If at First You Don't Succeed. USA Triathlon National Championship Weekend Race Report

 Pre Race:  I was really looking forward to the weekend and a shot to see how much I improved over last year.  I have been having a really good season to date, and I wanted to see where I stood against the best triathletes in the country.  One thing unique about this years championship is that the world championship race it qualifies you for is held on the exact same course that the Olympic Triathlon was held on earlier this year.  That alone is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I knew it would bring out more talent than usual. I really enjoyed Burlington last year and I was happy to be going back.  I was also excited to see my old Endurance Films teammates who I hadn't seen since last year and my new teammates who I would be meeting for the first time.

Thursday:  Erica and I drove the 300 miles from CT to Burlington an arrived somewhere around 1pm.  After checking in we headed down to north beach to check out the water and see what the temp would be like after a warm year. After a quick 20 minute swim we decided to call it a day and head back to the hotel to register.

North Beach Park

After registering we met up with Eric & Danny at the EF team booth and got to catch up with them which is always good.  Before we knew it  it was dinner time! We ended up grabbing dinner with Casey and it was nice to catch up with an old teammate after a year!

Friday:

I woke up and did some race pickup intervals on the treadmill and was surprised at how good I felt.  I had not felt that comfortable running in quite some time and was excited to get the race going.  After a few laps around the parking lot on my bike we headed back to North Beach for my final swim prep workout.  Today I decided to test out my new Aquasphere swim-skin since the water felt a little warm on Thursday and I wasn't sure it would be a wetsuit legal swim.  Since I didn't want to be putting it on for the first time on race day, a test was mandatory!  The water was extremely choppy and the waves made it hard to swim, but I was extremely comfortable in my new suit.  I couldn't have been happier with the way it performed, I barely even knew I had it on!   I will definitely be wearing this in the future on any borderline legal wet suit swims. Thanks Aquasphere!  The waves did take a toll on me but I now felt I would be prepared for anything come race day!

Post Swim in my Aquasphere

speed-suit

After my workouts it was time for the team meet and greet at the expo.  It was great catching up with everyone after following them all year, and good to feel the energy at the race expo.  I was ready to go, and hoping for a smooth day.

Team bonding

After the team it was time to go rack the bike and grab my usual pre-race pizza dinner

Racked and Ready to roll!

Saturday Morning: Race day #1

Warm-upI started off my day like I normally do but I was forced to do an earlier warm-up than normal since the transition area closed at 7:30 and I wasn't going off until at least 8:48. I did my normal 20 min run with a few pickups.  I was happy to come off it feeling nice and fresh and ready to pounce.

Garmin Info

Swim: .9  (.94 GPS Measured) 23:28  (2011 26:25)

When I saw how choppy the water was I was glad I swam the morning before.  It looked calm compared to what I had dealt with previously, yet everyone I spoke to seemed to be less than thrilled about the conditions.  I on the other hand was happy since I knew it put me at an advantage. I started way off to the right and had minimal contact when the gun went off.  A few minutes after rounding the first buoy I realized I was swimming off course which was eventually corrected you can see on the link below I was swimming a little too far right!  The swim for me was pretty uneventful, I started off slow, and built into it passing people as I picked up my speed.  I was probably a little too comfortable, but next time I will push it a little harder!

Swim Info

T1: 2:00 (2011 1:31)

With more athletes comes a bigger transition area, thats really the only thing I can attribute the extra :30 to this year.

Heading out on the bike!

Bike 24.9 mi(24.5 mi GPS)   1:03:29 /23.2 MPH 277 watts Average (291 normalized)

(2011 1:08:24 21.8 mph)  

Last year I came into this race a little under-prepared for the amount of competition that showed up and I felt like everyone was passing me.  This year I made a pact to myself that I wasn't going to allow anyone to pass me once I got on to the bike leg.  I worked hard on my cycling over the past year and I was ready to show it off.  Once I got out of the few tuns on the way out of the park I started to let it rip.  I started to pass a  bunch of athletes, and my confidence grew with every pass.  For the first 5 miles or so every once in awhile someone would pass me and I would drop back, but shortly after push myself to regain my lead and usually it would be the last I saw of that athlete. Once everyone settled into a rythym there was one or two guys that I kept going back and forth with, but we were all going a decent speed, generally they would pass me on the upills, and I would make the pass on the descents and the flats.

I remembered last year when I hit the 10 mile mark I was barely going 20mph, but the trip back was sweet, so when I saw I had hit the 10 mile mark at 22.7mph I thought for sure I was going to have a new bike personal best, but that was before I felt the headwind that we had to ride back in!  Even with the strong winds I continued to pick off riders one by one.  The winds were quite strong all morning and I for once was glad to be on the heavier side on some of the descents.  Coming back on the 189 highway stretch I was holding on for life as I was getting blown all over the place and still trying to pass.  Once off the highway I was able to hold my bike a little more steady and conserve my energy for the run.   I continued to pass riders all the way into T2!

