“To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.” -Friedrich Nietzsche
As an athlete, one will constantly face adversity in sport. Adversity comes in many different forms, be it struggling through a hard workout, facing injury and returning to competition afterwards, or any other number of ways. Most forms of adversity in athletics are are self-inflicted and controlled by the athlete; suffering during a workout, soreness after a workout, and extreme fatigue from tough training. However, some forms of adversity are completely out of an athlete’s control. I wrote about how I suffered from a MRSA infection in my last blog, and this was something that was out of my control. I could not have prevented the infection, I could not have done anything to help the medicine work faster, and I couldn’t have done anything other than lay down on my bed for over two weeks just to recover from it. This adversity was different than anything I had ever faced before, but I found solace from some outside sources. For one, my roommate (Eli Hemming) would always put me in a better mood by watching some TV with me or say something to lighten up the mood. Secondly, my CRP teammates constantly let me know that they cared for me and would do anything to help as needed. Thirdly, my coaches offered an incredible amount of support to aid my healing process and increase my mental well-being.
Once I returned to training, I had a short amount of time until an Elite Development Race in San Diego and then another EDR in Clermont, Florida to try and regain some fitness. These were both races where I would have a shot at earning my elite license, which is necessary to compete in professional triathlons. I did not place well enough in San Diego to earn the license, and I knew that with a couple more weeks of training under my belt, I would have a good shot. I learned some valuable lessons in the race in San Diego that I took to heart and would apply to my race in Florida, such as not going out as hard in the swim and eating a bit more during race morning.
The race started off according to plan and I came out of the water at the tail end of the chase pack. After a smooth first transition, our chase group formed quickly. We tried working together in an effort to regain the 1 minute deficit to the lead group, but to no avail. The time gap remained the same at the end of the bike and I finished that segment of the race at the front of our group. My second transition was relatively quick and I was out on to the run. I focused on myself and trying to make up the gap one step at a time. Before I knew it, I was in 4th place halfway through the run and rapidly catching 3rd place. By the final turnaround (with about 1200m to go) I was comfortably in 3rd place and knew that I had my elite card in the bag. I attempted to catch the front two athletes, but they started running hard because they knew I was catching them. I enjoyed the last bit of the race because a top 3 finish would grant me the elite license that I have been working towards since I started triathlon 8 months ago.
I have to thank Bill Burnett, the race director of the Clermont Draft Legal Challenge, for providing an opportunity for athletes like myself to race in an environment that is identical to ITU racing. Bill offered 9 draft-legal races on race weekend, which served to promote the sport as well as excite younger athletes about the sport. I absolutely recommend anyone to race at one of Bill’s races, his company is called “Streamline Events.”
As always, I am incredibly thankful for the support of my family, USA Triathlon, and Team Psycho. I would not be in the position that I am without them and I can’t express in this text how much their support means to me. Up next will be the ITU Sarasota CAMTRI Sprint Championships on March 14. I am excited for my first pro race!