Yesterday I raced in the USAT National Sprint Championship in Milwaukee. It rained most of the night but the weather was perfect by the time the race started: cloudy and cool. I was ranked 17th and there were several All-Americans competing, but I thought that if I executed the plan that my coach, Heather Collins of Monarch Fitness Coaching developed I had a shot of finishing in the top 10 and making the podium (USAT has a really big podium).
Swimming has always been my weak link, but over the years I have gradually improved. My primary objective in the swim leg was to stay on course and stay close. There were fifty-two of us in the wave and I managed to stay with the crowd. Got bumped a few times, but no damage. I was 10th coming out of the water.
Transitions in triathlons are critical. In my last race in Tuscaloosa, I went into the second transition in 2nd place and left transition in 4th place. I didn’t want that to happen again. The day before the race, when I racked my bike I walked through several times the path I had to take to come out of the water and get to my bike. It’s a big transition area with over a thousand bikes so it is important to know exactly where your bike is. I was Row E, three racks in. When I got out of the water I ran hard for the 200 yards to the transition area. I passed three other swimmers on the way to the bikes. I had a good transition.
The bike course was mostly flat and only 12.7 miles. My goal was to really hit the bike hard. I wanted to average over 20 mph. The only “hill” on the course was an interstate highway bridge. I stayed in aero for the entire race, which is a major improvement for me – as in past years I haven’t done that. I covered the bike course at a 20.4 mph pace.
When I went out on the run course I was in 11th place. About half way through the 5K segment I passed another runner in my age group. Because of problems with my knee stemming from my last race (“overuse”) we had decided I needed to take off time from running. So, I didn’t run in May or June and then in July I started doing easy jogs. I didn’t do any speed work and that helped my knee to recover, but I knew that I would not have a fast run. I finished at a pace of 8:26.
I wasn’t sure where I had finished, but Suzanne had been tracking me on her phone and she told me I was 10th. It was a great feeling. When I started racing, I had a goal to finish in the top 10 for my age group in the Triathlon National Championship. The closest I had come before this year was 18th. It was a real thrill to finally achieve that goal and get to participate in the Awards Ceremony.