Tag Archives: 2013 USAT Age Group National Championships

USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships Recap

All right, friends.  As you know, I’m back from Milwaukee where I competed in the USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships on Saturday.

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Going into this race, I knew it would be a humbling experience.  Yes, I’ve done fairly well at events this season, but Nationals gives triathletes a chance to toe off against the best of the best.  For my age group (20-24), this meant racing against collegiate division I triathletes who’ve been swimming, biking, and running forever and who receive scholarships to do so.

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With this in mind, my goals for this race included savoring the experience and simply competing.  Getting on the podium—and honestly, finishing in the top 20—wasn’t a realistic objective.  Plus, Saturday marked exactly one year since I completed my first sprint triathlon; it’s crazy how quickly it passed and how much I’ve progressed—and as this race indicated, how much room for improvement I still have.

Swim – 1500m – 28:19 (47/77)

Let’s get the bad out of the way:  This was hands down my worst swim of the season.  Period.

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Once it was finally time for my wave to start (our projected time was 9:40 a.m., but we didn’t enter the water until after 10 a.m.), I situated myself on the right of the first yellow buoy, and in hindsight, this wasn’t the wisest move; it was congested, and I would’ve been better off getting a spot on the far left, even though it would’ve resulted in a few extra yards.  Oh well—train, race, and learn.  Anyway, as soon as I started, I knew it wasn’t my day in the water; I had trouble getting into a rhythm and defaulted to drafting off slower swimmers.  On the positive side, it was a nice course that boasted ideal conditions:  The water remained calm and notched a refreshing 69 degrees Fahrenheit.  And as you can see from the map above, part of the swim took us under a bridge, which was lined with tons of spectators—and lots of cowbells.  Swimming this section was my favorite part, but I was more than ready to get out of the water.

Transition 1 – 2:28 (35/77)

Even though I passed a few girls on the run to transition, it felt like I slugged through T1.

Bike – 40-K – 1:17 (51/77)

Write this on the calendar:  I did not enjoy the swim, but I loved the bike.  Who am I?

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Prior to the race, I heard this course would be flat and fast, which proved to be accurate for the most part; aside from a handful gradual “hills” (basically on-ramps to highways) the course was a hammerfest. (Not that I hammer, but you know what I mean.) So here are the positives:  This is a 40-K bike PR for me (19.1 MPH), and it’s also the most comfortable I’ve felt in the saddle.  And even though I had an equipment disadvantage—I’d say more than half the girls in my AG had tri bikes—I held my own.  In fact, I picked off a lot of girls who had TT bikes.  “It’s the engine, not the car,” right?

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Contrary to what my facial expression may indicate, I had fun on the bike.

Finally, I threw caution to the wind and took a gel at the halfway point, which was my first time taking in solids (i.e. anything besides my PowerBar Perform mix) on the bike.  No, I didn’t practice, so I really shouldn’t be surprised it was difficult to get down.  This is an area that calls for experimentation in terms of timing and actual nutrition (gels vs. shot blocks).

Transition 2 – 1:41 (43/77)

Like T1, T2 wasn’t great.  As I grabbed my run gear, I noticed my Garmin had turned off, even though I powered it on before the race started. (I always turn it on and leave it in transition, and it’s never been an issue.) However, when I tried to turn it on, the screen flashed a low-battery warning and then shut off.  So I would be running the 10-K based on feel.  All right.

Run – 10-K – 49:25 (35/77)

Like the bike course, the run was basically dead flat, and it was nice running without a watch and adjusting my pace based on how my body felt.

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As usual, it took two miles for me to find my running legs, and I also maintained a conservative pace for the opening 5-K.  What I didn’t expect were the mind games and self-doubt that flooded my head:  What happened during New York City could happen again; can I run six miles after that swim and bike?  I know I’ll work through these thoughts as I race more after NYC.  When I had reconstructive ACL and meniscus surgery in high school, I would think about my repaired knee all the time—during practice, during games, etc.  But after playing through it for a while, the negative thoughts slowly disappeared.

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Anyway, I was lost in my head for a while, so when I reached the turnaround point and realized how strong I felt, I started to pick up the pace.  During the closing miles, I also saw one of my coworkers who eventually caught up and passed me.  He’s super fast, and seeing him was a great boost!  I rode this high to the finish line, and I picked off four or five girls in my age group along the way.  This is also an off-the-bike 10-K PR for me.

Official finishing time – 2:39:46 (43/77)

Basically, I finished in the middle of the pack.  There were some fast girls (swimming in 18-20 minutes, biking in 1:04-1:10, and running the 10-K in 37-40 minutes), and aside from my swim, I’m happy with the bike and run.  Fingers crossed and knock on wood I’ll be back next year–I would love to take on this course with another year of training under my race belt!

Random Thoughts from USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships

Hey, friends!  How’s it going?  It’s been a while since my last post, but there’s a good reason:  This past weekend, I traveled to Milwaukee for the USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships.

