Entry #1: travel woes
Duathlon World Championship. Just typing it is exciting. I never thought I would be a world class athlete. Now I’m training with the best of New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, and others. The trip started with trouble. My bag was too heavy and the bike fees increased. So there I am in the middle of the airport unloading my bags of nuts and protein shakes and trying to stuff them in my bike box. However, I’m glad I brought 3 lbs. of food because the schedule and the menu here have me relying on them a lot.
The plane was on time both at BWI and Philly so that was good. I met up with my nationals roommate so I had some company for the rest of the trip. We then take a very expensive van cab to the train station where we wait 2 hrs for our 11 o clock train. Get to the platform ready to rest. So here we are, now up for 24hrs, hungry ad tired with our bikes and luggage and they won’t let us on the train. We were told by our team agent and the when we booked our ticket that bikes were allowed. After 20 min of arguing in my best Spanglish the train left without us. Exhausted and teary eyed we handed over our money and rented a car. We now had to drive 4+ hours which took us 5-6 because we had to keep stopping for coffee. Awful! The next part of the adventure was finding the drop off location the next day. GPS took us to nowhere. After an hour or more of driving we found it…….5 minutes from the hotel. We had to run back so of course a storm rolled in. Still, we were running in Spain so it was awesome. We got 7 miles in and then the rain stopped (of course). Time for Siesta! Siesta is from 3-8pm and EVERYTHING is closed. Which you think would be great except if you are hungry.
Entry #2: food challenges
Siesta es no bueno! Waiting until 8 or 9 pm to eat is very difficult. I have eaten so much trail mix I don’t want to see any for a very long time. In a city of bread protein is hard to come by, unless its cheese and jamon (ham thinly sliced) or eggs. Both of which are scarce between 2 large baguettes. Eating for performance in a foreign country is difficult. The fear of getting sick is great one must stick with plain bland foods. This wasn’t hard since the alternatives were things like ox tail, broiled squid, tuna, or cod loin. So I stuck with my eggs for breakfast, broiled chicken salad for lunch and lots of mixed nuts and Trychips (all natural freeze dried fruit) in between.
My first few days there were spent trying local restaurants to see how certain foods affected me not only GI wise but energy level in the next day’s work out. The other challenge was finding one that would be open early enough for pre-race dinner. I always bring my ready-to-drink protein shakes as a backup but I prefer real food when possible.
Entry # 3: workouts
Feeling good after Sundays run in the rain I put my bike together and was eager to get out on the course and see the hellacius climb we had been promised. After about a 10K steady climb (with a beautiful view of the city) the ascent, of course, was just as steady with several techniqual curves to maneuver. The climb I could handle but with several of my friends crashing this week I must admit I was taking the descent cautiously. I would have to do the course a few times so I could get comfortable and relax but not wear out my legs climbing. I’m glad I got there early.
Tuesday I wanted to swim but it was still cold and rainy. I did yoga and some core work instead
Wednesday the rest of the team and the other countries arrived. I ended up doing a run and riding the course with the South African Elite guys. It was super fun but, as I found out later, I was rode way to hard since my legs yelled at me when I tried to run up my stairs to my hotel room. It’s hard not to get excited with all these great athletes around.
Feeling my Wed workout I took Thursday off and took an Epsom salt bath. Stayed around the hotel so I didn’t walk too far. Took full advantage of the ART medical staff and got some knots worked out and kinesiotaped some inflamed areas.
Friday I taught a yoga class for TeamUSA on the rooftop of the hotel. Finally, the sun was out. We over looked the beach on one side and the mountains on the other- beautiful! Today we had a full schedule: team picture, team meeting, parade of nations, team dinner. I was fun to see all of the other countries. Saturday is the elite, youth, and paraduathlete race as well as bike check in.
Entry # 4: RACE DAY!!!
My wave starts at 10:20am…….that’s right not 6 am but mid-morning!! Not that I got to sleep in, I kept waking up afraid that I would over sleep. Nerves were high but body was feeling good. Walking to the stadium was surreal. Flags of every country waving in the wind, people from all over the world in their race kits, and I look down at the letter USA on my uniform in disbelief. I was told I would never run. I was excused from gym class as a kid. Even playing tag was difficult. Here I was representing my country as an athlete! I set up my transition and checked it a million times. Transition was soooo confusing because it was part of the course so I had to figure out how to find my bike. We had bins in which to keep our gear so everyone’s spot looked the same. I warmed up, lined up, and took a couple of deep breaths. AS we walked up to the line these warrior drum started and I felt like I was in a movie. The announcer said on your marks and that meant Go!! Everyone took off, I looked at my watch and saw 5:30 as my pace….better slow down. I tried to settle in to my 6:30- 6:50 pace but I had trouble breathing. With everyone smoking everywhere all week my asthma had been bothering me. Thinking of the 2 climbs on the bike I slowed down and tried to breath. I was happy to get to my bike at which I had a bright pink bandana sticking out of my bin so I could find it ( I found out later that even one of the pros got lost in transition). I climbed hard with my screaming legs and tried to stay calm on the twisty descent. With two of my friends crashing before the race and two people crashing during course practice I was probably a little too cautious. The last run was tough, people were smoking and after the first lap I started coughing, my chest felt tight, and my dreams of a top five or ten finish were fading. I thought back to the paraduathletes I had watched the day before. IF they could do it with only one arm or leg I could do 2 more miles without my lungs. I passed the GB girls I had been chasing and kept pushing in case they tried to catch me at the end. Two weeks ago I ran 21.5 miles and these 3 seemed longer. When I came around the corner of my last lap and saw that finish line I was so happy!! Even though I couldn’t breathe. I had been training so hard all year for this moment, crossing the finish line with people cheering USA!! USA!!! Awesome. Well, after that my asthma attack took over. Luckily one of my team mates remembered I had asthma and translated to the medic so I didn’t have to go to the hospital. I was sick the entire rest of the day, I had definitely left it all on the course (and all the way to the hotel too, lol). Special thanks to the TeamUSA docs for keeping me out of the ER! Finishined 1st American and 12th in the world. I'm ok with that considering I couldn't breathe. Great adventure!!
I am very thankful to all of my sponsors Hammer nutrition, Newton shoes, Chi Running, Elite Bicycles, Dr. Cuccazella, and the other people that have supported me this year. I definitely could not have done it without them. I also want to thank Endurance Films for creating great DVD’s that definitely helped prepare me for this event. Now on to marathon season!!