Uncharted Territory

It was another whirlwind weekend of travel and racing this weekend as my quest for experience, speed, and ultimately, excellence, continues. The theme of this weekend was definitely “uncharted territory,” from travelling to a new place – beautiful Barbados – to navigating new positions and racing experiences in triathlon. While there was lots of the usual – pre-race workouts, pre-race breakfast, travel snacks, my daily meditation (more on that in another post!) – there was SOOOO much was NEW! (Exciting!) Which afforded me an amazing number of many opportunities to learn and grow as a person and athlete!

As with many of my growth opportunities in triathlon, this weekend was all about jumping into new experiences and learning as I went! (photo credit: Nicole Truxes)

As with many of my growth opportunities in triathlon, this weekend was all about jumping into new experiences and learning as I went! (photo credit: Nicole Truxes)

My list of “new’s” for the weekend:

New country

Barbados is a gorgeous island, and I had to laugh when our homestay noted that everything was “dry and brown” since they are in their dry season right now. There were beautiful flowers all over the island, and I couldn’t look away from the gorgeous crystal clear water in every shade of blue. The island also has such an interesting history and is in a really interesting place developmentally. I LOVE seeing new parts of the world – experiencing new cultures, seeing new ways of life – and staying with a Barbadian family was such an incredible way to do that. I must stay longer at next year’s race in order to see more of the island and have more time with my AWESOME host family (see next “new”)!

New friends

I had the most incredible homestay for my short time in Barbados! I stayed with fellow USA athlete, Nicole Truxes, with the Stanley family. Man! What an amazing group of people! Jason is a contractor on the island and a former pro surfer – it was so cool to hear about his adventures as a surfer! Next year I’m staying longer so he to go kite-boarding with him (WOO!). His wife, Elena also surfs and went totally above and beyond to make sure Nicole and I were comfortable and had more food than I could possibly eat over the weekend (and those of you who have seen me eat… that’s saying a lot!).

Their two boys – Luke & Erin – are the coolest little dudes ever! They chivalrously gave their beds to us for the weekend, and inherited the family surfing gene – I didn’t get to see in person but saw some pretty impressive pics of them in action. I can’t wait to see them surfing in Tokyo in 2020! It was also so fun to get to know a fellow American athlete better as well. I love making friends on the circuit and hearing everyone’s amazing stories and experiences in the sport!

SL&E
SarahNicole

New swim execution

I didn’t get quite the explosive start that I hoped to have, so I was swallowed up in the mayhem of the pack pretty immediately. But I kept my head down and my focus internal. I got kicked in the face and knocked around, and it didn’t phase me. I found pockets to make my way up in the group, then held my position, and for the first time in my 16 months as a professional triathlete, coming into shore, I actually found myself thinking, “I have more. I could accelerate up front right now.” But we had sizeable front pack so – also for the first time in my year-ish of ITU racing – I settled in, calmed my breathing, and got ready to hit the beach strong and ready for the next leg of the race.

New bike restraint

Historically, my M.O. is to drive the bike. It must be the rower in me. I don’t feel like I’m racing unless I’m on the limit the entire time. But Greg and I agreed to experiment: if I was in the front pack on the bike, I would of course do my fair share of work, but I wouldn’t drive the pack. I would hold back, and we would see what my legs could do on the run when they hadn’t just crushed 20k on the bike. So I did just that. It made for a very tame bike.

New run experience

My race in Cuba this February was the only other time that I’ve come off the bike in the front of the race. And this time, I have to admit I was surprised to find myself running in 1st for much of the first lap of the run given the depth of the field. Queue internal voices: “IS THIS REAL LIFE?” and “You can do this. Just run your race. You can do this.” Nutrition was my downfall – not enough calories on the bike and no gel with on the run meant that the final ¼ mile felt like 2 as all of a sudden my body shutttt dowwnnnn. Just like that. I went from second, to 3rd with under a quarter mile to go, to a 4th place finish with a painful 100m to the finish line!! It was painful (in more ways than one) to finish just off the podium. But I broke that streak of 5th’s, so I suppose that is progress!

New nutrition requirements

One of the things we discussed in my MBA studies at Booth was how, in a start-up, there comes a point where what led to success up until then must change in order to reach the next level. As we shift my training this spring and I find new levels of performance, I am finding my nutrition needs to also adjust keep up with – or better yet, propel – those efforts. While I’ve begun to make changes in my day-to-day nutrition, I haven’t in racing, and fueling mistakes cost me my second ITU podium this weekend.

That said, all the “new’s” this weekend indicate that my training is continuing to go in the right direction. So I gave myself a the afternoon to stew about the avoidable mistakes that I made (afterall, I am only human!), I then committed to focusing on those positives and looking at every lesson learned as something that will make me smarter, stronger, and faster in the long run!

Women's podium (see results here)

Women's podium (see results here)

champagnepodium

I’m heading home to continue chipping away, seeking those incremental gains day-in and day-out, and taking a hard look at my nutrition with the help of Coach Greg, the team at my nutrition sponsor, Hammer Nutrition, and other folks on my support team to make sure that nutrition it is never my limiter again, but rather, something that lifts my performance to even greater heights!

I’m hungrier than ever for more, and I am looking forward to another honest look in the mirror in 2 weeks at CAMTRI Richmond!

champagne