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Oh yeah–four-time Ironman World Champion Chrissie Wellington gave me that medal.  I totally freaked out and acted like a fan girl. #noshame

More than 2,700 triathletes participated in the Olympic-distance event (1.5-K swim, 40-K bike, and 10-K run), and the field was one of the most competitive ever.  I’m working on the race recap, but I want to share some random thoughts from the trip.

Friendly triathletes and great atmosphere—I don’t want to leave!’

Really, this shouldn’t be a surprise.  Everyone was excited, chatty, and outgoing, and it seemed like every time I found myself in a hotel elevator I walked out with a new friend.  And even though we were competing—there were 28 age-group national titles up for grabs, plus slots on Team USA for the 2014 World Championships—the vibe wasn’t intense or off-putting; maybe it’s because I’m coming from New York City, but it was so nice to walk around, make eye contact with others, and say hi.

‘Milwaukee is a great venue.’

Even though the Olympic race started late (more on that in the recap), the city did a great job hosting this event overall.

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Everything—transition, restaurants, etc.—was within walking distance, the weather on race day was perfect (around 70 degrees Fahrenheit with basically zero humidity), and the course was flat and fast.

‘Everyone looks so fit.’

OMG—so many lean and chiseled triathletes, but what do you expect from some of the country’s best age groupers?  Also, the fact that I didn’t strength train during the taper didn’t help, and I stuck out a bit in my age group.  Although there were other tall women, I was the tallest, and a lot of the girls were tiny—like 5’3” and nothing but skin and bones.  I had a major flashback to my basketball days; it felt like I was a forward again competing against point guards.

‘I need a new bike.’

I experienced major big envy all weekend.  Between aero helmets, race wheels, and five-figure tri bikes (seriously), I felt totally out of my league.

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There were some other roadies there, though.  In fact, on race morning, one USA Triathlon official was checking transition setups and after looking at mine, he commented on how many road bikes were there.  Zing.  I tried not to take it personally.

‘I can’t believe how far I’ve come in one year.’

Yes, I wanted to have a good race this past weekend, but I also made it a priority to savor the experience.  Not everyone gets to do this event (there are a few ways to qualify), and I felt truly blessed, grateful, and humbled to have the opportunity to compete.

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Plus, race day marked exactly one year to the day I completed my first triathlon.  Talk about coming full circle!  This progress—going from a local tri to a national event—highlighted how much I’ve improved and reminded me how much I’ve grown as an athlete and person.

‘I have the best team ever.’

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Enough said.

Write It Down, Do It Up – Week of August 4

Hi, everyone—happy Sunday!  Did you have a good weekend?  After work on Friday night, I transformed into a real girl and attended not one, but two birthday parties.  I know; I couldn’t believe it either.  And by some glorious stroke of luck (er, coffee), I managed to stay up past my normal bedtime—huge success!  Needless to say, Saturday seemed like it would never end, so I plan to keep things low-key today.

So … guess what:  The time has come!

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Yep, in less than one week, I’ll be competing in a certain August race that I’ve alluded to for a while—the USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships.

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There’s no question this will be the most competitive race of my triathlon career, and surprisingly, I feel calm.  For one, unlike every other tri I’ve done this year, there are basically zero expectations.  Don’t get me wrong; I want to have the best race possible, but there are no podium goals.  This will be a very humbling event, and even though I want to rise to the occasion and perform well, this trip will be all about savoring the experience.  Plus, after seeing how relaxed, loose, and strong my Ironman Lake Placid teammate looked in the days leading up to the race, I want to replicate his outlook.  He was calm and performed, whereas for New York City, I was wound up and crashed.

Here’s a rough workout schedule for this week.  Let’s Write It Down, Do It Up!

(If you’re new to WIDDIU, here’s how it works:  Every Sunday, I post my workout schedule for the week, and I invite you to do the same.  This way, we can motivate each other and hold ourselves accountable.  Sounds like a win-win, right?)

Monday – a.m. run with Full Throttle Endurance (FTE); a.m. swim

Tuesday – a.m. indoor cycle

Wednesday – a.m. brick workout with FTE—indoor cycle and run off the bike (if my coach doesn’t veto my brick)

Thursday – off/travel to Milwaukee

Friday – easy swim, easy bike, maybe an easy run (at my coach’s discretion)

Saturday – USAT Age Group National Championships

Sunday – off/travel back to NYC

During the week leading up to a race or big event, are you calm, cool, and collected, or bouncing off the wall?

2013 Race Calendar Updates

Happy Hump Day, friends!  It’s an absolutely gorgeous day in New York City today—plenty of sunshine and warm temperatures.  Dare I say spring has finally arrived?  But this favorable weather doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy warm beverages, right?

