2003 USAT Age Group National Championships Race Report

or, How to Race an Olympic Distance Triathlon on Minimal Training

I have to be honest; I was not excited about driving to Shreveport, Louisiana to race in the age group national championships. Marty and I had been waffling back and forth for several weeks on whether we wanted to go or not. I was definitely on the ‘not going’ side, but I pretty much kept my trap shut because I knew Marty had an excellent chance of placing very well. Me on the other hand, well, I knew was quite under-trained (my own fault) and lacked the confidence you need to race on the national scene.

The decision was made. “We’re going!” Marty barked. I adjusted my attitude and decided to make sure I had a good time.

So off we went on Thursday, October 2 at 3:00 pm. Marty began driving, I began daydreaming, and all of a sudden we were headed east on I-4 toward Daytona Beach. Not exactly the way to Shreveport! We righted ourselves and drove the rest of the day and finally stopped in Mobile, Alabama at 10:00 pm central time.

The next day we finally made it Shreveport – and then we spent the next couple of hours getting lost all over the city. Once we found everything, we racked our bikes and then grabbed some pre-race pizza. (Incidentally, two of Marty’s best races this year have come after eating pizza the night before. I think he is on to something…). My roommate from Auburn and her fiancé joined us for dinner, as well as my roommate from UCF and her friend. They all live close to Shreveport, and it was nice to see them all and take my mind off the race.

Race Morning!

Up at 5:00 am and in the car by 5:30. My wave wasn’t to start until 8:27, and Marty was 14 minutes later, so we meandered to transition to set up our stuff at around 6:20. Everyone had to be out of transition by 6:45 as the first wave was scheduled to start at 7:00.

I started my normal routine of getting my gear set in transition. I pumped my tires, laid out my towel with my shoes and number belt, got my bottles together, “POW!” Someone’s tire blew and I was afraid to look at my bike. “Ooh, that sucks!” people unanimously agreed. I finally looked at my bike and felt my front tire. Sure enough, that unlucky person you always feel sorry for in transition was me. I looked at my watch and it was 6:32. Right about that time, I could feel the tears in my eyes as panic started to set in. I am not exactly very speedy at changing a tube and time was running out. So I did what any normal incompetent girl would do – I ran to a man, :-) No, not Marty, (I’m sure he would have been less than thrilled to change my tube right about that time, but luckily he had already escaped to the car) I ran to the bike mechanics and with all the panic-stricken-tri-geekiness I could muster, I asked if they could do it for me. My savior changed it in about 1 minute and even gave me an extra spare. I ran back to my spot and exited transition in just the nick of time.

Finally, after many outdoor bathroom runs, I entered the disgusting lake. I sunk immediately to my knees in muck and futilely tried to warm up in the minutes before my wave would start. The swim was pretty uneventful except it took me quite awhile to get going. I didn’t start feeling normal until after about 600 yards. Then I started feeling my groove and before I knew it, I was exiting the water. Onto the bike and feeling good. So why are all these people passing me?? Oh yeah, maybe that’s because I haven’t exactly been consistent on the bike the past couple of months. My problem is that I don’t like riding by myself outside because I’m scared of getting hit by a car, or getting stranded, or getting attacked by a pack of rabid dogs…you get the picture. So unless I get with someone on the weekend (which I hardly do since we race practically every weekend!), my outdoor training has been limited to the sprint races. So what do I expect anyways, to bust out with an incredible bike split when I ride my trainer twice a week? Marty is too fast for me to ride with so really, its all his fault anyways!

About halfway through the bike a blur goes whizzing by me at warp speed and I hear a quiet, “Hi babe,” as the sound displaces through air. All right, Marty!

Finally the bike is over and I feel like I must be in last place in my age group. So many people passed me! – as it turns out, only 4 girls in my age group passed me but for some reason your mind works in all the wrong ways and 4 was somehow multiplied by 10 during the race.

Toward the end of the bike I had been pumping myself up for the run, my so-called strength. I call it my so-called because I haven’t been so swift in most of the other Olympic Distance races I had done (minus Wildflower). In fact, in one of my races, I had been reduced to walking a great deal of it, so I definitely felt that I had a mental block with the 10K at the end. I was determined to finish the race feeling strong and I was going to make sure my mental side was positive. I had purposely held back a bit on the bike so I could stay tough on the run. Since I mostly do sprint tri’s, my run mileage is relatively low. I always say I can fake a 5K if I have to, but throw me in a 10K and it’s a whole different story.

Luckily, I felt really good when I left T2. The weather was oh-so-beautiful for us Florida folks used to dealing with 95-degree heat. I stayed relax the whole way and clicked off even mile splits for a final time of 41:24. Dang, I felt too good, I could’ve gone faster! Are triathletes ever happy?

I ended up with an overall time of 2:20:45 and 10th in my age group (which apparently squeeked me in for All-American status). I guess I’m kind of indifferent with my race, I thought it went as well as it could have considering my minimal training, but I know with a little more consistency and focus I would’ve placed higher. All in all, it was a good day, and I’m glad we ended up going out there.

Now go ask Marty how he tortured me the last 4 hours of the drive home and why I am the most tolerant and forgiving girl he could ever get!