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photo: Romeo T Guzman
New Friends, New Adventures
There is a definite high when you succeed in a triathlon, but there is more to the sport than racing. Training and, if you are lucky, a team, can give you the support and friendship you need to be your best. In the past few months, I have been blessed to meet a group of competitive student-athletes from the University of Wisconsin’s triathlon team. Two weeks after winning both Clermont Elite Development Races and two weeks out from USA Triathlon’s Collegiate National Championships, I found myself in Salem, S.C., on the team’s yearly training trip.
After driving 14-hours through the night, we officially arrived at the large house we would call home for the next week. I first doubted there would be room for all 27 of us, but the lakeside rental provided beds for 28, and only a stone’s throw away from the lake. This was a perfect place for a week of triathlon training. It was my first road trip, my first time in South Carolina and my first time biking through mountains.
The 59 degree water and category 2 hills we used to exit the property were some of the harder parts of the trip. There’s nothing like switchbacks in the first three miles of a ride. With four days of cold, rainy weather, I was glad I had friends to help push up the hills and swim hour-long open water workouts.
The trip was filled with memorable experiences. Most notably, almost running out of gas on the way, cooking a family recipe for 27 triathletes, watching “Frozen” twice and bushwhacking, which consisted of riding off the intended route onto a strenuous, overgrown trail to a secret waterfall. The training was fun, but becoming friends with an amazing group of athletes was the most valuable part of the trip.
Two weeks later, our team headed to the Collegiate National Championships in Tempe, Ariz. I wasn’t in peak shape. I had gotten sick the weekend before, but I was still looking forward to racing. We were all ready to go. The work was behind us and it was all about executing a smart race. With a high of 79 degrees, the weather was great with no clouds in sight. I competed in the draft-legal, Olympic, and mixed-team relay races, placing fourth, eight and fifth, respectively. This was my first time representing the Wisconsin Triathlon Team in competition, and it was one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve had in the sport.
Triathlon doesn’t have to be an individual sport. Take a look around. You will find that you are among friends, teammates, coaches and the huge community of USA Triathlon. There are so many ways to connect and get the most out of the sport. I am always looking to meet new people, build friendships, and race rivals that are also great friends.
My first ITU race, a Continental Cup in Ixtapa, Mexico, is just one month away. I am looking forward to racing at the elite level and I will post all about it when I return.