The 2012 USAT Age Group Nationals were held at Waterfront Park in Burlington Vermont and what a great venue. Great access to Lake Champlain, a technical and challenging bike course and a fast run made for a challenging and fast race.
Doug and Angela and Lynn and I made the trip along with Sarah, Kevin and Amy. Sarah did the Olympic race on Saturday while Doug, Kevin, Amy and I did the Sprint race on Sunday. Both events drew huge fields in all age groups and I think the total was over 3,000 competitors in both races.
Sarah had a great race and was out front in the swim which is her strength, she was soon on the bike and run course and finished comfortably in the middle of her large field and looked very strong at the finish. Nice racing on a hot day too!
Sunday was a bit cooler in the morning which was perfect. My swim was strong, again toward the top of my age group, and I exited the water feeling good. I entered into transition, went right to my rack spot, which by the way the transition area was pretty large with long transition rows, which made finding your spot just a bit hard if you didn't pick a landmark, but that'll come later..... I peeled my wetsuit off and was soon running to the bike mount area. Once on the bike the first section was technical, with some short steep climbs, turns and a long flat stretch before a 180 back and out onto the main course. After the long climb out of town and onto the main road it was a nice downhill to a freeway exit ramp that went up again for a long time this time, we climbed to another 180 and back down to a sweeping round turn and once again onto the main road to where it was out to another 180 and back into downtown, down the long hill and back into transition. I felt pretty decent on the bike, not my best, but not that bad either. I was anerobic in a few places on the climbs, but that's to be expected, it Nationals. Overall I rode the bike pretty consistent.
Now, this is where making sure you know where your rack spot in transition comes into play..... As I said earlier, transition was large with long rows and very small rack numbers, so you had to pick out a landmark as to where your rack spot was located, my landmark happened to be a light post on the outside of the transition area almost in the middle, and my rack row was row E. Well, I practiced the swim to bike transition a few times before the race, but never practiced the bike to run transition, also the bike entered from a different angle than the swim which gave it a different perspective. When I first entered into T-2, I ran to the middle where the light post was but I was in the wrong row, so I looked for an opening in the racks to pass under with bike in hand and didn't see my number because they weren't numerically oriented on the racks, so I stopped to get my bearings and ran to another row and thought this isn't right either, now it seemed like I was in a bit of a panic since racing at this level is so close and every second counts. When I finally found my rack spot and pulled my running shoes on and crossed over the timing mat it was 3:44, when my bike to run transitions are usually around 50 to 55 seconds, I knew that wasn't good and I was dead in the water at this point with no chance to finish near the top.
The run course was laid out beautifully with one long steep hill just out of transition, which was hard but I had been practicing running hills at an anerobic pace and felt fine on it. I passed quite a few on the hill, was anerobic at the top but kept my pace and settled into a nice rhythm.Once onto the road heading out of town it rolled until we came to Champlain High School and then descended into a camp ground and onto the Burlington Bike path which ran along Lake Champlain and back to Waterfront Park to the finish. I ran consistent and felt strong to the finish.
I wish that my T-2 would have been normal, but there's nothing I can do about that, it was a rookie mistake from someone that's been doing multisport for over a dozen years and it shouldn't have happened, I know it won't happen again. My swim, bike and run times were there to be competitive in the upper 1/4 of my large age group, but not good enough to make it to London for age group Worlds in 2013. There are some extremely fast and strong guys in my age group and I'm glad to see this and to be able to test myself against the Country's best and come out of it with more knowledge and a good feeling.
Overall, USAT did a first class job with putting this race on, it was a true National event and they picked a great host city to do it in, USAT is a class organization!
Congratulations to my brother Doug-E and Jeanne Debonnis for qualifying for London in 2013, they had exceptional race's and left it all out there on that course. Doug, I'm proud of you and always have been and Jeanne, after IM Louisville, get some rest then start that training for London, it'll be here before you know it!
Thanks for reading.