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New Season, New Opportunities

By Dylan Sorensen | Feb. 26, 2015, 12 a.m. (ET)

On February 21, I competed at the Tritonman Triathlon, an event put on by the UCSD Triathlon team. The race was beautifully set alongside Mission Bay, with the swim in the bay, the bike on Fiesta Island, and the run in Tecolote Shores Park. This race had been in my sights ever since I was the first athlete to not receive their elite license at the Detroit Triathlon EDR in August. In that race, I had been swimming and biking for a total of five weeks beforehand. Much for me had changed leading up to the race in San Diego; I continued training and made massive improvements in swimming and cycling as I was no longer a collegiate track athlete. I joined USA Triathlon’s Collegiate Recruitment Program at the beginning of November in Arizona, and along with that I received a new coach in Jarrod Evans.

Tecolote Shores ParkThis race was also special to me because unlike most EDRs, this race allows amateur athletes to compete alongside the elites. As time was drawing closer to the event, I could feel myself getting stronger and more excited to race. I felt like a completely different athlete, a new man. One could say that everything was going according to plan. However, a month out from the race I started having some pain on my lower stomach and went to see the doctor. After some tests, it was discovered to be MRSA. Basically, that is the worst kind of staph infection that a human can incur. It is resistant to most antibiotics, most people that obtain the infection must be hospitalized, and a relatively significant amount do not outlive the infection. I was blessed that my body accepted the strongest oral antibiotic that exists, because if it didn’t, well … I may not be writing this blog at all. While I had the infection, I certainly could not train and even had trouble walking. I spent two weeks lying down during my sleeping and waking hours. Here I must give a shout out to my roommates Eli Hemming, Chad Hall and Robby Webster for coping with me throughout this mess. Sob story aside, I recovered from the infection and was able to resume training after about two and a half weeks of pure rest. My coaches were unsure whether I should race or not, but I was dead set on racing. I had been looking forward to this day since I joined the CRP in November and did not want to let an excuse hamper my ability to compete.

Two days before the race, I drove out to San Diego from Phoenix and met up with my homestay host, Bill Jones. Bill is a former swimmer at Harvard and is nearing the end of his Ph.D. program at UCSD. He was not only my host, but also the race course director, so he gave me some tips about the ins and outs of the 60 minute (ish) journey I would be taking in and around Mission Bay on race day.

Race morning, I drove south on the 5 to the venue from La Jolla/University Town Center and began my warm-up. After a bit of running, the race briefing, squeezing into my wetsuit, and some swimming, it was time to race. The first buoy was only about 100 meters from the beach and I was in great position in the top 10 at that point. Unfortunately, just after we made the turn I was gassed. I did everything I could the rest of the swim to stay on feet and push on as fast as possible, but I felt like the title of Ellie Goulding’s song “Dead in the Water.” Coming out of the bay, I was dazed and it was hard just to put one foot in front of the other, but thankfully I ended up next to a friend of mine, Matt McElroy. He gave me some encouragement and I did everything that I could to run the 200 or so meters to transition, put on my helmet and ran my Litespeed bike out onto the course.

The bike was relatively uneventful as we circumnavigated Fiesta Island three times. Our group didn't end up riding hard and were caught by several athletes. Into the second transition, I was still feeling dazed and knew I needed to conserve my energy on the run, not attack it like I normally would. Matt and a couple other athletes blazed by me at the start and I had to do everything I could to hold myself back from going with them; I knew if I did I would likely not make it to the finish line on this day. I ended up building throughout the run portion but finished knowing that I did not achieve my elite license. Fifteenth place and seventh amateur was a bitter pill to swallow, but I certainly learned a lot from this race and will be able to apply it in Clermont in two weeks’ time.

I would be remiss if I did not thank USA Triathlon, Team Psycho, my family and my friends for supporting me and giving me the opportunity to pursue my dreams in the sport of triathlon. I am incredibly appreciative of what I have been given and am doing everything possible to utilize my resources to become the best athlete and person that I can be.

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