Tuesday, May 8th, 2012
My first shot at earning another spot at the Age Group Nationals starting line.
5:30am came early. I was up, out the door and on my way to the start line with fellow Rev3 teammate, Julia, in tow. While I tried not to put too much pressure on this race, it had the potential of completely changing my race schedule for the year. I could either lock down a qualifying slot at one of the first local triathlons of the season, or I could scramble to try to enter race after race for the next 2 months in hopes that I can grab it somewhere else.
To avoid getting too strung out, I tried to focus on it just as a fitness test, with an added bonus of a potential nationals slot if fate decided to be nice to me.
Sprint races are great because they are simple and fast, but you have ZERO time to settle into a comfortable pace and take a breather. If you aren’t digging deep and making it hurt at any moment, you are losing seconds. Especially since the super short course favored the swim (400 yard swim, 7 mile bike, 2.3 mile run) I knew I’d have an uphill battle since it is still my weakest of the three.
A time trial pool start, zig zagging and pushing off under lane lines is a mess. There is no easy way to get 300 people through 400 yards of swimming in a pool. It just won’t happen. I may have done a little bit of wishful thinking when I entered my seed time, but I didn’t cause a traffic jam or end up swimming over people, so I’ll take it. 400 is an odd distance. Too long to all out sprint till you are blue in the face, but not quite an endurance swim.
I exited in 6:20 (1:35/100 yards). Not awful, but less than awesome. It was actually a 1 second per 100 slower pace than my 1650. Um, WTH?! Did zig zagging under lane lines slow me down that much? Yikes.
Out of the pool – shoe, shoe, glasses, helmet. GO! I was in the saddle and pushed as hard as I could. If I started to feel comfortable, I went harder. I was worried that it would be a mess of traffic because of all the fast high school swimmers who were seeded in front of me, but were riding mountain bikes, but the course was relatively clear. I cheered on a few of the little fishie kids as I passed and kept craking along.
Two loops for 7.2 miles and I was back in transition in 20:42. That averages out to 20.8 mph, but since the timing mats include T1 and T2, it was closer to 22 mph. Solid. Not spectacular, but right on with my expectations.
While the bike definitely hurt, the run is where I really started to feel it. 27 minutes of hard work behind me and my throat was dry, my legs were getting heavier by the step and my heart was about to explode in my chest. Because of the time trial start, people were still starting the swim as I was heading out on the run, which made it all really quiet and hard to pace off of anyone else. I followed the same philosophy as the bike. If I felt like I had more to give, I gave it. Never comfortable, always searching for more.
I gathered enough of a breath to cheer on some more people I passed along the way, but brought home a solid 7:18 pace. Not fast enough to win any olympic medals, but fast enough for me. Right about where I thought I’d be.
Final time – 43:51
pretty much collapsed after the finish because my legs couldn’t hold me up anymore. But the funny thing about sprints is that you want to die when you finish, but you can only do so much damage to your body in 44 minutes. An hour later, I was out running along the course, cheering people on and feeling like a champ.
Because of the time trial start, we had to wait a LONG time for the results. And apparently the race director forgot how to use the timing machine, but the race management company is known for being a slightly disorganized, so you can’t really get too mad about it. About 2.5 hours later (yes, no joke. Three times longer than my actual race) I got called up onto the podium! I haven’t placed top 3 in my AG a ton of times before, but was the first time there was a legit podium for me to stand on. Sorta cool little moment. Apparently the first place guy didn’t hang around for the awards. And it turns out the 3rd place guy was just 10 seconds behind me. I’m glad I didn’t dog it into the finish line!
The Bad News:
The first place guy in my AG was WAY faster than me and placed 4th overall. I wasn’t upset about getting beat by him. He was out of my league. But after reviewing the results, there were only 8 people were in my age group. Eight out of 423 total athletes?! Goddamit!
So the short story is that because of USAT’s qualification criteria, only the top guy in my age group qualifies. I’d need to place 2nd in an AG of at least 15 starters to get in. Craptastic.
Oh well. Onward and upward. Rev3 Quassy is the next battlefield/qualifying opportunity. It will be require a HUGE effort there to qualify since some serious guys always show up, but it isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
I didn’t earn my spot to race in Vermont, but I did get a solid fitness test in, brought home some hardware, and hung out with some cool peeps from my local tri team. Not a bad day. I’ll take it.