This past weekend I raced in my 7th triathlon. I built a solid lead out of the swim, hopped on the bike and began to pedal. After the 1st of 3 bike laps, Jessica Clay (West Point cadet) caught up to me and from there we worked together on the 2nd bike lap. I stuck with her for the first part of the 3rd, but then slowly started to see the distance between her wheel and mine increase. Although it was disheartening, I reminded myself to keep my head in the game. The race was not over.
I hopped off the bike, threw on my running shoes and took off. Clay had built a 22 second lead on me heading into the 5k. My coach yelled at me to be patient. "Don't try to make up the time too soon; get into the run; you have 3 miles to close the gap..." And that's what I did. I let my legs carry me as I felt the burn of the lactic acid building.
Side note: in a sprint tri such as this, you wil never feel or you should never feel comfortable. It's pretty much balls to the wall the whole time. In the 5k your legs burn -- prepare yourself for that. Feel the burn, love the burn, embrace the burn. You'll never "settle in" to your run like you might in a 10k . Just fyi for the next time you race.
So as I ran focusing on Clay in front of me, but also knowing there were some fast runners coming up behind me, I slowly started to see the gap close between Clay and me. And once that started to happen, the smell of victory and getting my pro card carried me through to the finish line.
I finished first and qualified for my elite card. What does this mean? I now can compete as a professional triathlete; train for a spot on the USA National Team; and race for a spot on the 2012/16 Olympic squad. My coach and I have yet to decide when I will debut as an elite, but this past weekend opens up a whole new door of opportunities.
To be honest, I never really thought I could become a professional athlete. After battling through a medical misdiagnosis, athletic plateaus, setbacks & people telling me to throw in the towel, I was tempted to call it quits. But on Saturday I won. Yet the moment of success wasn't the race. It was all the decisions along the way when I was knocked down, but refused to stay down. I don't know what's at the end of this road, but I'm excited to see what all God has in store.
From a spectator's point of view: "Kirchhoff is an amazing athlete with exceptional professionalism. She is definitely going places. What a pleasure to watch. Please look closely at what is above her name on her uniform...What a message coming across the finish line as the champion!"
I am proud to represent the Tri4Him elite team and would like to THANK...
* Marc Bonnet-Eymard for all of the time and energy you put forth coaching me every day. I wouldn't be where I am without you. Thank YOU!
* Rudy Project for the sleek looking helmet and cool eyewear I sported on race day. As they say, if you're gonna sweat, you might as well look pretty doing it!
* Blue & USAT for the great bike I raced on.
* Hammer Nutrition for the high performing fuel during the race (Heed, Subtle STrawberry was my race day flavor).
* Champion Systems for a sleek looking tri suit (which I got compliments on by the way).
* Harris Drucker with MassageEFX for getting my muscles ready to race and for the post-race, lactic acid flush on Sunday!
* Epic Cycles for the countless hours you spent putting my bike together and all the TLC and bike tips you give me.
* HelixLife for my customized vitamin blend I take twice a day. I love your stuff! It is foundational nutrition and building blocks for success!
* Steve Brisbois for his nutritional expertise and helping me fuel my body for success day in and day out.
* the home crowd, my training buddies at the National Training Center, swim coach Sara McLarty, Jennifer Hutchinson and mentor Barb Lindquist.
And most importantly, my family, sister Lindsey who flew in for race day support and my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for giving me the ability to train and race.