Race Report: USAT Nationals

USAT Nationals was my A race this year, the big kahuna. Going into it, I knew not to have a time goal since it was quite a hilly course. Time goals aren’t really something to shoot for in this sport anyhow as terrain, currents, waves, wind and weather vary, distances are often a little askew, high temps can wreak havoc, transition lengths differ, a larger number of participants can slow you down (you get stuck behind or frequently have to weave around them), etc. Anyway, my main goal was to qualify for the World Championships which will be held in New Zealand next October. A side goal was to place top 5 in my Age Group as I placed 8th last year…I accomplished one and I am happy about that, especially with the competition being SO incredibly fierce this year across the board! And Burlington, Vermont was quite the venue for this fantastic event! The area was simply beautiful, the volunteers were incredible, and the food was wonderful too! Fortunately I was able to share it all with Scott, Dick, Kathy, and 4 of my clients pictured above; Bruce Noxon, Mark & Kim Morgan, and Stephen Ban. I really enjoyed spending some quality time with them and getting to know them a little better. How lucky am I to have such wonderful people and athletes in my life?!?

Race morning was awesome as our hotel was just a few minutes walking distance from the transition area. Plus we didn’t have to be out of it until 7am, late compared to most races so I was able to stay in la la land until 6:15am!!! Upon arriving at the venue, I soon saw Mark and he looked like a ghost! The poor guy had a blown tire so you can imagine where his head was. Fortunately, super sherpa Scott had an extra wheel in our car so he saved the day. As Mark’s coach, I felt badly though as I wanted to stay with him and calm his nerves while waiting this out, but I had to stick to my routine and get a warm-up in. Luckily it all worked out. Whew! It didn’t work out so well on the swim though. My stroke and speed were fine, but my navigation skills, well, not so much. This is really nothing new for me, I certainly lack in this technique, yet it always surprises me when I go off course. From the sidelines and start, the buoys always seem to be of such magnitude. It’s totally different in the water as they usually just look like other swim caps. For 2/3 of the mile, I was good, right on course, then we had to take a big turn right into the sun. Immediately I went from seeing several caps around me to just a few splashes about 15 yards away. Where did everyone go? I always oversight (look up very frequently) so how could this be? I looked everywhere and could not locate the next buoy, just the golden sun so I stopped. Did it help? Nope! I just put my head down and went in the direction of the few splashes I could see. Some may think this smart, but no, I just ended up going way left. Of course now that I am off course I can see the next buoy! In the scheme of things, I probably didn’t lose more than 40-60 seconds, but that can cost you, especially at Nationals! Oy, this scenario can really mess with your head, but I would not allow it. I got back on course and came out of the water 2nd…again. (There is a second place curse on me as that’s position I’ve come out my previous 3 times at Nationals as well as the last 2 times at Worlds and was beat by different people every time! So weird)! At least this time I was beat by a mere 7 seconds and by a former Olympian, Susan Williams, who placed 2nd at the 2000 Olympics in triathlon.

Screaming, that’s about all my legs did the remainder of the race.

Riding several rolling and some steep hills will do that to you. I didn’t ride too hard per se, but regardless at what intensity you ride hills, it’s going to hurt. This type of course makes it really difficult to get into a groove and attempt to pace. You just do your best to ride well, but not well enough to trash your legs for the run. And this one started with a pretty steep 1/4 mile hill. Ouch! Going into the race, I had it in my head that I would chill on the hill and then get into a groove soon after. Well, that didn’t happen. I just did my best to keep moving as I was in a bit of pain. Not wearing a watch, I had no clue what pace I was going, but I would have bet my life that I was holding at least 9 min miles or slower. By mile 4, I was going to retire after this race. My legs were in knots, my stomach was a mess, and I was just praying for the finish line to hurry the heck up and show itself. Finally….it did. I tried to pick it up a notch with all the spectators at the end, but I had NOTHING left. I crossed the line, immediately found a trash can, and released some bile! Ew! Ok, now that was a first! And at least I felt a little better. 😉 The result? 10th in my AG with a spot to Worlds! As badly as my run felt, I was no where near the 9min miles I’d suspected. I did 7:20 somethings, so not bad for me at all! This is why I always tell people not to gauge their races/paces strictly by how they feel. (I’ve had one of my worst run times feeling great on a flat course too). And although my 10k time wasn’t super for me, it was pretty good for this course, as was the rest of my race.

My fastest part? The transitions! They rocked! 😉

Even better, my clients laid it on the line too! I am so proud of them and their great races!!! I have to say though, the best part of the weekend was this: What a way to end it! And, the cold water really helped with our recovery…or was that the beer? 😉 A GIGANTIC shout out to Sandy who watched the girls the entire weekend…and they were really sick! 😦 A big thank you to Dick and Kathy for making the jaunt to cheer me on! It’s much appreciated!!! Love you! Scott, you are simply the best sherpa ever! You not only coached and supported me, but you took great care of my friends/athletes! Thank you so much!!!

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