On The Hunt For Burlington
Sunday, May 15th, 2011
This year’s A Number One goal was to get myself to Age Group Nationals in Vermont. As I built my race schedule, I decided May was going be the month to earn my qualifier so I can get it out of the way and focus on ramping up my training through June and July.
I had hopes of qualifying last wekend at the New England season opener, but since I couldn’t even sleep through the night without coughing up goobers constantly, that obviously didn’t happen. Twelve days of sickness and zero working out put a cramp in those plans. The good news is that I recovered JUST in time for a replacement race. I’ve never done a race before with an AG placing goal, and it was really freaking me out in the days leading up to the race. I was all manic and checking the racer list to see how many people were in my age group, see if there were any speedy names I recognized, or make guesses on if they were random newbies or super fast MIT grad students or something. NOT fun. Even Sam noticed that I was getting testy and apparently I snapped at her a few times. (Sorry babe.)
I realized that mess wasn’t healthy, so I just focused on what I could control. Myself. I squeezed in quick check up spin on Saturday, stretched out the legs and realized I was good to go.
Obviously with almost two weeks of bed rest, I’m not exactly in peak condition, but I figured if I had another opportunity at qualifying, I might as well jump on it. I detached my tri bike from the trainer first time all year, loaded up the car and headed out to the race start.
I even noticed myself roaming around transition, scoping out really fit looking 2o-something guys and trying to size them up. I was freaking out. It was NOT awesome. I had to stop myself and just focus on my own game plan.
I knew that the race would need some seriously deep diggin’ so I loaded up on some First Endurance Pre-Race and about 200 calories of EFS Liquid Shot while I waited for the swim to start.
The sprint was a pool swim with a staggered start, with each swimmer going off 20 seconds after one another. Great for avoiding a crazy violent swim start, but it makes for a really difficult race in terms of racing and hunting down the competition. In the end, I just had to do my own race and let the beans fall where they may.
The swim: Super short 250 yards. I am not used to swimming that hard for that short. It was pretty awkward. I could have definitely gone faster, but oh well. It would have only saved me a few seconds anyway… I managed a 1:36 pace. Not spectacular, but good enough to get things started.
The bike: I had a good transition and immediately started hammering. I was hoping that all the time I spent on my CycleOps JetFluid Pro this offseason paid off and that my bike fitness was going to stay with me through the sickness. Thankfully, I was right. Not my peak performance, but I was able to hunt down plenty of people ahead of me without too much trouble and gain a few extra places. The course was really hilly and windy, but I was able to lay the hurt on some people and eventually caught up to Senator Scott Brown who started a few minutes ahead of me. (Thankfully he was wearing more clothes than this picture, but I did think doing a sprint tri in a sleeveless ankle-length swimskin was an interesting choice.) In the end, I knocked out an average of 19.92 mph. Not too shabby for just coming off a nasty cold, eh?
The Run: I laced up my my brand new Avia Bolts and was on my way. I love how comfortable they are to slip on without socks, tie really fast and be out of T2 in a hurry.
But the run is where I knew that the hurtin’ would come. And unfortunately it was on my end, not on the competition’s side. My run fitness definitely suffered a lot more than my bike fitness during my workout hiatus, but I kept on pushing. Scott was teasing me, staying JUST out of reach for the first mile or so until I finally reeled him in as he started complaining about his hamstring. I made a friendly joke as I passed, and tried desperately to leave him in my dust, but I know he was hot on my tail. One guy in my AG passed me, but he was WELL above my pace and I knew I couldn’t even hope to stay with him. I just hoped that I was now racing for second or third place, and not fourth. My legs were killin me, but I could feel the Pre Race pushing myself forward, so I went with it. I was able to hold off Scottie and held up a 7:28 pace.
I was nice and waited past the finish line for Scott and took the opportunity to congratulate him and shake his hand as he came through the chute.
I made some friends in the transition area as I waited for the rest of the competitors to roll in and tried not to freak out about who else was out there and how I did. I just tried to ignore it and hope for the best. I put it a solid effort, there was nothing else to do now.
Eventually the results were posted and I managed to knock out third place in my age group. Good enough for earning a place in Age Group Nationals! Burlington, here I come baby.
And this one is for the ladies…