Diesel: USA Triathlon Age Group Nationals Milwaukee

A few weeks ago I headed off to Milwaukee for USA Triathlon Age Group Nationals.

A week before the race, I suffered a calf strain.  For the first time in a long time (and I can’t remember the last time this happened), I had to stop a workout.  I had chosen an out and back route for my long run and to add insult to my injury, I had to beg for a phone and wait for a ride from KT.  KT not only had to leave her tennis match to pick me up, but also had to deal with me dissolving into tears upon seeing her.  Her response included, “there is no crying when you sit in this car,” which helped me laugh and regroup.

I spent the days before the race doing eccentric work, ART and trying to recover.  I was running again but carefully.  I decided to roll Nationals as I was feeling very fit and wanted to support THE What About Bob in his first trip to the race.

Before the trip I received an email from my coach, Marilyn Chychota McDonald (@chychota), “Lets see if we can find your inner Porsche inside the diesel engine for the weekend.”  Mission noted.

I treated this like any race and showed up ready to go on race morning.  There was a 20 minute unexpected delay as they cleared the roads.  Really glad I had an extra Gu to pop before I hit the water.

The changes in triathlon to increase athlete safety in the water have been fantastic.  I had ample time to warm up in the cold water (double capped and wetsuit legal at 70 degrees). Once we started I went out hard.  I raced every segment of the course.  I breathed every stroke, stayed on the buoy line and finished with a PR.  Despite that effort, I was the 49th woman in my age group out of the water. Seven minutes behind the fastest swimmer and approximately 3-4 minutes behind the overall winner.

The swim course was great.  Easy to see (make sure you use defogger in your goggles for this race) and easy to navigate.  I started inside right and had very little contact.  The only down side is the swim exit ramp was at an extreme angle.  People had to literally pull you out.  A bit more stress on my calf than I would have liked.

The bike was the same level of effort.  I went hard immediately and the course was slightly more challenging than anticipated.  There is long very gradual climb on the first out and back and a more challenging climb on the interstate bridge on the second portion.  Overall, it was a very fast course and a very nice course.  I had 51g of carbs (210 calories) and a scoop of pre-race on the bike.  Next year, I would add a second bottle of water (especially if it was warmer) and take in a gel.  I passed at least 20 women in my age group on the bike.  Lots of marshalls on the course and a very clean race.

One new thing they did was label the bike racks by letters of the alphabet.  Made it very easy to find your bike rather than trying to process the numbers or the number of racks while in a glycogen depleted brain fog.

I was nervous about starting the run but my calf felt okay.  I ran conservatively at 7:40 pace and started passing women in my age group.  I knew I could have a great day if it came together.  Unfortunately, there was a U turn and I felt my calf go with a sharper pain.  I stopped to stretch it a bit and started jogging.  Pain came again and I decided to pull the plug to do not harm for IM Louisville.  I had a good mile “walk of shame” back to the transition area.  No tears this time, just focused on getting ready for my test in two weeks.

The weather was perfect, I was very fit but unable to finish.  It is hard but I am reminded again that I don’t do this for a living.  This is my hobby.  I love it and I am lucky that I have a wonderful life outside of this sport.

In the meantime, I am doing everything possible to recover in time for Louisville.  I am staying positive, hopeful and focused.  Thanks to everyone for their support and concern. I have had a fantastic year and there is always a risk hanging at the pointy end.  A risk I am willing to take.  Fortunately, like a diesel engine, I usually can keep it rolling…

Some other thoughts on this race:

  • Fantastic venue.  Really. 
  • Good race management.
  • Horrible sticker numbers that I can’t remove from my bike/helmet.
  • Athlete tattoos very hard to remove.
  • Very fast course overall!
  • Fun town, lots of restaurants, great beers and no idea why they serve bloody mary’s topped with a buffet of appetizers AND a beer chaser.


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