JESSE: You do make me wonder, though, if — Do you find that you’re somebody who gets bored after you’ve, like, climb the mountain? You’ve got to the top and you’re like, okay, on to the next mountain?
CECILIA: Great question. Yeah. When you said you’re someone who like you’ve done lots of different sports, and I kind of made me think of that man, do I have a short attention span, I’m just like looking for the next challenge. But I don’t think that’s my story. I think really like how I see it, at least in the sports realm of things was, I wanted to be like the best soccer player. I wanted to be Mia Hamm, and Christine Lily and Brianna Scurry, like all together. I tried for like the Olympic development team. I didn’t make it I was, like, crushed. And then I kind of had this realization my sophomore year of high school is like, man, I don’t think I’m ever going to be a really good soccer player. Like, I’m good but I’m not like, you know, excellent. And had that I know, rationally was like, okay, that’s probably true I think, that I can’t fight it. And then I found running like my, you know, junior and senior year of college and I ran like five minute mile and was like, okay, I’m, like, pretty good at this running. Like, this could be it, like, let’s go for it.
And then same thing was running, it didn’t go very well in college. I never really, you know, felt like I got to the top of the mountain. And for cycling, I guess I felt like right when I was sort of getting there, I was just really scared by the kind of danger aspect, particularly with the cycling racing being with a pack and I had a bad crash. And so I think I sort of never felt like that was really the right fit. Even though like physically for me, it’s my strongest sport like it still is in triathlon. Cycling is my best event. But it never really wasn’t right for me. So, I think and then when I found triathlon, it was finally like, wow, okay. And I’m really good, this cycling thing, I can keep doing that. Running, I’m now such a better runner now that I don’t run all the time.
And in the swimming, wow, swimming, you know, that came a little easier than I thought. And so it was like, wow, this is my right sport. And this is what I can be good at. So it’s really more rather than switching because I felt like I’d, you know, done my business is more like, yeah, I had this really desire to not, you know, I’m competitive, but it’s more like I wanted to see the recipe for success for myself and how I could master a sport and get to the highest level and then I think I finally found it was triathlon. So, I would think that, you know, barring, if I had the opportunity to keep training and racing, I don’t think I would get bored with it. I think yeah, there’s so many ways to improve in this sport because it’s so complex. So, I think [??? 2:59] yeah, we’ll see.
JESSE: Right. So I’m kind of going back a little bit thinking about kind of training errors, although it does vary in this too. I’m curious why it seems like you focus more on like 70.3. So I’m curious why you decided to go 70.3 instead of ITU since you had, you know, pretty good success it sounds like on the swim swim front, and that’s pretty important ITU wise. Like was a big reason why you decided to go non-draft instead of draft or?
CECILIA: Yeah, there were a couple reasons. So, I definitely of course, I think like many people who have initial success in the sport they think oh, go ITU. I know. Another Purple Patch girl who’s quite a talent, Chelsea Sodaro who I met this past winter training camp who just started switched due to the season of ITU and then now what’s going long course. And, you know, we kind of discussed what her reasons were. I think mine were yeah, this whim definitely wasn’t — Yeah, its not strong a strong enough by any means. I think I was like a little diluted at first because I was having a pretty good upward progress that, oh, I could get there. And then I think the more and more I learned about how consistently fast these ITU girls swim, I think it really is prohibitive. I think there might be an exception or two to this rule, but by and large girls who are competing in those, you know, World Cup races have either a college or a high school or like at least some sort of summer club team swim background when they were a kid. And I think you really can’t replace that.
It’s one of those things that you know, you learn how to move your body like that, as a kid, it’s really hard to play catch up. And there are exceptions and their people who become very good swimmers, but not enough to make those packs, which is essential. And then for the bike ride for the ITU, it’s really it’s conversely, like not essential. You know, you can be like an okay, bike rider, and I think my strength wouldn’t really help me very much in ITU racing because of the drafting I really couldn’t make my distinction compared with other writers. Yeah, and then I guess the other thing is that it’s really hard to get into the ITU racing because it’s so spread out across the world and across this country, even these like entry level continental cup races that you need to do to get points to go to the World Cup, they are in sort of — not very accessible and there’s a bunch of age groupers who are going to them so it’s not sort of as much of an event and it’s not as well organized.
So, it’s a little less exciting if you know what I mean like less of an event and you know, to contrast that with Iron Man, where have you know, 2002 people who are competing on the same day and they put you up in a homestay and event’s fun. So it seems like there’s a lot of things pointing me in the direction of the non-drafting races. I would love to do more Olympic races. Honestly, I like that distance. I think it’s nice to have like a two hour event. I love like the city races Philadelphia Tri, New York City Tri, like DC Nation’s Tri. I thought those were awesome events. And unfortunately, they’re either getting I don’t know if they’re losing funding or there’s some sort of issue with putting them on because of the city, but it seemed to be a dying breed, unfortunately.
