Before I give my race report, I want to tell you a little about my trip and what I did leading up to the race. I arrived in Israel on July 11th exhausted and pumped! After I awkwardly lugged around my gigantic bike box, and was questioned by security, I was finally in Israel! As soon as I arrived at the hotel a few of my teammates along with some of the cyclist put our bikes together outside of the lobby area. People were walking by very intrigued by what were were doing. Our bikes were everywhere! After putting the bikes together we went for a ride! I was SO exhausted from all the travel, but really wanted to bike. We explored some of the roads around our hotel and got many dirty looks, and honks from drivers. I soon learned that the drivers in Israel are one of a kind! Of course I had to go on a short run afterwards. By the late afternoon I met the rest of my teammates! Everyone on my team was awesome!! We had a welcome event with all members of Team USA, by the time I went to bed that night I was probably awake for close to 40 hours!
Over the next 5 days we trained every morning and went touring through the Israel Connect program in late morning for the rest of the day. Some of the highlights of my training were swimming at Wingate, which is where the Israeli national swim team practices, and biking with Israeli’s and having a support vehicle. They took us on the highway!!! It was no big deal for them! The touring in the afternoon was incredible, some of the top moments were go to swimming/floating in the Dead Sea, visiting the Western Wall, and eating a traditional meal at the Bedouin Tents.
The opening ceremony was by far one of the coolest life experiences. A few hours before it started we got to walk around, mingle and take pictures with athletes from other countries! We then marched into a stadium with 35,000 people screaming and chanting “USA”! I took a zillion pictures and really soaked up the moment. I got the chills! It was so unique to be able to walk out with my fellow Jewish athletes all representing the US. We sat and watched the other countries march in. There was a concert and the President and Prime Minister of Israel spoke. Everyone was trading clothing. I traded my USA hat for a super cool green hat from South Africa!
THE DAY BEFORE THE RACE
We arrived at Lake Tiberius just in time for the pre-race meeting. It was by far one of the MOST ridiculous meetings ever!!!! SO sketchy! We were told they would not be providing swim caps. HUH? When someone raised their hand and said they didn’t have one, the race director replied in broken English- “I get my cousin to come sell them.” What triathlon doesn’t give out swim caps based on your wave?? Luckily I had a few extra caps to lend out to my teammates. We also found out we had to do our own body marking too. Other questions were asked, and the race director did not have a lot of answers. I left the meeting a bit worried, but knew that everyone would be okay on race day.
The race was on Friday July 26th and my wave went off at 5:55 A.M. When I found out in October that I would be going to Israel to compete I was so excited and knew that I wanted to give it my all with my training! This was by far the biggest and most important race I had ever done! I’d never left the MD/VA area to race, and to have the opportunity to travel to Israel made me step up my training. When I was in the water anxiously waiting for the gun to go off, I told myself that I had done everything possible to prepare and I had to believe in myself and my training and give it my all!
Before the race I previewed the swim course with my teammates, and everyone was confused on where the turn-around buoy was located. As the first wave was starting they were putting out the last few buoys! How disorganized!
I started off the swim nice and easy, made it to the first buoy, and then the turn around. After the turn around back to shore there were NO buoys to be seen! All I could see was a huge field of different colored swim caps. What was a cap and what was a buoy?? I knew I had to make it back to the shore. I was following people and then realized they were heading back to the start, not the swim exit. I even popped my head up, and said “where do we go??” There were other confused swimmers and someone pointed out the finish to me. I was pretty pissed because I knew I swam extra distance and gained time on the 1500 meter swim.
Coming out of the swim, we had to run the entire length of the transition area on the outside, it was about 300 meters, and then into the entrance, and I had to run all the way to the end. I grabbed my bike and had a quick transition. The bike course was fairly flat, and was 2 loops. I managed to catch a few girls who had beat me out of the water. It was SUCH a unique race because I knew so many people on the course that I had met during my trip. I had met the most interesting people from all of the world! During the race I reflected on my training, hard work and thought about some of my tougher workouts. It made me go ever faster and give it my all!
I pushed hard on the bike, and before I knew it, I was almost done! I had to run the entire length of the transition area again on the outside, and had a quick transition and was off my run. Our team doctor Brian told me I was the 3rd female! He also yelled out something that really motivated me throughout the 10k, “it all comes down to the run.” I knew that I had to run a smart race, and not let anyone pass me. I was hoping to catch up to the 2nd place female, but most importantly, I didn’t want to burn out. I started the run portion slowly to allow my legs to wake up. The run course was unique, it was 4 loops. There was tons of crowd support, and I passed the water station 8 times! Each time I drank some water, and dumped the rest on me! It was pretty hot out! I thought back to some of the hotter triathlons I had done this season (General Smallwood and Rockhall), where I had runs that were far from my PR. I didn’t want to screw this one up! There was a girl from Canada that was in 4th place. I knew she was a strong runner, and I saw her throughout the run. My goal was to maintain my distance from her. I had an awesome run and felt strong! I ran through the finish line with a HUGE smile!! All my hard work since October had paid off. Not only did I have a great race, but I have never had SOOOOO much fun in a race! I cheered on the rest of my teammates! Although I was the 3rd female to cross the finish line, you never know if someone from another wave had a better time. The results were posted, in Hebrew, so I had to wait until the awards ceremony at noon to find out how I placed.
At the awards ceremony I got called up for 3rd place overall female and was SO excited!!! A few minutes later I got called up again for 1st place in my age group! Only in Israel can you double metal!! I was beyond excited! I had to wait a few hours to be able to call my fiance Marc and my parents, because of the 7 hour time difference!
Being the crazy person that I am, I wanted to train the next day! I went with my friend Ryan, and we both agreed it was going to be an easy chill ride. We are biking along, and saw a HUGE mountain, we looked at each other, and said “lets do it!!” It was a 7 mile climb, the hardest of my life!! I was going about 4-5 mph in all my lowest gears! So much for a recovery day! 🙂 It was really rewarding to make it to the top. Later that day, I took a trip to the hexagon pools in the middle of the forest with some teammates. We all crammed in the team doctor’s tiny rental car, and had an off roading experience!
I spent the rest of my trip enjoying the sites of Tel Avi. I ate amazing food and hung out on the beach. I continued to meet other athletes! I also went skydiving!!!
A HUGE shout out to District Hardware- The Bike Shop for your amazing sponsorship! I am so grateful for everything you have done for me! Another big shout out to my fiance Marc, for being SO supportive of my crazy habit and training regimen! Also, a big thanks to the Super Athletes (Sandra, Alberto, Guillermo and Annette), you guys are the best! I am so lucky to have awesome training buddies! Lastly, thanks to my awesome coach Debi, for helping me improve this year! Your workouts are the best!
I am SO thankful for everyone who donated! I had the experience of a lifetime, and I am very thankful for all of my friends and family who helped make this dream come true!!!