Saturday, August 16, 2014

Still Learning From Mistakes - Age Group Nationals Triathlon

For the past year, my main focus has been for this weekend.  My goal was to have a faster overall time then last year and a faster run.  Leading up to the race, my swim was about the same, my bike was a little weaker, but my run was definitely faster.  My main issue has been my mental state while racing.  I was doing well at the start of the season, but as I moved into the longer races, my drive was weakening.  With the atmosphere around Age Group Nationals, I hoped it would encourage me to push the entire race.

Age Group Nationals (AGN) is a qualifier for the wold championships the following year.  The 2014 AGN qualifies for the 2015 World Championship which will be held in Chicago.  With the World Championships being in the US I figured this year would be more competitive than last year. Last year I finished in 5th place for my age group, but with my improvements in my running I had hoped to be in the top 5 again.

I drove to Milwaukee Thursday morning…alone.  Wes had a bachelor party Saturday evening, so he stayed home.  I arrived around 2pm, settled in, then headed off to do a bit of shopping. I found a really cool outdoor mall with an Athelta store.  Sweet!  And, the shopping didn’t stop there.  A few other stops and I left with a few gifts for Wes, and several items for me.  One more stop for the day at Whole Foods to pick up some food to cook up for dinner along with the veggies I brought from the garden.  The rest of the night was spent relaxing.

Shopping fun!

My favorite PB machine.  Hard to find them with Honey Roasted peanuts.
I resisted from buying any as I knew I'd eat the entire container.

Friday morning I was up early (~7am) so I could eat breakfast, let it digest, then get in a 10-mile ride and 2-mile run, stretch, shower, lunch, then be at the finish line area at noon for a Zoot Team picture.  Just enough time!  Unfortunately not all of the team competing was able to make it to the photo shoot, but I was happy to meet some more of my teammates.  My biggest stress was deciding if I should wear my hair up or down.  I choose down. After seeing the pictures, I definitely choose wrong!  Ugh!

The least bad-looking of the pics, with me attempting to be fun.

Packet pickup went smoothly, and a quick trip through the expo to get free compression socks.  I was also getting a little hungry, so was happy to see samples of what reminded me of baby food, but with more ‘adult’ flavors. 

Joanna and Mederic were staying with me, which was nice to have the company. They arrived while I was down at the expo area.  After they got settled in they took off to stretch out there legs, which included a short run to the beer tent at the race site.  :)  

The apartment we shared was just a half mile from the race and a few blocks from a grocery store.  Perfect!  Dinner consisted of chicken from the local market, roasted veggies from our garden, and some amazing bread from a restaurant in Joanna's hometown.  The sauce the bread came with was sooooo good!  Oh, and just a bit of beer from New Glarus.  

Elevator at the apartment we stayed at.
The old-fashioned door and gate is fun until you have to take
your bike upstairs by yourself.  Not enough hands and feet
to keep the door and gate open at the same time!

This year my age group was the second wave of the race, which meant a 7:37am start.  Joanna, on the other hand, was a few hours after me.  But, her and Mederic were still up with me at 4:30 am for breakfast and coffee.  Being so close to the race, I just walked down when the sun started to rise.  There wasn't a huge rush to get there.  I couldn't take the bike out for a warmup and I couldn't get in the water until the race start.  After setting up my transition area, I headed out for a run (just under 2 miles).  The weather was cool enough that I started with my cycling jacket on, but warmed up nicely as I finished my easy jog.  

The race is a mass start for each age group, with 7 minutes between my wave and the wave ahead.  Other than ironman, Age Group Nationals each year is the craziest swim I deal with.  It's a large wave (204 women) and full of top-end swimmers.  It was a fight for about the first quarter of the swim until I was able to settle in behind someone without too many others around me.  One the good side, it's also one of the few races I'm able to draft the entire swim.

I came into T1 with a decent amount of women around me.  Looking at the results, I was 24th in the swim, with 9 of us within 10 seconds of each other.  One of the athletes in that pack was another Iowa triathlete that I've gotten to know well the summer, Aryn.

The bike consists of an out and back section toward the north that turns around on a hill, then you pass transition for another out and back that heads south.  I was in a pack with 3 other women in which we leapfrogged for the first several miles.  After we passed transition I let two of them stay ahead and just planned on keeping them in site.  The other one, Aryn, I just hoped to pull away from as I know our bikes and runs lately have been pretty similar.

At the second bike turnaround it looked like there were several women ahead of me, but sometimes it's hard to tell the women from the men.  I tried not to care too much.  At least I found out I had put a gap in on Aryn.  As I was nearing transition, a cyclist from the wave ahead told me I was currently in 5th.  I ended the bike with the 5th fastest split for our age group and 9th for all the women.

I didn't remember anyone in transition with me, but as I left I was following Cindi Bannink.  Last year I passed her as we were coming over the bridge towards T2.  I knew she was a decent runner and hoped my new run fitness could keep up with her, but nope.  She quickly created a large gap on me.  Oh, well.  

The run also has two out and back sections.  I really like the bike and run courses for this race!  At the first turnaround I could see too many women too close behind, and they looked fast.  I also wasn't feeling all that well.  I took in water at the aid stations in hope it would help, but no luck.  The weather was nice in the 70's so it wasn't the heat.  I tried what I could. The 4th mile lasted FOREVER!  Around the end of mile 4 is the turnaround, then just 2 miles to the finish line.  I was able to pick up the pace a bit as I saw a women a bit behind that I thought I could stay ahead of if I gave a little more effort (I 12 seconds).  Still, only 35th fastest run of my age group.

After the race I got my printout of results, which is when my disappointment was confirmed.  Slight slower overall than last year, and a slower run.  Looking back on Friday and Saturday, I'm pretty sure it was dehydration..again :(  While cheering on Joanna I had about 24oz of water and 20 oz of Gatorade.  But, it was still 2pm before I finally peed (TMI?).  I only took in about 100 calories in 10oz of water on the bike, but my drink didn't appeal to me to drink.  Also, with everything going on Friday, I don't think I took in enough water to prepare me for the race Saturday.  

While running, I again had the thoughts of calling it a season and skipping my next two races.  I also considered quitting triathlon all together.  But, a few hours later I was trying to figure out what I needed to do to not repeat my mistakes of the weekend.  

As I write this, I'm in the camper preparing for the Pigman Olympic Triathlon tomorrow morning.  I've tried new hydration this week in my workouts, and have settled on Skratch Labs Raspberry for tomorrow.  I've also made sure to drink PLENTY of water today!  Tomorrow morning I will be warming up for my second to last race of the season...

Italian Greyhounds at the expo after the race.
This is the breed of dog Wes wants next. 

34-39 podium, with me on the '8' block.

1 comment:

  1. Daniela: you may not have done as well as you hoped, but you are still so impressive! I am always in awe of you. BTW: I also like your writing style. Clear, entertaining, well written. Miss you!