This morning I woke up to a kangaroo outside my room. In Australia. Last week in Vail, Brian skied off a ‘jump’ and chipped a bone off his shoulder joint. The week before, at the Chula Vista Olympic Training Center in CA, I spent an hour riding my bike at 6.9mph up a mountain called Honey Springs Road. On the days in between there were trips to Indiana, Texas and 2 awesome days spent at our Dare2tri one day clinic and our Dare2tri elite team camp.
You could say the past 3 weeks have been a bit busy… And as I’m sitting here on the plane back from Australia, I am doing my best to stay calm, as it’s been 6 days too long since I’ve held sweet Dallas and I miss my boys. Go plane go.
And now a recap:
In early February, Dallas took his first flight to my parents place in South Carolina. It’s funny traveling with an infant because they are so strict about everything on the plane, but they let your child just lay cross your lap. In SC, he finally got to meet his cousins for the first time and was showered with constant attention. Now more than ever, I wish we lived closer so cousins could grow up together and do what cousins do.
The next week was out to San Diego for a week at the Olympic Training Center and a cycling specific Paratriathlon camp. I was hesitant to go because it was 4 nights away from home and that seemed like a lifetime. Not to mention that I wasn’t in top shape and I didn’t want to hold the group back with my slow cycling times. I talked with Brian and he both encouraged me and reminded me that he and Dallas were behind me on the dreams of Rio and that we were all in this together. So, I boarded the plane with a few tears off for a few days away from my family for some good training. I hope that as Dallas gets older he sees me with these big dreams and makes some of his own. When the time comes, I'll be his biggest cheerleader. But for now I'm lucky to have Brian and Dallas behind me as I pursue mine.
The camp turned out to be amazing and I got to ride outside for the first time since last June. There were tough rides, time trials, amazing coaching and I got to spend some quality time with some of my Team USA teammates that I missed last year. I came back home confident that I was one step closer to where I needed to be with my training and that eventually, I would get there.
The next week was a second flight for Dallas, this time out to Vail, CO for the amazing week with the Vail Veterans Program a yearly highlight for Brian and I. If you are a frequent blog reader of mine, you’ll remember that last year in Vail we got the call that our house was on fire and most of our belongings were gone. Like it did then, the program put things in perspective and reminded us how much we have to be thankful for. It’s remarkable to see newly injured veterans all out on the bunny hill the first day and then seeing them at the top of the mountain by the end of the week. I never cease to be inspired.
There was some extra excitement this year when Brian went off a jump he probably shouldn’t have jumped off of. I mean, Brian has skills and all, but this ‘jump’ was more like a small cliff. I saw him in the air, I saw his skis cross and saw the aftermath of him, his skis and poles, as he tumbled down the hill. Not a pretty sight and even less pretty when we got the xray and saw that he had chipped part of his glenoid bone. The jury is still out if there is any muscle damage and we are hoping there is no need for surgery. On an equally exciting note, while waiting for Brian’s xrays in the ER, Dallas rolled over for the first time. Apparently he knew we needed a pick me up and the exam table just felt right…
My friend and fellow wounded vet, Dawn, brought her 11 month old out to Vail and he and Dallas got to hang out. Here Dawn and I were, having met 10 years ago in the halls of Walter Reed, and we were back in Vail, with our kids, skiing down the mountain together. In a few years we’ll be out on the slopes with our sons, teaching them to ski too. We also got to hang with Boston marathon bombing survivors Patrick and Jessica and their service dog Rescue, who Jake did his best to un- train. And the always great Cheryl Jensen, Dan Riley and Dave Rozelle. It is always was a week to remember.
And that brings me to now, my flight home from Australia where I just competed in my first triathlon in 9 months and another step back on the road to Rio. As a quick reminder, making the Paralympic team takes a few things. First, you have to earn points by getting into specific ITU races and doing well. The better you do, the more points you get. But in order to get into these specific races, you have to have a certain amount of points and a world ranking that will get you on the start list. Yes, it’s confusing. One of the first races of the season was ITU Sunshine Coast right outside of Brisbane and I needed to race well and earn some points so I could get into other races this year. It was going to be a ‘quick’ trip to Australia, and the thought of being away from home for 6 whole nights was not ideal. There were 7 Team USA athletes that were racing and 4 of us were from Dare2tri. My good friend and fellow Tri2 athlete, Hailey, was among the group along with Levi and Tom from Dare2tri.
