The National Championships are always an exciting and sometimes nerve-racking time. The title alone is enough to cause buzz – add in the Big Apple mystique and the event has a whole new dimension. More paratriathletes race at the NYC Triathlon, host of the Paratriathlon National Championships, than any other triathlon in the U.S. Over the past 5 years, it’s incredible to see how far the sport has come and the tremendous growth that has transpired in Paratriathlon.
Most years at Nationals, I feel nervous and even a bit of anxiety leading up to the race. However, this year was a different story. I felt much more relaxed and prepared – due in large part to a series of positive changes over the past 12 months. I linked up with an outstanding coach, Muddy Waters, and physical trainer. Brad Bose. We assembled a great team of mentors and advisors, and together, we devoted a tremendous amount of time towards becoming physically and mentally resilient.
Heading into NY, I was hit with a case of shin splints and tendonitis in my knee due to overtraining. You might say this is a rookie mistake, but 5 years into this sport, I am just learning that more is not always better! I knew my injuries were going to make things interesting – especially on the run. Not surprisingly, the swim and bike were decent, but the wheels came off during the run. Because the NYC Triathlon is our only qualifier for World Champs, I knew I had to push myself through the pain in my knee and shin. Any other year, I might have contemplated pulling out before the race, but this year, the opportunity to compete at World Champs in my homeland meant I needed to toe the start line and GO! It wasn’t an outstanding performance, but I’m pleased that I was able to PR by 11 min from last year – good enough for a silver medal. Getting to the start line is no easy feat, but deep appreciation goes out to Össur, the Challenged Athletes Foundation, POACFL and my entire support team for making Nats possible this year. Y'all are the reason I do what I love!
Up next: World Champs in Beijing on September 9, 2011. This will mark my first return to China since I left the orphanage 16 years ago. Can you believe I will return and race in my homeland at the World Championships? This fairytale story seems unreal, but yes dreams really do come true! I have spent years waiting and preparing for this day, but there are no words to explain what this trip will mean or the countless thoughts and emotions I will feel. I am grateful for this incredible opportunity, and looking forward to sharing this experience with you!