I graduated from Wake Forest University this past spring, where I ran cross country and track all four years. I wrapped up my last season as a Deac at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, where I placed seventh and received All-American honors in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.
Now that I’ve graduated, I’m ready to return to the sport I loved most growing up — triathlon! I’ve only been triathlon training for a few weeks now, but I’ve already improved so much thanks to Barb Lindquist and opportunities provided by USA Triathlon’s Collegiate Recruitment Program. This past week, I traveled to Carlsbad, California (my hometown!) to train under National Development Head Coach, Jarrod Evans, and the current athletes in the program. I experienced what daily life in the CRP is like and how it feels to train full-time alongside other young, motivated triathletes. Several of the days included three long sessions, with each workout bringing mental and physical challenges that I learned from. I practiced open water swimming at Mission Beach, biked up Carlsbad’s many hills, and ran along beautiful Highway 101. I definitely slept well every night!
I capped off my long week of training with the Solana Beach Triathlon. To say I learned a lot would be an understatement. I felt a little nervous going into the race, but I mainly felt excited to finally return to triathlon after a long, six-year hiatus from the sport. The race started off with a ¼-mile swim in the ocean. Thankfully, the ocean was as flat as a pancake, so I didn’t have to worry about any waves. I didn’t take the swim too hard, but I definitely kept an up-tempo pace. Everything was going well until I started to run out of the water. I saw a girl in front of me trip over a hole, and I laughed to myself a little bit. Karma came back to bite me because a few seconds later, I tripped over the same hole and fell face-first into the water. I recovered quickly and came out of the swim in around fifth place.
I passed a couple more girls running into transition and headed out onto the bike course. After finishing the first lap of the 9-mile bike, I made a wrong turn and lost about 20-30 seconds as I realized my mistake and got back on course. I shook it off and continued to pedal along at a steady pace for the final 4.5 miles. I entered the run feeling a little tired but still energized to throw down a fast 3-mile clip. A few minutes in, I realized I completely forgot to put on my race belt in transition. I couldn’t believe I made yet another mistake, but I didn’t let it bother me. I focused on staying as strong and relaxed as possible. With around 400m to go, a fellow racer told me I was making him look bad as I sprinted to the finish line (sorry dude!). I finished the race as the first overall female, and my run split was the fastest of the day for both males and females.
Although the race went well overall, I have huge room for improvement. I’m excited to take the lessons I learned from this race and apply them to my next one. My triathlon journey has just begun, and I couldn’t be more excited to see where this sport takes me in the future.