a new team!

I am so proud, and honored to announce that I’ll be racing for the Trans National Women’s Cycling Team! I’m very excited to represent the transgender community, this team, and our awesome sponsors for the 2018 cycling and triathlon season! 

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2017 has been quite a year for sports, and many firsts! This year was my first doing triathlons, each in of itself brought new and interesting challenges for me to overcome. I learned how to swim, and was able to get to a level where I can confidently swim in races. I also got back into running, something I haven’t really done since high school track and cross country.

Most importantly this year I completed my first Ironman 140.6. One of the hardest sporting achievements I’ve done to date! It was a very proud moment in my life, and one I hope to repeat in the near future.

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a new project

It's been a pretty busy couple of weeks.  I recently took an internship opportunity with a fabulous media company, Live Feisty!  It allows me to explore a brand new field that I've never worked in before; podcast media, and journalism!

I work on their newest podcast (released today), If We Were Riding.  Right now I just edit the show, but I hope to expand my responsibilities with the show, and company in the future!

If We Were Riding, is a triathlon-ish podcast.  It's an extension of a newsletter written by one of the hosts, Kelly O'Mara.  The hosts, Sara and Kelly, talk about topics in the newsletter, and expand on those topics with their own personal experiences, and perspectives.

If you enjoy swimming/biking/running, and think equality for woman in sports is important, and would like to a little inside baseball of a professional triathlete ... Give it a listen!

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personalErin Hamilton
this is me

This last year has been an amazing year.  My continue progress with my brain injury recovery, entering the world of triathlon, training and finishing my first Ironman!  One thing has always weighed heavily in my head.  It has felt like I've been living two separate lives; my everyday life, and my athlete/athletic life.  You're probably wondering by now...

What's so different?

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personalErin Hamilton

The Seattle Marathon is the last race on my 2017 calendar, and my 2018 season probably won't start until like March, if not later.

Do I say screw it and do the marathon, and deal with the ramifications and spend the entire off season working this issues out, or follow the physical therapist's recommendations and not take the risk?

I don't know what to do.  The entire reason for doing the Seattle Marathon, was to redeem myself from my Ironman run disaster.  But if my leg/feet issue flares up during the marathon, then I'm walking after the first or second hour.

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runningErin Hamilton
living and training with a brain injury

It's difficult to understand brain injuries until you have one, and it's a club you really don't want to be a member of.  It's a type of injury that is fairly easy to identify with a number of common symptoms, such as, difficulty remembering new information, difficulty thinking clearly, fuzzy or blurred vision, dizziness, headache, sensitivity to noise and/or light, issues with balance, drastic mood swings … just to list a few.  Determining the extent of damage, and it's long term effect, on the other hand is extremely difficult.  Unless you have a brain bleed, nothing is visible on MRI or CT, two of the most common methods of imagining the brain.  It's really a new frontier for the medical world.  We simply can't wait for people suffering from brain injuries to die, in order to physically look at their brain and see the CTE, or other damage that's a result from head injuries.  They're just starting to gather the data, and test how to find these problems while the person is still alive, which can lead to better rehabilitation, and change any many full contact sports/jobs.

This single event changed my life, and the lives of everyone around me forever.

That was two years ago, and here we are today.  I'm still recovering, still healing, still learning limits and how to adjust my life to accommodate my on going TBI and symptoms.

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Post Ironman depression is very real I'm learning.  Nine months of non-stop training, it was pretty much a part-time job for me, to suddenly having a blank calendar and a lot of time on my hands.  It's a tough adjustment, and you start slipping pretty quickly.  It really doesn't help hearing my coach, and tri friends telling me to not do anything for a couple of weeks to recover.

I'm still trying to fight out of this little funk.  I'll also admit, it's not just post-Ironman stuff that is knocking me down.  Events in my life haven't helped the situation either.

So what do I do?

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running, ironmanErin Hamilton

This Sunday marks the end of a nine month journey to becoming an Ironman finisher.  So much work, blood, sweat, and tears to finally reach this point, and it's amazing how far I've come.  It's best to talk about what pushed me to make Ironman Coeur d'Alene my goal.

