Wednesday, August 13, 2014

No illusions - USA Triathlon Age Group Nationals

When I qualified for the USA Triathlon Age Group National Championship last year, I had no idea what to expect. It was a year in the future and there were many other races for me to overcome. As the time grew closer, I made the statement many times that I had no illusions that I would do anything but finish the race but deep down I hoped that I would finish at least in the top 50 percent of my age group. Hmmm. Little did I know how competitive this event really is!

The weekend started with me meeting Barbara Nelson at the airport and then we flew together the rest of the way to Milwaukee. We were going to be roomies for the weekend and it was nice to be able to spend some time with her and hear about her Ironman Boulder experience from a few days earlier. We saw very quickly that we were in the perfect part of town. Walking distance to everything!

We headed over to the expo and packet pickup. Our timing was perfect, we were there before the rush. We had a slight disappointment discovering the race jackets in our packet ran small and we couldn't exchange them until after the race. As luck would have it, we actually were able to do this on Saturday! Pretty happy about that! We saw the finish line set up -
Walked around a little more and found our teammates and bike transport guys. Jeff and Adrian were so great to drive our bikes from SLC and make sure they were in good working order. Plans were made for our pre-race workouts the next morning then Barb & I were off to find food. One of the cool things about Milwaukee is the waterway running through the city. We had to wait for drawbridges by our hotel several times. While a little annoying when you're in a hurry, it was cool to watch!

On Friday, our SLC group met up for a pre-race swim, bike and run.
 And after dropping our bikes into transition
we got ready for our group dinner that night! Barb and I stuck to our walking and found a cheese shop on the way - yummy!
Race morning started about 4:30 am with breakfast and final preparations. We walked the mile to transition and finished setting up.
The swim start times were spread out over a couple of hours but I luckily was in the fourth wave and the first of the group to start. The swim, bike and run were all one loop courses. In all my races, I've never been beat up as bad in the swim as I was with this group. These old ladies are tough! I got in the groove pretty quick though and pr'd my swim by 9 minutes. It was about a quarter mile transition to T1 so my time seemed a little long even though I thought I got out of there pretty quickly.
The bike was a little more hilly than I anticipated but I was still able to maintain an average just under 17 mph. It helped that I maxed out at 32 mph. Wasn't great but I'll take it! It was starting to get warm so I was a little worried about the run. I managed to finish the bike with high cadence and my legs were ready to roll out of T2. I stuck with my run/walk plan that works for me and finished the run just a tad off pace from normal. I grabbed water at every stop and dumped ice down my top to stay cool.

It was fun to see a couple of other team members out there. To the guy I hugged before the swim - sorry! I just was so excited to see ya! And to Thom who passed me on the run, thanks for saying something. You were looking strong!
This post is going on too long but I wanted to give a shout out to our youth that raced on Sunday in the sprint and our very own pro, Zara,
who took 3rd in the Super Sprint race on Saturday. Super exciting to watch up close how speedy and just allover great the athletes are.

Back to my no illusions thought from the beginning of this - I beat only 5 people in my age group of 110 so didn't even come close to the top 50%. Very competitive ladies! This was one of the most humbling, inspiring and awesome experiences of my short racing career!