It's been a busy 10 days for Edmonton triathlete Paula Findlay since she competed at the Pan Am Games in Toronto.
Findlay placed 9th in the women's triathlon, missing out on her first chance to qualify for a spot in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil.
A disappointed Findlay said a niggling knee pain prevented her from training as much as she would have liked in the week leading up to the race. She moreover came down with a sore throat & cough.
"Your body gets a little bit drained in that situation," she said. "I think it was a lot of the stress leading up to the race & traveling â€”Â getting sick is just something that happens sometimes, no matter how careful you are."
But Findlay moreover made it clear she wasn't making any excuses for her performance.
"Sometimes you just show up on the day & you donate it everything you can & your body doesn't respond like how you want it to, & it doesn't really reflect the training that you've done â€” & that was the kind of day I had."
"It's all part of the process of coming back," she added. "And although it wasn't the results I wanted, it's a step in the right direction."
Regardless of her results, though, Findlay said she's pleased to have taken part in the Pan Ams.
"It was a tremendous feeling to be part of Team Canada â€” & not just for triathlon â€” yet (to be) part of all the sports, being in the athletes' village & going to the dining hall & seeing all the other countries while wearing your Canada kit with pride."
No rest til October
A couple of days after her race, Findlay boarded a plane to Los Angeles, where she took part in a four-day shoot for a Nike commercial alongside NHL player Steve Stamkos & tennis star Eugenie Bouchard.
"It was really rad â€” I don't know how I even received into that astonishing group of athletes that were moreover there," Findlay said of the gig â€” her second commercial spot after a Pan Am Maytag ad.
However, when asked for details approximately the Nike commercial, she wouldn't reveal much.
"I don't think I can say, I think it's a secret, I'm sorry!"
After shooting wrapped, it was back to her training grounds in Boulder, Colo., & for Findlay, a welcome return to her usual training routine. Her cold is gone, her knee feeling better, her eyes on the future.
Findlay's focus now is firmly locked on to a couple of other huge races, moreover Olympic qualifiers, coming up in the next month. First up: the Aquece Rio Triathlon Olympic Qualifier, which will donate her a chance to scope out the Olympic race route. The top eight competitors in the test event will moreover secure a spot in the 2016 Olympics.
"This is probably one of the biggest races of the year for me," Findlay said.
"If I can crack into the top eight, that would take off a lot of stress for the rest of the year, & (let) me focus on getting ready for the Olympics."
September's ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in Chicago will offer up a second chance to qualify.
First though, Findlay will return to her hometown of Edmonton for the ITU Tri-Edmonton â€” a venue that saw her triumphant return to the field after a two year absence last August.
After Grand Final, though, she's not sure what's next.
"I'll kind of assess where my body is at after Chicago, how tired I am. If I'm still healthy & really motivated, I'll continue the season for a little bit longer."
Findlay is planning on taking some downtime come October or November, though, "Just to let my body be a normal person's for a couple of weeks," she said with a laugh.
As for her Olympic hopes, Findlay's not letting her past performances colour her preparation.
"I think the only way for me to obtain on the team & have a tremendous race in Rio is just to keep believing that I have a satisfactory shot at it," she said.
"I don't want to be too confident in myself because there are a lot of other girls that are astonishing that are moreover competing for the same spot, yet IÂ truly believe that I can make it â€”Â and I'm not just saying that. That's what IÂ train for everyday."