Sunday, August 19, 2012

USAT Age Group National Championships

Stepped a little outside of my league this weekend and headed north to Burlington, VT, home of this year's USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships. I had qualified for the Olympic distance race, but opted to race the Sprint on Sunday instead. With my trip to Israel looming very closely (36 hours!) I was glad I opted for a distance that I was familiar with. You're reading the blog of one of the newest member of Team USA!

So here's the race report....

Race morning started out like any other for me. Up and unable to sleep at about 2 am (this time because I was dreaming about not knowing what to do with my wetsuit after the swim since the bikes were racked so close to each other), I was showered, race tat'd up and done with breakfast in time to be one of the first people into transition when it opened at 5:30 am.

Somehow, despite being out of transition before 6:30, done with my warm up by 7:45 and into the wetsuit shortly after, I nearly managed to miss my swim wave. Yes, you read that right. Me, miss type A, always early and anal about time Elyssa nearly missed the start of the race. As a National Championship, I expected someone to be announcing when the waves were lining up and get us into the water on time. However, even though I was standing less than 10 feet away from the staging area, when I looked at my watch at 8:08 am, and started asking around where the red caps were, no one knew. Turns out they were already in the water! This was the only qualm I had with the whole race.

The calm before the swim start - what a beautiful place for a race!
So I went running down the dock, yelling, "wait, wait, it's not 8:12 yet, please!" but the race official blew the air horn to start the wave right in my ear! I was about 10 feet from the end of the dock at this point, just to the left of the group of swimmers. So I threw on my goggles while running, took a running leap into the water and started swimming. Unfortunately, the first two turns on the swim course were rights, so I was now swimming a little wider than I would normally like. I got into the thick of the group and was instantly in the most physical swim start I have ever been in. Luckily I was expecting it, so I tried to just put my head down and swim. The anxiety and adrenaline rush from the harried start got to me more than I would like to admit, so did a tiny bit a breast stroke and tried to calm down. Other than that the rest of the swim was uneventful and before I knew if I was running up the boat launch.

Swim - 14:12 (1:44/100)

I had a great transition spot very close to the swim in, but that meant that I was really far from bike out, so my transition was a little slow. But I was also moving a little slowly. The swim start took a lot out of me!

T1 - 2:25

I hopped on my bike with the plan to go hard, harder and hardest, but my lungs and stomach had other ideas. I was spent! After about a mile, I was finally able to get down a sip of water and start to breath more deeply. Getting passed by a few girls in my age group also helped me wake up! There's really not much to say about the bike - the course was disappointing. No fewer than 4 turn arounds, and the longest stretch was on a highway. The entrance ramp was cool, but the roads were in rough shape. Hearing the "whoosh, whoosh" as one of the men with a sick tri bike and a disc wheel from the wave behind me went flying by gave me some serious bike envy! A tri bike is definitely going to be my next purchase. Now who wants to help me with that....

Bike - 37:28 (19.9 mph)

So it wasn't my best bike ever, but I managed to average just under 20 mph (my goal), and I was actually looking forward to the run. I wanted to tackle it - pain be darned, there was no reason to hold back! I was in and out of T2 semi quickly, and headed for the run.

T2 - 1:28

Right out of transition there was a steep hill. I knew I didn't want to push too hard so early, so I focused on just running up and over it, knowing I was going to turn it on as soon as I crested the top. My plan seemed to work as I passed two girls from my age group by the time I made it to the top. There was a girl in pink just ahead of me with a 26 on her calf, so I set my sights on her. She was about 10 yards in front of me, and I was totally focused on not losing her and maintaining a high turnover. At about the 2.5 mile mark, I made my move and finally passed her. I was terrified she was going to come sprinting past me, which definitely helped me keep up the pace. Sure enough, that was the last I saw of her until after the finish. Hitting the 'red carpet' platform leading up to the finish line was so cool! Felt like the big time!

Run - 23:01 (7:25 pace)

Total time - 1:18:33

Phew! I have never been so glad to finish a race, ever! I have to admit, after the rough start, there were times I wanted to give up. But I wanted to make Kelly, T2, my friends and family proud before I leave them and head to Israel. But it was all worth it in the end. I had my fasted 5k off the bike (23:01), which is something I've been working towards. I had ben feeling like I had this mental block off the bike, where I would always run a 24, even though I know I can go faster. (My stand alone 5k is 21:12.) so to get a minute faster today felt great! The girl I passed in the last 1/2 mile even came up to me afterwards, to say that she couldn't have gone with me at my pace for the end. I thanked her for pacing me through the first 2/3s!

Once I grabbed my phone from bag check I was ecstatic to see all the messages from my awesome support crew back home, who had been group messaging throughout the race. Love them! You should have heard the screams when the message came from home that I was 15th in my age group - which meant I had qualified for Team USA! The opportunity to possibly get to represent the USA in London at the World Championships is so crazy cool to me! After a quick lunch and shower, we headed off to the awards ceremony so I could claim my spot.

We didn't stay for the whole time since we had to get home, but the highlight of the whole thing had to be the guy who got the award for the longest combined transition - 17 minutes! The gave him a lawn chair, which was hysterical. Can't forget the 88 year old man, either, though. I hope I am still rocking the spandex when I am 88!!!!

All in all it was an awesome weekend, cheering for my fellow T2ers and CNY Tri pals that rocked the Olympic on Saturday and laying it all on the line one last time before I leave for Israel. Though I guess now I have to plan my next season around London, September 2013. I better start training!

But as I'm off to Israel in less than 2 days, time to focus on that! I'll be blogging about my trip, marathon training (hopefully) and trying to fit in tri training in a whole new country. I'd love for you all to follow me as I head off on my next adventure!

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