Monday, September 1, 2014

Nationals Race Report

Race reports from Nationals,

Nationals in Milwaukee…the dreaded Olympic distance
I wasn’t planning on doing any triathlons this year so I really had to think back to how I got to this point of racing Nationals and earning a spot on Team USA for Worlds in Chicago next year.  It started with an email from USAT about a VIP invite after my Kona finish.  I really didn’t think much of it since the Olympic distance is my least favorite distance in triathlon.  For me, I like long and even love longer.  The shorter the swim and the longer the bike and run the better.  There were other triathlete friends planning to race from the Lakes Area Multisport group (LAMS) and I thought
1. It would be fun
2. It’s something I haven’t done before
3. There will be no pressure since I’m not “training” for the race

I have to say I was regretting the not training part at the starting line and even after the race.  I really do enjoy racing against the best in the nation and it was hard to be out there and not be in the best swim/bike/run shape as I was a year ago.  In the middle of 80-100 mile run weeks I jump into a race where it is all out for a little over two hours.  When I crossed the line I still hadn’t found that next gear.  By mile 5 of the run I finally felt I was starting to hit a good clip on the run and managed a 6:15 pace.  If I only had about 20 more miles to go or even had a two loop option!  Seriously…my marathon pace to run an Olympic qualifying time can be no slower than a 6:13.  That pace will get me a 2:43 marathon split.  When I was out on the bike I had to keep reminding myself to go harder your legs should feel something!  I was enjoying the ride way too much and my average mph shows that (23.1).  As for my swim I was happy with that (average 1:35/100).  It must have been short or otherwise I had a great swim.  When the gun went off I flashed back to Kona, but then it was so much calmer.  Starting a race with a couple hundred is a lot less congested than a couple thousand.  I was barely kicked or hit.  It was really quite peaceful!

When I came off my bike Lee told me I was #22.  I literally thought WHAT!?  Before the race my goal was just to give it my all…whatever that was.   If I had a great day top 10 was possible.

Surprising I was nervous before the race and didn’t know why I was nervous.  After thinking about it I realized I was nervous because the Olympic distance speed and uncomfortable feeling scares the crap out of me.  I was worried about being able to dig deep enough to find that next gear.  Looking back at my race I don’t think I ever found that place.  I need more practice…which I will have before Worlds in Chicago next September.

Race day info..
I like getting up early and having plenty of time so I don’t feel rushed.  I was up before 5 and had coffee and a PR bar for breakfast.  I like to eat 3 hours before race start so I was cutting it closer than I normally do with my 7:37 race start.  We were able to rack our bikes the night before I didn’t have a lot to take to transition.  Lee and I took a taxi from the hotel and were dropped off right at transition…best $6 bucks spent all day!

It felt like a long wait till 7:37…I sat with Lee and literally told him…don’t let me sign up for any more races.  This isn’t fun.  I literally said that!  Obviously, Lee knew something was up and asked why I was so nervous.  I think it was partly the distance and partly because of my training or lack thereof I should say.  I can count on my hand the number of times I rode my bike outside this year.  Before Kona last October I was cool as a cucumber before the race.  I was confident I did everything I could to prepare myself for the day.  On Saturday I didn’t have that luxury and confidence in my training, but I was able to bring myself back to reality by simply telling myself….all you can do is the best you can do one this day.  For some reason that was relaxing to me.  All we can expect of ourselves or others is just try their hardest.  I did try my hardest.  I got what I had trained for.   

The swim was very uneventful and I felt very relaxed and comfortable.  Looking back I don’t think comfortable is a word that goes with Olympic distance racing…its more of an IM distance word.  I thought if I could be around 26 minutes and average 1:35s I would be very happy.  I usually don’t start or race with my watch and go by feel, but I started my watch on Saturday.  I glanced down and saw 26 something when I was running to T1…Yeah!

I really love riding my bike so when I hopped on and took off out of T2 I was in heaven.  My only wish for that bike course would have been more bridges.  The bridge was the only hill and I could have used several more and even some wind!  The tougher conditions the better. 

Before I knew it I was back in T2 and heading out on the run.  Just out on the run I see Lee and he tells me #22….I thought – Are you serious? There were no women even in my sight.  It wasn’t until an out and back turnaround that I started to see women I could catch.  I moved up to 21 after mile 1 and then slowly started moving up the field.  My goal was to average 6:15s…totally doable!  My first mile was 6:20…I thought ok…just warming up.  Then it was a 6:22 and even a 6:33.  I thought to myself you need to run faster and one of these miles will be a 6:15!  I finally managed a 6:15 on my last mile and moved all the way up to 11th place.

11th place was one off the podium.  Makes me think back to IM Wisonsin in 2008 where I missed a Kona slot by being 4th place. Not a fun place to be, but someone needs to be there.  A person gets what they train for.  I’m training for a marathon and have to be thankful for being able to have the opportunity to race Worlds in Chicago next year.  

My nutrition….I had coffee and a PR bar for breakfast.  I had hydroX in my water bottle.  I took a Gu with me but never used it.  I had MAP (master amino pattern) out on the run, but that was all my nutrition was for the race.  

I have really confused my kids and my mom with all of my talk of training for the marathon and qualifying for the Olympic Trials.  When I texted my mom to tell her I made Team USA she thought I had just ran a marathon and ran a qualifying time.  One of my boys asked if I was now going to the Olympics because the Olympic distance and Team USA….it’s all so confusing.

Now, back to focused marathon training for my A race in Chicago…the marathon.  My goal is sub 2:50 and then I’m planning to run a spring marathon and run a qualifying time so I can take my spring and summer to do some duathlons, Olympic distance triathlons and be ready for Worlds in Chicago come September. Since I enjoy the long so much I think I need to think about nationals for the long course next year or the year after when I’m done with my Master’s program. 
Lee really enjoyed his VIP wrist band over the weekend.  He was able to have a beer in the VIP tent and have very nice viewing of the finish line.  The boys were a bit jealous of his perks.  I told him he should appreciate it cause it may never happen again. 

For me, it’s a fine line between feeling selfish for competing in races and then showing my boys to dream and work hard for what they really love.  Mitchel had a tryout for a hockey team on Saturday, the same day as my race, I felt bad I wasn’t there taking him to his tryout.  

The boys are growing up so fast and with them at hockey camp all week the weekends become our family days.  It is hard to be gone on our family days.  I will continue to race, but just not a lot of races so I don’t miss out on their activities and big moments in their lives.  There is no age limit on triathlons and marathons.  I’ll always be active and finding new challenges for myself.

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