Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Moving on

Sacrifice. What is the meaning of this word? To me, it means giving up something for something else. Giving up something you really want for something you want more.
For years, triathlon did not feel like a sacrifice. I gave things up in order to commit to triathlon, but in my mind, I didn’t really want those other things. Staying inside all day, having lots of spare time, or getting a summer job were not things I was really interested in.  I was happy without them.  I much preferred having a busy schedule of training out in the fresh air with my friends, travel ling around to new places, and competing all summer. At that time, triathlon was everything I wanted, and my successes positively reinforced this lifestyle. I dreamed of making the Olympics and becoming a world champion. I believed that I would get there when I “grew up”…. 2012 and 2016 seemed far into the future and totally plausible to me.
Slowly triathlon became more serious, and as I got older, getter faster got increasingly more difficult.  I pushed myself to train harder and longer.  I didn’t ever goof off during workout, and  was always focused, intense, and committed to my goals. Triathlon wasn’t something I did just for fun anymore. Achieving my goals made it fun, and achieving my goals required a great deal of dedication. Triathlon was my life, and it defined who I was and what I chose to do or not do. If something could negatively affect my training or competition, then I would not do it. I became trapped in this small world that revolved around training, competition, and qualifying criteria. Not much else mattered to me. I started sacrificing things in the true sense that I define the word. I sacrificed sleep, food, social time, school, and fun….and my happiness hinged on my success.
In these past two years, after the move up to U23 and Olympic distance races, I have not seen the results that I became accustomed to seeing…. the results that I expect from myself.  I told myself to not be a sore loser, to be patient, that it will come in time, to not be so hard on myself. But without the success, triathlon was no longer a source of happiness to me. I got tired of being exhausted all the time, of having less time to do school work, of feeling guilty for eating dessert, and of not really having friends outside of sports. These other things became more and more appealing to me as triathlon was no longer able to provide happiness and satisfaction in my life. The daily grind itself was not fun, it was the end result that was fun, and if that end result never came around, then none of it was fun.
So, in light of all this, I have decided to retire from competitive triathlon. I no longer want to sacrifice other things in my life.  I want to finish my undergraduate degree in the next year and pursue a master’s degree;  I want to get work experience and explore future careers;  I want to have friends outside of sport;  I want to exercise when I want to and not when I don’t;  I want to stay up late watching a movie without stressing about lost sleep. It’s these things that I have deprived myself of while being committed to triathlon that I now want to do.
While this may seem like a depressing blog post, I also appreciate all the great experiences triathlon has given me. Some of my personal highlights are winning US Youth Elite Nationals twice, winning 3 golds at BC Summer Games, placing 3rd at nationals in my first year of junior elite and winning the junior series, winning gold in the team relay at Canada Summer Games, competing at Junior Elite Worlds twice, and at the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore. I have learned a lot about myself over these years, met great people, and have had great support from coaches, sponsors, family, friends, and team mates. I would like to thank my many coaches over the years: Leanne Wilkinson, Kelly Guest, Sheila Galloway, Neil Harvey, Patrick Kelly, Carolyn Murray, and Craig Taylor. I would like to thank all my team mates: Duncan Stingrays Swim Team, Kelly’s Kids Triathlon Team, NTC Victoria, and RTC Guelph. I would also like to thank all my previous sponsors: Berg Bikes, Frontrunners Victoria, Asics, Oak Bay Bikes, Nineteen Wetsuits, Specialized, Vega, Running Works/New Balance. And finally, I would like to thank my parents, sisters, and grandparents for putting up with me, and funding my training and competition.

Finally, all the best to my triathlon friends and team mates. While I am moving on to the next stage in my life, I won’t forget all the great experiences I had.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Look out!

There was a high school cross country meet this past week at Beaver Lake in Victoria BC. There was this amazing little grade 8 kid (not grade 9), 4'11, who blew away the competition. Guess what.... that's my little sister.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Burnt Marshmellow

Hi everyone. I am procrastinating a bit on my school work so will do a blog post. Yesterday was Hallowe'en, and I'm sure it will not surprise you that I did not go to any crazy Hallowe'en party like most people my age. But I did participate in the University of Guelph's Trick or Eat, which was really fun. It is essentially like trick or treating, except instead of collecting candy, you collect food donations for the local food bank. What a great idea!! For me it was a win-win, I got to dress up and go trick or treating with my training buddies, reliving the glory days of childhood, and felt good about myself for doing some good for others in town. I was scrambling at the last minute for a costume, and needed something to keep me warm and dry (with the storm and all), so eventually just put on my huge puffy black winter coat and hung a sign around my neck that said "Burnt Marshmellow". It was the perfect costume.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