Back in 2015, while riding my bike home, I was hit head on by a SUV.  For someone reason, the woman who was driving this SUV decided on that day, and that time to cut a corner, and plow right into me.  I've been told that I was thrown off my bike a good 30 to 40 feet ... every part of my head took the blunt of that distance covered.  If it wasn't for my helmet, I would have been dead on the scene.

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ironman, personalErin Hamilton
lake meridian olympic triathlon

Despite being two weeks out from Ironman Coeur d'Alene, and with the disaster that was the Ellensburg Olympic triathlon ... I felt like I needed another Olympic distance race under my belt.  With how I performed, and my results in Ellensburg, I was extremely worried about Ironman.  My confidence after that race was so low.  I needed to know if Ellensburg was a fluke.  So on a whim, and not in the training plan, I signed up for Lake Meridian.  Thankfully, I was able to put to rest Ellensburg, and prove to myself that I am ready for Ironman.  Coming out of the Lake Meridian triathlon ... my confidence, and determination, couldn't be any higher, and I'm glad I decided to race!  Getting this high two weeks before Ironman is exactly what I needed!

I had the most run in a race in a long time.  I had a smile on my first the entire time, singing to myself, laughing, and just having fun.  I need to do that more often!

Let's get into this awesome race!

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ellensburg olympic triathlon

Over the weekend, July 22nd, I competed in my second triathlon race in Ellensburg, WA, and my first olympic distance.  I knew going in that this race was going to be a rough one.  Having done a 2.4 mile swim race the night before (July 21st), and to drive over to eastern Washington the morning of the race.  So very little sleep, and sitting in a car for an under two hour drive to get to the race on time ... not a good setup for race day.  But, you do the best you can with the situation your dealt with.  

I was a little disappointed with the size of the field, only 14 women started the olympic distance compared to the 39 in the sprint.  I think it was this was the first year for the olympic distance, which makes sense for the low turn out.  Regardless, would love to see more women out there for these races!  Hopefully next year there will be more.

Let's jump right into things.

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friday night swim race (2.4 mile)

Second and final swim race of the year.  This time entered into the 2.4 mile swim, using it to see where things are at for the Ironman swim.

This race was eye opening, and pushed a lot of limits mentally.  It showed a side of me that I've never seen before ... I decided to call it, and leave the race before the last turn.  It's something I've never done in competition, and it took me a while to see what I learned from this race.

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Let's face it, getting into workout ruts is inevitable, no matter what kind of activity you're doing.  It can come from multiple avenues.

All this rinse and repeat can take a toll on your motivation.  It happens.  I've experienced this a number of times during my Ironman training.  I can't count the number of times I just wanted to throw my swimsuits, bikes, and running shoes into the trash.

I know a lot of people deal with this, so I figured I would share some of my tricks to help reset my thinking, and get me out of my workout ruts.

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Six weeks until Ironman Coeur d'Alene 😳😨!

The last month or so things have been really challenging.  My body is tired, my mind is tired ... I've reached that point where August 27th just needs to get here faster so I can return to a "normal" life, haha!  Training is getting hard, and getting that motivation going to get out there is pretty much depleted.  I reached out to my coach, needing something to help.  She gave me a pretty good idea.  She told me to put something positive, some kind of message, or a few words on my bikes top tube, so every time I look down I see those words, or message and remind myself what I'm doing this for.

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ironmanErin Hamilton
friday night swim race

I didn't make the same mistake I made at the Lake Wilderness triathlon, starting out way too fast, and trying to follow the other swimmers around me.  This time I went out with a pace I'm comfortable with, and could sustain for the whole 1.2 miles.  I felt much better at the beginning, compared to being dead exhausted at Lake Wilderness.

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lake wilderness sprint triathlon

I competed in the Lake Wilderness Sprint Triathlon over the weekend, my first triathlon race!  This race was primarily a learning experience.  Figuring out setting up my transition area, figuring out how my body will respond doing a swim, bike, and run after one another.

