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A novel by Len Joy

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

USAT Age Group Nationals – Burlington, VT – August 20, 2011

When I started this blog in June 2009, the stated goal was to chronicle my pursuit of the 2011 USAT Age Group National Championship which I hoped to compete in as a 60 year old. As it turned out I managed to qualify in 2009 for USAT Nationals that were held in Tuscaloosa, AL that year. So in a sense I started this blog by participating in the 2009 Championship (in the 55-59 age group).

I had a less than stellar performance at Tuscaloosa. The swim was in a river, mostly against the current and the water was in the 80s so wetsuits weren't allowed. My heavyweight body gets a serious advantage from wetsuit buoyancy and swimming at that time was by far my weakest event. Still, I had expected to complete the swim in 35 to 37 minutes, but it took me over fifty minutes. I had a very good bike segment, averaging about 20 mph, but when I dismounted I got severe hamstring cramps in both legs. I had probably become dehydrated from all the time I spent swimming.

It took me nearly ten minutes in transition to get ready for the run and then when I reached the first mile marker the cramps returned. I tried to work them out, but every time I would start to run the cramps would return so I withdrew from the race. It was the only race I've ever withdrawn from and I regret doing it. I think if I had kept at it, the cramps would have eventually subsided. Of course the race might have been closed by the time I actually finished.

Vermont is a far different venue from Tuscaloosa. The swim will be in Lake Champlain and right now the water temperature is 72 degrees so we will be able to wear wetsuits. Today I biked about 70% percent of the bike course. It's tougher than Tuscaloosa, some serious hills at the beginning and then rolling hills. It will be a challenge for me to average 20 mph. Later today I'm going to try the run course. There's a steep hill at the beginning and then it looks fairly flat and scenic – with much of it along the lake shore.

My goal when I started the goal was to finish in the top ten for my age group. I knew that would take a time of close 2 hours 35 minutes based on previous race results. My best time (in my last race) was 2:48 – and that was a much easier course – so it is not likely that I will finish in the top ten. My primary goal right now is to actually finish this time and to run a good race. Here is my goal (I am going to try and be realistic):

DateTotalSwimT1BikeMPH T2 Run PacePlace
GOAL2:45:0032:002:301:15:0020 mph2: 3053:008:2915th

They had been predicting rain all week, but today the forecast has been upgraded and there is only 10 percent chance of rain on Saturday. I'm looking forward to a good race. Tomorrow Suzanne and I are going to tour the Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Factory. I'm looking forward to that, too.

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