We got to Australia with a few days to spare before the race. Along with getting adjusted to the weather, the time and getting some workouts in, we made a trip to the Australian zoo and got to check a few things off the bucket list. Hold a koala, check! Take the #worldsbestselfie with a kangaroo, check! Act like a complete tourist, check! We also found the worlds best coffee shop and spent many hours there with our flat whites and long blacks chatting with the locals. If you are ever in Sunshine Coast go to the Bean there done that espresso bar. You won’t be disappointed.
The race brought competitors from around the world and our Tri2 division had 5 women in it. Myself, Hailey, Kim from Canada and a girl from Japan and Spain. We had never raced against the girls from Japan and Spain and were anxious to see what they could do. As the race neared, I started to get a little nervous. It had been 9 months since my last triathlon, I only had 9 weeks of training since having Dallas and I wanted to prove to myself that I was still in the game. I went into the race with the goal of being on the podium and a reach goal of being within 5% of the first place finisher. By doing both of those, I would earn points and be one step closer to being on the national team and additional funding for my races. But most of all, I was excited to get back out on the race course, to wear the USA uniform and to race for the love of the sport.
A quick race report:
The horn went off at 9:10 and our group was off. I finished the swim in 2nd behind Japan and headed out to 5 laps on the bike course. Spain passed me on the last lap and I went into 3 laps of the run in 3rd place. Hailey finished the bike and came back from behind running down all 3 of us to take first. It was a hot day, both my quad and calf were on fire an on the last lap I was still behind Japan and Spain. A half mile from the finish I caught Japan. I was honing in on Spain and ended up finishing only 18 seconds behind her. I like to think I would have had her with another lap but I was spent. To the point that I couldn’t even sprint to the finish. I crossed the finish completely exhausted and unable to take another step forward.
I was helped into a chair, given some water and relished in the moment of being back. I. was. Back. And I was completely thrilled with my 3rd place finish, which is not something you’ll often hear me say. But after missing most of last year, having a 3.5 month old and training for 9 short weeks, I was pretty dang proud of myself. A 3rd place finish AND within 5% of Hailey’s time, both my goals had been met and I was thrilled. Hailey and I gave each other high fives and hugs, both being equally proud of each other and our race. We will be great competitors for each other this season, but off the race course, we are great friends and that friendship always comes first.
It was the closest the Tri2 women had ever been with Japan, Spain and I finishing within a minute of each other. Other Tri2 women that weren’t there, will just add to the great competition. The road to Rio is going to be an exciting one and I’m happy to say I’m back in the mix. I learned a lot from my first race back and what I need to work on and I can only get faster from here. It’s gonna be a challenging, fun year, proudly wearing the USA uniform with hopes of Rio. As my good friend Patty put it, it’s the #mommyroad2rio and it’s a good road to be on. Oh, and I got bit by a bull ant sitting in the grass after the race. That hurt.
When I get home tomorrow (or today? I have no clue what day it is) things get to slow down. I have some travel planned but nothing like it’s been. Brian has his bachelor party next weekend,because if I forgot to mention with all this other stuff, WE ARE GETTING MARRIED IN MAY! So wedding plans are in full swing.
My next race is in May in Monterrey, Mexico the weekend before the wedding and I’m happy to have 6 solid weeks of training before then. My days will be comprised of just that, swimming, biking and running, and spending time with my boys.
Speaking of my boys, Dallas is more and more handsome everyday. For real. I think even when he naps, he gets cuter as he sleeps. He’s grown out of his 3 month clothes and with his long legs, he’s in the 6 month clothes. He sleeps through the night in his crib, he rolls over, he loves sucking his middle fingers and is on the verge of a giggle. I think I’ll melt when that happens. Like, actually melt. Jake is still learning to love his little brother but we like to think he’s warming up to him. Well, maybe. And I am so fortunate that Brian is such an amazing dad and that I have them both to go home to after being away. Not only that, but that they believe in me enough to let me go chase my dreams.
As I often say, I am a lucky girl.
So there you are. The life of a girl on the #mommyroad2rio. Until next time,