Back to Mexico – Pan American Championships

I was not too thrilled to be heading back to Mexico after the heat and stomach trouble I had earlier this year at the World Cup in Acapulco. This time I planned ahead and got some medicine before I left just in case there were any issues. We would be competing in Mexico City for Pan American Championships so would be dealing with even higher altitude than Colorado Springs. I had a pretty good flight there but arrived around 10 pm and after waiting for the shuttle to take me to the center and the driver getting lost, it took about 3 hours to get to the CODM, the Olympic Training Center in Mexico City.

The dorms at the training center were pretty worn down, but by 1 am all I wanted was get to bed and get some rest. I was put in a room that had about 20 other girls and about 15 bunk beds, it was pretty close quarters and tiny beds. The rest of the US team was on different flights and had gotten stuck in Houston for the night so they wouldn’t arrive until the next afternoon.

The next morning I was able to find one of my teammates who had been training at the center for a week or two. He helped me find the dining hall and areas where I could get some training in. I was so tired from getting in so late that I tried to get my training in earlier at the pool and at the track to get some rest that afternoon. There wasn’t any Wi-Fi at the center but I was able to go to a little café down the street with some of the Canadian pentathletes. The driving was a little bit crazy and I definitely had to be careful to not get hit by cars when crossing the streets. That afternoon I got moved into a smaller room where I would be staying with my US teammates as well as two girls from Uruguay.

The rooms had their own bathroom and shower, but no warm water for the sinks. The showers took about 10 minutes to get any kind of warm water as well. At least it was quieter and allowed for a little more space for all of the gear and luggage. The room was on the 4th floor which was quite the trip with my bags and all of my competition/training gear. The rest of the US team finally arrived that night and we were able to get all settled in.
Normally we arrive with only a day to training and get acclimated for most competitions. We were unsure if there would be a semifinals and finals or just finals so I arrived one day earlier than normal.

I was glad that I would have another day to adjust and get used to the training center before the competition, especially since I didn’t get much rest the first night I arrived. The day before the competition my teammates and I ran and swam a little bit and got all of our stuff packed up for the competition.

The fencing was very long since there were a little over 40 competitors, but I did well and finished with more victories than defeats. It can sometimes be tough to stay focused for that long and to keep the energy level high and intense for three to four for the start of the combined.

It was off to the swim next. I swam about a second off of my personal best time, but I was happy with it since Mexico City is a little higher altitude than Colorado Springs. This helped me to move up into the top 15 places for the riding event. The riding event was at a Military base a few miles away and the facility was beautiful. The course had some challenging turns, but I was glad that the hoses were much better than in the world cup earlier in the season.

It started to rain pretty hard during the riding event and some areas were getting pretty muddy. In the warm up my horse felt good, but he needed a lot of leg and I felt a little off on him. I had trouble seeing the distances to some of the jumps and we had three refusals on the course as well as time penalties. With the rain and footing a little slippery I am not sure if the horse was just a little nervous or what, but it was frustrating to have a bad ride and move down to 18th place.

Thankfully, it cleared up for the combined event. I didn’t shoot as well as I usually do and had about 2 – 4 misses on each round of shooting. I was able to stay strong in the run and make up some ground finishing in 10th place. Although it wasn’t the result I was wanting, my teammates and I were able to qualify a full team for the Pan American Championships in 2015, which is a crucial event to try and qualify for the Olympic team in 2016.

After a day of rest and cheering on the men at their competition we had a day for relay competitions. There would be a men’s, women’s, and mixed relay. I would be competing with my teammate Isabella Isaksen in the women’s relay. We started out the fencing a little rough but picked it up in the end and finished strong.

Both of us did very well in the swim and were able to move up a place. I also had a new personal best time for my 100 free. Thankfully the riding was much clearer and there was no rain in sight. Isabella and I would be riding the same horse for the relay and he was very good. I rode first and went clear! Isabella had to jump on as soon as I got off and she rode a clear course as well. This allowed us to keep our position and start the combined in third place. We were quite a ways behind Brazil who was in first place. I shot really well and was closing the big gap between Brazil and us for the first position.

When I handed off to Isabella we were only about 5 seconds behind and she was able to shoot well and keep the lead through the last two laps. She even opened up the lead even more with a strong run to lead us to the Gold in the women’s relay! The mixed relay and men’s team finished with bronze medals. This was a great way for the US team to end the Pan American Championships and earn podium spots for all three relays.

I was pretty sore and exhausted after the two days of competition and definitely ready to be home. It is amazing how we take warm water, soft beds and pillows, even internet or Wi-Fi for granted. Even just having a clean city and area makes me very thankful for all that I have here in the United States.
After getting back from Mexico, it was right back into training. World Championships would be a little over a month away so it was time to fine tune some things and work a lot more on speed to get prepared for Worlds which would be in Warsaw, Poland. With our coach being Polish, our team is able to go to Poland to train sometimes.

I would be going out about two weeks before with some of my teammates for a training camp and to help adjust to the time change. I can’t believe that it is already time for World Championships and that this season is coming to an end soon. The two year out mark was just reached for the 2016 Olympics in Rio, which is very exciting and constantly a reminder of my goals and dreams of making the Olympic Team for USA Modern Pentathlon.