This it it, folks. Today is the day that I leave for New Zealand for the most important race of my life thus far—the Paratriathlon World Championship.
Many of you have asked me if the World Championship is the same thing as the Paralympics, a legitimate question that I want to clarify. The answer is that they are two separate entities, and I’ve been using soccer as a point of comparison. Soccer is played at the Olympic level, but it also has its own world championship (the World Cup) that is run by the sport’s international federation. It’s often a lot of the same athletes who compete in both—it’s simply a different avenue of competition. Triathlon is not yet at the Paralympics (2016 will be the first year) but it does have its own championship under the International Triathlon Union. That is the race that I will be doing next week.
I’m happy to report that dare2tri has successfully raised the funds needed to send all four athletes and our coaches on this adventure. We leave Chicago at 6pm today (Monday), fly to LA, cross the International Date Line, and arrive in Auckland at 7:30am on Wednesday. The whole concept is pretty trippy (and kind of hurts my head to think about) so my game plan is just to sleep through it all so I don’t have to deal with it. Once in Auckland, we will meet up with the 27 other athletes that make up Team USA. We will have five days before the race on the 22nd to acclimate, train, and experience Auckland as a team.
Up until last month, New Zealand still kind of felt like a distant idea—something I knew was going to happen, but that hadn’t fully hit me. But in September I had the privilege of attending USA Triathlon’s high performance training camp at the US Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. It was designed as a polishing camp going into Worlds, so the week was spent doing workouts, mapping out every day leading up to the race, and going over the specifics of the course. It was really the first time I had a chance to sit down and think about nothing but this race, and doing so instilled the fact that Auckland was an imminent reality. I came home from Colorado feeling much more prepared for the month ahead. And now, with a week to go, I can confidently say that my mind is in the right place, and I truly feel ready.
A lot of people have asked me what my goals are going into this race. I have my realistic goals and my reach goals, the ones I’m willing to say out loud and the ones that I’m keeping to myself. I have a pretty good idea of what I want my splits to be during every part of the race, but I’m also trying to not get caught up in the numbers. The reality is that I’m the new kid on the block with this being my first international competition. So I guess my real goal for next Monday is to prove to myself and the rest of the field that I am a legitimate contender, and that I am here to stay.
A couple quick points: if you’re on Facebook, you should go “like” dare2tri Paratriathlon Club, as that is where the majority of pictures/updates will be posted. Again, race day is October 22 at 3:15pm (10/21 at 9:15pm CST). There will allegedly be live commentary and finish line streaming at triathlon.org. That’s all I know now, but I’ll pass along more information as I get it.
Well, I’ve got a flight to catch in a few hours and a to-do list that’s seeming to get longer by the minute. But thanks for your loyalty to my musings, and Go USA!!!