I’ve had Age Group Nationals on my schedule ever since I competed there last year. The venue, city, course, and atmosphere is incredible and one of my favorite races. I came into the year wanting to compete against the top amateurs to see where I stack up against them; and that’s exactly what I got at AGN. I also decided that this year I would do both the Olympic distance and the Sprint distance. Here’s how the weekend unfolded…
Saturday – Olympic distance:
The swim start for the 25-29 age group (AG) was complete and utter chaos. Never before have I experienced so much feet pulling, getting hit, or having to completely stop twice because of the congestion in a race. Maybe I just picked a bad spot to line up, but who knows. I got out of the water and heard I was 3 minutes back of the leader in my AG. Three minutes! What?! I didn’t think I swam that slowly. After looking up results after the race, the leader in my AG swam 17:47, 3rd fastest swim overall. I swam 20:45 which was slower than I wanted, but still about 20 seconds faster than last year.
The bike was interesting. I realized early on in the bike that my power numbers weren’t accurate and I was going to have to go off feel. But, to be honest, in an Olympic distance race, there’s not much your watts can do for you. It’s basically just going as close to red lining it as possible for an hour, at least for me it is. I ended up biking 58:15. Just like my swim, it was slower than I wanted or thought I could go, but still faster than last year.
The run was fun, in a painful way. I set a goal going into the race of having the fastest run split and I came pretty close. I ran 32:55 and was 3rd fastest overall. I got beat by two Div I college runners (32:15 was fastest split of the day). Knowing the course from racing it last year, I broke it into thirds and tried to keep it steady early on. Then I planned to pick it up in the second third of the race since it was the 2-mile section of slight uphill where I thought I could do the most damage and make up the most time in my AG. I was 7th in my AG starting the run and passed a few guys in the first mile or so. I eventually caught the 3rd place guy in my AG a little before mile 5 and knew that 2nd place (the defending overall champion from 2013) was too far ahead for me to catch. So, I just focused on keeping my pace and tried to finish as high up overall as I could now that I had 3rd in 25-29 AG locked down.
I was exactly 2 minutes faster than 2013 and improved from 17th to 10th overall (OA). I finished 3rd in my AG and 3rd fastest run split.
After getting cleaned up with Every Man Jack, I went back that afternoon to watch the professionals race a super sprint triathlon as my teammate, James Thorp, was racing. I must admit, it was awesome to watch that race. 325 meter swim, 4k bike, 1.5k run and then repeat it all. I couldn’t imagine what it’s like diving back into the water and trying to swim after running close to all out.
In the evening, I met up with a few of my teammates who had also raced, and attended the awards ceremony. It was nice catching up with some guys that I don’t get to see or talk to besides on Facebook or Twitter.
Sunday – Sprint distance:
I was pretty sore in the morning, but excited to see what I could do on day 2. I knew the soreness would go away once the race started, so I wasn’t too worried about it. After attending the awards for the Olympic distance and seeing that the fastest run split won a Garmin 910, I was even more determined to have the fastest run split today because I REALLY wanted to win that. I also wanted to take the overall (OA) title despite racing the Olympic on Saturday.
With half as many guys in my AG as the Olympic race, the Sprint swim start was the complete opposite. I didn’t get touched once nor did I have to stop. Oddly enough, I lined up in basically the exact same spot as the Olympic. I got off to a fast start and knew I was near the lead. I could see about 4 or 5 guys in front of me and was just off their pack. I tried a few times to put in a surge to catch the back of the group and catch a draft, but I just couldn’t quite bridge the small gap. I was literally just a body length or so away from being on the back of this group for about 2/3s of the swim. I got out of the water sixth in my AG with a time of 10:04. I was happier with this swim than yesterday’s and knew I wasn’t far from the lead of my AG.
My Vector was even further off today but it matters even less in the sprint as it truly is just red lining it for 20k. I pushed hard and went back and forth with one guy in my AG as we tried to catch the leader in our AG. I ended up entering T2 in 3rd, but I passed the leader of my AG in transition as he couldn’t find his transition spot.
The run, finally! My dad was about 200 meters outside of T2 and told me I was 10 seconds back from 1st in my AG, and I passed him within the first 400 meters. I was a man on a mission and not holding anything back. I’m in first now, but now it’s time to chase my two goals: first OA, fastest OA run split. I ran 5:11 for the first mile. Good, keep pushing, roughly 10 minutes of running left. I got to mile 2 and ran 5:08. Ok, really starting to hurt now, but use the slight downhill section in the last mile to keep my momentum and try to negative split and simultaneously break 16:00. I looked down at my watch around 2.25 miles and see 5:15 pace. Come on now, that needs to be 5:05. Relax, catch your breath and let’s make a strong push for a half mile and reassess after that (all the while knowing there’s no reassessing taking place, it’s an all-out effort to the finish line, but I had to reason with the voice in my head telling me to slow down because it’s/he’s/I’m in pain). I went through mile 3 in 5:10 (but I didn’t know that until after the race as I was already starting my kick to finish line). I ran 32 seconds for the last tenth mile for a total time 16:02 for a legit 3.10 miles. So close to breaking 16!
Overall – 58:46. Click here for USAT press release.
2nd OA, 2nd fastest run split. Bummer! I lost the run split title and a Garmin 910 by 3 seconds. Three seconds! One second per mile. One less mental lapse where I eased off my pace. So close. I lost the OA Sprint title by 18 seconds, of which 17 were from T1 and T2 combined. I guess I need to work on my transitions more.
It was definitely a bitter sweet weekend for me. Tenth overall and 2nd overall on back-to-back days is nothing to be disappointed about. I’m the 25-29 AG Sprint National Champion. I also improved my Olympic distance PR by 2 minutes from last year. But a 3 second loss on the Sprint 5k run is definitely a bummer. However, with how my training has been for the last month or so, I’m definitely very happy with my performances. Without going too much into detail, my lead up to AGN hasn’t been anything like it was for the Kansas City Triathlon or 70.3 Kansas back in May/June. Fatigue, sickness, and just general tiredness isn’t something I experienced earlier in the season. Whether that’s because work has been more stressful or the fact that I bought a house, I’ll never know. I have to thank my coach Ryan Ross for working around all these obstacles and getting me in the best shape possible for these two days.
I definitely have to thank my parents for all the support, pictures and encouragement this weekend. Not only did they work on various things all day at my house throughout the week so I could rest and prepare for my two races, but they also drove with me and spent an entire weekend in Milwaukee watching me compete. Big shout out to Every Man Jack and my teammates. Double the races = double the cleaning required. EMJ is definitely the best product out there and I highly recommend it. Lake water, sweat, and whatever else gets on athletes during a race definitely isn’t glamourous. It was also fun to race with and support my teammates, CJ Olson, Tim Perkin, Corey Robinson, Steve Mantell, and James Thorp in the Pro Super Sprint. Huge congrats to Steve Mantell for winning the overall Olympic Distance title. Thanks to Roka for helping me with new swim PR’s. Saucony for helping me turn those legs over and have the 3rd and 2nd fastest run splits this weekend. And Rudy helmets and sunglasses for keeping my noggin safe and aerodynamic and my eyes protected. And thanks to all my friends and family that has supported me along the way, I truly appreciate the support.
Next up for me is 70.3 World Championships in Mont Tremblant, Quebec, Canada.