Laid up in Lehigh Valley Hospital for a few days
September marked a very tough month for me with both Collegiate and Elite national Championships at the end of the month. These two events were my focus this season and I was feeling great going into them until I broke my collarbone in a crash racing. I had surgery on my collarbone September first and began the rehabilitation and rest process. I was crushed by the injury because it looked like I wouldn’t be able to ride either national Championship. As the days went by and I felt better and better I began to push what I could do by getting back on the bike just days after surgery and back out on the road within a week. I tried to salvage my training program the best I could and just see if Nationals would be a possibility.
Collegiate Nationals Kilo (Property of Lee McDaniel)
Just a few weeks later I was in Frisco, Texas racing Collegiate Nationals for Penn State. I really didn’t think I would be able to race that well and after my first session on the track I was doubting if I could race at all. Everything was different and uncomfortable. I was able to push through it and began to settle in on the track. I was told by my doctor that I could only do two standing starts, one in training and one in the kilo because they would put the most stress on my collarbone. My practice start was pretty awful and I couldn’t hold the bike down for the entire lap and pulled up. Thankfully the start I did in the kilo was better although not great. I started off collegiate nationals with the kilo time trial. With a almost one armed start I was able to post a 1:03.0 kilo which was a personal record for me so I was absolutely thrilled with it. Of course it came with all the fun of a kilo and being late for podium because I was puking my brains out.
My dad and I after the kilo podium (Property of Lee McDaniel)
The only other event I rode at collegiate nats was the sprint tournament. I had the fastest 200m time so I started off seated first. I was able to keep that spot the whole way through the tournament and take the gold. There were some awesome sprint rounds and great racing at collegiate nationals. It is awesome to see so many elite level riders also going to school and racing collegiately. collegiate nationals went really well for me and built some confidence to take into elite nats. A huge thank you to all the USAC staff and the volunteers of the Superdrome for putting on another great event, it was a great time!
Elite Nationals Sprint Tournament (Property of Erika Fulk)
I flew directly from Frisco to LA for elite nationals which started just days later. I was able to get some good training sessions in on the track before the racing started. The more I rode the track the more natural it felt with my shoulder. I was feeling really good going into the racing and started off with team sprint. I rode with Nate and Danny in team sprint but we came up one tenth of a second short in the final and took silver but it was pretty good for a team put together at the last minute. The second day brought about the sprint tournament. I was seeded fifth with a 10.8s 200m. The sprint rounds went really well and I moved into the final round for the gold medal. I really wanted to take the sprint title because it is a title I had never thought it would be possible for me to earn. I raced my heart out and gave it everything I had and I came out on top winning the sprint title in just two rounds. I was absolutely thrilled with this victory and was probably the most special race I ever won because of everything I had gone through to get there. It was a monumental win for me on so many levels and I could not have been happier with it. I was able to finish out Elite Nationals with a win in the kilo time trial and a time of 1:03.2.
Pretty Happy after the Sprint Tournament! (Property of Kristy Morrow)
The entire trip and month of September was really tough for me mentally and physically. I went from having surgery and being laid up in the hospital to turning a 1:03 kilo just 20 days later and onto two Elite National Championship titles the next week. I am really happy with the results of the trip but I am happy it is over. Now that I have had time to catch back up in school I am back to training and working hard again along with hitting the books. I am very grateful to all of my professors at Penn State for allowing me the opportunity to compete and go to school. I am healthy and strong enough to lift again and train as hard as I want to. Now my focus has shifted from recovery to working towards the future and the vast opportunities it holds.
Elite Nationals Kilo (Property of Pat Benson)
I would like to thank everyone who really stood by me and believed in me through a very difficult time. A huge thank you goes to my parents who were there when I crashed and sat with me in the hospital all of Labor Day weekend and were there for me every step of the way back, love you guys. To my team and awesome sponsors for reaching out and making sure I was okay and had everything I needed to return to the sport stronger and faster than before. I really owe all of this to Dr. Stansbury and his team of miracle workers at VSAS Orthopedics for getting me all plated up and back to full strength in no time at all. I am very grateful to everyone who has reached out to me and shown your support.
Some nice hardware in my shoulder
I know I have really grown as not only a racer but as a person through this whole experience but it is in the past, now it is time to focus on the future and start building for Rio 2016!