Monday, August 19, 2013

USAT Age Group Nationals Race Report + Other Good Stuff!

It's been a little over a week since USAT Age Group Nationals in Milwaukee and I'm just getting around to writing about the race and my trip. Life is really hectic right now, we closed on our house on July 18th and have been working on it getting it up to Spansel Standards before we move in! That means lots of appointments - electricians, carpet, tile, cable, satellite, air conditioning, irrigation system, fence, deck, screened porch... the list seems endless. After the estimates comes the work. I feel like my life has been a month of meeting and waiting. I'm ready to get settled.

Bill and me, post race at River Cities!
Age Group Nationals was proceeded by the River Cites Triathlon here in my now hometown of Shreveport. It is my favorite race and this year was my 18th time to be here. I love this race - the venue is really nice, the swag is REALLY nice and the race speaks for itself. River Cities was on a Sunday and the following Saturday was Nationals. I needed a plan. So I called my friend Denise's husband Kyle, and asked him what I should do. River Cities is the local race, I wanted to do well but as he explained.... It's "Nationals", and should be my A race. Good Point!

Kyle is also a USAT Coach and was my Master's Swim Coach in Hattiesburg. He recommended that I swim hard, I would be fine recovering from the swim. Hold back a little bit on the bike and take the run about 20 seconds per mile slower than I usually race a 5K in a sprint triathlon. I did exactly that except I think I took the run a little too easy! 9:00 minute miles.. but I'd had sporadic workouts the two weeks leading up to the race and I think it had something to do with my lackluster run. Both of my quads tried to cramp and seize immediately off the bike, so I ran easy and watched my stride so they wouldn't come to a full blown cramp. Any time you do that to your muscles you are basically causing a pretty sever injury and it can take a couple weeks to recover. With Nationals in just 6 days I thought erring on the side of caution was the smart thing to do.

I left for Milwaukee on Thursday, flew out of Dallas so I had a 3 hour drive from Shreveport before my flight. Got there in plenty of time so I wasn't in any kind of a panic. Becky, my friend from Team Aquaphor picked me up at the airport. She was the reason I was at Nationals in the first place. Last November she invited me to come out to Ironman Florida where she was racing and I went and cheered her on and met her "in person". Prior to the we knew each other through Facebook, the team, and a few phone calls. Earlier in the year she had asked me if I was going to Nationals. I'd never given it a thought, but Bill and I talked about it and thought it would be fun and a chance to hang out with Becky again.

We did all the usual pre-race things like packet pick up and a swim in Lake Michigan. My wetsuit is still in storage with all of our furniture and belongings so Becky brought me her extra one and I needed to try it before race day. It's a size smaller than I like to wear and I was worried that I would have one of my typical "wetsuit panic attacks" in it. Fortunately the water was cold ~70 degrees and her suit is MUCH more flexible than mine. I have a Blue Seventy and hers is an Xterra.... I think I'll be getting a new wetsuit...

I swam one little loop with it and the water felt so good that I took it off and we swam another one without. Becky swam both times without one and it gave us an interesting perspective on how much they help. She and I swim about the same speed. On the first loop I noticed that she was slightly behind me and I was swimming easy to get the feel for her suit. On the second loop I swam hard. She was right next to me. We talked about our effort levels when we got out and she said she swam hard on the first loop and easy on the second. All doubts of whether or not I would use her wetsuit or my speedsuit went out the window. Wetsuit it is!

The swim waves were really spread out, the first wave went off at 7:30, mine was almost an hour later at 8:28 and poor Becky's didn't start until 9:50! It's a good thing the weather was cool, it was a long time to wait. My swim was uneventful, the wetsuit was fine. I looked at my watch as I was approaching the exit ramp and saw 24 minutes. Good swim. Happy with that.

T1 was kind of a long run and I went down the wrong isle. I was on row "F" and I turned on "E". Fortunately a lot of bikes were gone so I just ducked under a rack and got to my bike. Had some trouble getting Becky's wetsuit off of my feet, I usually cut mine shorter but didn't want to start chopping on a borrowed suit.

The bike ride was nice! Not the most scenic ride but fast with some climbs over a bridge and back, but a lot of fast areas. I averaged 21.6 for the 40K, my best bike split ever for that distance. There was one woman who was a drafting manic though, I saw her on a wheel of a rider in front of me and she finally got dropped by her and then hopped on my wheel as I went by. I heard a volunteer on the side of the road scream "15 FEET". What is up with the cheaters? Do you really have satisfaction in your race if you cheat and draft for a majority of the ride. Geez. Losers...

Both she and the woman she was drafting off of initially got ahead of me just before the end of the bike and we all rolled up to the dismount line together, but I ran off the bike and both of them stopped and swung their leg over to dismount. T2 was uneventful, found my place without any trouble and headed out onto the run.

Checked my watch a couple times and was running right at an 8 minute pace. Typical for me in this distance race. I was planning on holding 8:00's for the first 3 miles and then picking it up. Didn't happen - this time it wasn't my quads but my calves that were singing. That has happened to me before even with my focus on hydration before and during the race. It's done that ever since I was fit with the shorter cranks and aggressive areo position. I need to make a call to Johnny Cobb and ask if it may be related.

I did get passed by several women in my age group during the 10K run, but just couldn't answer. I tried once toward the end and my calf almost seized. I remember looking at my watch at right around 4.5 miles and it said 2:15. I was hoping to go under 2:30 which is my typical time for an Olympic Distance Tri. Brain goes into overdrive... ok...I'm running 8's so a mile and a half is 12 minutes... that puts me at 2:27 at mile 6 with .2 left to go. I think I can make it!!!  And I did! 2:27:58. Happy Happy Joy Joy!!

AND.... saving the best part for last.... QUALIFIED FOR WORLD'S AND TEAM USA!!!

Called my husband, Bill and he had been tracking me and knew I wanted to go under 2:30! He was happy for me. I hadn't mentioned World's to him even once, thinking it was just out of the question to go. So our conversation went something like this:

Bill:  Congratulations! Sub 2:30 way to go!
Me:  I was hoping but didn't know if I could do it!
Bill:  So does this qualify you for anything? What does this get you?
Me:  It qualifies me for World's.
Bill:  When is that?
Me:  September of next year.
Bill:  Where is it?
Me:  Edmonton, Canada.
Bill:  So let go to Canada, eh?
Me:  REALLY?????

So we're going to Canada next year! I get to race for Team USA and wear a suit with my name on my hiney!

Hmmm.... I think I might need a coach! Coach Kyle?? Want to help me get ready for World's?

Here are some photos I took of the city while I was there!!