The last 14 days can be summed up as: 5 plane rides, 2 countries, 3 races – a sprint, super-sprint and Olympic distance - countless bowls of rice, a 4th place and 9th place finish. Here is the race recap from my Asia tour.
If the two images below can characterize my past two race - the World Cup in New Plymouth, New Zealand and World Triathlon Series in Gold Coast, Australia - then I am reminded of two simple truths: daily intentional work can lead to big results, but if there is no struggle, there is no progress. Here is the race recap.
New Plymouth World Cup
It took an 11hr plane ride to Brazil to finally sit down and catch up on my blog. So here is the short version of my summer racing and training since the end of the qualification period and in the lead up to the Olympic games.
Belgian Championships (sprint distance): 12 June
It may come as no surprise to anyone who followed the results that I was very disappointed with my performances in the first two races this season: the World Triathlon Series (WTS) Abu Dhabi on March 5 and the World Cup in Mooloolaba one week later. I apologize for the delayed blog, and the truth is, I didn’t feel like writing about it. But, this blog is about sharing the journey and process – the good, the bad and the ugly. Nonetheless, I’m not one for excuses, nor dwelling on the negative, so I’ll keep this brief:
Although the travel, jetlag and back-to-back racing were far from ideal, I did not regret my last minute decision to add the Tongyeong World Cup to my racing schedule. No matter the outcome, I knew I needed to go to avoid feeling any regret later on if I ended up a few points shy of qualifying for the Olympics.
The following image describes the World Triathlon Series Edmonton in numbers:
Yes, the conditions of WTS Edmonton were almost unlike any I’d ever experienced before, (except perhaps European Championships in Kitzbühel 2014). The athletes tent was a like a strange scene out of a war movie with an army preparing for battle against the cold, wind and rain. Except, in this case, the armor of choice was tin foil or plastic wrapped bodies, helmets and cycling shoes, arm warmers, duct tape and thick layers of Vaseline and warming creams.
Harry Marra, multi-events coach at the University of Oregon, was never my personal coach, but whenever he’d see me at university he’d ask:
“Hey! How are you? Are you healthy?”
When I asked why he never asked about how training was going or upcoming races, he simply replied: “Your health comes first. If you are healthy then I know you are able to do all the rest.” Coach Marra was speaking from many years of experience.
Athletes train their bodies in an attempt to push their physical limits; that’s the job description. However, somewhere between ambitious goals and pressure to perform, it can be difficult to respect that simple rule: “Health first – no matter what”. Last weekend at the World Triathlon Series in Stockholm, I was once again reminded of this simple lesson.
For my first race back from injury, I found myself at the foot of the podium this last Sunday in the Sprint European Cup in Riga. Inside, I had mixed emotions:
- Rational Claire says: After the string of injuries you’ve had this year, you should be happy
1) to be racing 2) to be healthy and 3) to have earned valuable points.
- Competitive Claire says: Fourth place, that’s the first loser! You can do better!
If my race were a monologue, here’s how it unfolded:
How to describe my experience at the first European Games in Baku? It would be like getting that first lick of sweet ice cream before accidentally letting it all fall on the floor…let me explain.
This was my first multi-sport event and it was an incredible experience to stay in the Athlete’s village, eat in the massive dining hall, train in the numerous brand new sport venues and meet athletes’ from all disciplines across Europe. The organization by host nation Azerbijan and by Team Belgium was impressive to say the least and I felt fortunate to be a part of the historic first-ever European Games. Since the triathlon was on the first day, I did not participate in the opening ceremony, but heard the fireworks and Lady Gaga singing from my room.