The End of One Chapter is the Beginning of Another: From Swimming to Triathlons

Below is a post from YoungTri Executive Board Member Patrick LaBrode about his decision to transition from swimmer at UT Austin to focusing on triathlons full time. 

We (athletes) go through life planning out a straight path to our goals. We know what steps we need to take to reach our goals and work hard day in and day out to achieve them. But, sometimes we fail to factor in the future changes in our paths. Our paths could have major obstacles set before us that we must struggle to work our way around. For example, a major obstacle that temporarily stopped me on my path was back in 2010 when I broke my collarbone during a triathlon. Our paths can also be split in half, thus making us chose to continue on the same path or move on to a new one. I have been standing at the fork where my path divides in two since December 2013, and I have finally decided to choose a path. I am no longer going to be swimming for The University of Texas; instead I’ve decided to focus on a new path, triathlons.

From now on, I'll be seeing UT Austin from a new perspective - filled with tris!

From now on, I’ll be seeing UT Austin from a new perspective – filled with tris!

Through the eyes of a non-swimmer, swimming can seem like the worst sport ever. You spend hour after hour, morning, noon and night swimming back and forth staring at a black line, while killing your muscles and not being able to breathe. Swimmers feel that way sometimes, but swimmers know and feel all of the positive benefits of swimming. We crave hitting our pace during sets and the feeling of accomplishing a tough workout. We live for dropping milliseconds of time in our events and beating the athlete next to us. Although swimming is tough, takes up so much time, and swimmers constantly complain about going to practice, when you are able to feel good in the water and drop time at the end of the season, it’s worth it. But when you put all of the effort and time into swimming, and you don’t enjoy it/you aren’t getting anything out of it, then swimming can be your worst enemy. I truly haven’t enjoyed swimming in about a year.

The main reason I’ve been having problems with swimming stems from medical issues that I’ve had on and off for about a year. I’ve had trouble breathing, extra heart beats, stomach viruses, higher than normal fatigue, and acid reflux on and off since January of 2013. Alongside those problems, add the stress of college, and slightly poor amount of sleep and there’s no doubt why I’ve been miserable in and out of the water. I’ve seen many doctors and specialists and taken many tests only to find out everything is 100% normal. And then in December 2013 I began seeing a sports psychologist thinking maybe my problems in the water are more anxiety/mental related. Seeing the psychologist helped with my sanity and motivation a bit, but never transferred to the water. And when the psychologist finally asked me where I stood with swimming, I broke down and admitted to him and myself that I no longer had the love for swimming that I had since I was 5 years old. I struggled to get through every practice physically and mentally, I was not the swimmer I used to be, and that was devastating.

If you ask my family and friends they will tell you I’ve been happy since the day I was born, and that’s the truth. But when I evaluated my fall 2013 semester, I noticed I wasn’t the 24/7-happy swimmer I used to be. Morning practices were more of a drag, and I spent the day fretting about going to afternoon practice. I began just wanting to survive practice and constantly wishing it were Saturday. That’s when I knew I needed to be done with swimming. The hardest decision to make was deciding when to finish. Many days in January 2014 I wanted to cut my season short and throw in the towel. There were many practices where I spent thinking and writing my goodbye speech to my teammates. It was not a good time for me at all.

After talking to the psychologist, my parents, and other athletes that have gone through quitting swimming, I decided not to care about how I felt in the water or how I raced — and just enjoy the rest of the season with my teammates. I could come back to the idea of quitting once the season was over. I also talked to my best non-swimmer friends and my family members about wanting to quit and they all supported me 100%. At first, I was devastated at the thought of quitting, but every time I told someone my story I came to terms with my situation and decision.

During my final taper meet (March 2014) I ended up swimming and feeling 10 times better in the water than I had been feeling all season long. I mentally relaxed and told myself not to care about my pace, my times, or how I was feeling in the water and just have fun, and it worked! This is why I believe the main source of my symptoms is anxiety related. I ended my collegiate swimming career with a best time in my mile (by .82 seconds, but hey a drop is a drop)!

Although it was a bit sad to swim my last race with my fellow longhorn teammates cheering and racing at my side, I felt a huge weight lifted off my chest when I hit the touchpad and looked up to see my time one last time. I celebrated the end of the season and the end of my swimming career, and got to relax and enjoy spring break camping with my family. I knew everything was going to be just fine.

I didn’t get to achieve all of the collegiate swim goals I set for myself on my path, but looking back from the first time I jumped in the water without floaties on, to today, I couldn’t be more proud of myself and happy with everything I have accomplished. I have been so blessed to have had amazing coaches and teammates throughout the years that have taught me so many valuable life lessons and giving me memories that I will hold on to forever.

And this isn’t the end of my story; it’s just the end of a chapter in my life. I am looking forward to pursuing triathlons full time again, begin focusing on getting into physical therapy school, and being able to enjoy other little things in life that I haven’t been able to cross off my bucket list. We struggle in life when we can’t control our own story, and I’m excited to take control again, and begin writing a new chapter of my life. It’s going to be the best chapter yet — just wait.

-Patrick

Mighty Mujer Triathlon in El Paso, TX

Last month Caity and I attended Boston University’s Tri-a-triathlon, which was a super sprint indoor race. It was a lot of fun and many participants were beginners!

Similar to that race is the Mighty Mujer Triathlon on April 19th in El Paso, Texas. Mighty Mujer is a woman only super-sprint tri. Since triathlon is a male dominated sport, the all female component is exciting for it encourages more women to compete.

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Source: Rudy Gutierrez – El Paso Times

So what does “super-sprint” mean? A 300 yard pool swim, 15K bike ride, followed by a 2 mile run.

