Wednesday, August 12, 2015

2015 Nationals - Vamos a Mexico!

            I had one ultimate goal going into USAT Nationals – to qualify for Team USA headed for the 2016 World Championships in Cozumel, Mexico.  The season thus far had largely been a disappointment, but in the final weeks and days leading up to Nationals, I was starting to feel ready.  I knew I wasn’t where I should be, but I was getting darn close.  I was finally starting to feel like my old racing self.  I knew it would be tough to make the Top 18 in my age group to qualify, but I also believed I had a shot.  I had to put together a strong race.  Last year, I had a strong performance and was 17th in my age group.  Perhaps it was a long shot, but I was ready to give it all I had.
            I had transition set up right before it closed, and then had an hour and a half to wait until my wave started.  I warmed up, put on my wetsuit and headed down to the water.  I misjudged the time I had, and realized that my wave had already warmed up and were climbing back out to go over to the starting area.  I jumped in, and when I felt the COLD 65 degree water, I was okay with having missed out on spending extra time in the water.  I climbed back out and walked to where my wave was jumping in.  We had to start lined up with one hand on the dock this year (versus 10m out in a group).  It was a crazy start, with lots of hitting and kicking one another.  My age group had grown from 128 last year to 141 this year.

            By time I was done with the swim, my hands and feet had gone numb from the cold temperatures.  My swim was 23 seconds slower this year, but still a good time, right around 25 minutes.  I was 42nd out of the water last year, but 70th this year.  I had some major ground to make up.  The start of the bike was fast and I felt good.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to keep up the pace, and I wasn’t gaining as much time on others as I needed to.  Despite the lower watts on the bike, I wasn’t far off from my time last year.  I still added another 47 seconds on to my bike split though.  A few extra seconds added to both transition times as well, and I knew going out on to the run that it would be tough to get under my goal time of 2:20.
            I started surprisingly strong on the run and hit the first mile at a 7 minute pace.  I tried to go for the feel of my pace on my track workouts, to be smooth and constantly pushing.  It’s tough to be in that focused of a mindset for over 6 miles though.  My pace slowed for the next 2 miles to around 7:12/mile.  I reassured myself that I had it in me – to hold on, to keep pushing, to lay it all out on the line and have zero regrets.  A few women in my age group passed me, and I passed a few others.  I finished the 10K run a mere 39 seconds slower than last year.  I phrase it that way because of how much I have struggled this season.  This was by far my best triathlon performance this season, and less than 2 minutes off from last year! 
My finishing time was 2:20:24, and I ended up 27th in my 25-29 current age group.  Here’s where it gets interesting though… My age for this 2015 race season is 29 because that is how old I am on December 31st of this year.  Next year I will turn 30, and compete in the 30-34 age group.  While I placed 27th in my crazy, super fast age group for Nationals this year, for 2016 Team USA purposes (this year’s Nationals qualifies for next year’s World Championships), I “age up” to the next age group.  Plugging my finishing time into the 30-34 age group times, after everyone “ages up”, I should be sitting around 13th!  The Top 18 qualify for Team USA for the 2016 World Championships in Cozumel, Mexico!  I accomplished what I had set out to do.  I never would have thought that getting older could be this exciting – we’re headed to Cozumel!

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