Last Saturday I toed the line with some of the best age groupers across the country. Over 3,000 competitors raced in the Olympic-distance (1500 meter, 40K, 10K).
Now, this race is not nearly as prestigious as Kona or 70.3 Worlds, but it is still a qualifying event and I was pretty damn proud to have qualified during my first year competing in triathlons. I am still very new to this sport and I learn something every race, really every day!
USAT Age Group Nationals, was quite the experience. I have to admit I was a tad intimidated by all the fit athletes I saw during the course of the weekend.
The fun began Friday afternoon when Daisy (triathlon partner-in-crime) and I met up around 1:30. Side note: the weather was sunny and beautiful all weekend, which just added to the good vibes. We packed up my car and made the one hour journey north to good ol’ Milwaukee.
After checking in to our hotel we grabbed our bikes and rode to the lakefront for packet pick-up and to check out the expo. Energy was high, you could feel the buzz of excitement in the air. The process to obtain our packets/bags and rack our bikes was well organized and I was thoroughly impressed with the whole set-up.
Since it was still pretty early in the day we decided to look around and check-out the hype surrounding NormaTec boots.
Let’s just say that if I had the paper to spend on these bad boys, I most definitely would. Wow! I could sit in these these for hours.
We also scored these USAT compression socks for FREE! Love! They can be worn with sandals!
On our way back to our hotel we stopped for dinner at a nice Italian restaurant where we filled our bellies with delicious pasta in preparation for the following day.
Uh, yum! Back in our room we prepped our race gear before calling it an early night! I was knocked out before 8:30.
Since we were staying close to the venue and transition did not close until 7:30 we were able to sleep in ’til 6:00! It was so nice getting that much rest, not what I am used to, especially race morning.
I wouldn’t say I was nervous for this event…more like ready to get it over with. Which is terrible. Initially, this was an ‘A’ race and I wanted to crush it. But, the last few weeks I had less than stellar training, very few hours on the bike, and I was still getting over my cold. I am still learning what my body can handle and how much time it really needs to recover between races. Poor planning on my part this season.
I was still excited to partake in this great race and I was trying to soak it all in and learn for years going forward.
Once my gear was in place and transition was closed it was a waiting game. The 24 and unders were not scheduled to go off until 10, but the first wave set off at 7:30. That is a ton of time to kill…I had my breakfast (peanut butter ezekiel wraps with a banana), walked around a bit, then just laid in the grass trying to stay out of the sun. I should have been hydrating more as this came to bite me in the butt.
Daisy was in the 25-29 age group wave, which started around 9:15. Because of the age-up rule, this is the age group I was competing with for a slot to Worlds 2015. However, I knew that is out of reach for the moment. I wished her luck as I she was about to kill it (she went a 1:09:00 on the bike!).
Not too long after I was pulling on my wetsuit and making my way to swim warm-ups. The water was a nice 70 degrees, much warmer than what I have been used to. We were pulled from warm-ups because there was an unknown delay. So yeah were didn’t start until around 10:30, way too late.
Finally, we started to line up. I put myself in the second row, right in the middle. After treading for what felt like an eternity, the horn blew and madness ensued.
One of the most frustrating swims ever. The lead group of girls shot out right away. I was with the second group, but it was a jumbled mess. At one point I was stuck behind a row of girls unable to do anything, but stay where I was. I guess this is what happens when you throw a bunch athletes who all swim around the same time together…chaos!
About half way through I was finally able to get some room and lengthen my stroke and find my rhythm. Because of the frustration the swim flew by. I was thankful for it to be over.
1500 yrds 22:22 01:21/100yrd 27/91 AG 126/1343 F 509/3066 OA
I was surprised by this time as it is my fastest split and I was not feeling too speedy. But, I will take it.
I struggled with the run into transition…I knew it was going to be a long day. I was able to find my bike and throw on shoes/sunglasses/helmet quickly.
03:18 63/91 AG 746/1343 F 1983/3066 OA
Welp…I hope to forget this leg of the race ever happened. It was that bad.
Long story short, my heart was not in it. Combined with a pounding headache from dehydration/heat, coughing, and all the wonderful mucus exiting my body it made for a miserable ride.
I tried to push it, but my legs were not responding and I started getting discouraged by all the racers passing me.
I know where I need to improve next year…
24.8 miles 01:22:45 77/91 AG 1157/1343 F 2838/3066 OA
I only averaged 18 mph and I know I can do better than that. Just makes me hungry to redeem myself next time.
In and out.
01:50 65/91 AG 779/1343 F 2082/3066 OA
Past noon and I was just starting my run…sun was blazing!
As I headed out I saw some Crush members and the founder, Jeremy, cheering me on, which really put a smile on my face and gave me the confidence to power through it. I took it stride by stride, drinking water at every station and dumping a cup on my head to stay cool.
It was a pretty scenic run along the lake with a nice breeze. The last mile felt like forever, but once I saw that finishers chute I was so happy to be done.
6.2 miles 57:53 76/91 AG 1042/1343 F 2635/3066 OA
I am not ecstatic with this run and the performance as a whole. I am actually disappointed, but looking back on where I was last year compared to this year I have improved leaps and bounds. I am now consistently under an hour for my 10K. This is my first season doing Olympic races and I completed three. And I completed my first 70.3 just three weeks prior, which I don’t think I ever fully recovered from.
02:48:09 70/91 AG 915/1343 F 2493/3066 OA
I have made the decision that this will be my last triathlon race for the year. I need to take the time to recover, physically and mentally, before I head into another race.
I really wanted to do the Chicago Tri. I only raced in one true sprint race this season and I really love these short races! But, I know I would not be able to perform to my fullest potential. Instead I am now changing gears and really putting in all the miles (running). The Chicago Marathon is fast approaching and I want/need to be prepared come October.
The only race I have scheduled between now and then is Big Shoulders open water 5K on September 6th. This will be a fun and challenging race that I am really looking forward to.