2016 was another trying year. I was still in the cervical collar when I rang in the New Year. It was a bittersweet moment, as I was happy to leave 2015 behind, but I also felt deflated as I was starting the new year of with an injury. I could not wait to be healthy, and thought that once I was free of that damn C-collar I would be good to go. What a delusion that was! It took me almost a year to feel like my old self again, and this was certainly not for a lack of effort to claw my way back to health and fitness. Much to my dismay, the road to recovery was long and lasted for the duration of my final full triathlon season before I return to medicine. Needless to say, this pursuit did not go as I had hoped it would, and after a great deal of struggle and despair I now feel at peace with what was and what will be. Sometimes life does not feel fair, but I found it feels much better to embrace the struggle instead of fight it, and to not harbor resentment towards the unfortunate circumstances life throws at me.
After all, I am still Emily whether or not I compete in triathlons or win races. Being a triathlete is not the thing that I feel most proud of about myself, and at the end of the day I am more excited about returning to medicine than I am about racing triathlons in 2017.
First let’s look back on my 2016 season; I want to reflect on the positive things that came out of each race.
The first race of the year, which took place less than 6 months after the injury, was a chance for me to race with very little pressure and to see what I could do on only a few weeks of real training. It was awesome to just be out there racing again, winning was a bonus.
Rev 3 Williamsburg was my first professional race of the season and just my second ever professional race. This was not my best day, I felt fairly terrible, but I fought hard all the way to finish line and ended up on the podium.
This is definitely the toughest race to say anything positive about, because I was frankly devastated by my performance that day. I will say that I am proud that after a total meltdown mid-race I took a less than stellar (and borderline embarrassing) result over a DNF.
Things finally came together on this day and for the first time I felt like I was racing. Though my time and finishing place do not match how I feel about my performance that day, I was able to look past that and focus on myself and my achievement.
The final triathlon of the year was an anti-climactic ending to the year, but it was a great opportunity to go hard and race against myself.
I struggled with the decision to end my triathlon season in September, having not gotten back to where I wanted to be, but it was the best decision I could have made. Once I cut back on training by about 10-12 hours a week, things really started coming together and I am thrilled it materialized into a PR, win, and course record at the Princeton Half Marathon.
My life has been a whirlwind over the past two months, as I have been all over to interview for a residency in Family Medicine. With all of the travel I have been taking a little break from organized training, but am looking forward to get back into things in the coming weeks, as the interview season comes to a close.
I do not have any real plans in mind for 2017. More than anything, I want to take advantage of having time and freedom before that all goes away in 5 months. And right now I am not sure if this will equate to racing a full schedule, being more like a normal person and just exercising and staying active, or something in between. Unfortunately, I currently do not have a sound financial situation, and I am not sure where/when/how I’ll be able to race. This has been a recurring theme throughout the past year and a half, but hopefully some overtime at work will help me put enough money in the bank account so I can comfortably travel to races. In the meantime, I hope to find my motivation to train with focus and determination through the winter months so I can be prepared for whatever racing opportunities that may unfold.
I am hopeful and excited to wake up on January 1, 2017 and be healthy and able-bodied for the first time in five years!
Onward and upward.