JESSE: Yeah, I kind of similar like I have going 70.3 just because I was also not as great a swimmer and trying to get that pro license. And I was like okay, well, maybe I’m going to have success at 70.3 and still didn’t quite make it, but it is kind of similar reasons. Yeah, so like an Eagle Man, I came out of the water like a half hour which is okay, you know, it’s decent. But it’s not like even the pros 70.3, they’ll be coming on the water 25 minutes or under for that distance. So, that’s just how it goes sometimes.
CECILIA: Yeah. Even like my best race I had a couple weeks ago in Peru and I did 29 minutes for the swim and came out like four and a half minutes behind the leader. And that’s still a large deficit and I almost made it up on the bike almost caught her. But it’s somehow – on such a short amount of time, the good swimmers can just make up such a good chunk. It’s really hard to chase back even in 70.3.
JESSE: So, I kinda want to go back. If you give a little bit of history on like the cycling crash and what happened there, I kind of like a follow up question there. So, if you tell that story a little bit, just to the viewers have a little bit of history.
CECILIA: Yeah. I think it’s a – to hear because not enough people seem to talk about how dangerous a sport cycling racing is. And I know it is a beautiful sport, it’s nothing more awesome to watch than the Tour de France. But I think when I entered the cycling community, it seemed to be just like this elephant in the room that was like this really big kept secret that like people have really serious injuries that are like, caused by racing. And it’s not like, you know, yes, of course, there’s the danger of training and cars and all that, we have that in triathlon too. But that was something for me I think, I don’t know if I would have gotten as serious about the sport if I’d really been aware of like how frequently these like devastating, you know, crashes can be. So yeah, happy to talk about it.
And so yeah, I was having a great season doing a lot of races as cyclists do like racing, you know, three times a weekend crazy stuff and really into it. And it was actually a local race where I had a bad crash in Central Park. I was in of course, there’s these primes that are located at checkpoints along the way. And there was a prime so we sprinted for it and then often a good place to get in a breakaway is right after the prime, you sort of counter attack and so I had done that, the counter attack after the prime. I think I got a gap behind me. And then one other girl who I knew was the other what I thought was the strongest other girl in the race besides me and look back and look like we’d both gotten gotten away. So, we got a gap from the group, which is how you sort of establish a breakaway. So, I take a hard pull in the front, and then I elbow her to come around me and she can take a hard pole. And you know we’ve established the breakaway and she came in front of me.
And then she kind of let up and I wasn’t sure, I think either she was looking behind her you know, when you kind of look behind yourself, you either swerve a little bit or you maybe won’t pedal as hard because you’re looking behind something like that happened. Anyway, we were going like it wasn’t no downhill or anything. We were going on a flat probably 25-30 miles an hour. And I just you know, it wasn’t even raining, it wasn’t wet, it wasn’t a pothole, you know, there’s just a bike race and like I was red lining. So, she I hit her back wheel and you know, I think we overlapped wheels like this a little bit. And my wheel just you know, snapped at 90 degrees. On another day, I might have skidded and had some road rash and been fine. But of course, but you know, you only get lucky sometimes. And so I went down really hard and my bike kind of — because the wheel seemed to lock up I just like kind of flat to the ground. And I broke my pelvis in five places. And my sacrum and my pubic bone and my collarbone and had some internal bleeding. And yeah, I think the coolest part was that I had my number pinned on my jersey, of course and then somehow in my rolling and tangling one of the safety pins had come loose from the jersey and like impaled itself in my arm like stick – up like this. So I was like guys look, it was like that Halloween trick where you have a knife over your head. I was like look at my arm, I have a safety pin growing.
Yeah, anyway, so I was really lucky because none of it ended up being like lasting injuries. I didn’t have surgery or like, you know, the was controlled on its own and everything. But I did have to stay in the hospital a couple days, and it was scary. And I had to get like, you know, pan scan, as we say, – a CT scan of your entire body to make sure you know and then a high speed trauma, you have to do that. And it just made me really like reconsider what I was going do with my sporting life. And I think I thought right after that, that I might not get on a bike again. But that didn’t last very long. I kind of came up with the fact that triathlon might be a good fit, you know, if I wanted to keep biking and I knew it was a lot safer.
