Friday, August 28, 2009
2009 USAT Age Group Nationals Race Report
Getting the opportunity to race in a qualify only race is always a treat for me as the consummate "middle of the pack "athlete and for it to be the top 10% in the country makes it all that more special.
Tuscaloosa Alabama "Bama baby" was the location and over 1100 athletes converged last weekend with our Type A personalities for 2009's National Championships. We had the best professionals in town as well and it is always cool to see a Pro do what we do only REALLY, REALLY fast. I arrived on Thursday with friends from Practical Coaching and by the time all arrived we were 13 strong. The weather was crazy with rain for two days but it did not dampen our spirits as we had fun getting ready for Saturday's race.
I always try to rise to the occasion on race day and give all that I have to give. And when the alarm clock showed 10 minutes before the alarm was set to go off and I was feeling awake and excited I knew that it was game on.
Normal pre race went well, my rack was good, I felt good and the sun for the first time in 2 days decided to show up. In addition to the sun the Core of Engineers had to release some of the rain fall in the river so a nice river swim turned into a current that caused many not to finish the swim and for others an increase of swim time over 2 hours. The sight of the first wave of swimmers hitting the turn where the current was and seeing many of the swimmers not go anywhere or even loose ground had a huge affect on the crowd especially me. The race was set up for the first 5 waves to be men and woman over 50 and then a 30 minute pause to allow for them to get on the bike course and spread out a bit. During this 30 minutes I was doing a run warm up and was really affected by seeing these older athletes struggle and not quite. A normal swim time for them should be 25-45 minutes to finish a mile swim and as I said earlier it took some of them over 2 hours but they did not quite. Some had to but the majority put up a fight and did not back down. All the many hours of training put in the "training bank" and they were not going to be cheated a finish and I felt and saw with my own eyes one of the best feats I have ever seen and I will always be impressed looking back at the men and woman twice my age giving it all they had to beat the current that the river had that day. The oldest athlete to finish the race this year was in the 80-84 age group. Yep 81 years young and still rocking, what inspiration that will always be for me.
I jumped in the water and cleared my goggles. I looked in the river water again and realized it was not my goggles but the "Dingy" river that was making it hard to see. The swim start was down river from the swim exit so we were to make 3 turns in the water and the second turn, the longest leg was up current. I decided to take it really slow and easy the first until the turn into the current and this decision paid off. By the time I hit the second buoy I was passing people left and right. I relaxed, kicked hard (the water was too warm and so wet suites were not allowed)and tried to be as smooth in the water. I pushed harder than I normally do and felt the struggle of the current. I pushed my pace even faster and started to make some headway. I saw many struggling swimmers and felt for them but had my own race to fight. I found some feet to follow the last leg of the swim and as we exited the water the crowd cheering us on was lined all the way up to transition and I welled up and ran with a huge smile on my face.
SWIM TIME 36.01 (normal for me is 24-25)
The bike course was up and down and two loops and so for the first loop I settled into riding and choosing where I was going to push for the second loop. I was getting passed by athletes that were trying to make up ground after such a tough swim and felt good that I has so much swim practice at Lake Powell (thanks again Mom and Dad). The second loop I was feeling good and climbed hard and pushed my bike as best as I could. I was not getting passed much on the second loop and came into T2 feeling really good.
BIKE TIME 107:33 (22.1 MPH close to a PR for me)
I took the time to put on socks since the run course had 3 steep hills that we needed to climb and also grabbed two hand fulls of ice that I brought from the hotel to keep me cool on the run. I felt good the first mile and the first climb. I took a steady pace and passed a bunch who were walking. The humidity was up and since the sun show up as well it was getting really hot. The second climb went just as well as the first and so on the third climb I did not let up as I had on the previous two and survived. I was more than half way done and it was little rollers back to the finish line. I increased my pace and gave all that I had for the day to this last section of the race. I stayed focused and did not pay attention to my surroundings until I heard the crowd at the finish line. This year the finish shoot had a huge Jumbo Tron that was showing the athletes crossing the finish line. I heard my name announced and it was a huge honor since I was still standing when this happened.
RUN TIME 47:26 (7:38 Pace)
TOTAL TIME 2:33:55 (55TH of 77 in my age group and 456 of 925 overall)
I had a great race and I am really proud that I was able to execute as well as I did for the day. I am learning how to race well in this sport and look forward to the years to come. Hopefully I can be the 81 year old finisher one day. I will always be amazed at those I get to train with, we have 5 of 13 Practical Coaching athletes make it to Age Group Worlds representing the USA in 2010. I am very thankful to my family that allowed me the time to be at this race and their willingness for me to spend time exercising. I am glad that I made the choice 3 years ago to change my life and make a new direction.
I love you Anne,