I'm leaving on a jet plane... but I'll be back for christmas

I am about to start a fresh page in my life in Guelph, Ontario. I have transferred from UVic to the University of Guelph and am very excited about entering the Environmental Sciences program. I will be training with Craig Taylor and the RTC Guelph team, which I am also really looking forward to.
These last 2 weeks after Kelowna, I had some down time and a bit of a summer break, something that I've had the skip the last 2 years racing Junior Worlds. I really enjoyed the time off, and feel rejuvenated (I didn't need to go to the spa, I had to laze around for a few weeks!). Between moving out of my place in Victoria, cleaning everything, and packing, I managed to do a few fun things.
- went out in my Dad's boat with my little sister Desirae for the afternoon, one of my dad's prawn traps was stolen which sucked, but I enjoyed myself!
- went camping in Lake Cowichan for the weekend, went hiking and swimming, and saw a girl that I graduated with that has a baby (a little weird)
- went whale watching with Desirae with a gift certificate that my Mom won in some draw. This was pretty cool, we saw lots of killer whales, sorry Orcas, but it is just about impossible to get good photos. We have a million of the dorsal fin dissappearing into the water.

Tonight, there is a family farewell dinner as both me and my cousin Keiran are leaving tomorrow, and oddly enough, purely by coincidence, on the same flight! He gets off in Calgary, and I have a 3 hour layover there until I fly to Ontario. So for those of you in Victoria, now you know why you don't see me running around Elk lake anymore or swimming at the Commonwealth pool. I will be at my new home in Guelph with my 3 international roommates, two from China and one from Bangladesh. I sense some good cooking in the future!


It's September first... time to catch up a bit on what I've been up to.
The team drove out to Kelowna a week before the race. We stayed together in a rented house right on the lake and about a 5 min bike ride from transition. It was the perfect setup aside from two things... the lack of air conditioning, and the excess of bugs. But the pros still outweighed the cons.
Going up a week early really helped me prepare properly for the race. Given my past experiences in the heat, I knew I needed this acclimatization period. I was also great to practice the new bike course, including the hill. Every time I rode up the hill, I felt more confident and comfortable, erasing some of the stress I was feeling about it (I really didn't want to get dropped!!). My swimming and running were also feeling really good. Smooth, efficient, fast.
On race day I was calm. Woke up at 7 for an 11:30 start time, and did a run warmup early to allow my core temperature to come back down (I jumped in the lake to cool off). The weirdest part about having a later start time is all the waiting. You feel like "It's race day, why aren't we at the race site yet? Why am I lying in bed watching episodes of Modern Family? Why do I have so much time on my hands?". I kind of just want to get the race going and skip all the waiting!
I rolled into transition at 10:15, and had plenty of time to set up transition and do a good swim warmup. 15 minutes before the race I was feeling good, like I had nothing to lose, I was going to put it all out there and just enjoy it... this is my last race of the season, finish it off on a good note. I was not stressing about getting a top five placing to qualify for Worlds, not thinking about who might beat me and who I might beat. That was out of my control. I was simply happy to be there. An awesome feeling before a race.
The two lap swim was not a blistering pace, I felt pretty comfortable the whole way, and tried to always be drafting. Having gone the far left side of the beach to start, when all the top ranked athletes had lined up from the right, I had clear water right from the get go, and then we grouped together at the first buoy. I came out of the water after the second lap right behind Stevie, with Domi right on my heels. I knew Domi was going to bust it to transition so that's what I did too. Smooth transition, seamless mount, and I was off first on the bike, soloing up the hill, then grouping up with the pack at the top. I had been a little anxious about the hill on the first lap, I wasn't sure how it was going to feel or if the pack would really push the pace, so going up the hill ahead of the pack, I knew that even if they went faster than me, I would not be dropped. For the next five laps of the bike, I rode strong up the hills, and just stayed out of trouble for the rest of the loop. Hydration was one of my top priorities, and I finished one bottle every three laps. Along with taking my two gels, everything was going according to plan, no surprises. There was a mini breakaway on lap 5 at the top of the hill with me and the american Battiata. It only lasted a few minutes, but it got the pack moving faster.
I was first into transition with Alison right beside me. I had some trouble getting my bike to stay in the rack, I didn't want it to fall over and for me to get a penalty, so I spent and extra 5-10 seconds getting the wheel to stay. This fiddeling caused me to come out of transition nearer the back of the group. While a few of the girls took off right away, I was patient and ran a smooth comfortable pace the first lap. This paid off as I passed a few after the first kilometer. I ran really smooth for the first 2 laps, and was surprised at how good I felt. Going onto the third lap, I really focused on my pace and technique. I was starting to get fatigued, and starting to feel the heat a bit. Every water station a drank, not just one sip but a few (I think this really helped). When two Americans passed me on the third lap (running a much faster pace than I was), I didn't give them a thought. I knew that if I was going to finish and not repeat Magog (I died on the last lap and dropped out), I needed to wait a bit longer to really push the pace. Once I hit lap 4, it was go time. I picked up my strike rate, stood tall, and finished up strong. I was even smiling when I was running into the finish (not an "oh my god why did I do that" look with your eyes rolling back in your head and spit running down your cheek), much more flattering :).
I finished in 8th place, and was very proud of how I raced. I was smart about conserving energy in the swim and bike, I hydrated well on the run, and I beat the heat! Haha, take that sun! A very good way to finish up your season.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

