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Race Day: The Victory Lap of Training
Two months ago I received the email saying I had qualified for USA Triathlon Age Group Nationals and I knew right away I wanted to go. I had done one Olympic-distance triathlon and qualified at that race... how cool!
Friday morning I flew to Milwaukee to begin a weekend of fun. I really wanted to get a swim practice in to test the waters and boy I'm glad I did! Coming from Florida, where we rarely wear wetsuits and the water doesn't dip below 80 in the summer, that water was chilly. The official temperature was 69 degrees! After the swim I checked in my bike and then was off to my pre-race dinner. My go-to choice is steak, shrimp & sweet potatoes.
Transition was huge. So many bikes and all I could wonder was just how much money was in there. Well I wasn't the only person wondering; someone did a rough estimate and came up with $6.2 million... WOW! Each row was lettered and I was lucky to get the letter "J". Since my name starts with a "J" it was easy to remember. The not-so-easy part was remembering how far down the row my bike was.
The race was delayed 15 minutes because they were waiting for highway clearance for the bike course, so that meant everyone's swim wave was delayed. My 9:40 wave was now 9:55. I had been there since 5:30 so there was a lot of sitting and trying to preserve my legs.
Swim: The main goal was to not panic. I'm a fairly decent swimmer especially in the pool but when I hit open water another part of me comes out. I know I can make the distance but its something about seeing the course with all the buoys and how far you have to swim that freaks me out. Not only did I not panic but I kept a good stoke and pace for myself so I would not get overwhelmed. The 24 & under guys started catching up when I was 400 yards from the finish and I could feel them reaching for my toes, but I remained calmed.
Bike: Everything was going just fine and then my chain falls off. This is not the first time it's happened to me, so I knew how to put it back on quickly. I was actually headed up the interstate bridge so it took some time to get my momentum going. The roads were a little bumpy and there was a nice breeze coming off from Lake Michigan.
Run: This is area where I excel and my favorite part of any triathlon. The beginning of the course went along the shoreline and was beautiful. It was completely flat with lots of volunteers cheering us on. There were aid stations every mile fully stocked with water, Gatorade, ice and GU.
Chrissie Wellington was handing out the medals to some of the finishers and I was lucky enough to receive one from her. She is just as awesome in person as watching her dominate on the television.
I had a goal for this race and it was to finish under 3 hours. Well, I blew that away and finished in 2:47! I'm doing Augusta 70.3 next month and I can't wait. My confidence is high, so Augusta here I come!
Thanks USA Triathlon, the City of Milwaukee and all the volunteers for putting on a fantastic race! I am beyond grateful for this experience and I hope to be back next year.