USA Triathlon Olympic Age Group Nationals August 2014
Qualifying for the Olympic distance national triathlon championship held in Milwaukee Wisconsin was a bit of a surprise for me this year. I did not realize that I actually qualified from a race I did in 2013. But this definitely was my A race for the year and I did as much as I could to prepare for what I knew was going to be a very challenging race. Athletes come from all across the United States to compete for overall finishes and also within their respective age groups. My learning curve for triathlons is still growing and with this being only my 2nd full year of serious competition there is still much to learn.
So imagine this, nearly 200 individuals floating (wetsuits allow you to float) next to each other in very tight quarters in open water to start the swim. And then the horn goes off! Needless to say it is mass chaos!!! Not only are you swimming against a whole bunch of very competent athletes who want to win, you are all headed towards the same spot. In this case we had to swim under a bridge which was very narrow and made it even more challenging. But the pack did finally thin out after we got under the bridge. There were several times that I had to literally kick people off of my feet and push people on either side of me. So it was very important to stay calm and continue to swim. This was not so much of a problem for me because I relate it to racing motorcycles going 100mph into turn 1. But the remainder of the swim was relatively uneventful and I finished in 25 min.
Every time I race and ride I love my Bont shoes more and more, because they help me get onto the bike so much faster. Transitioning to the bike was very easy and I had a good bike position on the bicycle rack in row H. And in this transition area there were no fewer than 3000 bicycles so it was very important to remember where you were at during the transitions. I only made one mistake getting onto the bike which was not buckling my helmet so I had to stop before exiting or risk a rule violation. The bicycle ride went very well and the new HED rear disc wheel definitely helped out. I’m not too sure how much faster other people got going down some of the long downhill sections but I was able to post a 36mph top speed. I did have a good little battle with a few riders during the beginning of the race but was able to eventually pass them and maintain my position over them. Towards the end of the bicycle leg I was passed by one individual but I used him has a pace marker and was able to stay within eyesight. But during the bike is when I made my fatal mistake that significantly impacted me on the run, I did not drink all of the fluid to hydrate that I had with me! And I’m certain this put me in a mild state of dehydration after I got done with the bike ride. I finished the 25 mile ride in 1:05
So the run was much harder than I anticipated. Coming off the bicycle I was able to maintain a decent pace and ended up shadowing another runner who was a good pace setter. But by the halfway point of the run I was really starting to struggle and just maintain whatever pace I could. This was very discouraging because the previous weekend at a race I did with my daughter, I was able to maintain a 7 min. mile. But for this race I needed to be in the 6 min. mile pace to even be close with the fast guys. By the time I got to mile 5 it was all I could do just to keep running. This definitely pushed my threshold and I kept telling myself the same thing I tell my daughter when she is racing “you can slow down, but don’t stop running!” And that is exactly what I did!
I ended the race in a three-way tie with my time of 2:23.23. Literally every second from the winning time of under 2 hours, there was somebody crossing the finish line. For my age group I finished in 135th place out of 219. Not what I was gunning for. Unfortunately I had to learn the hard way what dehydration will do to you at a national championship. But I will take this new found information and continue to rack up podium finishes the rest of this year and hopefully an overall win. The race weekend was awesome and the weather could not have been more perfect!
Thanks to all the sponsors and everyone who came out to cheer on all the triathletes! And the USAT organizers and all the volunteer who were awesome!
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