in need of a little ray of sunshine

Feeling a bit down in the dumps today... so thought I would try to cheer up a bit with some good quotes.

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.

Without inspiration the best powers of the mind remain dormant. There is a fuel in us which needs to be ignited with sparks.
Johann Gottfried Von Herder

Men's best successes come after their disappointments.
Henry Ward Beecher

You cannot plough a field by turning it over in your mind.
Author Unknown

Believe with all of your heart that you will do what you were made to do.
Orison Swett Marden

First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.

You miss 100% of the shots you don't take.
Wayne Gretzky

They can because they think they can.

Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.
Thomas Jefferson

The thing always happens that you really believe in; and the belief in a thing makes it happen.
Frank Loyd Wright

The surest way not to fail is to determine to succeed.
Richard Brinsley Sheridan

Everyone has a fair turn to be as great as he pleases.
Jeremy Collier

To climb steep hills requires a slow pace at first.
William Shakespeare

Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.
Robert Collier

If you aren't going all the way, why go at all?
Joe Namath

Victory belongs to the most persevering.
Napoleon BonaparteYou are the handicap you must face. You are the one who must choose your place.
James Lane Allen

You are never a loser until you quit trying.
Mike Ditka

Most of the shadows of this life are caused by our standing in our own sunshine.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Winning isn't everything, but wanting to win is.
Vince Lombardi

If you don't know where you are going, you'll end up someplace else.
Yogi Berra

Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.
William Shakespeare

Every failure brings with it the seed of an equivalent success.
Napoleon Hill

The greatest mistake you can make in life is to continually be afraid you will make one.
Elbert Hubbard

Our greatest glory consist not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.
Oliver Goldsmith

Every day do something that will inch you closer to a better tomorrow.
Doug Firebaugh

No road is too long for him who advances slowly and does not hurry, and no attainment is beyond his reach who equips himself with patience to achieve it.
Jean de La Bruyère Do not anticipate trouble, or worry about what may never happen. Keep in the sunlight.
Benjamin Franklin

The mind that is anxious about future events is miserable.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Time to fill in the last few weeks (briefly)

1. Attempt 2 at olympic distance triathlon: Dallas, Texas Continental Cup, extremely hot and surprisingly humid. The race didn't quite turn out as I had hoped. I had a good swim, made the lead pack on the bike, the second pack caught us and the pace picked up. The heat started to get to me on the bike, and I dropped off the pack in the last 2 laps of the bike. I struggled into transition, jogged the first lap of the run, was really overheating and called it a day. Kind of a disappointment. Attempt 2 = fail.
2. Attempt 3: Victoria Triathlon at Elk Lake on June 17. I was excited to do this race, but not nervous as there was no pressure and I was going into it tired, just looking to complete the race and put in a strong effort. The race went surprisingly well. I had a very relaxed and controlled swim, got into a good rythm and pace on the 45 km non drafting bike, and stayed smooth and relaxed on the run. I finished the race with a huge smile on my face and massive blisters on my feet! Attempt 3 = success!
3. 11th FISU University World Championships in Taipei, extremely hot + humid. Redemption for Dallas, this time I was going to beat the heat. Training up to the race I did not feel very good, but on Friday things started to come around, and by race day I was feeling ready to go. My focus was going to be to stay conservative, keep my core temperature down, and finish the race. No one stayed cool for very long as we started the race swimming in 30 degree water. I had a solid swim and came out in the second pack of girls with three girls about 20 seconds in front of us. We came together in a pack of about 10 at the end of the first lap. I stayed with the pack for the whole bike this time despite the pace being a bit faster than I wanted considering the heat. On the first lap of the run I went out at a conservative pace, but then really started the feel the heat on lap 2. Had thoughts of not finishing, but our coach Alan Carlsson and my team mates kept me pushing through. Lap 3 was painfully slow, had to walk at the water stations in order to hydrate. Lap 4, came back a bit, was relieved when I crossed the finish line. I didn't find out that I had placed 24th until the next day... at that point I didn't really care, I was just happy it was over and I had made it through.

So that's about all. Next up, U23 National Championships in Magog, Quebec on July 21. Stay tuned.