I don’t even know where to begin with this post. I apologize in advance for how long it may be…
When I found out last year that Duathlon Worlds would be in Spain, I was all about it. Had to be there. I’ve always wanted to go to Europe, especially Spain, so this seemed like the right way to do it. I also have THE best mom who agreed to travel and sherpa for me. Perfect. After months and months of planning, training, talking about Spain…it was here. I still cannot believe I had this opportunity.
Traveling to Europe ain’t easy people, but SO worth it. After 3 planes (most of which were delayed), running through a few airports to make connecting flights, a 7 hour time change, shuttle to the hotel, and surprisingly no fights…we made it!
The next few days were filled with lots of shopping (my mom’s favorite, I was trying to be a good daughter), sightseeing, riding my bike on the streets of Europe, cured meats, scrambled eggs, and learning how to function in Spain. In case you were wondering, it’s COMPLETELY different there…duh. Everything is LATE, real late…very different from how this girl usually functions. And of course, a TON of Team USA stuff. Some of my favorite parts of the trip revolved around these events…the run course preview, riding the bike course with the ENTIRE team (there were 250+ athletes), the post race party, etc. All so much fun, and I met some really great people. As an athlete, Team USA really takes care of you. We had bike mechanics who put my bike together in no time (and boxed it back up), massage therapists, a chiropractor, a few doctors…I took advantage of everything.
All of a sudden it was Saturday, almost time to race! I wasn’t feeling amazing, but not terrible either. When I decided to do this race, I knew it would take me out of my comfort zone…and that it did. The 7 hour time change, different foods, change in time I did everything had an effect on me, but I was doing everything I could to manage it and get ready for Sunday.
Bike check in started at 8:30pm Saturday night (not normal, right?!), and we waited in line for about an hour and a half to get into transition. I was finally back to the hotel just before 11pm to get to sleep, yikes!
Again, this was roughly 9pm…notice how light it is?? The sun doesn’t go down until after 10pm. I don’t comprehend.
I had to be up at 5am to get back into transition to set up my gear, go back to the hotel and nap, then get back down to the start by 11:30am for my 12:25pm start (see, it’s all late!). Luckily, I was able to sleep for about an hour and a half, it was THE best thing I could have done for myself. I was refreshed and ready to get moving.
It was gorgeous on race day. Starting so late meant we were racing at the hottest time of the day…hells yeah!! It was sunny and high 70’s, low 80’s…couldn’t ask for better weather. The course was crazy awesome…like nothing I’ve ever seen in the US…
Run #1 – 10k, 4 loop course. We started on a track, and the girls took OFF! I knew this would happen, and was ready for it…Nationals and Worlds start FAST. The run course was SO much fun…16 turns per loop (yes, that means x 4 for the first run), a super steep climb at the start of each loop which continued on for half of each loop, cobblestone streets, and TONS of spectators lining the entire course. It was a HARD and technical run…I loved it. I felt good, strong, and was working hard…I was so happy to get on my bike and be done with holding that pace.
Bike – 38k, 2 loop course. Funny, we were originally told the course would be flat. They lied. We climbed up a mountain, then descended, then climbed back up the mountain, and descended. It was so steep at times, even when we rode our brakes going downhill, we were going 30+ mph. If there is any key takeaway from my race, this is it. I need to get comfortable going downhill, and going downhill fast. Athletes were FLYING by me while I was clinging on for dear life. I lost so much time because of this, but truth be told, I was just happy I didn’t fall off my bike and come home broken. Besides that, I felt strong on the climbs, had an aero pad crack halfway through the bike (meant no aero for the second loop), and tried to take in the views every once in awhile. I don’t get to ride on mountains like this everyday 😉
Run #2 – 5k, 2 loop course. It was the same course which meant 16 more turns (x 2) and 2 more steep, unforgiving climbs. My legs were cooked after the bike course (climbing at steep grades, then descending without pedaling don’t do great things for leg turnover) but managed to get them back and negative split the last 5k. The crowd support was great, spectators from every country would cheer us on…totally helped keep my spirits up. With about a quarter mile to the finish, Tim Yount was handing out American flags to each US athlete to carry across the finish…so freakin’ cool.
Overall, I finished 15th in my age group, 2nd American. Really proud of that.
Honestly, I wasn’t worried so much about how I placed or what my times were. This was all about the experience. Getting out of my comfort zone, racing internationally for the first time, my first World Championship event, learning how to adapt to a different environment, and do something that really scared me. I did all that, so grateful for the experience.
Doing these types of things…the ones that really scare you and take you out of your comfort zone…this is how we grow. As athletes, and as people. It’s important to me to keep challenging myself in this way. I’m so lucky that I have and make the CHOICE to live my life this way…and that I get to share these experiences with the most important people in my life. Looking forward to more of it.