Now, being my first triathlon, I wasn't expecting much from the results.  To be perfectly honest, going in, my expectations was just not to come in last, haha!  So, it was a pleasant surprise to see that I actually performed great!  I struggled where I knew I would struggle, and that's fine ... for of that below.  So let's get into it.

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Back on April 27th, accomplished a milestone that I've been waiting for ever since I started my Ironman journey.  Running a half marathon, and it finally arrived on my training schedule!  I was extremely pleased with my first crack at 13.1 miles ...

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This weekend was a hard three days of training for my upcoming Ironman Coeur d'Alene race.  Spending as much time as I can learning the bike and run courses ... bummed that Lake Coeur d'Alene was way too cold to test out the waters.  The bike and run courses are going to be tough.  You don't really know by just looking at the route map and queue sheet on the Ironman website.

It's going to be a good challenge.

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You are my faithful companion.

You are my best friend.

You are my family.

You play the role of protector of myself and my family.

You comforted me during my lowest of lows.

You celebrated with me during my highest of highs.

You have the gift of sensing people that would be good for me, and who I shouldn't have around.

You are gentle, and took the loving abuse of a baby, and now toddler.

You're irreplaceable.

I love you so much.

You will be missed so much ... I miss you so much.

Feb 2006 to April 17, 2017

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Yesterday marked the return to bike racing.  My first organized race since my accident of May 2015.  It wasn't a big race, just a 10 mile time trial, perfect to ease back into competitive cycling, and to really put my new Specialized Shiv through its paces.  It was a great opportunity to capture my outdoor FTP (functional threshold power).

I really missed the racing atmosphere the last (almost) two years, and it was great to be in that environment again.  Many of the faces have changed since my last race in 2015, and many of the familiar faces have since upgraded to different categories.

I wish I could have performed better on the time trial, but being out of racing for so long, and now training for an Ironman ... my legs still have some growing to do.  Regardless, I still think I did pretty good for my circumstances, and where I'm at in my training.  I got the data I needed for my outdoor FTP, I managed through my headaches, and most importantly ... I had fun.

So good stuff out of the way.

My performance should have been better... Period.  Looking back at the race, and the data, I regret the strategy I decided to go with.  I was very hesitant going into my big front cog, fearing I wouldn't be able to sustain myself for the full time trial.  But very quickly staying in the low chainring, everything was just too easy, and my power output started to suffer because of it, as well as a very high cadence.  I was hoping to remedy the situation with just going to my harder gears in my rear cassette.  That was my first mistake, I should have just switch to the big chainring.  It wasn't enough.  I felt I was too far committed with my strategy to switch it up, thinking if I did switch I would loose a great deal of momentum, and would have to burn extra matches to make up the lost ground.  Looking back, I should have risked it.  The course was short enough that burning a few extra matches wouldn't be an issue.

My next goof up was at the turn around point.

Just to give some perspective...  I just started riding my Shiv at the end of last year, I've only put 910 miles on it so far.  Before that I did all my rides on my Specialized S-works Tarmac Disc.  What is that so important?  My shiv is carbon rim brakes, versus, my S-works having disc brakes.  Not going to go into the specifics, but disc brakes, you can go into corners a lot faster, as the braking distance is shorter.  Carbon rim brakes, and simply how the brakes are designed on the Shiv, require a lot more braking distance.

So back to my issues with the turn around.  For some reason I though I had disc brakes agains.  I came into the corner WAY too fast, and quickly was reminded that carbon brakes SUCK!  So I had a fun skid out, and almost sliding out at the turn.  So right off the bat, messing up that turn cost me valuable seconds.

Hindsight is always 20/20 after reflecting on things.  If I went with my other strategy, my power output would have been way higher, and my overall average speed would have been high, resulting in being more competitive in the field.  That's why we look back on our races, and find the areas to improve, and incorporate changes to the training plan, so that you don't make the same mistakes twice.

Live and learn, and race another day 🙂!

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