This was quite the summer. Taking the overall AG win at Chattanooga 70.3 took some time to settle in, but from that point, Coach Samantha and I looked towards racing Racine 70.3. Coach Nicole came with me to Wisconsin, and other than (of course) having a good race, I had one goal: qualify for 2017 70.3 World Championships. I felt ready going into the weekend, and having Nicole there was great for keeping my nerves in check. On race morning, she mentioned that there are storms on the horizon, but I decided to ignore that fact - it looked perfectly clear outside. As the incoming weather conditions worsened, the race director made the decision to postpone the start, so Nicole and I sat out the first bout of rain in the car. The next news we received? Swim cancelled, bike cut down to 31 miles, and the time trial start moved back to 10.30 am. We quickly set into action on a new plan which included phone calls to Coach Sam and help from Nicole. We altered my nutrition and pacing and did the best we could to roll with the new format.
The roads in Racine are rough, and the wind was intense. Thankfully, as an All World Athlete, I got to start towards the front. A 31-mile time trial was not something I had trained for (who has?), but I decided that I simply had to push harder than I was used to on the shorter bike course. I started out pushing hard, but feeling good that we finally got rolling. The wind gusts were rough, I felt myself swerve across the road as they hit me from the side. I got about 2/3 in feeling pretty good, but then the head wind and the bumps in the road got to me and I mentally hit a low point. I cursed a few times, got myself back together and pushed my way back to transition. I was somewhat relieved when I hit the run. The two loop course was great for the first loop, but very congested on the second one. Other than some stomach issues in the second half of the run, I felt good and had a good run. Coming in first in my age group (10th female overall including pros), qualified me for Worlds, and yet this didn’t feel like a real race. It did, however, cause us to re-visit the conversation of going pro. It proved to me again that I was worthy of giving a pro card a shot – and even more so, maybe I needed to do it learn more about my limits and abilities.
Whenever I have a big life decision to make, I consult those people around me who I know care about my well being and want me to do the best thing – even if it is not the easiest thing to do. My dad commented that maybe my continuing to race as an amateur was not really fair to other age groupers, and slowly I started to realize that I didn’t care as much about winning races as much as I wanted to become a better athlete and see how I could stack up against the pro’s. At Evolve we talk a lot about how we learn from the things that make us the most uncomfortable and challenge us the most – maybe I needed to follow my own coaching advice. In my head, I had made going pro this big thing - going pro meant I had to quit my job, be on the road, not make money, right? No, not really. Finally, my partner Becca made the point: nothing really had to change. And she asked the right question: in 10 years, would I regret having not tried it?
This led to a bike ride with Coach Sam, during which I asked her what would have to change. Sam told me straight away that she felt the best move would be to make a switch to a new coach – a coach with more experience in transitioning AGers to Pro – and a coach who could offer other athletes to work with and learn from. It was that bike ride that ultimately set the wheels in motion - Coach Sam sent off an email and within a few hours things were rolling - I was on the phone with Jesse Kropelnicki from QT2 systems the very next day and having phone conversations with three potential coaches in the days following that. I had great conversations with all three coaches, but I felt particularly well-aligned with Pat Wheeler. At Evolve we spend time telling our athletes about finding the coach that just clicks with you and I knew that Pat would be the best match for my personalty. We talked about going pro (he was once a pro, himself) and the ins-and-outs of switching from age-grouper to pro, but he also made it clear that we did not have to make that decision right now. I could race as a pro as soon as next season, or I could just race 2017 as an age grouper, improve my racing, and get to race the World Championships as an amateur in September.
During my initial conversation with Jesse, he suggested that I come to the fall pro training camp just outside of Houston that was coming up in three weeks. This was technically a pro camp, but they sometimes extend the invitation to amateurs that are considering making the switch to racing pro. Ok, that is the week before I started my new job, so yes, I could make the first of the two weeks – but WOW- here we go again. This was a lot to deal with in a short amount of time. I was still in the process of moving up to Wisconsin and about to start a new job, so why not completely jump into the deep end!