Milwaukee, Wisconsin – 1500 meter swim/ 24.8 mile bike / 6.2 mile run
What a great event! I am humbled to be one of over 4200 athletes racing – about 60% race the Olympic distance and 40% race the sprint. To race the Olympic distance at Nationals, athletes have finished in the top 10% of their age group in any USAT sanctioned triathlon during the year, and there are a lot of intense fit people roaming around. FMRC is well represented by Elaine Morison, Mike Maguire and me.
I arrive Thursday to be able to get my bike, and pick up my race materials. I had my bike driven out by Raceday Bike Transport avoiding the hassle of taking it on the plane and rebuilding it in my hotel room. This works great at the race site – they have in/out privileges and 24 hour security so I decide to leave my bike there after checking out my gear with a pre-ride on the run course. We receive tritat race numbers, a nice pullover and a “disposable” timing chip – essentially a foam lined plastic strip with the chip encoded in a stripe! I love this – as I struggle with getting my wetsuit leg over the bulky timing chips.
On Friday I am joined by my sister who has flown in from Colorado to spectate. We did the Danskin Sprint Triathlon together in 1999, starting my enthusiasm for this sport. This Nationals race is my 53rd triathlon!
The bike drop is Friday – the day before the race. On race morning we set up the rest of our transition – but only “race essentials” are allowed in transition. No bags, which are checked.
Raceday! Temperatures in the mid 70s with 82% humidity.
We are the fourth wave – Women’s 55+ pink caps. The announcer declares that this is the largest wave of the event at 253 athletes. Wow. He goes on to explain how deep the field is and how competitive we are. I am with my peeps! We are to start from the water while holding the pier, but with our large numbers we are squeezed in like sardines hanging on as best we can. The start is signaled by an ominous booming heartbeat followed by an air horn and we are off. As my swim split attests, I am a little ahead of the middle of the pack, and I never have open water. I need to swim around a few others to hold my line and at one point I am yanked back by my ankle. I remember my goal – don’t get mad on the swim. Not the usual gentile older womens’ swim wave!
The swim exit is up a steep ramp and we are offered helping arms by volunteers along the ramp. I pull off the arms of my wetsuit on the run and stop at a corner to take off the legs, as the transition run is about 300 yards. I have my new (from February) Roka wetsuit on and the legs are quite tight (actually the entire wetsuit fits like a neoprene bodysuit.) My strategy is to push the suit to my ankles then stomp on it to remove my feet. It doesn’t come off. Then I am struggling with stomping and pulling and trying not to fall. I finally get it off and am rewarded with applause from the spectators! Obviously more practice is needed before Worlds.
I run in to my bike, drop my wetsuit, put on my sunglasses and helmet and run to the exit.
The bike course was well monitored – more than 6 sightings of referee s – on the back of a motorcycle watching drafting, blocking, passing on the right and other reasons to assess penalties. The bike is mostly flat and rolling with a climb up and over a bridge (seen in the swim picture above.) When we hit the far turnaround we hit a headwind. My pace slows a bit but I take a gel and go back up and over the bridge and back into transition.
I dismount leaving my shoes on the bike and run into transition. I decided to put on socks so added another 10 seconds to my transition time but happy feet.
The first mile of the run I take some salt, a gel and get a gulp of water. I am feeling good! I see my sister and my FMRC teammate Elaine Morison cheering me on the run course – I am happy! By the second mile my hamstrings threaten to cramp and talk to me for the final 5 miles. I pause 2 more times for water and Gatorade no real help. So the run is ok but not great. Here I am – at the start of the run, and the finish – happy then just hanging on!
Swim 30:55; T1 3:07; Bike 1:17:01; T2 1:51; Run 55:30; Total 2:48:23
F 55-59: 113 registered 95 finished. I was 47th, just making the top half!
If I normalize for the long transitions, looking at just swim+bike+run, this was a personal best for me. In my lifetime. But I can get faster 🙂 ! Next year – Omaha!