The car was loaded with two bikes, two wetsuits, and a ton of other gear (as both of us would be racing) when my fiance and I drove to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to participate in the 2014 Age Group National Championships on August 9, 2014.
My distance was the Olympic Distance (1500 meter swim, 40k bike, and 10k run) while Jan was competing in the Sprint distance(750 meter swim, 20k bike, and 5k run) the following day.
Thursday, August 7th- Arrived in Milwaukee
The location of our hotel could not have been more perfect. It was a half-mile away from the race start. Being so close to the race site was very helpful, as we went back and forth several times to set up bikes, pick up our packages, and to just enjoy the excitement of the event.
Friday, August 8th
For 2 hours, all the participants were allowed to swim part of the swim course,to help familiarize ourselves with the water condition, the course, as well as the transition paths from swim to bike to run. Later in the afternoon, I was able to rack my bike (putting it in a designated space, marked with my race number). At the practice swim we met up with our friends from Team Z also here to compete or some simply came to cheer us on.
The air was electric with excitement and people from all over the nation started arriving. I had to pre-qualify for the Championships in another race, just like my fellow competitors. Judging by how fit and fierce everybody looked, this was going to be a competitive race.
Saturday, August 9th- Race Day
I arrived at the race site 2 hours prior to my starting time. This time I had enough time to eat, digest, and set up my race gear. Bringing my own nutrition worked well, and nothing was missing from my gear this time either!
The Swim Start
At 8:28 A.M. the horn went off,199 women ages 50-54 started the swim, and I was one of them. I started my swim slowly, I had heard that swimming in the middle of the pack was hard, and it was. I worked my way around the buoys slowly, but consistently. I felt very comfortable and heard my swim coach Greg Nelson's advice in my head: reach further with every stroke. During the swim I got confused and had to ask a lifeguard where the finish was, since I could not make it out from the water.
The exit ramp was slippery, but the race volunteers were there to give a hand and pull us up. The exit path was unusually long, but my legs were not wobbly and I ran to my bike.
I finished my swim in 41:46 minutes.
The Bike Start
My bike was close to the “swim in,” so it was easy to find among the 3,000 bikes waiting for their riders. Feeling good, but thirsty, I now had plenty of time to re-hydrate and ride the flat 40k course. The course took us along the lake shore in Milwaukee and then later into the bordering neighborhoods. My bike pace was not too challenging, as I wanted to make sure I had enough energy left in my legs for the run. Looking around I thought: “Oh boy, everyone is fast!” To my dismay, I had forgotten one Gu and that left me with only water/Gatorade to drink.
Note to self:Before the next race I have to remember to tape one or two Gus onto my handlebar.
I finished the ride confident and strong in 1:29:48 hour.
The Run Start
By now the temperature had risen from 65 to 76 degrees and the run was going to be hot. The plan was to run the entire 10k course, but after the first water stop I changed my plan and walked the water stops. This allowed me to put ice under my hat to keep cool and grab a cup of water and Gatorade to hydrate at each water stop. Then I noticed that my Gu had fallen out of my pocket. This meant I had to rely on what the water stops provided.
Note to self: Put my Gu in my number belt and it will be there when I need it.
Despite the heat, the adjusted strategy, and the lack of Gu, I finished with a strong run in 53:33 minutes.
Overall, I finished in 3:12:27 hours and placed 149th in my age group. I was very happy with the result and honored to race with such a professional field of athletes.
I still have a lot to learn when it comes to competing in triathlons. I am working on my swimming and biking skills. I also have to remember to come to the races extra prepared, so when the elements or the Gu-gods are against me, I can still have a successful race.