USAT Age Group National Championships Race Report

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!

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The Legends Triathlon Race Report

I wasn’t planning to do any fall triathlons after Superfrog 70.3 this season, but after that race ended in a disappointing DNF, I HAD to do one more. After riding such a high in my triathlon comeback season landing on the podium in each of my races leading up to Superfrog, I didn’t want to end the year on such a sour note and let months of training go down the drain. I needed a redemption race.

I searched online and there wasn’t another 70.3 distance race on the west coast (that I could find), so an Olympic distance was the next best thing. I almost settled on Morro Bay Triathon until a fellow triathlete and mama I met through Instagram, Diana, suggested I do the Legends Triathlon with her. Calm lake swim. I was in!

I honestly didn’t pay much attention to the bike and run course terrain, I was just happy there would be no threat of large swells in the swim. The race took place at Bonelli Park in San Dimas, just outside Los Angeles.

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K and I drove down from Santa Barbara at 5am and arrived with plenty of time to spare. The race started at 8:00am. My wave was 3rd with all women racing the Olympic distance (around 20 total). It was a pretty small group and the start was smooth sailing. After the swim start I had just experienced at Superfrog, it was such a relief. I got in a nice rhythm and just swam, no panic at all, in my zone. I might have zoned out too much because I slacked on the sighting and ended up drifting too far to the right after passing the first turn Buoy. I felt totally calm the whole time though. I didn’t go too fast. I wanted to save my energy. I was actually enjoying this swim and for once wasn’t just wishing for it to be over. It wasn’t my fastest swim and the course was a little longer than 1500 meters, but I consider it a victory.

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There was a small, but steep hill up to T1. I forgot to pack my body glide and struggled with geting my wet suit off around my ankles. I usually never sit down, but it was the only way I could get it off.

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I guzzled water and on to the bike. Just before the start Diana informed me that what we had thought was a flat course was actually hilly with two very steep descents. Since Superfrog was a flat course, I hadn’t done much training on hills. I’m a scared descender. I’m that girl  barely hitting 20 mph while everyone else flies by at 40-50 mph.  The first hill was right out of the gate and the decent was long. I hugged the brakes most of the way down. It’s a three loop course, so I had to do this descent two more times. Great. After the initial deep descent it’s all rolling hills. There was very little flat straightway. I never got into a good groove. I went a little faster the second loop down the hills, but I was still getting passed a lot. It was getting hot and by the last loop there were a lot less people on the course. I thought I was for sure dead last. I was never so happy to finish the bike. My legs just didn’t have the strength.

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I tried to keep up with my nutrition on the bike, but I was seriously suffering as I entered T2.

The run was a cross country style course with terrain consisting of trails, asphalt and dirt. I haven’t done a lot of trail running this year and there were a couple sneaky hills mixed in. It wasn’t my best run by a long shot. I had to walk portions of the hills and water stations. The heat was getting to me with temps pushing 90 and my legs were shot from all the climbs on the bike. I just kept shuffling forward telling myself quitting was not an option. Around mile 4 I realized I had seriously missed staying on top of my nutrition and although my stomach didn’t want it, I forced down a GU. It gave me just the little boost I needed to take it home those last couple miles to the finish line. I was so relieved and so happy to cross that line.

I passed one girl in my AG on the run, but I definitely wasn’t thinking there was any chance of a podium spot let alone 1st place.  Apparently I wasn’t the only one suffering and the course was challenging enough to others (in my age group at least) that even with my less than speedy time, I managed to snag 1st in my AG. Turns out there were only 3 of us and 1 was a DNF, so that girl I passed on the run was the only one I had to beat out. 🙂

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Although it wasn’t my best race, I’m so glad I did it and ended the season on a high. My mind is already thinking about 2017, but my body needs a break. I’m looking forward to lots of yoga, working on building strength and  improving my swim technique during the off-season. Then 2017 look out, I’m coming for you!

XO

Christina