USAT Long Course Nationals

January 8, 2017

 

I have been participating in triathlon since 2012.  I decided to take it up a notch to the long course and my first attempt was Legends in June 2016. That race when very well for me and I had high hopes for a solid result at the USAT Long Course National Championship in Miami, last Sunday,  November 13, 2016. I wrote on my mirror to “Win nationals” with a check box, told my Mom and Dad of my goals, and put my head down for 5 months.

 

The skeleton plan throughout my training was to put on weight while increasing training volume to around 18 hours at peak. I felt that this would aid in putting power down on the bike without sacrificing my agility for the run. Being 6’2” going from 155 to 165 in five months equated to lots of nut butter and late night grazing sessions. I did feel a little puffed up and bloated but managed to accomplish the great feat.  Now that everyone reading this hates me for the battle of weight gain, I can get into the race summary.

 

Swim 33:47  (1:36/yd)

 

My best friend, Jake Burbach, a resident of Fort Myers, once told me every fresh body of water in Florida has Gators. This race was A: In Florida & B: Fresh body of water. Great… No worries.

 

Going into the race, I’ve spent the last 3 months with Rochester Orca’s Master Swim Group which is a dedicated group of athletes who have a unusual fondness of waking up extremely early and grind laps at 5:30 before most people hit the snooze alarm.  I have never devoted this much time to swimming in my life.

 

Before Orcas: “Hey everybody,  I swam 10,000 yards this week, WOWZA!”
After Orcas: “This taper period of only 15,000 yards a week feels great”

 

It was either going to be time and effort well served or a major annoyance of all those 5 AM alarms since swimming can be my Achilles Heel in triathlons.

 

Long Course Nationals was a run-in start with two laps around the “pond”. I love these races as it increases the amount of running and decreases the amount of swimming.  (see below graph of swim to run ratio for your view pleasure). No one in the 2nd pack swim group that I was in had Metallica playing in their head which made for a low contact experience (perfect). I felt great in the water on the first lap, but on the 2nd lap we ran into the Aquabikers. After that, the swim turned into playing frogger, hopping from one pink cap group to the next trying not to be slowed down too much.

 

I reached my favorite element of solid earth and checked the watch immediately. “33 Minutes” (angry face emoji)  I reallly expected something starting with a 2 in the time; however I never felt better leaving the water. Long swim? Too many lappers? More time in the pool? The heat?  Probably a strong cocktail of all of the above.

 

Bike 2:20:48 (23.0 mph)

 

I don’t know what happened to the swim group in T1, but it felt like I started the bike solo. In the first 5 miles of the bike I had two thoughts; 1.) Holding 22 mph would be easier and 2.) Where are the hills? The groups seemed to spread out quickly. I keep the race interesting by examining the other participants. What kind of bike is that? That kit comes in blue? I wonder what she/he does for a living…. but the groups seemed to spread out quickly.

 

The only person in sight was a guy with a warning-sticker fresh Cannondale with stock wheels and steel bottle cages. Not much to analyze. For the first 56 miles we passed some trees, a dog, mailboxes, & other various thrilling things that litter the pancake flat Florida country side. (I really like hills). The “predictability” of the course made for easiness of setting the cruise-on for 23 MPH. Thanks to my student loans, not having a watt meter played out as effort was easy to measure by MPH aside from a slight 10 mph headwind on the way back. When the Garmin beeped lap 11, I knew it was time for the meat and potatoes of my race, the run portion.

 

Run 1:25:55 (6:33/mile)

 

Getting off the bike and into running shoes is the equivalent to me to de-stressing after a long day at the office. Things were going well at his point; I didn’t get eaten by alligators, no flats or mechanicals, just time for some relaxing R&R with a light 13.1 mile jog with some occasional water stops. My run felt amazing starting out. 6 min/mile’s were clicking off, birds were chirping, this is good I thought. “high elbows, easy breathing, don’t eat too many yummy gels. I got this”. Everything was peachy until about mile 5.

 

I saw my pace and energy dropping, the legs wanted to stop, Oh great, only 8 something more miles left, No Problem!!.. The ‘oh poop, teeth out’ emoji described my mood very accurately. Luckily, it was a two lap race so at the halfway mark; I put on the Fonzie cool guy face as I passed my cheer squad. This is great, Miserable? ME? Whaaatt?? Nah!! This made mile 6 do-able and deposited some go-energy in the fuel account.  The next 6 miles were a blur of pure survival. All I wanted to do was run down as many runners as possible.  During these times I think primal. The run is beautiful place of pushing to a point where everything is drained and one is surviving on the same endorphins that kept our pre-historic ancestors alive. I love that part and it feels amazing.

 

Finally! After a 4hr & 23min of splashing, shifting gears, and shuffling, I reached the finish of the race and the 2016 season with a time of 4:23. I gave my girlfriend and friends the sweatiest hug of their lives and it felt AMAZING.  I am the 2016 U24 USA Champion!

 

My first 70.3 attempt was in June with a time of 4:36. I’ll take the 13 minute improvement in 5 months and I can’t wait until next year. It was a good development time adjusting to training like more of an elite athlete for the first period of my triathlon life. This will lay a great foundation the 2017 season.
Going into 2017, I will seek a more directed training plan and better equipment. From June of this year to date was the first time I have ever had planned workouts in a cycle as opposed to waking up and doing the old How we feeling today Ted? Legs sore? Ez run,yes, ez run.. SOUNDS GOOD!  Also, bike-wise I am riding an older, sweat caked Felt that has seen a few too many hours on a trainer.  I feel the upgrade of a more high-end bike will help in the never ending chase of marginal gains and will be looking for a good helmet too.

 

I want to be the best in this sport and will do what it takes to get there in the most efficient manner. I have an amazing support group & love what I do every day. I will work harder and smarter to reach my goals.

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