Wow this was an exciting event and even though this race didn’t go as planned and had a very different outcome for me than was expected I am greatful for the experience and have learned a lot.
Preparations started for this race well over a year ago when I first qualified to attend it. I was thrilled to qualify just one week after last years Nationals experience and I was even more thrilled to learn it would be held in Burlington, Vermont again. I assumed the course would probably be the same and so I knew exactly what I was preparing for. As always it’s important to train for the terrain and mimick racing conditions as closely as possible. The only thing that I knew would be hard to prepare for is the humidity since Vermont is very different than Utah but it didn’t seem to be a big factor in my race this year (there were far greater concerns as you will learn. Keep reading).
This particular year was also very exciting as I was one of the athletes chosen to take part in the Endurance Films Racing Team. It is such an honor to be associated with such a good quality company that offers great products. Needless to say I was thrilled to meet the team at the expo and get to know other athletes on the team. It was also a privilege to meet the owners of the company in person. After the team meeting we picked up our racing gear and set out to perform our own pre-race rituals.
This year I had decided to rent a bike to alleviate the stress of taking it apart and shipping it. While the bike I rented was nice and roughly fit for me, it wasn’t my bike. This was the first learning experience I had. Simply it’s worth the extra time and effort to be able to ride on your own bike, even if you have to ship it across the country. While renting a bike was not cheap it was still less expensive for me than shipping my bike across the country, not to mention the damage it can sustain. But if I were to do it again I would ship my bike. Simply my bike is fit for me and much lighter than the rental. And as many of you dedicated athletes know you develop a bond with you bike. I know it sounds silly but it’s true (you know what I am talking about). Although I have not named my bike – it’s my baby and I am familiar with how it handles.
As usually I was fairly anxious about the race and as usual run through the race many times in my head as well as literally run through the transition area making sure my mind is completely prepared. This “practice” ended up serving me well as I believe my body went on “auto-pilot” after I was knocked silly on the swim. At this point you are probably wondering “What happened?” so here’s the story. Just over two-thirds of the way through the swim somebody (a big burly male no doubt) swam over me coming down on the back of my head forcefully; knocking me under the water and nearly knocking my cap and goggles completely off. Immediately I was disoriented and felt confused. After this point I only remember small fragments of the race until just after the half way point on the cycling route (about 12 or 13 miles into it). I remember the intense pain in my head, dizziness and nausea and remember thinking to myself, “This is not a good time to get a migraine.” My vision when back and forth between blurry and normal and I remember feeling scared and doing my best to ‘hold my line.’ At this point I didn’t associate the hit on the swim with the symptoms and thought this is not a good day to be “feeling like crap.” I of course pushed through. Immediately out of the second transition (T2) and at the start of the run there is a steep short uphill and I remember distinctly wonder if my body would be able to make it through the run. For me not finishing was not an option. I didn’t travel all this way to not finish, so even if I had to crawl I would finish this race! The waves of nausea and the feeling of having to vomit intensified and the headache hovered over me. I felt like I was in a cloud and my body didn’t seem to want to cooperate with my mind. I remember feeling like I was in a dream where you try to go and your body won’t. Mentally and physically I felt completely exhausted and it took everything I had to complete the race. I had nothing left for my trademark finish kick.
I really believe what carried me through the race was my training and the practice runs I did through the transition area before the event. I can’t remember what actually happened during that time but I must have been on auto pilot to find my way and cycle without futher incident. It took shear will-power to complete the race. For me even before I got on the plane to fly to the event I decided that I would give it my all. I had prepared, I had trained and I had decided that I was determined to make the USA team. Despite my result and even though I didn’t make the USA team I do believe I put in all the effort into the race that would have been required had I not been hit. Either way there is something to learn from each experience in our life, and we probably gain far more from disappointment than winning. I plan to train once more to compete at USA Triathlon AG Nationals in 2013 with that hope of making the USA team. As of now I will rest and allow my “brain to heal” per doctors orders and hope to get back to racing soon. I expect that my close friends will likely tease me about having “brain damage” but I will continue to blame it on my blonde hair color. After all, blondes have more fun.
Coach Lora Erickson
USATF certified Running Coach
Owner, Blonde Runner Health
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Proud member of the Endurance Films Racing Team
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Check out this great highlight reel of the USA Triathlon AG Nationals – Olympic Distance