Growing up in San Diego, triathlon was naturally all around me.
My father Stephen Armes was a professional triathlete himself, therefore I was surrounded with triathletes who were full-time professionals. I remember looking up to those guys and one day dreaming of being just like them. I grew up living in the water; my father had me surfing at the age of 6 and starting swim team around the same time. He threw me into a couple of “Diaper Dashes” during those years, thus developing the runner in me.
A few years later, in 2008, my father decided it was time for me to have a crack at triathlons. Even though it was a little kids triathlon and I was only about 10 years old, I was hooked.
Throughout middle school and high school, I still continued swimming and running track competitively. I dabbled in triathlon during these years but never took it up as a full-time sport, knowing that it wasn’t an NCAA sport.
I found my passion in track and field and was torn on whether to pursue that or triathlon after high school. American triathlete Tim O’Donnell spoke with me for about an hour on the phone persuading me that the opportunity to run for an NCAA school was an opportunity I would never get again, and that triathlon would always be there for me in the future.
I went off to run track at Auburn University; three years later I received an email from Barb Lindquist, Collegiate Recruitment Program Manager, giving me this opportunity to get back to the sport I loved.
She was gracious enough to set me up with a coach, Brooks Doughtie, to get me back into the training of triathlon in prep for summer 2018. This summer I competed in my first triathlon since 2014 and attended the CRP camp in Colorado Springs at the Olympic Training Center. I trained for the camp like it was going to be a race to make sure I was up for the 10-day long task.
The camp was loaded with lots of skills-based work focused heavily on our swimming. We spent four to five days working with Dr. G, who reviewed film of our strokes then created swim circuits having us perform drills that would help with the efficiency of our strokes.
Several of the drills were extremely challenging. He had us doing stroke drills with weights in the pool, bands around our ankles, drills with power racks, and swimming with water parachutes attached to our heads.All it took were these couple sessions and he dramatically improved my stroke.
We were lucky enough to snag USA Cycling’s Kevin Dessart to develop skills such as bike handling, pacelines and pack riding. We got onto the Velodrome with track bikes to truly show us how to ride in a paceline because track bikes have one gear and no brakes.
And even though we all came from a running background, USA Triathlon’s Running Specialist Bobby McGee still found ways to improve our running form and efficiency. My biggest area to work on is running slow! I was using way too much energy with my stride while I was jogging. Bobby had me sit further back on my mid foot and increase my cadence.
We were all learning these demanding skills together; therefore, having all these like-minded passionate people around me was tremendous.
Attending this camp made me realize those childhood dreams of mine that had been put on the back burner were coming to a reality, and it lit the fire in me to make them come true.
The skills I learned from the coaches have provided me with a firm foundation of fundamentals that will launch me into this professional career ahead of me with the support of some fantastic people. I’m fired up to finish college and my NCAA running career at Auburn so the next phase of life can start.