Leading up to a major event in the racing season, one hopes to feel rested and poised, satisfied with the previous months of training and at their fittest, ready to take on the competition and the challenge of achieving personal best. I cannot say with confidence that these are my sentiments on the eve of USAT Age Group National Championships. With a narrow view of the past few weeks, I only see the worst. I have suffered unusually frequent swelling of my right knee, now a dozen years removed from ACL reconstruction, sustained seemingly minor injuries that translate into major impact in comfort and subsequent power reduction on the bike and pace on the run and my training has been much more sporadic than anticipated due to the “mamaDOc” life events of the past month. I have experienced more than one moment of frustration and entertained concerns that my performance will suffer, that I won’t improve upon or even duplicate my time from last year, that the double might have been a bad idea and that I will let down those watching and reading along with my experience.
As I sit on the ferry en route to Milwaukee, surrounded by other athletes completing this final leg of their journey to Age Group Nationals, however, I feel these sentiments naturally shift from frustration and concern to excitement and anticipation. Remembering the entries of fellow Championship Bloggers and their awe-inspiring tales of overcoming serious health challenges to continue and thrive in triathlon, hearing the stories of qualification after years of attempts, knowing that I have the honor to share a course with top athletes from all 50 of these great states and the pleasure of racing with my husband and friends this weekend erases the negativity and allows only encouragement to remain.
Certainly my training wasn’t perfect, but it was inclusive, shared with my husband, children, sister, nieces and friends. It was creative, often with one or more of my children in the bike trailer, jogging stroller or alongside me in a circuit at the gym. It was integrated, sneaking an open water training swim into a night at the beach. For adaptability born out necessity and opportunity facilitated by the generosity of spirit of family and friends allowing me to maintain my readiness for racing, I am overcome with gratitude.
In years past, my qualification for AGNC was immediately followed by a pregnancy, precluding my participation. Though disappointed not to test my triathlon skills on the courses in Vermont, Alabama and Oregon, exchanging the opportunity to race was well worth the magical experience of welcoming biggest, then middlest then littlest into the world. To have extended my career between and beyond pregnancies, now encouraged at my races by a tiny trio of enthusiastic supporters has been an amazing experience. Though the course may have had more detours than if each venture had been pursued independently, to see that I can be at once mother, athlete and physician leaves my heart full.
There are no guarantees in sport – I learned yesterday that a friend who was planning to join in the Sprint event in Milwaukee sustained a broken wrist and her debut will wait another year, but she is encouraged to rally through healing and get back in the pool as soon as she is able. I do not know how long my body will sustain racing, though I remain hopeful and inspired by fellow AGNC participants in the 85-89 group. Life events, location and timing may not allow for me to participate in future National events. I have a responsibility to honor this moment, this weekend, these races, the athletes, the city and USAT for the opportunity. I will participate with enthusiasm, giving my best effort in each event, honoring the time I have put into training and respecting the opportunity to tri alongside the best of the best from around the US.
May we allow perspective to emphasize the best of our efforts, embrace that our imperfect preparation is often perfectly practical and let it be practically perfect.
With a special shout out to all the athletes racing this weekend #USATAGNC15!