My 2017 season has been one of ups and downs. This spring, I asserted myself at the Continental Cup level, with a 3rd place finish at CAMTRI Havana and several other finishes circling the podium. This summer, training with the boys of Team IE pushed me to take my performances in training sessions to the next level. I am very good at pacing my efforts; but training with them, I had to burst through that comfort zone and do whatever it took to stay with them. I broke through boundaries -- sometimes without even realizing it -- as I sought to glue myself to them.
Alas, the fitness and speed I knew I was building did not show up on race day until Yucatan World Cup in August. There, I was finally able to put together a swim I knew represented where I was at, coming out of the water 20 seconds behind Summer Cook, who went on to win the race. To the outside world, my most recent race – Sarasota World Cup – likely seemed like a disaster. On one level, it certainly was. But on another, I committed to going out with the leading ladies, including a World Silver medalist and former professional runner, and sticking with them as long as I could. I committed to ignoring any alarm bells and digging in until I couldn't anymore. My body surprised me – for the first time in my life, I had enough leg speed, enough power that was able to go out with these women; but I was also now able to dig myself into a massive hole. This surprised everyone –- most of all, Coach Greg and me. But this experience allowed me us to learn and me to grow in a way that a measured effort wouldn't have.
I was so excited to take these lessons and allllllll the fitness I had painstakingly built over the course of this year and show them off at the final World Cup of the year, Salinas WC. Alas, my body had different plans: I came down with a case of shingles last week (queue the questions: "What the heck is that? Isn’t it for old people?”) Discomfort turned to deep pain beneath the growing rash at my lower back. Since it’s a virus, anti-virals would help it progress more quickly but unfortunately there’s no miracle Z-pack for this kind of thing. It has to go away on it’s own. Today is the first day in two weeks that I’m feeling back to myself – I finally slept through the night now that the pain is gone (insert sigh of relief!) and am left with just a little itching from the healing rash. While it is hugely disappointing not to be toeing the line in Salinas this weekend, the decision was surprisingly easy since I've felt like such a shell of myself. With my body so compromised, I wouldn’t have been able to truly go to battle the way I want and need to on race day at this point. It was the right thing to just let, embrace the squiggly, and focus on getting back to 100% as quickly as possible.
Sooo I’m taking my annual break and enjoying time with my parents and Tessie. Adam’s joining in a couple days, and I’m looking forward to hopefully catching up with all my east coast friends who I rarely see in the heat of training/racing! I firmly believe that everything has a silver lining… even a reason for happening… I’m keeping the faith that this latest zig zag in my journey to be the best is no different. I've already got eyes on 2018 -- it's going to be a big year! -- but first things first, get healthy :)