It’s Finally Here: USAT Age Group Nationals

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The focus of the last eight months came around last weekend as I traveled to Burlington VT to compete at the USAT AG National Championship Weekend. When I found out that I had qualified for the races, I said I’d make the cut for TeamUSA in 2013. The next eight months, everything was a build towards this weekend. And being that I’d never truly peaked before (last year was my first with a coach, and my A race ended up getting canceled), I was excited to see how everything would go down. I could sit here and type out a mile by mile breakdown of the races, but I won’t force y’all through that. Instead, I’ll just tell you the important stuff and share a few fun facts.

Race morning, my wave didn’t go off until 920, but transition closed at 730. That gave me time to set up and focus (and try to get my stomach out of my throat as two hours before my wave it hit me that I was about to race a national championship), so after everything was set up, I headed over to the mechanics to top off my tire pressure. My front wheel has a valve extender, and for whatever reason, the mechanic decided to unscrew it before just pumping up the tires. Well he couldn’t get it back on. You can’t just rip off tubulars to adjust, so I spent the next 25 minutes hoping he’d get it screwed back on, which didnt happen and was cut short by, “Transition closes in 90seconds. Anyone still in will receive a penalty.” …yeah…don’t make this stressful or anything. I grab the wheel, feel that it’s still around 100psi, throw in on my QR Dixie, and sprint to my rack in enough time to just throw her up and run out of transition. The next two hours went by quick, and I headed down to the dock for swim start in my BlueSeventy HELIX.

Things from here on we’re pretty normal race day happenings. I swam ocean rough Lake Champlain course, that I’d describe as technical (who knew a swim could be technical), and got out of the water faster than I have in any still water leg, and ran past my rack (twice) in T1. After a quick pull to get my HELIX off, Dixie and I ran out of transition and int the wind.
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This was the first race I’d ever ridden a truly aero wheelset, and I could feel the difference. I could feel it even more on the back half of the bike with the crosswind making me white knuckle my bars so I didn’t fall over. The fun part was that I didn’t get a chance to strap my left foot in for the bike because the strap came out of the loop, but found that as long as my pedal stroke was correct, I didn’t need the top strap. And that the kids who were on the back of the course earlier didn’t have crosswinds; obviously I need to ride faster. Came fast into T2, and off on the run.

The run was great…after the first hill right out of transition. People were walking. It wasn’t a very happy thing to be running up it before your legs are really there. After the top though, I just picked off athletes. Negative split the run, and came in in 2:19:41. A PR on a solid course. That time put me 430/1138 for males, but 62/81 in my age group. Yeah…I said ‘wow’ too. And immediately said I have plenty of work to still do. Relentless forward progress; right?

The next day, 18 hours later…I lined up again for the sprint distance race. After the hell that was the mass start of 81 kids yesterday in the water, I lined up far right and took off as soon as the horn blew. Just under 12 minutes for the swim, a perfect T1, and off on the bike. I was pissed at how conservative I rode the day before, so I made sure I stayed uncomfortable today. Looking back on this day’s race and somewhat technical bike (or maybe I’m just not used to cornering on a disc. It feel weird; right?) I probably could have pushed more, but I’m ok with a 23.5 mph average. I came off the bike ready to run as hard as I could, and I did. That hill I mentioned earlier? Yeah; that one hurt bad today. There was no spring in my gait going up it, but after I found the top, I just put my head down. I crossed the line in 1:06:19, putting me 101/628 male (and behind one girl…), and 12/33 in my age. Because I age up next year though, I really finished 14th in the 25-29 AG…meaning…

I get to put a check mark next to “Make TeamUSA” on the [mental] list for this year! I’ll head out to London for the World Championship Sprint Triathlon next September. I’ve never competed in another country…should be fun. Even more so because I’m kind of an Anglophile. Or maybe it’s just the way they talk…they as in the girls. But that’s not important right now. I’ll be in London next year! Of course I have to thank God for allowing me to race at all after my wreck, and even more so make the cut as it wasn’t the walk-on I expected it to be. And I wouldn’t have been able to recover well enough between races if I didn’t have my NormaTec boots and PowerBar products. Thanks to Rev3 for all of their support and sponsors too. Having a wetsuit, shoes, and bike that feel like extensions of your own body helps a ton too. Have to say thanks to my cheering section and guidance from my coach and family and friends. This isn’t really a individual sport when you look at the behind the scenes action.

This weekend, right now actually, I’m up in Maine for the Olympic distance Rev3 Maine race Sunday…yes; making 3 races in 9 days. It’s been a fun [almost] week and a half, and like I said earlier, it’s all about relentless forward progress.

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