and challenging. We were able to catch the lead group after the first lap. I did my best to try and conserve my legs over the five laps of the bike by allowing others to lead.

By the last lap of the bike, the pack had grown in size and it was a fight to be in the front as we approached T2. About a kilometer before transition, I moved up and put myself in the front of the bike pack. Unfortunately, I made my move too soon and was swallowed by the pack. I was no longer in the front or where I wanted to be going into transition. As I dismounted the bike, I had to catch my balance as my legs had almost gone out from under me. I gained my balance and tried to have the quickest transition possible. Since I was not near the front of the pack going into T2, I had a lot of ground to make up on the run.

I had my work cut out for me as there were strong runners in front of me and the four lap run course contained a challenging 120-meter hill. Over the first lap, I started to build momentum and my legs started to feel better. I steadily moved up and with five-kilometers to go I was running in a pack of four girls fighting for fifth place. The last hill took all I had out of my legs and when it came to the sprint finish I couldn't hold on. Although I didn’t have the sprint finish I would have liked, I was excited to achieve my goal going into the day of placing in the top 15. My race number was 47 (ranking amongst the racers) going into the race so my eighth place finish was a great achievement for the day.

When I joined the College Recruitment Program this past June, I had confidence triathlon would be a great fit for me. I never imagined four months later I would be competing in a World Cup event in South Korea. If it wasn’t for Barb Lindquist, I would never have known about the Collegiate Recruitment Program or never would have been able to make my desire to compete in triathlon a reality. Along with Barb, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank the people that believed in me and helped me get to this race. Thank you to Jarrod Evans, Jono Hall and Bobby McGee for seeing my potential when I started this past June and for providing me with the coaching needed to compete to the best of my abilities. Thank you to USA Triathlon for supporting me along the way. Finally, I want to thank my family and friends for encouraging me to chase my dreams and supporting me. Now it is time to enjoy some down time and take a break from training. I am looking forward to what the off season has in store and preparing for my first full season of triathlon racing.