I qualified for the USA Triathlon Nationals about a year ago by placing 1st in my age group at a local sprint. I haven’t raced many Olympic distance triathlons…I prefer sprints for going fast and now the endurance challenge of 70.3’s…however since this was a national championship race and I qualified to race the Olympic, I was stoked for this opportunity. It was only my third Olympic distance race.
The top athletes around the country compete at Nationals for a chance to make Team USA and compete at ITU Worlds. I had no expectations of qualifying for Worlds, but I did have some personal goals: (1) PR the Olympic distance ✔️ (2) PR the swim ✔️ (3) PR the bike (didn’t happen) (4) PR the run (didn’t happen, but close) (5) sub 3 hours (6) don’t come in last ✔️ 3 out of 6 goals achieved isn’t bad. Although I knew the competition would be stiff, I was in no way prepared for just how fast these ladies would be!
I flew in on Thursday and met up with two of my Team Betty teammates, Jennifer and Jill at the airport. Jill drove in so was playing chauffeur all weekend…she’s awesome! We headed to the Betty House shared by 6 of my teammates for the weekend. I had only met one of them previously, but they were all so amazing and I felt instantly at home.
Friday we checked in, picked up my bike from TriBike Transport and did a little shake out swim / run. There was some talk leading up to the race that the lake temps were dropping, but by race day the lake temps were still 80, so any hopes for a wetsuit legal swim were dashed. Glad I was able to get a practice swim in the lake. It felt like bath water and took away any nerves I had about my first non wetsuit swim.
Saturday morning I woke up at 4:00am and had my usual pre-race peanut butter toast with banana. We got to transition right when it opened at 5:00am. I was in wave #2 which went off at about 7:37 after a 30 minute delay to the start of the race.
The swim start was off a dock with all the girls in my wave lined up in a row in the water holding onto the dock. It was the first time I did this kind of start and it wasn’t bad. I didn’t get kicked or punched like I usually do in a beach running start and there were over 100 girls in my AG. It felt like a REALLY long swim. A few of my teammates mentioned they thought the course seemed longer as well. It was a pretty uneventful swim. I felt like I was swimming really slow, but managed to take 6 minutes off the time of my last Oly swim a few months ago without the buoyancy of a wetsuit and salt water.
Swim Time: 40:50
T1 was pretty long. A guy yelled at me I when I was running out with my bike that I still had my swimskin on. Oops 🙊 Lost too much time taking it off and running back to leave it by my rack.
Once I was on the bike I felt like I was flying, hitting 22+ mph no problem until I got to the hill I was warned about on Mile 7. I slowed dramatically. There was a sign that said “Welcome to the Nebraska alps.” Haha. It wasn’t the largest hill I’ve encountered in a race, but tougher than I was anticipating. Once I got over it my pace was right back up, but that didn’t last long. After the turnaround we were hit with strong headwinds. I fought to hold a 16-17mph pace and my legs were screaming the whole 12 miles back. I ended up with a 17.2mph avg which was super disappointing considering I felt so strong in my training on the bike going into this race having raced a sprint 2 weeks prior with a much faster avg. I had also dramatically increased my FTP since my last Oly race. Need to think about riding more hills before Santa Cruz.
Bike time: 1:26:20
T2 took too long at 3+ minutes. Not sure what I was doing? I popped 2 Clif energy gels and off to the run.
The run was on black asphalt with very little shade, but I felt strong. All of my Betty teammates started in later waves that went off hours after mine, so I didn’t experience the energy of seeing them and the cheering I did at Oceanside. I did spot my TriTats teammate Nate during the first loop and got a high-five which was awesome and gave me a huge boost! It’s a two loop course. After the first loop turnaround I was able to push the pace and held an 8:45 pace to the finish.
Although I didn’t PR the run (3 minutes off) I was happy it was a faster split than my last Oly AND I ran negative splits which is something I’ve been working hard on.
Run time: 55:26
Overall time: 3:09:37
I beat my previous best for the Olympic distance by 2 minutes which is great, but I couldn’t help feel disappointed that I didn’t reach my sub 3 goal. I finished 117/129 in my AG which was a blow to the ego, but it was a super fast field and I gave it what I had that day.
The next day I raced the sprint and it was HARD! I’ve never done back-to-back races. My legs felt so heavy and I just didn’t have it in me to push the way I wanted to. Definitely wasn’t a PR day, but the experience was awesome!
The best part of the weekend for sure was hanging with my teammates, especially since my family didn’t travel with me for this one. It reminded me of why I love this sport so much and how being a part of a team is beyond awesome!
Special thanks to the sponsors who make this possible @bettydesigns @rudyprojectna @tritats @irwincycling @jaybirdsport.
Up next: Santa Cruz 70.3 in just over 3 weeks!