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Sarah Groff Chats About Achieving Olympic Dream

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Pro triathlete Sarah Groff talks about her banner season–and qualifying for the U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team.

U.S. triathlete Sarah Groff realized her dream of qualifying for the U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team for the first time by placing seventh at the International Triathlon Union World Championship Series event in London last weekend.

The spot on the team capped a tremendous season for Groff, who battled back from a fractured sacrum — a triangle-shaped bone made up of five fused vertebrae in the lower back — suffered March 19, 2010. Groff spoke with members of the media to kick off the U.S. Olympic Committee’s 12 for ’12 Teleconference Series, which will feature a different U.S. athlete every month leading up to the Games.

What made you decide to become a triathlete initially?

I decided to become a triathlete after being a swimmer and runner for a number of years. I swam in college, although it was a very hard decision for me to choose between swimming and running and after I graduated, I still felt as though I had unfulfilled athletic potential. I participated in a few amateur triathlons throughout college and was pretty good at them and decided that I would like to take the risk and see how far I could take the sport upon graduation.

Can you describe a typical day of training for a triathlete?

When you race three sports there really isn’t a typical day of training. We tend to wake up pretty early and do a swim session first thing and do about 5,000 meters. By midday we’ll do a bike workout and in the evening we’ll do a run. Honestly, it’s highly variable; we can do two hours a day or six. We train every day and really try and find a balance in the different disciplines and get the right amount of work and recovery in.

How did you celebrate qualifying?

I celebrated with my training squad, my coach and my boyfriend. Actually, I lost a completely unrelated bet a couple of months ago and was forced to go to dinner in a Wonder Woman costume. That wasn’t part of the initial planning, but I honor my bets and there are some good photographs to prove it.

How did the sacral fracture occur?

I initially fractured my sacrum in March of last year when I was commuting by bike to a run workout and had a little bit of a crash, and it shouldn’t have been a big deal, but crashing is part of the sport. Normally you expect to do it in a race or in a higher-pressure situation.

How did it affect your training?

I basically trained and raced with the fracture thinking that it would heal but found out in the end of November that I had refractured it and missed a lot of early season training in December, January and February.

Read more: Standard-Examiner