Olympic Distance Age Group Nationals- Party in the USA
This race caused a few nerves for me. Usually I am very unlikely to get nervous before a race but this one was slightly different. Maybe it was the amount of people I had seen riding around the city of Milwaukee on disc wheels or the sheer amount of people (127) in my age group, but I had a feeling I was going to have to have a good race in order to compete and reach my goals for the race. As my friend Connor put it, this one is for all the marbles. He was right, for me this was the main race for my season and I had really wanted to go well and hopefully earn a bid to represent Team USA at the age group world championships in Edmonton next year. I woke at 6am in order to make my way down to transition by about 6.45. This gave me plenty of time to get everything done before the party started at 7.30. Fortunately, or unfortunately, however you want to look at it, we were the last wave to go off and left at 10.12am. I was lucky in that my hotel was within walking distance from transition so I went back to relax and caught some of the race online by the live streaming and rested for a couple of hours.
As I headed down to the swim start, I was able to see the first finisher come in which is not overly exciting when you still have an hour before start time but it was exciting to see and I felt good before the start of the race. It did give me some added motivation in seeing him come across the line and be crowned national champion!
Swim: 20:25 T1: 1:38 Bike: 59:15 T2: 1:00 Run: 36:13 Overall: 1:58:23 27th Overall 11th 20-24
The swim in Milwaukee was one of the choppiest I have ever been a part of. There were so many good swimmers in our wave that everyone was fighting for position and swimming over the top of each other. I decided to start toward the inside as I am usually able to get in the first few swimmers and although I was near the front at the first buoy, there were a lot of us coming round it together which made for an interesting time. Despite the masses of people around the first few buoys, I was able to settle in and found a nice rhythm after the turn around. Our wave got a little broken up going past some of the swimmers from the wave ahead so it became a little bit difficult to follow anyone's feet which is something I have really been working on. I came out of the water in a good position inside the top 20 which is where I thought I had to be out of the swim.
I was thankful this event had a well set out transition that wasn't too long, it was very easy to find your spot and made for quick transitions. I had a good T1 and was out onto the bike after weaving through some people to get to bike out.
As I got onto the bike I was able to settle in quite nicely and felt pretty good on the bike. This is something that is rare for me and too often I find myself mashing at the pedals or sitting up when I shouldn't be. Today was a different story and I found myself being quite disciplined in staying in the aero bars and working on a smooth pedal stroke. The course was nice and wide and it was nice to be able to sling shot around some of the riders in order to keep a good momentum throughout the course. As I reached the turnaround I was becoming increasingly frustrated that I hadn't passed many people in my age group. I wasn't sure if it was because I wasn't riding well or if I was positioned better than I had expected out of the water. In either case, I realized there was no point in being frustrated and continued to work away on the bike.
As we came down off the bridge towards T2, I had flashbacks from my crash in NY and took extra caution coming over the bumps to make certain I stayed on two wheels. I ended up reaching T2 safely and was happy to have ridden a sub 1 hour bike split.
As I came into T2 my legs felt pretty good. This was something I was thankful for as recently I have been a little unsure of my run, especially following a 42 minute split in NY. It was for this reason I decided not to use my GPS watch for this run. If I wasn't feeling so good on the run and my splits were a little down on what they previously have been, I am often too tempted to try and push too hard early on. This causes me to spend excess energy and struggle in the back half of the run. Fortunately, I felt quite good on the run and was able to pass a few guys in my age group early on before being passed by 2 others. I knew one of them and was familiar with his impressive results and in particular his abilities as a runner, so this didn't worry me too much. If anything I was confident to be ahead of him so late into the race.
As I got to mile 4 I began to feel my legs get a little heavy but I was happy that the last 2 miles of the run course were a straight shot for the finish line and my plan to break the run into 3 segments of 2 miles meant I was free to leave it all on the course for the last 2 miles. I ended up passing 1 more 20-24 male and was passed by one other before running down the finish shoot and having my medal presented by 4 x Ironman world champ, Chrissie Wellington. This was a nice touch to the event and I felt good with my race despite only having the time of day to gauge my time.
I was glad to have some friends in Milwaukee to share this race with and was happy to see them do well too. I was relieved and excited to see that I had placed high enough to qualify for team USA as making a national team is something that I have been trying to accomplish from a very young age. It was nice for me to have a good result after my previous couple of races and achieve the goal that I had set out for this season. I am still very new to the sport of triathlon and am learning a lot with every race I do, so to be within a few minutes of some of the best amateur triathletes in the country gives me confidence that I am doing the right things. I am looking forward to racing again tomorrow in the Sprint Distance race and seeing if I can back up my performance today. Thanks to everyone that helped me get to this point, today was a great day at a great race!