I did similar posts for the 2014 and 2015 season, and it’s time for another edition. Its quite entertaining for me to look back on the year and reflect on some of my favorite parts and also laugh at some of the horrible/absurd things that happened. Here is the 2016 edition of my superlatives:
Best moment – Winning Edmonton WTS! It took about two days for what I accomplished to fully sink in. I found myself in a position where I made a lot of mistakes in the race and I was well back out of T2. I set myself up just barely well enough to have the race that I did. The last 400 or so meters after I had taken the lead
were like an out of body experience when I just had this surreal belief that I could do whatever it takes to win.
Favorite destination – New Plymouth! Rolling green hills, seaside running path, and some of the best people I’ve ever met. This one is staying on my schedule as often as I can fit it in.
– Seoul! Mix of modern and history, great people, and great food. Perhaps at the top of my list of places that I want to explore in more depth. There is a lot there and I only had one morning to see as much as possible!
Favorite training session – Long ride in New Plymouth. The quiet, idyllic roads took the stress of riding on the left side of the road away! I’ve never enjoyed my bike nearly as much as I did on that ride.
Happy to have company in the water on race day
Most ridiculous training session – First open water swim in Salinas. After 30 hours of travel, I slept a little and got some food. Then I was supposed to do some light training. I was scheduled to do a 30 minute swim so I went down to the ocean solo, as everyone else had swam earlier before I arrived. I didn’t know what sea creatures live in Salinas, and in my sleep deprived state, I invented a number of scenarios in my head. I managed to swim for a whole 13 minutes before my fear of being eaten by a shark at the same time as getting stung by a stingray got the best of me. Quite the high quality training session…
Most absurd travel moment – The way home from Salinas. Ok, so a big part of this is due to decisions that I made due to paranoia and a desperate desire to go home. There were problems with shuttles (a lack of space that resulted in people getting left at the airport to wait on the way to the race ,as well as pickup time in some cases), so I made the decision to leave for the airport at 6:30AM – for a 6:00 PM flight. While my race in Salinas went well, I had basically spend the past two weeks sick on the road, eating foods I hated, drinking the worst coffee known to humankind, and basically being all around miserable. Its also possible that I was extra cranky from being sick. I was concerned about space in my shuttle, which sounded overbooked based on the stories that I heard from arrivals into Salinas. After the two weeks I’d had, I was not risking missing my flight. I can usually roll with the punches for travel and limit my response to light complaining, but in this case I NEEDED to go home ASAP in order to salvage my sanity. Apparently taxis don’t travel from Salinas to the airport (two hours away), so if the shuttle was too full, there would be no plan B. Along with some athletes who were scheduled to depart for the airport at 2 am for noon flights and wanted a full night of sleep, I headed to the airport in a van share super early. I wasn’t allowed to check in for my flight and get rid of my bags until three hours prior to departure, which was annoying, but I was much happier knowing that I was 100% going to be heading home. I set up shop at a pre-security cafe with great wifi and got all of my administrative work done and ate great food! Possibly the craziest thing about this moment was that getting to the airport nine hours before ended up being a positive experience!
Most Absurd Non-Travel Moment – Post-race in Yokohama, I was walking to Chinatown for sushi when I was stopped by a man who wanted to take a picture. As a tall, blonde, caucasian, female I do attract attention in Asia and I’m used to being stopped there. However, I’m pretty sure this guy recognized me as someone else. After taking a picture with this guy, we went our separate ways until he apparently changed his mind. He followed me for a few blocks before he stopped me and kissed my hand! Fortunately, I was with my coach or I would have been even more creeped out than I was.
Most ridiculous picture –
This finish line picture in Tongyeong. I guess my shoulders are hyper-flexible?
Worst language barrier moment – Paying for my bike in Chengdu. After several minutes of trying to pay for my bike with a credit card in what escalated to the non-English speaking gate agent yelling at me in Chinese and me yelling at her in English while pointing at what looked like a credit card reader behind the desk. Side note: yelling seems to happen anywhere and everywhere in China so we weren’t actually making a scene. Apparently, unlike possibly every other airline in the entire world, China Southern Airlines does not accept credit card to pay for baggage fees. They do accept apple pay (because that’s so low-tech and common) and cash. The thing that looked like a credit card reader was an apple pay conduit. Many pounds of luggage in tow, I set off through the airport to find an ATM to withdraw some absurd amount of RMB. I’ve never wanted somebody to just take my damn money so badly before! Had I known I would have to pay in cash I could have planned ahead and had enough on hand when I got to the airport. Chengdu is probably the only place I’ve been where being at the airport four hours prior to departure is 100% necessary!
Best Cultural Interaction – Podium athletes typically receive flowers during the awards ceremony. Since you aren’t supposed to bring living plants through customs, I usually try to find a young girl to give my podium flowers to. I have a shy personality so its sometimes hard for me to initiate it – this means that I usually end up giving my flowers to a little girls whose parents wanted a picture of the girl and I. During the 20 minute walk (seriously guys?! we just raced!) to doping control in Miyazaki, fellow American Renee Tomlin and I were stopped by a family with two kids. After we took some pictures with them, I gave my flowers to the little girl. The reaction on her face and her mom’s face was so awesome that Renee decided to give her flowers to the little boy! The family bowed to us – a sign of respect and thanks in Japan – and we bowed back. Then they bowed again and we bowed back. Then they bowed again… and you get the idea. There was a lot of bowing and we weren’t sure when it was polite to stop! It didn’t seem like we made any cultural faux pas and it was really cool to see how much a small gesture can mean! I wish I had a picture of us with the family, but sadly I don’t!
Swim – Tongyeong! Opening up a gap in the water and then getting to chill in T1 and during the first few minutes of the bike is nice 🙂
Bike – Miyazaki! Far from perfect, but for the first time every I was able to just do some of the things I struggle with on race day
Run – Edmonton! I overcame the worst T2 in the history of triathlon, a shoe that wasn’t quite on, and the pain of being so cold. I kept believing that I could move up and finish higher and higher among many of the top women in the sport. And I did!
Overall – Tongyeong! I feel like I should put down Edmonton because it was my biggest result, but in truth, Tongyeong was my most well-rounded race ever. I had a strong swim, I executed the bike solidly, and then I outdueled one of the best runners in the sport on the run.
Thanks to everyone who made the 2016 season possible: my family, Ian, Paulo + The Triathlon Squad, my friends, USA Triathlon, fortynine Group, ROKA Sports, Off the Front Multisport, Team Psycho, and Alii Sport.