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USAT Age Group Nationals: Race Report

At Tri Goddess Tri in July, I qualified to compete in the Age Group Nationals Olympic Distance. I hadn't thought much about going to nationals until that race.  I looked online and learned that top 25 in each age group would make Team USA and go to World's representing Team USA, which is in Chicago next year.  I looked at times from last year and determined that there was no way I would make the team racing the olympic distance.  When I looked at the sprint distance times from last year, I thought I would have a much better shot if I stuck to the sprint distance.  So I signed up, changed my training focus, and allowed myself to believe that I had a shot at the Team and the awesome Tri Suit with my name on it.

I drove all afternoon on Thursday, and got to Milwaukee in time to pick up my packet on Thursday evening.  Pretty awesome swag!!  Got a jacket, a cinch sack, and a SweatVac hat.  After packet pick-up I headed to my friend and sorority sister's house where I would be staying for the weekend.  A huge shout out to Lesley for opening her home to me.  I would not have been able to go otherwise!  We went to one of her favorite restaurants for dinner that night.  Milwaukee is a pretty cool town.

Lesley showing me a bathroom with a view in downtown Milwaukee
On Friday, Lesley drove the bike course for me so I could check out the hills and I had dinner through USAT - a pasta dinner.  It was great to meet other participants from around the country.  On Saturday, we walked around the race venue and watched the Elite athletes compete in the Super-Sprint.  Man they are fast!  So cool to see.

We walked along the water while we waited for the Super Sprint to start

McCartly won the female Super Sprint
Olympian Shoemaker won the men's race

Once the men's race was over, it was time for me to check-in my bike.  So weird to leave it overnight!!
Bye-Bye Bike.  See you in the morning.
Before bed on Saturday, we went for another great dinner and I put my race number tattoos on.  Starting to feel official!

My favorite part of race day is always the sunrise.  This big race certainly delivered with a big sunrise for me!  Here are some pre-race pics:

 Swim: 8000m/14:48.7 The swim was aggressive!  The first 150m was very crowded with lots of arms and legs.  I was completely swam over at one point.  Then I broke away a bit and got my groove.  I finished 35 out of 81 35-39 yo women.  This time includes a very long run to transition.  I was hoping for 15 minutes, so this time makes me happy.

Bike: 20k/38:51.5 The course was very nice.  I was happy to average 19.16 mph with the hills that were involved.  They closed I-794 so that we could climb the Hoan Bridge.  That was a pretty serious climb.  I passed 5 people on the three major uphills, and was feeling pretty good about my training.  I had forgotten my watch, so I  had no way of knowing how fast I was really going.  I did see a woman fall on her bike on the downhill.  Her face was badly bloodied, which gave me a pretty big scare.  I don't think it affected my time any, but I had a good cry on the bike after I saw her.  I had hoped for 36 min on the bike, so I only missed that by a few minutes.

Run: 5k/26:29.6 I don't really know why, but I thought I would be significantly faster on this run.  I averaged 8:31 min/mi, which is pretty good for me.  I really wanted to be closer to 21 or 22 minutes for the 5k.  It was a very flat course with a nice breeze off the water.  I really did give it my all and know that I couldn't have run any faster on that day.  It was during the run that I knew I was not going to make the team.

I felt pretty good about the race for a bit after I crossed the finish line.  I still had that "I feel like a million dollars" feeling when I crossed, but I did feel a bit let down as the morning went on.  Honestly, I felt foolish for thinking that I could potentially finish top 25.

One of my favorite things about racing triathlons, is that (until this race) I was never focused on racing others.  I went into every race wanting to do the best I could do on that day.  Hoping to PR or at least improve one leg of the race or another.  I have been placing this year, and I do love the BLING, but it truly was not about competing with others... for me.  I let myself get caught up in that this race.  Everything about this race felt different because of it.

What I learned: Know what I love about my sport and embrace it.  I do not need to measure my ability against anyone else.  I have improved a lot since I started two seasons ago and I will continue to improve as long as I continue to love doing it.  I will be back at nationals next year.  I will qualify for the olympic distance and I will race it - regardless of how my times measure up to the field.  I will race it next year without worrying about anyone else and embrace what I love.  AND I do love me some bling:


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