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Age Group Nationals: Time to Make the Jump

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ab"Congratulations Anthony Bagnetto. You have qualified for the Olympic-Distance race at the 2013 USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships on August 10 in Milwaukee, Wis., after finishing in the top 10 percent in your age group at the 2013 New York City Triathlon."

When you receive an email like this shortly after a PR in one of the best races of your "career," it’s difficult to ignore. It’s even harder to think of excuses NOT to take the challenge, to jump into those waters filled with other accomplished athletes who are at least as good (if not better) than you to see how you stack up.  I've raced a lot since adopting triathlon in 2006 as both my sport and my career as a USA Triathlon coach. 

Over these last several years I have learned a great deal, have completed challenging races (IMWI, Escape from Alcatraz, SOS Tri to name a few) and I've even qualified for this race before. But this is the first time I have truly felt prepared and fast enough to stand on the start line and have a fighting chance to compete against the very best age-groupers in the country. Frankly, I can't wait – and with just a few days left until race day, luckily I don't have to. 

Thankfully, this year my focus is only on shorter distances, my forte, so Age Group Nationals fits well into my race schedule.  Racing at the Olympic-distance or shorter means lots of speed training around the Central Park Reservoir cinder track, force workouts and hill repeats around the CP loop and lots of pulling and sprinting in the pool. 

I came from a swimming background (much to my chagrin as I still watch people pass me on the run like gazelles) in high school and college, but with the exception of a few local sprint triathlons I did back in the mid-90's, I didn't bike or run much beyond cross training, commuting or recreation. When I entered the 2006 NYC Triathlon on a whim and directly followed it up with my first 70.3 in Montauk, Long Island (not the smartest decision), I knew my life was changed.  Race after race I began to master the various equipment changes, the transitions and the disciplines themselves. I worked constantly on my weakness (running) while building my bike and swim skills. Things began clicking and my times started dropping.

abAs I fell more in love with the sport, the community and the competition, I knew it was time to expand my fitness business as a personal trainer in NYC and focus my expertise. With the solid and quickly growing triathlon community in NYC, coaching was the most exciting and logical choice. Racing is just the perk of the job! 

Now, I'm not simply racing for myself. I'm racing to show my clients this can be done. You can go from a back or mid-pack athlete and through hard work, passion and a never-ending quest for knowledge, you can race with the best of them in the hardest, most rewarding sport. I'm not going alone either. Two excellent athletes and friends of mine from NYC, Gregg Gordon and John Neiers also qualified and agreed to join me for an epic road trip. We plan on sharing the driving load all the way to Milwaukee; 15 hours in one day to land on Thursday night. Race rigs on the roof, carbs on the road and a growing sense of excitement and anticipation for what will surely be a memorable race. 

Anthony Bagnetto is a New York City-based USA Triathlon Level 1 Certified Coach, ACE Certified Personal Trainer, indoor cycling instructor and strength coach.  He graduated from the University of Rochester with a BA in English and Psychology, established Anthony Bagnetto Fitness in 2001 and recently launched myracerecap.com, a website and social platform dedicated to highlighting the race experiences of athletes.  Learn more about Anthony at anthonybagnettofitness.com and on Twitter @anthonybagnetto.

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