Long overdue post of the the summer wrap up, well the first of the two races. Hoping to get the second one up this week. I think I saved my best races for the end of the summer. After Lake Geode, I was finally motivated to train a bit more on the weekends which probably helped a bit.
First up, USAT Olympic Distance Nationals…
In August we drove to Burlington, Vermont for USAT’s Olympic Distance Nationals race. It’s a 22-hour trip that we broke up into two days of driving. The first night was spent camping in New York. Being that it was in wine country, we stopped at 3 wineries on the way.
|The store for one of the wineries we visited.|
The tasting room was just as amazing.
I had heard of a ‘great’ beer on the east coast that I had to try for myself…Yuengling. It reminded me of the cheap beers around here (Bud, Miller, Coors). Not sure why anyone would willingly want to drink it. My one sip was enough.
|A very small sip from a very large can of nastyness.|
The next day we headed out for the remaining 10 hours of driving. We opted to drive through the Adirondacks, which was a slower drive, but shorter in distance and more scenic. For lunch we pulled over on the side of the road and had a quick meal along a river.
We finally arrived in Burlington at a busy time of day, so stopped at a few breweries to pass the time and let the traffic die down.
The place we stayed in Burlington was through airbnb.com. It was much cheaper than any of the hotels, and was so close to the race! I was able to walk to transition race morning in about 5 minutes. The host we stayed with was very accommodating with our odd schedule, and was a great hostess.
Friday afternoon I went for a swim at the local beach. The race was held in an area that did not have open swimming. The wind was kicking up and the waves were not fun to deal with (worse than Kansas 70.3 in 2011). But, the area was set up well for open water swimming. A 100 or so yards out from the beach was a designated swim lane. It took about 10min to swim from one end to the other. Wish we had something like that around home.
The rest of the day was spent at packet pickup, bike check-in, and the new pre-race ritual of a flight of beer from a local brewery. Good stuff!
|If you look very closely you can see me next to my bike in the middle of the picture.|
To the right of my bike rack is the Iowa flag.
Race morning went smoothly. I walked the few minutes to transition with my gear, discovered that I had racked my bike in the wrong spots, moved my bike to the correct spot, found Ron G. to wish him good luck, and constantly checked my ‘old’ rack spot to see if the person that I stole the spot from came back so I could apologize. The swim start was a short walk from transition, so I made my way over. I kept looking for Wes, but never saw him.
The swim was an in-water start. After the wave two ahead took off, we were able to get in the water and warm-up. This was our only chance to do so, and I was only able to swim for a few minutes before moving over to the start area. The horn sounded to start the race, and it was a mad dash for the first chunk. In most races I can get out ahead with just a few other people, but being this is a bit more competitive of a race, there were always people around me. The chop wasn’t too bad in the water, but kicked up about halfway through. I saw a speedboat quickly pass by, which frustrated me as its waves tossed me about. I later found out it was in a rush to pull a guy out of the water ahead of me who ended up drowning. Very sad.
T1, the bike, and T2 were fairly uneventful. I saw a few bikes missing from my rack area, but not too many. Grabbed my bike and off I went. The bike route was slightly rolling. If I had written this report earlier, I’m sure I could give more detail about the ride, but can’t remember much about it now. I guess that’s a good thing. I smoothly dismounted my bike (I wish it always went that well), and ran back in to transition.
The run route is out of transition, up a fairly steep hill, then basically downhill the rest of the run. I’ve come to like running up hills, and was even able to pass a few guys. The waves ahead of mine were the older age groups, which helped.
The way out was along streets, and ran back on a trail along the lake. I was actually catching some women ahead of me, which has only happened a few times in races. Typically I pass a few people on the bike and just try to hold on during the run since it’s my weakness. At about three quarters done someone told me I was in 14th place in my age group. They do awards to 10th place and qualify for worlds to 18th place, so I was just hoping to finish in the top 18. I was still able to catch one more woman before the finish line and one other woman ahead of my received a penalty on the bike that pushed her to finish after me, so 12th place for me. I was fine with being two places off of the awards until I found out that 10th place was only 21 seconds ahead of me. Oh, well. Maybe next year. My run pace ended up faster than I have ever run in a triathlon prior, including sprint distance. I assume part of that was due to the mostly downhill run.
Past the finish line I found Wes and Ron G. He had an amazing race as usual and won his age group. My stomach wasn’t ready for the taco buffet and it was going to be a while before I could get my bike out of transition, so we went back to the house to shower up and get Wes some lunch. Then back to the race site for some food and clear out my transition area.
The top 18 qualify for the World Championships in London, England. To reserve your spot, you have to go to the awards ceremony later that day. We wanted to go anyway to see Ron G. rock the old-men’s podium. I’m not sure if I will make the trek to London next September, but I did hand over the $50 fee to reserve my spot. Thankfully the final decision doesn’t need made until next spring. I’ve heard the world championships is an amazing experience, but the race entry fee, bike shipping charge, and uniform cost on top of the normal vacation expense isn’t exciting me.
We finished off the night with more good food and good beer. The next morning we headed out to Toronto, Canada with a quick stop in Montreal on the way. It only added an hour to the trip, and when else would we get that close again? It also helped that a Burlington, VT bartender recommended we stop at Dieu Du Ciel, and we were glad we did. It was the best beer we had all vacation!
Our next airbnb location was another bedroom in a house. The place was very artsy, modern inside. When we arrived the owners were out to dinner, so we let ourselves in. Shortly later they arrived with her parents and sisters. They had been out celebrating her birthday, and were back home for dessert. They shared homemade cheesecake with cherry topping and wine/beer. Such an awesome welcome!
We had only one full day in Toronto, so made the best of it. The house we stayed at was close to the Kensington Market, so our first stop was there for coffee.
Throughout downtown there are bixi bike stations where you can rent bikes for $5/day. We were going so much faster than traffic. At one point I wasn’t sure if we should be riding on the busy street we had come to, but just then a mom, dad, and kid peddled by on their bikes (without helmets), so we rode on as well.
We took a ferry ride over to the Toronto Islands, had lunch there (bad idea), walked around, and headed back to try to make the last tower of the Steam Whistle brewery. Unfortunately, we made it in time for the tour, but it was sold out. But, we were still able to sample it. Not too bad for a pilsner. There was still a bit more time before finding a place for dinner, so we bellied up to a bar that our house hostess had suggested.
For dinner I looked on Trip Advisor for something good, not too expensive, and unique. Number 7 of the 3,487 restaurants on the list fit the bill. We hopped on our Bixi bikes and headed over to Khao San Road for Thai. It was a Monday night and the wait was an hour! Wes made friends with a local guy and his friend, and we went with them to a bar near by while we waited for the phone call that our table was ready. It was a great way to pass that time, and they insisted on paying for our beer. The food at Khao San Road was well worth the wait!
Bedtime came early as we were getting up before the crack of dawn to head home. The border crossing was extremely uneventful, just as it was coming in to Canada. Just one last stop…at Bell’s Brewery for a very tasty lunch (lots of veggie items on the menu for Wes) and beer.
|Last call for alcohol|
This was by far the longest road trip I have been on, by 10 hours. We took Wes’ truck which I had not driven, and still haven’t. He was a trooper driving all those miles himself, while I frequently slept. Thankfully we enjoy the same music and podcasts, otherwise there is no way we would have made it through without strangling each other. I’m glad we drove since neither one of us had been to the upper east coast or Canada, but I’m not ready to do it again any time soon!