Sunday, September 21, 2008

USAT Age Group Nationals Race Report

What an amazing day!! Pressure was high, but as Billy Jean King says "Pressure is a Privilege". I gave it all I had, and I'm trilled and honored to be an AG National Champion.

I decided early this season that I would forgo the long Ironman specific training and go after my goals at Nationals. Initially, I was dreaming of a podium AG finish and a top 5 overall, however as my season progressed, and I continued to feel strong (and when RR decided to stay home), I adjusted my goals. I was going for it!

I was extremely nervous and anxious race morning. Those of you who’ve been to Nationals know: Everyone looks super fast/fit and therefore very intimidating. Despite the nerves, I was trilled to be out there. I was confident and ready to see what I could do.

Here’s the 30-34 start. We started 8 minutes behind the 25-29W and 8 min ahead of the 35-39W.
Cindy Bannick and I lined up together at the far end of the wharf and ended up doing the entire 1500m together: Thanks Cindy for the fast ride. I knew if I came out of the water with Cindy and Catherine Sterling I would be in a great position. I hurried through T1 and started hammering on the pedals. With the endless roller coaster hills, I was having a blast!!
The course is two loops and when I came through the first loop in 30 minutes, I figured I’d better ease off a little to save something for the challenging run. I had to remind myself that it was in fact a triathlon and not just a bike race. I still worked very hard on the climbs, but tried to flush the legs a little more on the descents.

To be honest, I was very intimated by the hilly run course. I didn’t have a chance to check it out before the race, but based on last years run splits I knew I had to set my expectations appropriately. I just gave it all I had and didn’t worry too much about pace. It’s an out and back course, so after the turnaround I was able to see how things were shaping up behind me. I saw a few people in my AG, but I remained confident that I could hold my pace and my position to the finish. Of course, I wish I could run like 30-34 AG winner Mark Harms!
When I crossed the line, I was the “leader in the clubhouse” but I knew the strongest of the AGs, the 35-39 AG, started 8 minutes behind me. Of course I figured Super Star Brooke Davidson would be crossing soon (in fact, I made the comment at the start of the race, that my goal was to just cross the line ahead of her)!! Sure enough, about 4 minutes later, Brooke was crowned Overall Age Group Champion in her very first season. Not only is this women fast, but more importantly, she’s absolutely delightful. I can’t wait to watch her improve, and turn heads in the pro ranks next year. Here I am tying my hardest to convince her to turn pro before the US OPEN in two weeks-Sorry folks, didn't work!!

The Men’s and Women’s Elite race was held in the afternoon, so we stuck around Hagg Lake to enjoy the days festivities. All of these Pro's are amazing athletes, and so fun to watch, but my heart went out to Mary Beth Ellis. She spent most of the time riding on her own behind the 1st pack, but used her unbelievable bike strength to significantly bridge the gap. She was a machine, but on the last corner heading into the park she went down. It was brutal to watch as she scrambled to get herself up and rolling again. She is such a fighter and I was amazed at her strength. She put it all on the line, and despite her crash, she got up, and ran incredibly well.

A few more shots: I'll let the photos do most of the talking!

Love this "pro march" to the pontoon. This was the beautiful hill we had to climb out of the water into T1.

Lead bike pack...check out the deer in the background.

Chillin with the coolios from the Timex team.

The most amazing athletes of all. Unfortunately Sister Madonna will not grace us with her presence in Kona this year. She told me she'll be attending her 60th HS reunion. How cool is that??!!

Coach Kris from SCS Multisport at the finish line. He was there on official USAT business, but it was great to have the local cheer squad during the race. Thanks!

Here I am with Becky Lavelle. I had to get a shot with the Local MN Tri Heroine

I have a big training week ahead. 2 hour bike/2 hour run on Wednesday (longest run of the season), and then a 5 hour ride on Saturday. One last chance to cram in Ironman training.

I have another big decision ahead for next year: Stick with the short course and go to AG Worlds in Australia, or do Ironman Wisconsin. I have a few weeks to decide…I’ll save the pro’s and con’s list for another post…Time to unpack my bike and get ready for the week ahead.

Kerry posted a highlight slide show on Yndecam