USA Triathlon News Blogs Collegiate Recruit B... Train and Race in th...

Train and Race in the Moment

By Andrew Nielsen | Sept. 02, 2014, 12 a.m. (ET)

My last blog in April covered the Collegiate National Championships and the month leading up to that race. The racing and training I have completed since has flown by. This year, I made a quick transition to elite-level racing. My goals went from getting to the elite level to being competitive at the elite level. I started with an ITU Continental Cup in Ixtapa, Mexico, then a couple local, non-draft races, two more ITU races in Toronto and Magog, and finally, Chicago’s Lifetime series. I want to say a bit about how my season has gone and what I am looking to accomplish in the future.

As I reflect on my first elite season, I see a strong start at the Clermont EDR followed by a season full of ups and downs. I struggled with hydration/nutrition in Ixtapa and again in other races. Some cases were more severe than others, but it seemed like I was either throwing up in the race or going home with heat exhaustion. I tried new things and I was finally able to “keep it all in” in my last race in Chicago. I learned how to travel internationally for the sport. The hardest part for me was separating the feeling of vacation from the “work hard” mentality when I traveled. I remember thinking, “the last time I was in Mexico was to vacation and now I’m by a beach and I have to race?” That was a crazy feeling. I learned not to let the race control me, like in Ixtapa where 15 people flew by me on the bike as I entered T2. I needed to take charge, or at least be aware of what is going on in my races. 

I made a change, and in Toronto I was one of the first of my pack into T2. As the season went on, I tried not to make the same mistake twice. In Magog, my back brake was rubbing the whole ride and I didn’t find out until I got back to get my bike after the race. I went from top pack to third pack in that race and I felt like I was biking as hard as I could. That mistake will not happen again. To help keep these mistakes from happening again I try to envision my traveling and my racing. I imagine how it will feel and how I will react. I preview the course and I talk it over with my coach. I am always trying to feel as prepared as possible on race morning.

I’ve learned that it is important to reflect on each workout, prepare for each race and keep an open mind as the season progresses. I was a little narrow-sighted this summer. I wasn’t looking at the big picture. Instead, I was thinking about what I needed to do the next day. I was so concerned with my personal expectations that sometimes I forgot to live in the moment, something I have been so determined to do in triathlon. It is a lot easier and more fun to train and compete when you live in the moment. Take it all in and appreciate where you are in your career.

Moving forward, I’m fired up and already looking forward to what the next season has in store for me. Until then, I might do another triathlon or get into a few 10-kilometer races to get my run time down, which is critical for my ITU races. I am so thankful for everyone that has gotten me where I am and how they always continue to support me. While I cannot say I have everything figured out, I can honestly say I have made great strides and feel confident that this season has prepared me for future seasons.