JESSE: Yeah. So I kind of try to get the short version. I keep bringing up Eagle Man, I did this on purpose because I want to talk about your crash because I actually crashed Eagle Man. So in case you looked me up, that was one of my only DNS. So, you know, I had a really good day for me coming across the like 25 Mile Marker like in hour one which matches like my best 40K ever. And around like, 26-27 come around a curve, a guy starts passing me on the inside of the curve and forces me out. I just hit a patch of gravel, or something I don’t know, and just went down and broke my collarbone. So, I was not as bad off as you were. But I know that, you know, through the whole thing and having surgery because like my bone split down the center and then a piece broke off. So, like it was a whole involved thing. Again, you had it way worse. But I know getting back on the bike, kou know, especially I raced a couple I guess it was early March and it was windy out and like I felt, I called squirrely. But it’s like that little bit of anxiety, did you have any anxiety like post-crash like getting back on the bike and now?
CECILIA: Yeah, definitely, definitely did. And it gets really common well you’re talking about feeling a little squirrely is a good word to describe it, you’re just like hyper aware, you’re like on your brakes and probably doing yourself a disservice because what we really need to do is just relax, right? But that’s easier said than done. Yeah, so I think, you know, time heals many wounds, our bodies and our minds. And I think, yeah, I did certainly am more tentative than even — That crash was July 21, 2014. So five years ago and I think I still am more cautious and conservative, even like I think about the fact that, you know, in race, I biked at 214 in Peru, which is my best time -. And I still thought about multiple times in the race, I said, I could do this faster, right now if I say, you know, like that guy did to you, cut somebody on the inside of the term to get around faster, or if I don’t slow down, break a little bit or to get over this like lip and the road or you know, whatever it might be. And I make the conscious decision to say, hey, I know what I’m doing is resulting in a little bit of a time penalty, but it’s the safer way and I think you just have to have to think like that, it’s just not worth it.
And I think you know, some people may be able to determine that for themselves before having an experience like the crash but I think I always just, you know have that to go back to in the back of my mind. Like that’s going to be like that if you even just one little small thing, all it takes is one corner, one piece of gravel you didn’t see. And it’s like the line between, you know, having a great race and staying upright and that is so small, it can be like anything you know. Do ever catch yourself having like, go over a little pothole, and you didn’t see it and you’re like, holy crap. [??? 16:04] I’m still — How did I miss that, you know. And those are the times you got lucky. And I don’t know, riding bikes is one of the most fun things in the world but it’s also you know, you’re living on the line. So I think it’s sort of a healthy caution that comes after having a crash like that for the most part, I think, you know. I’m sure you’ve gotten a little less squirrely since that first ride back.
JESSE: Yeah, I have Zipp 808. So like, a little bit like the wind pushes on those wheels. You know, I don’t have the deep disk in the back, which would really push it around. But like, some of it’s just the difference between having the training wheels on and then having the arrow wheels on which do get more side push when you have that crosswind, and just getting knocked around a little bit and this last winter was cold. I’m in the Midwest so this last winter was cold enough I didn’t really get to get outside much. Mostly because it gets cold enough the my water bottles freeze so I can’t go out. It’s stuff I wouldn’t but physics doesn’t play to my advantage. So then, you know just sitting on the trainer all winter, you don’t get that does like micro movements and and all the stabilization and like just being used to adjusting for a little pushes of wind and here and there and all that kind of stuff. So, it’s kind of that combination of post-crash and then not being able to be on the bike as much.
CECILIA: Yeah, yeah, I think that speaks to the importance of like, getting out on your race setup, you know, with your 808, with whatever your race wheels are and really riding and you know, riding it a couple times in race conditions. I think that’s, you know, something that definitely can throw you on race day if you haven’t done that. So something I’ve tried to be better at recently, even if it means like, oh, I’m getting my disk dirty, or I’m writing it in some on, you know, training ride and people think I’m like, you know, a tool like something. You know what this is worth it to go and test it out.
JESSE: Yeah. It’s kind of down another rabbit hole. But have you seen like the F1 Kids race? Do you know what I’m talking about? It’s like part of the development pipeline so it’s like, if you ever go to a race like Claremont, one of the elite development races that also has an ITU attached to it. So, they’ll have F1, which is like, I’m sure I’ll get this wrong. But something like kids like 10 to 15 with these tiny bikes, it’s like these 10 to 12 year olds riding around there. They’re just taking these corners like pros. I mean, they’re handling is just spectacular and it’s like no fear at all. And I always remember talking to my friend watching these kids, and I’m like, they still have no fear because they haven’t hit the pavement yet.
CECILIA: Yeah, that’s how — they haven’t experienced that…alienated or something.
JESSE: Yeah, it’s like it’s almost like it’s like tainted, it’s like it poisons your mind a little bit then you have to like go through this whole process of washing it out and like getting that confidence back and all that kind of stuff.
CECILIA: But not washing it out totally.
JESSE: No, there’s a little bit of stain always left.
CECILIA: Yeah, yeah, the stain will always be —