SplitTimeDistanceAvg SpeedSummary1:03:29.824.5023.2114:21.45.0020.9212:18.05.0024.4312:36.75.0023.8413:03.35.0023.0511:10.54.5024.2

Garmin Data

Heading into T2 with a head of steam!

T2 1:03 (2011 1:00)

Once I got back to transition I racked my bike and took one final sip from my bottle and headed out.

Heading Out of T2 on a mission!

Run 6.2 Mi (6.08 GPS) 40:05 /6:35 mi  (2011 42:24/6:51 mi)

Once I exited transition I started to prepare myself for the massive climb that greets us before we are able to get our legs under us.  100 ft climb on depot street.  I knew that after the first mile or so the rest of the course was flat to downhill so I paced myself up the hill before picking the pace back up on the other side.  Once the hill was cleared I kept an even pace for the rest of the .  While no one had passed me on the bike, the two guys that I was riding with both passed me climbing depot street and I would never see them again.  I was only passed 2 more times along the course, but unfortunately one of them was in my age group, so I knew that there was now at 3 guys in front of me in my age group and I knew there would be more than that.  Besides the 3 or 4 guys that passed me on the run I felt I was running by everyone else.  It's really awesome to get the shout outs for the fans of the Endurance Films team as I was passing people.  I felt strong the entire way and was definitely leaving it all out there on the course.   I pushed through to the final mile and headed to the finish where I immediately collapsed and ended up on the floor.  After a brief stint in the med tent with ice and shade so I could cool down I headed out to find Erica and see where I stood.

Eye on the prize!!

Garmin Data

Total: 2:10:36  (2011 2:19:45)

To get to London next year I needed to be top 18, and spots would roll-down to 25th if the top 18 did not want them.  As I headed to the results booth to grab my ticket and find out my fate.  I had my best Olympic distance race of my triathlon career exactly when I needed it and I had nailed my race execution.  So when I was handed my ticket with my results I was a little bummed to see I was 30th in my age group even after shaving off 9 minutes from last years time.  However I knew I still had a shot as per ITU rules anyone who turns 35 next year needs to race in the 35-39 group, and anyone who was 29 and turning 30 next year needed to race in the 30-34 so that was where you would qualify based on time.  Fortunately for me a few people that were faster aged up but I ended up being ....26th.   26th by :15 seconds.... Surely I could have found :15 seconds somewhere on the course, I was deflated because I missed by such a small margin.  However taking a closer look one of the athletes that finished in front of me was not a US citizen, therefore they could not represent the USA. So now instead of missing by :15, I made it by :03!!!! So now I knew I was on the rolldown list, but I still had some work on Sunday to do in case that doesnt pan out.

Look closely, there's only 1 not from the US on the sheet!

Sporting Compression Socks at the Awards Ceremony gearing up for Day 2

We met up with the team for the awards ceremony and then headed out for dinner.  I decided that if I had such a good race after eating the dinner I had on Friday I wasn't going to change anything.  We headed back to American Flatbread and I ate myself another pre race pizza!

Sprint Nationals: Race Day 2!

Warmup: Once again I was forced to do my warm-up early since the transition area was closing at 7:30 and I wasn't going off until at least 8:18.  I ran the same exact path that I had on Saturday, it worked well for me so I figured I would stay with the theme of keeping everything the same.  It definitely took me a while longer before my legs came around and I wasn't feeling super given the effort I put out the day before, but I had a feeling I would eventually come around.

Garmin Data

Swim: .5 mile (.47 GPS measured) 12:12  25:56/mi pace

When we were waiting to go on the dock I was feeling a little flat.  The day before I was completely energized and ready to go, and now I was wondering where I was going to get my energy from.  This time I also had the 25-29 athletes in my group so I wasn't sure where I stood coming out of the water.  I asked Erica to count for me so I knew how many I had to pass on the bike, since I knew I was likely going to be behind after the swim.  The gun went off and I started off to the right just like on Saturday.   I felt a little sluggish but I stayed with the pack since the effort required was less than it would be on my own and I was behind them so there was no wasting energy jockeying for position.  After the second buoy I could start to get into a rythym and I started passing people, I had another pretty uneventful swim, passing people all the way to the dock, including people from 2 waves ahead of me.  I knew I lost the front pack at some point, but I was surprised to have Erica tell me 25 yellow caps had exited before me.  I thought for sure it was only 15 at the most!

