World Cup #4 – Never Give Up

One month later it was already time to travel again, this time to Europe and a new place in Hungary. For this competition we would be in the town of Keczecmet about an hour drive from Budapest. The town was very nice and so green already for the beginning of spring. When we arrived we went for a walk around to see the area and look around a bit.

There wasn’t much near our hotel, but we were about a 20 to 30 minute walk from the main part off the town. The nice thing was that we were in walking distance to all of the competition venues which was great! The next day my teammates and I went to see the swimming and running competition venues. It was all very nice and once again great that we were able to walk everywhere.

For this competition, I was in semifinal group B and would be swimming first. I swam a 2:24 once again which I was a little frustrating since I had been working very hard in the pool lately and my time hasn’t gotten much faster, but had to move on and focus on the other events to make finals. There was the maximum amount of women in each semifinal group, about 35,  and the fencing was very up and down for me. I had a rough start and was not doing well, but stayed positive and fought for every touch. I was able to score victories on all of my last four bouts which really helped to keep me in contention for the top 18.

I would be starting the combined in 24th place and once again would need to shoot and run well to make the top 18 to qualify for the finals. My shooting was very consistent being 11, 13, 11, and 16 seconds for each of the rounds and I felt really strong in the running. I had moved up to 17th place by the last lap with a few girls right behind me. I had already pushed very hard at the beginning to make up places in the run, but still had to keep fighting for every spot to make sure I secured my spot in the finals. I held my ground and qualified for the finals again!

The day before the completion our coach was hurt and had to go into the hospital due to a bad injury he had when falling. He had to have surgery and was unable to travel to the competition with us which meant that we had to help out our men’s team in the competition and be there for anything they would need. For the men, there were three semifinal groups and all three of the men that were competing for the U.S. were in different groups.

This was a little difficult to try and be at all the events to help especially since I needed to rest and recover for the women’s finals the next day. I was walking around a lot from the venues, but think it was helpful to keep my legs moving and not be sitting all day. The spa at the hotel was very nice and I was able to set up a massage to work out the sore muscles in my back and legs to help get me ready for finals.

I was excited for finals, but a little nervous as well. We didn’t have to start very early so got a good warm up in for fencing and was feeling good. Unfortunately, I did not have a very good fence again and was very frustrated. I knew that I had to take all the experience I could and gain from it despite not having the outcome that I had wanted. My swimming was a second faster than in semifinals which was good and I felt strong. The riding course looked like it would be a little challenging in some areas, but I had drawn a good horse. All of the horses in the competition were very good and the only problems in the jury ride were horses knocking down rails.

The jury ride happens before the finals event and is a test for the horse to make sure they are able to complete the course. Each horse will have a write up for how they did on the course for the coaches and athletes to see and look over once they are given the horse they will be riding. This helps the rider see areas where their horse may have had troubles or knocked rails down. It does not give any tips or advice on the disposition of the horse or how they should be ridden. That is up to the athlete to determine once they are warming up with the horse.

This is what I feel makes the equestrian part of pentathlon challenging, yet fun. It is important to be able to pick up on things that a horse responds well to and what they do not like. Warm up is 20 minutes long and we are allowed five warm up jumps. This isn’t much time to learn everything about a horse, you must feel things out and adjust to what you feel works best and helps the horse so that you have a clear round.

The horse I rode was named Washington. He was a big, beautiful horse with lots of power. He also needed a lot of leg around the course, but once he saw a jump he was locked on and really went for it. The course went very well and we only had one rail knocked down and a few time penalties even with him throwing in a couple of bucks through some of the corners. Some of the women had tough rides and a few women did not complete the course or fell off. I was able to move up a few places and start the combined in 32nd.

I had pretty good shooting in the finals with 13, 11, 11, and 18 seconds for all four rounds. The run wasn’t quite as fast but I was able to move up one place into 31st. Even though I did not have a good result in fencing I was still making progress in the other events and gaining good experience with some of the top female athletes in pentathlon.

Unfortunately, none of the men made finals, which allowed us to rest a little bit. Between all the walking around, jet lag, and competing I was pretty tired. A few of us did try to walk into the city to see if there were any cool sights or museums, but since it was Sunday there wasn’t much open. It was also rainy and pretty chilly out. This worked out well as I would be starting classes online at DeVry University again so I was able to catch up a bit before the classes started again that next week. I would be taking finance which would definitely be a challenge for me.

My back was really swollen and sore from the competition so I decided not to compete in the mixed relay on Sunday. I did a little bit of light training and helped out my teammates that were competing. We were leaving the next day so none of us were able to go into Budapest at all, but hopefully in the future I will be able to go back and visit the city. The trip seemed to go by really quickly and before we knew it we were back in the U.S. again after a long flight.

We arrived back very late on Monday night and would have a domestic competition at the training center in Colorado Springs that next weekend. It’s always a little rough adjusting back to the time change while training hard. The competition went well even though I was exhausted and was training through it. I finished in 2nd place which was a good result, but doing so much competition can be a lot so I was mentally ready for a break, but that wasn’t the case. World Cup Final would be in less than 4 weeks. Thankfully it would be in the U.S. in Florida!