USAT Nationals: FIRST OFF THE BIKE (and then there is the run)

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Forget Disneyland, I’m pretty sure Milwaukee is the magical, mystical place where dreams come true. This was my 3rd year racing USAT Age Group Nationals in Milwaukee, and every year it’s the race where I surprise myself, completely exceed my own expectations, and opens up a world of possibilities for the future. This championship race is a perfect setup for a PR day, and as in the past, it delivered.

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Fast and beautiful race venue

Swim – 20:56 4th AG, 10th fastest female split
The race plan: Swim really fast and be one of the first ones out of the water.

Came out of the water and the volunteers told me I was in 4th. Better than last year’s 7th! Now I know exactly how many girls to look out for on the bike.

USAT AGNC 15 swim exit 2

Bike – 1:03:22 4th AG, 15th fastest female split
The race plan: Don’t let anyone pass you.

I picked off the few speedier swimmers pretty quickly, but one girl stuck with me and we went back and forth passing each other throughout the whole bike leg. I’d get away from her on anything resembling an uphill, she’d catch back up once things flattened out for a while. I guess I need to start choosing hilly races to play my strengths. I was first off the bike and in to T2, for an instant thought: “I am LEADING the race right now. What?!?” I figured it wouldn’t last long, but being the fastest swimmer+cyclist in a championship race is a cool feat. Now we need to work on being the fastest swimmer+cyclist+runner. One step at a time 😉

USAT AGNC 15 bike 2

Run – 42:32 17th AG, 55th fastest female split
The race plan: Start out faster than you can hold, and hang on as long as possible. Don’t be conservative or save it up for the end.

Despite my legs majorly cramping up in T2, I didn’t feel that bad off the bike. I didn’t exactly have a target pace, I just started running. The girl that stuck with me on the bike passed me in T2 and was gone. Then, after not too long, the rest of the gazelles came along. Once I thought about following one of them, for about 20 seconds until I realized she was running 6:15 pace and that was just suicide. What sucks about being in the front off the bike is lowering your place each time as you count the girls go by. “Ok, now I’m in 3rd place. Keep holding 6:45 pace. Ugh it’s only mile 2. There goes another one. Ok, just hold 4th place.” For as disheartening as it was to watch myself go from 1st, to 2nd, down to 6th, I was CRUSHING my 10k PR pace (previously, 7:03 pace). I started out averaging 6:45 pace, figured I’d crash and burn, limp the last 2 miles in, end up salvaging a 7:00 average pace or something. Except when the massive, excruciating pain came along, I somehow managed to keep all my mile splits under 6:55 and end up 1:15 faster than my 10k PR from earlier in the summer. I have to admit, that one totally surprised me. While running still feels like my weak link, the improvements are still coming in giant chunks at a time. Dropped 2:16 off of my run split from last year, and last year’s split was 2:15 faster than the previous year. I hope that downward trend continues!

USAT AGNC 15 finish 3

DYING

My overall time progression over the years on this course:
2013 – 2:24:12 – 21st AG, 190th OA
2014 – 2:15:04 – 7th AG, 45th OA
2015 – 2:10:29 – 5th AG, 9th OA

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After some penalties were assessed, I wound up in 5th AG and 9th overall.This race proved I can swim and bike with the best of them, and I haven’t yet hit the ceiling on my running ability. As always, there’s still work to be done but I’m excited and amazed where Coach Matt Mauclair and this season has taken me so far! Next up, ITU Olympic Distance World Championships in Chicago!

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Kyle & Josie: Guardians of the Neighborhood!

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