Lessons from Ixtapa

Hello from beautiful Hanover! From last Sunday morning to Monday night, it was planes, trains, and automobiles for me - from Ixtapa, Mexico to Houston, Houston to Chicago, Chicago to South Bend, and then South Bend to beautiful Hanover, NH for a 2 week training camp! It was a long few days of travel - but such is the life of a pro triathlete! - and I haven't been back to Hanover in years so it is SO GOOD to be here... like coming home.

But before I fully move on to the wonderfulness that is Hanover, I've had lots of questions about how my race went last weekend, so I thought I'd share my 4 key takeaways and reflections from ITU CAMTRI Ixtapa.

View of the Ixtapa shore from the sky

View of the Ixtapa shore from the sky

One of the many planes, trains, and automobiles I've been on in the past week -- walked right up to this one!

One of the many planes, trains, and automobiles I've been on in the past week -- walked right up to this one!

1. Be prepared… To go with the flow.

I’m a planner, yessirree. Just ask Adam and Greg – I love my to-do lists and spreadsheets. But I’ve also quickly learned that in the world of ITU, flexibility is paramount. You control what you can control and be ready for people to say, “yes” as they shake their head “no” to you. This has been a huge area of growth for me – ambiguity used to be my arch nemesis but I’ve found that I actually enjoy being able to let go and let it flow (gasp!). This weekend, I was better able than ever to remain in the moment and just focus on what I had to do versus wasting energy stressing about heat, language barrier, etc. I think that showed in my performance in challenging conditions.

The weather might have been sweltering, but I did my best to control how cool I stayed with copious amounts of ice in my jersey/suit leading up to race start!

The weather might have been sweltering, but I did my best to control how cool I stayed with copious amounts of ice in my jersey/suit leading up to race start!

2. Hola & Gracias go a long way.

Yes, I was that American who could only speak English and fumbled her way through customs. Luckily I had another newly made friend - Ryan Bailey - with me to fumble around! The whole weekend was a reminder of how much communication can be shared with basic phrases and how far a friendly smile can go :) I’m coming away from this weekend inspired to learn Spanish so the next time I return I’ll be able to interact with all the friendly, interested people who wanted to chat!

Talk about a welcome! I <3 Mexico :)

Talk about a welcome! I <3 Mexico :)

3. Racing always hurts.

I love this quote from Boys in the Boat: “The and most fundamental thing that all novice oarsmen must learn about competitive rowing in the upper echelons of the sport: that pain is part and parcel of the deal. It’s not a question of whether you will hurt, or of how much you will hurt; it’s a question of what you will do, and how well you will do it, while pain has her wanton way with you.” This might refer to rowing, but it is SO true for triathlon! While this is not a new revelation by any means, it captures a new mindset that I have taken on this spring – there is no room for fear, for nerves about how fast others will go. My goal in Ixtapa was to go as hard as I could in each portion of the race: swim, T1, bike, T2, run. While the result wasn’t quite what I had hoped for, it was a solid, unrelenting effort in challenging conditions, which is all I can ask for!

View of the swim course from above

View of the swim course from above

4. Playing catch up isn’t fun.

The speed that my competitors took out the swim with took me a bit by surprise and as we approached the first turn buoy I was sitting further back than I both wanted and expected. From that point to ½ way through the bike, it became a game of catch up. I made up some ground at the end of the swim, passed women in the long run from the beach to transition, and biked my way into the main pack a mile or so out of T1, then we worked pretty well over the first half to real in Dolan, Perez, and Ruedo Santos. Once we caught them, the energy of the group deflated and it took a lot of shouting on my part to get women to work. I understand playing the game, but I wasn’t going to let us just sit. The effort in swim, T1, and bike definitely caught up with me on the run.

My legs were zapped and I couldn’t put up a run that I felt represented the fitness and speed I have right now, which was the one disappointment of the day for me. So the question is: should I have broken away when our groups merged, as my legs were tired anyways and at least I might have had a head start on the run? Could I have played the bike differently for a stronger run and podium performance? I suppose we’ll never know, but if I had to do it again, I would have kept barreling forward when we caught the front three women and shot for a breakaway as opposed to sitting in the group. Valuable lesson learned, and I am definitely taking incredible experience from this race for the next time I toe the line!