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Gaining Confidence- 5th Madrid World Cup

Major League Triathlon kicked off in Charlotte last weekend where we flew direct from Bentonville to Charlotte, instead of trying to come home for a day or two in between races we decided it would be best to fly from Charlotte to Madrid so I could begin acclimating my body to the time change for the Madrid World Cup the following weekend.

MLT Team in Charlotte Photo courtesy of @Shea.Parikh

My mom drove the 6 hours from Lincoln to pick up Hank and then the 6 hours back with him to Lincoln so we wouldn’t have to worry about doggie care since this trip was going to be a little bit longer with back to back races (best doggie Grandma ever!)

I had been training really hard focusing on power and strength knowing Madrid was my focused race and the course wouldn’t leave room for any weaknesses. We trained pretty hard through MLT Charlotte, my team finished in 5th, which was a little disappointing. I felt exhausted throughout the short bike course and legs heavy on the run.

Unique swim start at MLT Charlotte (photo courtesy of Shea.Parikh)

Tough Bike leg for me in Charlotte.

We flew into Madrid the next day and were EXHAUSTED. Steve and I checked into our AirBrb, which was a little less than ideal with weak Internet and no air conditioning. The first night we slept for 13 hours. Steve rented a bike so he could train with me during the week. However, we weren’t able to ride most sections of the course due to the heavy traffic, which kept us pretty restricted to just riding around the lake and throughout the park.

exhausted after traveling

It became progressively more humid and hot during our trip so sleeping with no AC became a little harder. The lake where the swim was going to take place reminded me of a lovely spinach smoothie but thankfully there was beautiful training center we were able to swim that wasn’t too expensive of a taxi ride.

Lake where the swim portion of the race took place.

50m Pool at the training center in Madrid.

Throughout it all Steve kept me smiling with his crazy jokes and carefree attitude. We were also able to meet up with a long time friend of mine who I grew up with swimming club who happened to be living in Madrid which was really cool.

Meeting up with Rory in Madrid.

The rest of the team and coaches arrived and I was able to see Victor (TeamUSA’s traveling massage therapist) everyday to help get my body feeling race ready.

Steve and I riding through Madrid.

Team Dinner in downtown Madrid.

I had forgotten my Garmin 510 charger and my battery was running low, we tried to purchase one at an electronic store that didn’t seem to work but thankfully Courtney (Our teams GoTo girl for literally everything) saved the day by finding one to bring me from the states before she hopped on her plane to meet us in Spain.

track session in Madrid prior to race day

Finally the day before the race we were able to get onto the bike course and ride a few laps of what would be a much more challenging course than I think any of the athletes could have imagined. The bike course had us riding on cobblestones, through a dark tunnel, over several speed bumps, a few very technical turns at the bottom of descents and up a steep hill 7x.

Before the race I had forgotten to put on my timing chip and take my salt tablet. With a minute to spare before they called us out, I ran back to the athletes lounge to grab my timing chip.

The swim course was two laps of 750meters and after the first lap we were required to run up the exit ramp to dive back in before starting the second. The gun went off and I found myself fighting the girls next to me for position. I made the first turn and noticed a gap had opened up, I couldn’t tell how many girls were ahead of me but I knew that if I let them get away I wouldn’t stand a chance to make the front pack on the bike. I worked hard solo for 400m and slowing was able to begin to bridge the gap. As I ran up the ramp and dove back in for my second lap I could tell I was beginning to bridge the gap of the swimmers in front of me and thankfully it seemed the girls behind me hadn’t been able to surge with me so when I finally caught the feet of the front pack swimmers, I was able to latch on.

Tough swim start for me, behind after the first lap playing catch up.

Transition 1 was about 400meters from the water, they had put out blue carpet to lead the way. Under the blue carpet there were big rocks and random metal objects making it super important to watch your foot placement. The crowd was awesome and completely lined the whole entire 400 meters as we ran from the water into the transition area.

As we exited T1 and headed out on the bike, a 20 second gap had opened up from the chase pack. Each lap on the bike we worked hard as a small but strong group of 8 girls (which included 3 Americans) and continued to gain time on the pack of 20 behind us. By Lap 2 that gap had opened up even more to 38 seconds, giving us more confidence to keep working. We all knew the bike course would leave everyone’s legs to jello so we didn’t want to leave it to a foot race.

Entering T2, I heard coaches yelling “2 MINS!” We had gained 2 minutes on the chase pack. While two minutes is a lot to lose I also knew there were some very fast runners in that pack.

The run was a gradual uphill on the way out with a gradual downhill on the way back. It was humid and the air felt thick. I knew the girls in that chase pack was hungry to gain back some of the time they had lost on the bike. Steve kept track of time between athletes so I knew exactly how far in front the athlete before me was and exactly how far the one behind me was without even turning my head. I pushed through and finished 5th.

After finishing I began struggling to catch my breath. I have never hyper ventilated before but the pollen in the thick air left me breathless for what seemed like forever. Steve ran over with the biggest grin on his face while giving me a mental hug through the tall fence that separated the athletes from the public. I slowly maneuvered my way to recovery and was met by fellow American athletes and team coaches.

Overall, this race was a huge performance for me. Not because it was a top5 (which is awesome and will keep me moving up on the ITU Points List) but because it showed how much work I have put into my bike the last two months and that is something I am really proud of.

Racing at the World level is always very humbling and my goal is always to keep gaining confidence as I go from race to race. As one of my coaches continues to tell me “Trust yourself Damnt”.

Thank you to Victory, Courtney, and Sara at USA Triathlon for always providing such amazing support while we race overseas and to all my sponsors who make what I do possible.