If you live in Texas, or want to fly to Texas for this race you should sign up before it’s too late! There’s only 150 spots left.

To learn more, check out their website and watch the promo video here!

Email us at info@youngtri.com if you plan on racing!

-Kaitlin

A New Tri Season Means a New You!

Below is a post from YoungTri Executive Board Member Patrick LaBrode on tips for excelling in the upcoming spring tri season!

Soon enough the ice will be melting and your 2014 triathlon season will begin! I’m not sure about you, but I’m excited! But before you start getting the rust off your bike and breaking in your new pair of running shoes, remember that this is a new triathlon season, which means a brand new opportunity to be the athlete you’re striving to be!

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Putting in some outdoor spring running training!

​So many athletes hold lingering disappointment and stress from their past season failures or missteps. If you begin your season thinking about all of the negative things that went on during last year’s training and competition, you are just going to set yourself up for failure. Remember that this new year is your chance to achieve your goals! It all starts off with a new fresh attitude toward the entire season. If you fret about not doing well in the past and that you wont be able to do well now, then it’s going to be extremely hard to improve. Instead of holding yourself to the negative things that happened in the past years, take those mistakes and turn them into a learning experience. Evaluate what went wrong and write down a plan to fix those problems.

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Competing in a criterium race!

Here are some ideas to help you prepare for a great triathlon season:

Start off with the little things. Did you not enough water during and after training sessions? If so, then make it a goal to always have a water bottle in hand. Maybe you didn’t allow enough time for your body to recover after intense training, so put in some extra recovery time this season. If you can fix the little things, it’ll make the big picture of training and competing well a lot easier!

Focus on a positive attitude. Anyone can work hard, but it takes a lot of mental strength to push through the intense two hour bike rides, or the set of repeat hill runs. Staying positive from the moment you wake up will help you get the most out of your training and keep you sane!

Take up some new skills! Maybe you could learn how to change a flat tire, or improve some skills in your transitions to cut down time during a race. You could also improve your swimming technique to conquer those open waters! Maybe take up yoga to improve your flexibility and recovery. Learning new skills will help you grow in your training and grow as and overall athlete.

​These are just a few ways to start your new triathlon season off right. There are many ways to make this season better than last year, and it’s all under your control!

So take a deep breath, move out of your comfort zone a little bit, and take control to make the 2014 triathlon season the year you achieve your goals!

-Patrick LaBrode

Thought for the Day: The Path Makes the Results

“The only thing standing between you and your goal is the story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.” 

Keep in mind — especially on the hard days (when you don’t want to get out of bed to train, when the workout isn’t going your way, or otherwise) — that it’s the path that makes the results. It’s the steps you take along the way to your goal that lead to ultimate success.

The early mornings.

The “pushing your limit” workouts.

The healthy diet & constant core workouts.

The picturing yourself crossing the finish line.

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Staying on a solid path will help you reach your goal — even if there may be challenges along the way.

Put in the work. You’ll see the results 🙂

Tri Hard,

Caity

Happy Spring Break!

Who else is wishing they were on a spring break training trip (or trip in general!) this week?

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Mirror Lake is definitely not this warm right now!

If you are lucky enough to be traveling this spring break, share your training stories with us! @theYoungTri or info@youngtri.com

Even though some of us may not be traveling, spring break is a great opportunity to fit in extra training without the added stress of school 🙂

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YoungTri Ambassador Jessica from Tufts is pictured above enjoying her first gelato in Italy! She’s been running a great deal on her trip, and we’re so excited to hear about her training adventures abroad next week.

Tri Hard (& Happy Spring Break wherever you are!),
Caity

Project Race Bib

Send us a picture of you wearing your favorite and why it means a lot to you (or just a picture with the bib) — we’ll feature some of our favorites on YoungTri.

Tweet us (@theYoungTri), use #YoungTri in Instagram, or email info@youngtri.com. We want to see your bibs!

(My ironman bib is still my favorite. It’s on my bulletin board at school now 🙂 )

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Tri Hard,
Caity

Dealing with Disappointment

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Dealing with disappointment is not an easy task. Knowing you failed to reach a goal you have dreamed about for years is difficult to digest.
Recently (aka yesterday) I decided not to do the Boston Marathon. Due to the heightened security and the unpromising status of bandit runners, it does not appear that I would be able to even step foot on the course. I’m not one to give up hope, but I did not want to put in the hard work and excessive amount of time to just be even more disappointed on race day.
In addition to the increased safety precautions, I’ve been dealing with Achilles and shin injuries, so deciding to not do the marathon was in my best interest.
Despite not being able to do the specific race I’ve been wanting to do since high school, I’m still optimistic because I’ve learned a lot from the 4 months of training I did complete and I plan on running in a marathon within the next year. I have a few friends that just decided not to run Boston as well, so we’re going to try to find a race to do together.
In the meantime, I’m going to stick to swimming, biking, and running :).
Have you had any triathlon disappointments lately? I think the best thing to do is learn from what went right and what went wrong. Next, find another race to look forward to, and move on!

(Photo from Boston.com)

Sometimes Keepin’ it Simple is Best

When it comes to gear during runs, I’ve tried everything. From Garmins to Fuel Belts to everything in between, you can bet that at some point I’ve sported it on a run. There are definitely times when a lot of gear is best… But sometimes I just like to keep it simple. A watch and nothing else 🙂

…And that’s exactly what I did on my run yesterday!

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What different gear combinations have you tried during bikes and runs? What are your favorites? Send us pictures (tweet us @theYoungTri) or email info@youngtri.com 🙂

Sometimes there’s nothing better than a simple, hassle-free minimal gear run on a sunny day 🙂

Tri Hard,
Caity