"Who knows, I might even be able to qualify for ITU Aquabike World Championships! Keep training girl!"
My journey to the 2019 ITU Aquabike World Championships in Pontevedra, Spain was a roller coaster ride.
After a broken knee cap, running became more difficult. I decided to take a year off from running and opted to do Aquabike. This wasn’t a tough decision as my weakness in triathlon is running. I did Aquabike races wherever I could find them.
I realized that Nationals for Aquabike was at Miami Man in Florida. I could do that! I had been doing sprint or Olympic races, but hadn’t done a 70.3 in 5 years. But this is swim, bike, and done! Yea, I can do that....just have to start training for longer distances. Who knows, I might even be able to qualify for ITU Aquabike World Championships! Keep training girl!
"...Spain wouldn’t be as hard as this, so go for it. Called the hubby and told him we were going to Spain!"
I was feeling pretty good for Miami Man. I was ready. I was setting my goal to qualify for worlds. I had already told my husband that if I qualified, we were going! He agreed. I was stoked. Miami Man was rainy in the early part of the race, and a second downpour in second half of the bike. BUT it was the winds that picked up. I was biking into 15-20 mph winds in the last 12 of 15 miles of the race. I was pooped!
When I was dealing with the winds, I told myself if I finished this race and qualified for Team USA I wasn’t doing worlds because I was so exhausted. Well, I finished and qualified. In transition, there were many ladies saying that the wind is worse than hills, so Spain wouldn’t be as hard as this, so go for it. Called the hubby and told him we were going to Spain!
"A trainer was one thing, real hills were another! My confidence was shaking."
I took a few weeks off from training and tried some ‘off season’ training/workouts. By the time January came, I had seen the bike route with elevations for Spain. It was 74 miles, not 56, and there was 4800 feet of elevation, and the swim was 1.9 not 1.25 miles. What was this?!?!? I found out that worlds was 3/4 of a full not a 1/2, UGH! Then to look at the elevation, this Florida girl was very nervous.
The hubby said to spend the money to get a smart trainer. I did and the team USA coach sent daily workouts which included up to 4 - 5 hours on the the trainer. This was in addition to 1/2 - 2 hours of strength training. I sucked it up and did most of the workouts. I was still worried about the hills in Spain. A trainer was one thing, real hills were another! My confidence was shaking.
Then Tri Sirena had a training weekend in the hills of Clermont. What a great weekend. It was training, partying and meeting other Siren Luminaries who do this crazy stuff. Doing actual hills gave me the confidence that I was ready for Spain, and the support from these ladies gave me the extra boost that I could do this. The hills wouldn’t be easy, but doable!
We traveled to Spain and met many athletes on our journey. The whole experience was awesome. I was on top of the world. I didn’t expect to podium, but I knew I would finish. I was ready.
"I stopped on top of one of the hills and had to make a decision."
The weather was unusually cold and since our race was early in the morning and the water was 46 degrees, they actually cut the swim from 3000 meters to 1500. Everybody was glad of that. They also pushed the start time out (but not the closing of transition). I was prepared and ready to take it on.
Standing in 46 degrees for about 2 hours before we could get in the water, was not pleasant (I was frozen and shaking). I started off with a bang, but during the swim I couldn’t breathe. It was like breathing through a straw, then my heart rate was elevating too high as I tried to suck air in, then I would hyperventilate. I stopped to try to settle my breathing...but of course swimming against the current just pushed me back further. I swam more, sometimes on my back and had to stop often to slow my breathing or get air! I finished the swim with a time better than I expected with my issues.
I took off on the bike and was ready for the hills. With about 5-10 miles into the first loop, my heart rate was going nuts and I still couldn’t take a full breath. I stopped on top of one of the hills and had to make a decision. My heart rate and breathing was definitely off. My mind told me to suck it up and push through and just do it. The other part of my mind told me to stop, because there was something definitely not right with me. I stood there for about 2 minutes, trying to decide which side of my brain to listen to. I decided to make the adult choice and listen to my body. I was almost in tears before I got on my bike to go back to transition. I knew I made Team USA which was a great accomplishment for me, but I wanted to finish. Not only for me, but for all my friends who supported me and told me I could do it.
I know I made the right choice, but there were a lot of tears that followed the decision. This was one heck of a roller coaster ride, and although I didn’t get the results I wanted or expected, I made Team USA and look forward to doing it again...maybe in warmer water!
Written By: Caryn Pace, Tri Sirena Siren Luminary
Follow Caryn on Instagram @carynpace
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