When my husband and I moved to Italy one year ago, I joined Torino Triathlon club. I immediately felt welcome by all of the members of the Torino Triathlon club and have enjoyed training with the talented coaches and members. Being a part of the club has made Italy feel like home for me. I was looking forward to the club race in Candia and had just started the season’s training, starting with Granfondo Laiguelgia. A few days after Jacky and I returned from the granfondo, my husband called to tell me that his company was sending us back to the United States temporarily because of the Coronavirus outbreak. I had 24 hours to pack and get on a plane. This was before the situation became very bad in Italy, so I did not think that we would be gone long. I only packed enough clothes for a few weeks, but I grabbed the important things like my swimsuit, wetsuit, goggles, swimming cap, running shoes, bike shoes, helmet, and ToTri cycling kit.
We no longer have a home in the United States, so we went to stay with my husband’s parents in Charlotte, North Carolina. I wanted to keep training for Candia, so I rented a bike from a local bike shop and started cycling with a group. Pools were still open here, so I was able find a pool (but sadly, without a brioche or torta di mele to enjoy after). I was missing Valentina’s early morning Wednesday swims with the group and Giorgio’s group runs in Valentino Park, but I thought that we would return to Italy soon.
After a few weeks, the situation in Italy became very bad and I knew that we would not be able to return to Italy for a long time. I was devastated to hear about all of the deaths that occurred in Italy in such a short period of time. My heart broke for everyone that lost a loved one and I worried about all of the small cafes, restaurants, and markets that had to close.
A few weeks later, a large outbreak occurred in in the United States. A “stay at home order” was issued for us in North Carolina, but we were still permitted to go outside for exercise. I knew that I needed to continue to train to help me keep a normal schedule and to keep my mind busy. I received an e-mail from a local triathlon race company that was holding a “virtual” 70.3 race. It was to be completed one week before the date for Candia, so I immediately signed up. I contacted Jacky, who has already coached me through one Ironman and three 70.3 races, and asked her to get me ready for this virtual 70.3. She put a plan together, which included many cold 15-degree swims in the local lake, interval runs around the neighborhood, and long bike rides by myself through the countryside.
I came up with a three-loop swim around the lake, a two-loop bike course, and a one loop run through the neighborhood for the race. My husband will act as “race director” and my in-laws will work the “aid station.” I will not have to get up early for the start and I will already have my things in “transition” the night before. I also know that this is the one time that I will get first place overall female!
I feel very fortunate to be able to continue to train outside and have been thinking about my Italian teammates a lot during this terrible time. I have been inspired by the many pictures of ToTri members training hard at home. Triathletes are a tough group and together we will get through this. I will do this race by myself, but I know that one day we will all be together to race again soon. Forza Italia!