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Preparation for My Last Collegiate Nationals
“Every training run has a purpose. I don't burn calories, I train and compete. I fuel to perform, I recover to get stronger. Getting pumped for Collegiate Nationals this weekend!”
This was my Facebook status almost one year ago. It’s been a year and I still am riding the same emotional roller coaster of pre-race jitters. It’s now Thursday morning….two days out until my last Collegiate Nationals representing Virginia Tech.
After several phone conversations with my teammate and friend, Chrissy Esposito, I had decided to not check in a bag at the airport. Now I don’t have to worry about that small chance of my bag getting lost with all my race gear, but that also meant that I had to fit everything thing into my small book bag… wet suit and all! We found out at the beginning of this week that our travel itinerary had us leaving Charlotte, N.C. at 7:10 p.m. to Minneapolis and then to Phoenix. Coming in late Thursday night, but early Friday morning for us with the 3-hour time change, caused nothing but stress. Your mind starts to race with thoughts, questions of if you’re ready for this race. A race that has been your focal point for the last year, the A race that means everything to you has finally come. You can’t help but worry about how your body will adjust to the heat, time change, and less than ideal graduate life schedule. How could we be focused and sharp with little rest when Thursday is one of the most important nights for us to get sleep? How can I adjust to the dry heat? These were some of the thoughts that crept into my mind.
Flash forward 15 hours later with a minor delay in Minneapolis for our plane to be de-iced for take-off, we had arrived in Tempe, Arizona. The total travel time would seem not to be that bad. I remember the time when our team had driven 25 hours all the way to Texas three years ago for Nationals. This time though, the travel seemed to especially drain on us all with lights out finally at 4:30 a.m. our time on Friday.
Last year, the Hokies team brought 21 people to Tuscaloosa, Alabama. This year we have brought 5 team members due to the increase in cost of travel and team funding. I look back at my experiences through the last three years at Nationals with the Virginia Tech Triathlon team, and I wouldn’t possibly change who is beside me right now. Yes, we might be small in number, but everyone one of us has the passion and Hokie Spirit to be here.
The sport of triathlon can be a very lonely sport by training, traveling, and racing by yourself. Past Injuries and your own inner demons can seed doubts in your mind. We have now done our race day prep and wait for the 4:30 a.m. alarm. Tomorrow, I will zip up my maroon and orange uniform and know that even though the trip was tough, sleep lacking and jitters, I will push away the doubt because my four other teammates and I are joined together by the Hokie Nation to compete with all the collegiate triathletes… and race our hearts out.