Tuesday, August 23, 2011

USAT Age Group National Championship

The big one. This one has really been my focus race since the end of Collegiate Nationals back in April. I really wanted to do well and just to see what I could do on a bigger stage after Collegiate Nationals didn't go so well.
I drove up with my team the day before the race to Vermont, it was about a 5 hour drive except that I left my wallet on top of the car at a gas station and didn't know until an hour down the road. I let David get in the other car and went back by myself. Got to the race expo and looked around; I was especially interested by the Halo booth...we may be getting one of the kits to adapt an ordinary gym bench into one for our team. After that we all met up as a team and drove to the waterfront to check our bikes in. I rode mine around a little bit in circles just to make sure the gears/brakes/etc were functioning right. After racking bikes, we went for a swim, then went back to our teammate Sarah's house about 20-30 min outside of Burlington, where we stayed the night and her parents were absolutely INCREDIBLE hosts....great food, wonderful house, plenty of room for sleeping, the whole bit.
Morning of the race I drove up by myself from Sarah's house because my teammates all raced the sprint later in the day. For a warmup I went for a little run a couple of times here and there, but it was tough not knowing what to do, standing around wtih my wetsuit and no running shoes for over an hour before my wave started. I was able to get in the water in a little marina and swim for about 5 minutes, but I'm pretty sure that wasn't allowed; just everybody was doing it.
Swim: 22:56 (178th overall), 1:32/100 m
The time looks rough/slow, but verrrrry few people broke 20 at this one. I think part of that is because the vast majority of people rounded the far side rather than cutting straight across on the rectangle. With the way the sun and the shoreline looked, it was difficult to find that next buoy. Normally I don't like to just follow a pack, but it was such a big pack to follow and I had no choice, really. I will say that this was probably one of the most vicious swim starts ever. It was intense and rough until probably 500 m in. I lost my Garmin about 5 meters into the swim, so unfortunately. All in all, I'd say an average swim for me.
T1: 1:08
I still have yet to really figure out the flying mount thing with shoes on pedals. Every time I try, the right shoe rubber band comes off, so here I took an extra second or two to put my shoes on and run in them, allowing me to get more speed on the narrow path at the beginning of the bike course.
Bike: 1:02:55 (139th overall), 23.7 mph
I felt GREAT. This course seemed to suit me actually pretty well. As I've mentioned before, I felt like my TTing wasn't quite there, by which I mean my bike "attention span" isn't there right now for those long, flat, straight stretches. Fortunately this course had enough steep little ups and long (like over a mile) gradual downhills to keep my attention. Drafting got to be a problem with some people, and I was super-careful about that this time around. This is a 40k PR for me, and this is probably the hardest course for a 40k I've ever done.
T2: 0:45
I came in right behind a little pack of Army guys who passed me towards the end of the bike, so I was extra quick to try to keep then within my reach.
Run: 41:33 (401st overall), 6:43/mi
The run started off with a pretty steep hill that I tried to take carefully. I saw plenty of people trying to kill it, but I knew after it was pretty much all easy flat stuff, so I wasn't worried. After that I felt pretty good and managed to reel back in a couple of guys that had passed me on the hill. Around mile 4.5 or so, on the back stretch of the bike path, I think the hills from the bike finally hit me and I started to crash. At that point I was still catching people from my age group who were feeling worse than me, and that was probably the only way I kept from really going much slower. So, the solution, like my solution from XTERRA Stoaked is to get more hill work in, especially because Cranberry and Westchester both have some hills of their own.
Overall: 2:09:25, 169th/1649 overall, 43rd/96 M20-24
This was an Olympic distance PR by 8 seconds, despite running almost three minutes slower than The Nation's Tri last year. Sure, I wanted to break 2:05 and/or the top 20 of my age group, but I know at a minimum that I'm in a much better position now than I was a year ago to do well for the fall season

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