It's been a busy couple weeks since Worlds, as I accepted my pro card and recently raced in my first professional and first ITU Continental Cup race. I travelled down to Punta Guilarte, Puerto Rico with my coach for the 2015 Punta Guilarte CAMTRI Premium American Cup, and boy was it an adventure from start for finish!
Our goal for the race was to gather information going into the off-season: where did I stack up against these new ranks? What kind of work would we need to do if I want to compete at the highest ranks of ITU racing? This was our first step on our road to answering where I will succeed long-term: draft legal/ITU or non-draft/long course racing?
As I said to my mom afterwards, the nerves and emotions of the weekend brought me back to my skating days, when I first stepped up from local competitions to the regional and national level. And the weekend was chock full of lessons learned, including:
- What to pack (which was surprisingly very different from the races I’ve done so far!);
- The new level of ambiguity that I must be prepared for in ITU racing (you don't get the full email of every piece of information you could possibly need for the weekend as with most races I've done in the past);
- The confidence I need to gain in my abilities (intimidation and nerves definitely got the best of me for part of the race this weekend);
- And perhaps most importantly, the speed I need to develop both on land and in the water if I am going to be able to compete at the highest level of the sport.
I come away from my last race of the season and first race of my pro career proud of putting myself out there and fighting through a race with extreme conditions – rough swim, strong winds on the bike, and sweltering heat on the run – and glad I was able to finish well above my ranking coming into the race. But I am by no means satisfied with my performance. I have a new fire lit under me, and if it's possible, even more drive and determination to push my limits and build my strength, power, and fitness going into 2016.
I'll let pictures do the rest of the talking this time around. As always, onward and upward!