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American Past Time
A novel by Len Joy

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Sunday, August 11, 2013

USAT Age Group National Championship - Milwaukee, WI - August 10, 2013

Before the race with my official photographer

When I started this blog in 2009, one of my objectives was to chronicle my plan to participate in the USAT Championship and to achieve a top ten finish.  That wasn’t a realistic goal, but most of my goals aren’t.

I managed to qualify in 2009 and went off to Birmingham where I had the worst race experience of my life.  Birmingham in mid-August is not what anyone would think of as a fun venue for a triathlon. To make it more challenging they had us swim in a river against the current. I wasn’t ready to compete with those guys that first year and as it turned out, I didn’t. My legs cramped up so badly that I withdrew from the race after the first mile. So call it a last place finish. 

In 2011 I again qualified and that year they held the race in Burlington, Vermont.  Hilly, but about 30 degrees cooler than Alabama. That year I had some self-inflicted problems with my bike, but at least I finished the race.  I was 34th out 38 in my age-group. 

This year they had the championship in Milwaukee. It was a great location – I didn’t have to fly somewhere – it’s flat like Illinois and we got to swim in Lake Michigan – so a great venue for me.
And this year, for the first time I felt much less like an imposter sneaking into the game. I didn’t have any expectations of finishing in the top ten, but I’m competitive now and could at least come close(r) to those podium-finishers.

I vowed to follow the race plan that I had carefully developed with my coach Heather Collins of Precision Multisport .  Mike Tyson used to say, “Everyone has a plan until you punch them in the face...”  but I actually stuck with the plan even after being kicked hard in the face twice in the first five minutes of the swim.

In fact for me the most satisfying thing about the race was that I did what I set out to do:

·         Breathe bilaterally on the swim (i.e. breathe on both sides;) I tend to abandon that pattern during races, but this time I stuck with it;

·         Race through the transitions instead of treating them as snack breaks.

·         Stay above 22 mph on the flats during the bike.

·         Push the run (meaning suffer). 
Unfortunately I had tweaked my hamstring a couple of weeks ago and despite great treatment help from Tony Breithbach at The Wellness Revolution, on the first mile of the run the hamstring pain returned.  Every time I tried to run hard it seized up on me, so I had to maintain a jogging pace. It was frustrating to see all of those 60 plus guys that I had passed on the bike pass me back on the run. 

I finished in about 2 hours 49 minutes (haven’t seen the official results yet) and I am pretty sure with that time I will be in the slower half of my age group. But I finished and even with the slow run I improved from the previous race.
Wait till next year.