This past Monday the announcement all paratriathletes have been anxiously awaiting was made. This decision would determine which classifications would be represented in the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. As athletes, we had absolutely no control over this decision. The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and The International Triathlon Union (ITU) would be the ones who came to the final conclusion. Since there would only be three medals for men & three medals for women, this meant 2 classifications would be eliminated from the Rio 2016 Games. Unfortunately the women’s wheelchair classification was announced to be one of the classifications that would not be represented in Rio.
We knew this would be a possibility but none of us wanted to think it would be our classification that would get the boot. I tried to avoid thinking about about that possibility as much as possible this season because I wanted my main focus to be on training and racing. Looking back, I’m so glad I didn’t obsess over the fact we could be eliminated for the Rio Games. I had the season I wanted, I saw a major improvements in my training and racing compared to the season before. Do I regret anything about this journey? Not at all. I have always said I train and race because it truly makes me happy, being able to try to qualify for Rio 2016 was just a bonus! Sure the thought of representing USA on one of the biggest sporting stages fueled my workouts but I believe a true athlete has to have more motivation than that. Athletes need to love everything about their sport, they can’t just train and race for the medals or rankings- if they did, eventually they would no longer enjoy the sport and they would burn out. I’m lucky to sit here and still be able to say, I really do love this sport. I have been able to see how the human body can be pushed, I have been able to meet so many amazing people (both athletes & coaches), and I have been able to travel the world doing something I love so much. As I sit here tonight; yes I’m super upset the women’s wheelchair classification will not be represented in Rio but I do have hope for the future. If ITU & IPC continues their push for Paratriathlon, the likelihood for them to have all 5 classifications in 2020 is extremely high. So whats next….
2020 is kinda far away…. a full 6 years. Luckily for me, age is on my side. I was one of the youngest ones to get into this sport so I will only be 25 (woahh thats scary) when 2020 rolls around. I’m sure there will be a whole different batch of athletes competing by then. I’ll still race in a few ITU races just to keep the women’s PT-1 numbers stable and to keep the possibility of 2020 in the back of my mind. However, I do not want to be making life decisions around 2020 just yet. Over the next year or so I have some different goals in regards to the sport. Since we did know this could be a possibility, I had a few back-up plans that will still allow me to chase after some crazy dreams within the sport of triathlon.…I think I hear some distance stuff calling my name 🙂
When I went out for a run on Tuesday, the day after we got the news it was definitely weird not having the Rio 2016 Games in the back of my head. I can say that when I ended that run I was excited; excited to be looking at the future with a different perspective & excited for the new dreams I want to chase after.
Speaking about goals & dreams, I have always told myself I wanted to do a marathon. Being from Chicago you can probably guess which Marathon I wanted to be my first? Yes, The Chicago Marathon! Early in September I was out on a run and the crazy idea of doing The Chicago Marathon came into my head. I’m known for wanting to race in every race out there but especially this past year I had to hold myself back and focus on the important ones. However my triathlon season ended September 27 & I knew I would be anxiously anticipating the final decision from IPC so to distract my mind, why not sign up to race 26.2 miles through one of the greatest cities? After checking with Mark to assure I wasn’t absolutely crazy for want to transition from short course to long distance in a matter of 3 weeks, we decided we could do it! The last three weeks of training have been some of my favorites, I have really enjoyed my long runs and watching the miles add up over the weeks. While we didn’t stop training on the bike and swim, we definitely scaled back but it’s a nice change being able to focus all your energy on one sport for a few weeks… don’t get me wrong when Monday ( maybe wednesday) rolls around I’ll be ready to get back into the swing of swimming, biking, and running. Lets just hope for no drastic weather in Chicago this weekend for the Marathon considering I haven’t run in weather below 55 in over a year.
I know there are many more finish lines in m future, just maybe not the ones I had planned. So tomorrow begins my new journey and chasing after new dreams and I wouldn’t want to begin it anywhere else than Chicago. So here’s to the first 26.2 miles of that new journey.
“It’s having the possibility of a dream come true that makes life interesting.”