My final race this season was the UWC Bahamas Triathlon. We landed in Nassau on Wednesday and got comfortable in our homestay for the week. We (Jarrod and I), shared a place with Jenna, Barrett and Lauren Brandon. We ate almost every meal at Barbara Ann’s home, and Chef Biju prepared all the food. On Thursday morning we flew to Highbourne Cay. As soon as we arrived we went to feed iguanas on a neighboring island and check out ‘the sand bar’. The sand bar might be my favorite place on the entire planet. It’s so beautiful. We collected lots of shells and all the athletes enjoyed lounging and playing in the water.
We ate the most incredible food at Highbourne. It was amazing to watch the fishermen go out and come back with conch, lobsters and all sorts of delicious edible goodies from the sea. We had a little costume contest for Halloween and then on Friday we did a 1.5 mile open water swim race. I was genuinely scared for the swim race because of the sharks. Jenna did some research for me to let me know that being bit by a nurse shark would just feel like getting slammed in a car door and rather than losing the limb it would most likely just be broken. This made me feel a little better. Long story short, we didn’t see a single shark- though people did see some in their warm up before we left for the swim start. I really didn’t want to swim alone, so I was very happy to have Luke McKenzie and Leon Griffen with me for the entire swim. I finished in 3rd for the womens race. Overall, it was so much fun and next year I won’t be nearly as nervous.
One of my favorite things about this race is the opportunity to spend time with athletes from different distances in our sport. We spend so much time with the athletes we compete against all year; it was great to get to know the long course athletes better as well as there partners. The cool part me for me was realizing we all our fans of our sport- we all achieved some level of greatness this year, but every athlete was so humble.
Race day was beautiful and hot. The swim course was a little choppier than we expected so the swim stuck together. We came out in a large first pack. This was the first time in my life I have ever swim in the same pack as Sarah McLarty so I was pretty excited. I got onto the bike and I felt tired- I really wanted to ride with the lead men but my legs were not having it. Instead, Chris Foster and I rode together. I could tell he wasn’t feeling his best so I was able to use him a good pace bunny. The bike course was 4 laps and we slowly lost time to the lead group of men. I came off the bike and felt pretty good on the run. The run course was two laps on a beautiful crushed gravel trail. I had a comfortable lead on the run so it was nice to just enjoy the course and cheering on everyone racing. It was also excited to watch the battle unfold between Jarrod and Tim Don. Jarrod and I both crossed the line in first place. It is always fantastic to win a race with him.
Afterwards there was a kids triathlon. I worked the first buoy with Sara McLarty and we had so much fun watching how determined these kids were. It was great to cheer them on and watch them fly through the course. Nothing is better than watching a kid cross the finish line with cap, goggles, helmet and no shoes on. Priceless.
The day after the race we were all invited to Atlantis experience Dolphin Cay. I had never seen a dolphin up close or been able to touch it so it was great to get to interact with these incredible animals.
Thank you to Barbara Ann Bernard for an incredible race and experience. Thank you to Mark Holowesko for his generosity, and providing us all with the opportunity to stay at Highbourne Cay. I can’t wait to come back next year!
I want to say a special thank you to my coach Joel Filliol who challenged me a lot this year. There were coaches before him who were also helped shape the athlete I have become, but 2013 represented a big leap for me in my career. I have been able to achieve consistent results and put quite simply, I got faster. Thank you to my fellow squad mates who pushed me in the early months of my training. Jarrod Shoemaker, Richard Murray, Tommy Zafares, Mario Mola, Carol Routier, Vendula Frintova, Sarah Groff, Kyle Jones, Helle Frederickson and Paula Findlay. It’s been amazing to watch each and everyone excel in 2013. I feel extremely grateful to be a part of such a talented group of athletes.
Lastly, I want to thank each of my sponsors individually. Thank you Triflare for making such beautiful and fast race suits. Thank you to Scott Bikes and Shimano for helping me have the fastest bike split at 10 of my races this year. Thank you to Endurance Shield for shielding and nourishing my skin in training and racing. Thank you to Greg Welsh at Oakley for providing me with eyewear that protects my eyes and looks cool all at the same time. Thank you to Normatec for helping me recover faster in between sessions. I would also like to thank my massage therapist and good friend, Emily Tornatore who sees more than she would probably like;) Thanks to my MAT, Suzanne Gross, for keeping me healthy and injury free. And finally, thank you Team Lopez chiropractic for always squeezing us in, since we never could seem to show up during our scheduled appointment time this year and for the great adjustments of course.
Thank YOU for reading and following my career this year. It's been an incredible journey and I'm very much looking forward to what 2014 will bring.