Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Race Report: USA Triathlon Nationals

This weekend the Endurance Films Racing Team came together in Burlington, Vermont for USA Triathlon Nationals. Seven of our original members (Nick, Sip, Diane, Laura, Scott, Casey, and me) met up with five of our new members (Corey, Lora, Megan, Tom, and Bill), along with Danny Kolker and Eric Feller of Endurance Films, and Zane Schweer and Jenny MacDougall of Kane Bicycles. (Liz and Nicole were with and in spirit.)

Corey with the Endurance Films bike by Kane
A meet-up on the lake bike path

Team meeting at the Endurance Films Expo booth

We were at Nationals to showcase what we could do with another year of training and racing behind us, as we faced the nation's top age group triathletes. A lot had happened to each of us in the year leading up to this, and as we embraced in greeting, it was with knowledge of each individual's athletic and personal challenges and accomplishments that got them here.

This trip was a whirlwind of two days travel (750 miles each way...road trip!) to Vermont, about 70 hours in Vermont, and two days of narcoleptic travel back. I still have seatbelt marks on me.

Here's how the race side of it went:


Saturday - Olympic Distance Nationals - 11th out of 114 in AG, 92 out of 851 women, 24th master's woman
  • Swim (1500m) – 28:10 (1:44/100 yard pace)
  • T1 –2:12
  • Bike (40k) – 1:07:42 (22.0 mph pace)
  • T2 – 1:22
  • Run (10k) – 42:34.7  (6:52 pace; PR by 5 seconds)
  • Total –2:22:01

Sunday - Sprint Distance Nationals - 3rd out of 56 in AG, 18 out of 397 women, 8th master's woman
  • Swim (750m) – 14:09 (1:43/100 yard pace)
  • T1 – 1:43
  • Bike (20k) – 33:19 (22.4 mph pace)
  • T2 – 1:18
  • Run (5k) – 20:31.7  (6:37 pace) (PR by 13 seconds)
  • Total – 1:10:52
I love the little results "receipts" you get

They do awards 10 deep for Olympic and 3 deep for the Sprint. I qualified for Team USA for London 2013 at both distances (but can only race in one).

This is the biggest race I do, with 2000 racers on Saturday and about 1000 on Sunday. I found these photos online but there is no way to do the scene justice. Transition is enormous. It was SO nice to be returning to the venue for a second time, to be among friends/teammates, and to know the lay of the land. I was so much more relaxed this year.

Aerial view of transition

Olympic Distance Recap

Rather than do my usual (boring to most) play-by-play analysis, I'd rather share a few significant parts of the day. First and foremost has to be what happened just prior to our swim wave. Our 45-49 age group was in the water, just off the pier, waiting to line up for our in-water start when we noticed a male swimmer being pulled off of a boat and laid on the pier. We stared as we realized that medics were administering CPR and pounding and compressing this man's chest. Our wave was delayed while the athlete was transported to an ambulance. He was never revived.

My race-ready self was flattened. Tears welled up in my goggles as I sat cross-legged on the pier. Some of the women said we just needed to make this a great group training day. One woman called it a day. I knew I was here to race, and would, but thoughts of this man and his family were never far away. The next thing we knew, the horn had sounded and we were off. I guess everyone else found their racing selves as it was brutal to the first turn buoy.

The water was very choppy, but on this day, it was good to have something to fight against, something to keep me focused. It was a good swim for me.

The second significant thing of the day was that I "lost" my bike in T1 and gave up some time. The racks have numbered stickers over which your bike is racked by the seat. After bikes are racked, all you see are the back ends of the bikes on the OPPOSITE side of the rack. As I ran down my row, I got momentarily confused by the numbers that did not match mine. I began to think that someone had moved my bike. I backtracked and even stopped to look at my own number on my leg, wondering if I had the wrong number! Anyway, lesson learned, and I have improved my bike-locating strategy for the future (landmarks, look for yellow shoes, etc). That won't happen again.

My rack number...shouldn't be so hard!!

Once I got out on the bike, I got right to work. I had an average HR of 165 and max of 174 which tells me I was cooking pretty good out there. Average speed was 22.0 mph; I had expected a little more speed, but still I passed a lot of people. I had a decent T2 and headed out on the run.

I pushed hard and ran an evenly paced 10k (6:53 pace on both front and back halves). Average HR was 168 on the first half and 173 on the second half, that is top-end REDLINE for me on that second half.  (Number crunching and analysis all courtesy of Coach Jim!)

I rarely get passed on the run by other women, but on this day, I was passed by at least two and I had no gears left to go after them. Seven women in my age group ran faster than me! This is why we come to Nationals....not to see how good we are, but to see how much better we could be! I'm not used to running in such close proximity to others. I kept getting annoyed by the sounds of their nearby annoyed by the fact that I couldn't put distance between them and me.

Overall, it was a good race for me. I had just a couple of hours to eat, clean up, recover, and get ready for the next day's race. Off with the old race numbers, on with the new, and back went the bike to transition. The team headed to the awards ceremony.

Me and awesome Edie, both Blacksburg Hokies
and One-on-One Endurance mates!

Sprint Distance Recap

Once the Olympic race was over, I really relaxed and felt very little pressure heading into Sunday's sprint. The morning was beautiful, the water was calm, and other than a bit of fatigue in the quads I felt good and race-ready!

One of the cool things about this race was seeing Eric of Endurance Films, camera in hand, on the back of a motorcycle filming along the bike route. I was blasting by people, feeling strong, and holding back nothing. Soon the bike was over and I was out on the run. I couldn't believe how good I felt. I found that happy "flow" (the digging deep race kind, but still "flow"). I got faster and faster as I went, finishing with a 6:19 mile and a new 5K PR by 13 seconds!

Danny and Eric wrapping up a day of filming

I finished both races healthy and strong with no major incidents and with performances that I can be proud of. I have two months to fine-tune things before Worlds and my enjoyment and motivation levels remain high.

Thank You!

It took countless people to get me to this race. My husband, kids, and mother-in-law held down the fort while I was away for six days. Coach Jim and Kurt got me to the start with the endurance, strength, and mental tools I needed. Bryan Walsh of Solar Connexion is a trusted adviser for logistics, equipment, and perspective. The Endurance Films owners and team give me a sense of belonging in a sport that is highly individual. The Roanoke Tri folks remind me that a sense of humor is essential to training and racing hard.

I'm grateful to my readers, too! I got to meet a few of them at Nationals including Ryan from Texas, below. I forget sometimes that people other than my mom and dad read this!! (And thanks to them, of course ;-)

Cort and Ryan
Me with Kimberly "Goggles" Arbouw!

And how does a triathlete mom finish up such a great weekend? With laundry, of course!