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Say hello to the city’s best hot chocolate.  I met Jen at The City Bakery this morning for a super-secret brainstorming meeting.  We have an exciting announcement to share tomorrow!

And in unrelated news, I officially added two more races to my calendar:  the Stamford KIC It Triathlon on June 30, another Olympic-distance event.

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And the USAT Age Group National Championships in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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Yikes!  Honestly, it still feels somewhat surreal, but signing up confirmed the facts:  It’s real, it’s happening, and I’m determined to show up on race day prepared to the best of my abilities.  I know I have a lot of work ahead of me, which was further confirmed when our official Race of Truth times were released.  Five groups were formed based on the results of the six-mile time trial in Central Park (group one being the fastest riders, group two the next fastest, etc.), and yours truly will be riding in group four.  You have to start somewhere, right?

When it’s warm outside, do you stick with cold beverages?  Or will you still order warm drinks?

Race of Truth

Good morning, everyone!  TGIF!  Any fun plans for the weekend?  I head to Boston today for the MuckFest MS Mud Run, which takes place tomorrow.  I’m so excited!

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Also, thanks for the positive comments on yesterday’s post.  Now that the USAT Age Group Nationals has a spot on my race calendar, it changes my outlook and training goals this season; as my “A-plus” race, I will train with the intention of peaking in August.  Obviously, I want to do work at my other events, too, but doing well at this race will be my primary goal.  My coach and I exchanged a few emails yesterday, and moving forward, I need to get my act together and get my butt on my bike—and improve my run off the bike too.  My swim seems to be at a good spot (even though it will always be a work in progress), but I can and need to make some serious gains in terms of my bike and run.

And that process started this morning.

Remember Trial By Fire, the swim-run event?  This morning, Full Throttle Endurance invaded Central Park at 5:30 a.m. for another competitive training session–Race of Truth. (Yes, that’s the name.  When I first saw the email, I started laughing hysterically—these names kill me, ha!) Since spring is hopefully here to stay, we’ll have organized team rides outside at least two days a week; during these outings, we’ll ride in groups of eight, and everyone in each pack should be about the same speed.  To determine the pace groups, we had a one-loop (about six miles) time trial in Central Park, and the coaches will use the finishing times to form training groups.  Because everyone rides the same course, we can’t argue with the times—hence the name Race of Truth.

Anyway, my time trial went OK.  My bike computer didn’t work, so I essentially rode the course blind in terms of distance, time, and speed. (The tech fail was totally my fault. Wednesday night, one of my teammates hosted a tire-changing clinic at her apartment, and after plenty of hor d’oeuvres and glasses of Prosecco, we got around to figuring out how to fix flats.  I brought my front tire to her apartment, and in total newbie fashion, I put it back on the wrong way, so my bike computer’s sensor didn’t work obviously.) One of the coaches said anything sub-20 minutes was acceptable, and I think my unofficial time was 19:XX; good starting point with lots of room for improvement.

Breakfast

Hey, it’s not a breakfast sandwich (only because I’m out of spinach)!

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Instant oats, plus protein powder, one mashed banana, and plenty of peanut butter.  Hopefully this keeps me full on the train.

Have a great weekend, friends, and talk to you Sunday!

USAT Age Group National Championships

Hiya, friends—long time no see!  As usual, I’ve had a busy week:  my big-girl internship ended yesterday, which was very bittersweet.  It was a good experience, and I learned a lot about magazine land, plus I had the opportunity to attend cool events and interview some neat people.  I’m definitely ready for a change, though, so I’m excited to pick up more hours at JackRabbit and become truly immersed in the world of running, biking, and triathloning retail.

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Wore these Mizuno Wave Inspire 9’s during my last shift.

Anyway, short and sweet post this afternoon because I need to pack; remember the MuckFest MS Mud Run?  Yep, it’s this weekend!

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Team t-shirts because we’re so legit.

I also need to figure out what apparel will help me trudge through five miles of mud and obstacles the most efficiently.  Capris would probably work, right?  And an old pair of sneakers?  I’m a mud-run newbie, so help a girl out!

Before I face my empty suitcase, I have some news to share:  I received an email from USA Triathlon that I qualified for the 2013 USAT Age Group National Championships!

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What the what?! (Liz Lemon reference)

There are several ways to qualify for this Olympic-distance event, and since I finished second in my age group (AG) at the Nautica South Beach Triathlon (or top 10 percent), I made the cut.  Honestly, I’m still taking it all in.  I’ll be the first to tell you my AG isn’t super competitive (most people start doing triathlons in their late-20s or early-30s), but it’s obviously a great honor, and I couldn’t have done it without my team, coaches, mentors, and support of my family and friends.  So right now, it looks like I’ll be heading to Milwaukee for the Aug. 10 event! (I guess that means I won’t be doing the Cazenovia Triathlon on Aug. 11 anymore.)

Have you done a mud run?  Any tips?  What’s on your agenda this weekend?