Once again a stupid amount of time has past since I last posted. There was supposed to be a follow up to my "travel blog" post where I was going to write about mishaps in Omaha. That was going to lead into writing about the two aquabike races that were not on my original 2016 schedule, but I entered after having a little hissy fit over my Omaha debacle. Those two aquabike races would play a major part in how my 2017 season was/is going to play out.
Then there were supposed to be a few posts about my new improved training routine and how this year was going so far. Lots of ideas rattling around in my head, but no motivation to write any of it down. I think breaking ribs in a moment of clumsiness, and then catching cooties from a sick kid didn't help things very much. So here is some of the stuff I meant to get written down before moving on to 2017. Believe it or not, what happened in the latter half of my 2016 has impacted how I've approached 2017. More on 2017 in a later post. Hopefully a post I'll make before 2018. Maybe I need to change this blog to "Still Procrastinating After All These Years"
Age Group National Championships - Omaha, Nebraska
Big dreams of qualifying for Team USA and competing in Age Group Worlds in Rotterdam got squashed by the only damn hill in Omaha. A piss poor shift on my part resulted in a dropped chain, and yours truly on the ground tangled up in her bike. Unlike 2015 Timberman Sprint, this fall cost me. But it was more than the stupid hill.
There was Thursday when I was going to pick up my bike from TriBike Transport (TBT) and ride it back to the hotel, but I forgot my pedals. Minor problem. Then there was wandering the expo of Friday looking for TriBike Transport, and getting lost. Finally finding them and discovering my bike shop had not replaced my rear flat as I requested before turning the bike over to TBT. It took several guys to get the damn tire off the rims. Zipp 404s from early 2000s suck when it comes to changing a flat easily. If I ever flat in a race on these wheels, I'm totally screwed. Then there was the case of my missing bag. I checked it to do the practice swim, and by the time I came back from the tire change from hell, the bag check people were gone. At this point I'm tired, hungry and thirsty. I finally was able to find the bag, put my frame numbers on and check the bike.
Race morning I was still suffering from the "stupids". I laid out all my stuff and couldn't find my sunscreen or gels. After the race I found both them buried under my towel. The only thing I did right on race morning was make it point to be on the first shuttle bus to the race venue. People who came later got stuck in traffic, and they had to delay the race start by a half hour. I was in a pretty early wave which was good, because despite my off course swimming and my bike mishap, I found myself on the run course before some people were still waiting to go in for the swim. I felt sorry for those people because it was already getting hot and there was no shade on the run. My finish photo is deceptive. I don't think I was really that happy when I finished.
Watching women in my age group pass me in the last mile was really frustrating since most likely they would not have passed me if I stayed upright on my bike. Ended out 25th in my age group. It would have been 26th, but after one woman passed me and then slowed down, I decided I would chase her down and pass back. I kept quoting Isaiah 41 "run and not grow weary, walk and not be faint, soar on the wings of eagles". I guess my finish photo was my soaring on the wings of eagles. Roll downs go to 25th, but with people aging up from F55-59 I was more like 32nd in terms of worlds qualification.
Okay, Now What?
After going to the awards ceremony and finding out just how poor my chances were of making it to Rotterdam, I cried. Roll downs go to 25th, but with people aging up from F55-59 I was more like 34nd in terms of worlds qualification. Which lead to the what ifs? What if I hadn't gotten attacked in Seattle? What if I had been more disciplined in my training? What if I had run more in New Hampshire and Ireland? What if I had gone over the course so I would have known about the hill? Blah, blah, blah.
So after I sucked it up, I went out with a friend and had a delicious meal. What did I have? What else does a carnivore have in Omaha? Steak!
After dinner I went back to my hotel room and started working on plan B for Team USA. Except plan B actually began with the letter A, as in aquabike. I had found out on Thursday at the USAT banquet that aquabike was going to be included in the 2017 multi-sport world championships. This meant I needed to go to Miami in November and compete in the aquabike national championships at Miami Man. Earlier in the year when I was planning my 2016 race calendar, I rejected the race because the entry fee was too high. I took a deep breath and said "Suck it up if you want to be part of Team USA."
There was just one problem with this idea. I had not planned on doing any aquabike races in 2016. I was focusing on sprint and Olympic distance races which meant I was only training for races with a .9 mile swim and a 25 mile bike at the most. Aquabike nationals' distances are 1.2 mile swim and 56 mile bike. Although I have no trouble with either distance per se, could I race those distances? I figured the only way I would find out was to do an aquabike event before committing to Miami Man. Where could I find such a race that I could drive to? Easy. Rev 3 in Old Orchard Beach, Maine. Friends were doing a relay and another friend was doing the 1/2 ironman. I was going to Maine anyway to visit my friend in Northeast Harbor on Mount Desert Island. Why not break up the drive with a pit stop in Old Orchard Beach?
Rev 3 - Old Orchard Beach, ME
Two weeks after Age Group nationals I'm doing a race I haven't trained for. Sometimes those are the best races. Zero expectations means zero stress. First of all there were no age group awards in the aquabike division. Just the top 5 males and females. I figured I'd get my butt kicked by a bunch of women half my age. I was wrong. I got my butt kicked by women in their late forties and fifties. Second of all I got to hang out with a bunch of my Rye Tri Club buddies. Jessica was doing her first 1/2 iron distance. Al, Dani and Mare were doing a relay in the Olympic distance race. Jessica's partner was our cheerleader and Sherpa. Always more fun to have friends to hang with.
The race itself? Great! I was a little nervous about the swim. Would be I be able to do the distance? How was it going to be swimming in ocean? Was I going to freeze? The answers; yes, fine, no. I did wear a second swim cap and had my goggles under the race cap which was on top. That ended out being a wise move. I caught an elbow in the face from a guy I was passing. Knocked my goggles a little askew, but was able to quickly adjust them and keep swimming.
Transition was insanely slow because there was a long run from the beach to the transition area. I was wishing I had a pair of sandals to slip on for the run to transition. Concrete and bare feet make a lousy combination.
The bike was a blast. Lots of rolling hills. The only problem was, I didn't really know who I was racing against. They didn't put any special designation for aquabikers on our calf. There was just the age. I has doing back and forth with this one woman. I'd pass her on the uphills and she would blow by me on the downhills. She probably outweighed me by 70 pounds. I had no idea if she was my competition or not because she was wearing calf sleeves so I couldn't even see her age. I just treated everyone on the course as my competition. As it turned out she was in the half iron and killed the Athena division. The one interesting part of the bike course was getting stuck behind a hay truck going about 10 mph. The workers sitting on the truck waved us through when it was safe to pass. I was glad there were no USAT officials around as we were blatantly committing a double yellow line violation. Life in the slow lane of farm country. I was happier in the fast lane of triathlon country. I was happy with my 19.5 mph pace on the bike.
I finished 9th out of 21 woman, and 20th out 42 overall. Not too shabby for a race I didn't train for and decided to do two weeks earlier. What could I do if I actually trained?