Breaking Through at USAT Nationals
USAT National Championship in Milwaukee. My A race of the year. I could write about so many great things related to this race, but to keep all those interested, here is a brief re-cap. Milwaukee summer USAT nationals, A+ venue, extremely organized race, quick car ride from Chicago. Would I do it again? In a second.
Race day had finally arrived. I woke up at 6:00am and was in transition setting up my bike by 6:30am. Unfortunately, my wave start was third from last, and after a race delay my take off was at 10:05am. I carefully ate choice foods to keep my calories up and drank plenty of water in the hours leading up the race. I spectated, cheered on teammates, and mentally walked through my event multiple times. Before I knew it, it was time to get in the water.
Swim: I knew many of the girls in my wave. In fact, many of them I had trained with before. The atmosphere was very friendly for being a national race, and I was calm and collected. After wading in the water for five minutes, the race was on. I am a strong swimmer and normally in the first few minutes of the race I can pull ahead. Not this race. The swim was extremely aggressive and of the 22 minutes and 45 seconds I was in the water, it was not until the last 100 yards I was able to pull out ahead of the group and sprint to the finish.
T1: I came out of the water 11th in my age group and ran to where I thought my bike was – or was not. A wave of panic and frustration set in as I reached the end of the rack. Other people in my wave flew by me. Refocus. Refocus. I had walked through the transition three times the day before, and at least twice race day morning. I re-checked the rack letters, visualized my walk through and was able to find my bike. I grabbed my bike, but unfortunately lost about 30-40 seconds with my rookie mistake.
Bike: I started off on my bike frustrated. For those who know me, biking is my hardest component of triathlon both mentally and physically. I have great races, and then races where I may as well have not trained. And unfortunately there is no in-between. What I have found is 99% of bike for me is mental. The first six miles of the race I was riding, not racing, fighting mental demons, and watching people in my wave pass me. At mile six I saw a group of friends and my husband and it clicked. This was nationals. This race was what I had worked for since Oct 2012. Time to get the show on the road. There were many race officials on the course and for most of the race I was carefully passing/ jockeying positions with two other girls. Around mile fifteen I realized my legs still felt great and it was time to really kick it into gear. I picked up my pace and tried to keep my MPH over 23 mph. Before I knew it I was cruising in to the finish.
T2: Uneventful. Shoes, shot blocks, and race belt go, one minute quicker than my swim transition. 🙂
Run: By the time I hit the ground running I was not sure what place I was in. My goal for the 2013 tri season was to qualify for worlds (top 18 in age group). I forgot to start my watch so the first mile I ran without knowing my pace. I have found sometimes those are my best runs- no watch, no stress. At mile three a spectator told me “position 18.” Just at that moment someone passed me and my excitement was temporarily deflated. But the race then became a mission. Hunt down calf numbers that start with a 3. By mile 5 I had passed many others, but no 30-somethings. Another person spectating told me “position 18, position 18.” At the time I thought I was 19 so I just did whatever I could to kick it in. On my way in I passed two women in the age group. As I approached the finish I saw the Experience Triathlon Cheer Crew and I picked up my pace and sprinted in.
After the race, I grabbed a cold towel and a drink, found my husband, good luck charm (my dog Mackenzie), and then found Coach Joe. Together we went to the results tent to get my results and it had happened. I was 18/157. I had locked in a place to Worlds!
Last week I received the official email. I qualified for a spot on Team USA at the World Triathlon Championships. Edmonton, Canada, here I come!!! Well, next September that is. 🙂
Enjoy all the USAT Nationals photos on the ET Photo Gallery!