The following was written by Ensign Peggy LeGrand, a student at Nuclear Power School in Charleston, SC on life as a military member and elite athlete.
I never imagined I would be good enough to race an Olympic Champion, much less beat her in a race. Yet, there I found myself, crossing the line in front of the cycling power house, Kristen Armstrong. That moment from this past April stills stands out vividly in my mind.
I began cycling four years ago with the Naval Academy Cycling Team. I recall barely making it through most of the races my first season; however, the daily rides and team camaraderie kept me pedaling. Looking back, I smile. I continued riding after the first season because cycling provided a great way to stay in shape and find the focus required to do my school work. These days, not much has changed, and I ride my bike to stay fit, maintain a healthy lifestyle and prepare for my studies. As a Naval Officer, I am expected to both meet and exceed physical fitness standards, and cycling still provides me the means to fulfill this job requirement.
After graduating the Naval Academy in 2010, I was selected to race for the U.S. Military Cycling Team, a semi-professional cycling team composed of all military members. The team competes in several national level events every year where we represent not only our respective services, but the entire military community. None of the team members has the job title “professional cyclist”. We train and race in addition to our normal military obligations.
Currently, I am stationed at Naval Weapons Station, Charleston, SC where I attend Nuclear Power School as a future submariner. Attending one of the most academically challenging schools in the military and being an elite athlete makes time management crucial to success. A typical day has me waking up by 0445 so I can studying or work out before attending lectures from 0700-1620. After the working day, I ride for 1.5 to 2 hours. Then, I eat and head back to the school house to finish my homework and study for the frequent exams. On the weekends, I ride between 6-10 hours, study and relax with friends.
Keys to being a successful cyclist coincide with standard naval practices: train to improve weakness while maintaining current strengths, practice drills to prepare for any race day situation, and have a plan for race day. In addition to the aforementioned practices, natural talent, obtainable goals, motivation, a good mentor, a thorough training plan and dedication to follow the training plan provide the most direct path to success.
I am fortunate to have the ability to ride and race my bike. While I love representing the Navy and other Armed Services at my races, the real victory to me is when I inspire those around me to stay physically fit. Even if the method of fitness is less conventional than running, in the end, fitness helps sharpen both body and mind.
This blog post was updated by the admin on Nov 22, 2012 at 07:01.