Garmin Data

T1: 1:56 

I knew the lay of the land from the day before, but it only saved me about 10 seconds.  Since I didnt know how many of the 25 out of the water before me were in my age group I had 25 people to hunt down.

Bike: 12.45mi(11.7 GPS measured) 29:28 293 watts average power/ 309 normalized

I was in a hurry coming out of T1 so I hit my watch a little late which is probably where the 30 second discrepancy from my watch and the results sheet stand.  I didnt let anyone pass me on Saturday and I sure wasn't going to let anyone pass me in this race either!  After the initial few turns out of the park I reeled the one guy I let go by me back in, and went on a mission.  I wanted to see what I could get out of myself.  My bike is definitely my strongest leg of the 3 and I was determined to take advantage.  I was pushing myself hard, but I was passing people, lots of people,  I was starting to get into my groove that escaped me before and during the swim, I wasn't even searching out people's calves to see how old they were I was just on a mission.  It went from catching the 25 guys that beat me out of the water, to catch everyone!  If at  any point I felt that my legs weren't burning I started to yell at myself that I wasn't going hard enough!  Once I hit the first turn around section on HWY 127 I saw Eric sitting there on a moto with a camera it was great to see him and get the shout out.  Next thing I know I hear a moto in close proximity so I'm thinking its the referee and they will just drive by since I was riding completely legally, but after a minute I turn and see its Eric and he has the camera on me!  I was getting filmed!  I wasn't exactly feeling ready for prime-time with snot hanging down my face and pushing myself to the max, but it was a great booster.  There is no way I was going to slack while I was on camera, so I did what any normal person would do, I rode harder!  Before I knew it I was making the climb back to the exit ramp of 127 and getting ready for the final descent into waterfront park. I came into t2 with a 19th overall bike split at nationals, thats just crazy! My legs and lungs were burning, but I was still on a mission and I had a 5k left to run.

Tearing up the Sprint Bike Course!

Garmin Data

T2: 1:00

Almost exactly that same as Saturday, in & out!

Run: 3.1 (3.06 GPS measured) 19:40 6:25/Mi   

I came out of T2 and new I had to run up Depot street one last time.  I also knew that once I was up the hill I would be able to let loose for the rest of the run.  I entered the run course not having had anyone pass me since the swim and I was feeling great.  The run was more of the same for me, passing plenty of people in the earlier waves and just getting into my groove up the hill.   Once at the top I noticed there was someone in my age group in front of me, I started to make a move to pass and eventually I did right around the one mile mark with no response.  After that I really started to feel good as I was still passing a ton of people.  I got a few shout outs from fans of the Endurance Films team out on the course and that pushed me even more.  I ran through the campground and back down to the path where the final stretch was with ease.  My pace had dropped from a 7 min mile down to a 6 min and I had one more to go.  I grabbed a cup of water to dump over my head at the aid station and tried to maintain my pace for the final mile.  I looked down at my watch and I was super stoked to be coming close to the finish with the ability to meet my time goal of 1:05 that I was looking for.  As I ran by the team tent I couldnt have been feeling any better because since 1:05 won the race last year I was almost positive I had qualified to go race in London for sure. I had just about entered the finish chute ecstatic.  Then I heard it.... footsteps...barreling down chute with fury! I looked over my shoulder and it was the guy who I had passed at mile 1, coming back for revenge.  Before I knew it he had squeezed in front of me, but I wasn't going to let that happen,  I surged ahead reclaiming my lead if only for a second, back and forth this went for what felt like an eternity and all was silent.  Neither one of us knew what place we were racing for, but we also weren't giving each-other an inch. We continued to battle until our pace climbed to a 4:45 mile pace and we crossed the finish line at virtually the same time in a photo finish.  Once again I ended up on the floor of the finish line after giving it my all.  I've never had to sprint to the line like that in a race, and wow does it hurt after 2 days of racing!

Finish Line Pics

Garmin Data

Post Race:I was able to see that I ended up top 10 in my age group and qualified for Team USA London 2013 for sure!  At the moment I'm still not sure if I'm racing the Olympic or sprint as I am waiting on the roll-down, but one thing is guaranteed  I will be on the start line in Hyde park 2013 representing the USA!  It will be a great way to spend my 32nd birthday! The speed that showed up at the sprint this year was unbelievable, in 2011 I would have won the overall with my time and this year I wasn't even top 50! I'm proud to be able to pull it off even if I did have to do it on day 2.  I even got interviewed by the local paper! Thanks to my sponsors Endurance Films & Pacific Swim Bike Run it's been a great season and I wouldn't be able to have done it without your support!  Next up its the Pumpkinman sprint and half Iron on Sept 8-9 in Maine!