Me at packet pickupnationals2.jpg Steve checking my bike to make sure I put it together correctly nationals4.jpg Jewels, Me, and Michelle the day before the race nationals1.jpg Me, Andrea, Michelle, and Beth the morning of the race. nationals3.jpg The Practical Coaching Team: From Left to Right:Steve (our fearless leader and coach), Kirk, Jason, Michelle, Barry, Beth, Me, and Jewels nationals5.jpg Me finishing nationals6.jpg Team shot of: Michelle, Beth, Jason, Me, Jewels, and Barry nationals8.jpg Jewels, Me, Michelle and Andrea eating dinner after the race. nationals10.jpg Me right after I finished nationals7.jpg Me with Chris and Debbie, two of my parents good friends that were there spectating nationals9.jpg Lastly, the girls with Barry! nationals11.jpg

I don’t even know where to start! Sorry it’s taken me this long to get things up. I was waiting on photos, and since I didn’t take my camera...I had to be patient!

The trip started with me almost missing my flight to Portland. It was at 6am and we didn’t wake up when the alarm went off, so we were rushing to get there in time. When I got there they weren’t sure my baggage or my bike would make the flight in time. I had to run to the gate and they were holding the plane for me! I had a layover in San Francisco and as I watched out the window of the terminal I saw them load my bags and my bike onto the connecting flight...big sigh of relief! From then on the trip was flawless. Rental Car pickup, hotel all went really smooth. I drove around Portland, got a little lost and relaxed in my room before it was time to go pick up my roommate, Michelle. Michelle and I had only met each other once, but the lady she was going to stay with on the trip couldn’t go b/c her dad was ill. So at the last minute Steve hooked Michelle and I up b/c he though we would get along well. He couldn’t have been more right, we had so much fun rooming together!

Friday morning we met some of the team for breakfast and we were super giddy. We headed over to packet pickup where we met the rest of the Practical Coaching folks and we had a blast. Packet pickup at these event can be a huge mind game. Everyone has these great bodies and they are all really intense, so it was cool that we stuck together, rough housed, and generally made everyone jealous that we were having so much fun. After that we drove out to the race course. We were required to leave our bikes in transition over night, and we all wanted to survey the course. We decided to bike the run course, and to drive the bike course. We had a lot of fun! We counted the hills, talked strategy and tried to stay calm. The day ended with everyone doing their own thing...people are pretty picky about their pre-race routines. Michelle and I got some grub, headed to the hotel, backed our bag for the next day, got excited, and hit the hay.

I didn’t sleep too well...duh!

The next morning we arrived with plenty of time to set up transition and watch the first waves go off. Steve caught up with me and told me I looked nervous, I almost cried. Tears started welling up, I don’t know why. I was nervous, and scared, and the swim just looked really far. I tried to calm down, it didn’t really work. Before I knew it I was in my wet suit, and treading water with all the other 25-29 year old females waiting for the bullhorn to sound. What the heck did I get myself into?

THE SWIM: I can not even think of the correct words to explain the situation. I am treading water with 75 other ladies that know they are the bomb. It doesn’t matter what happens in the other age groups, as we tread and look around we all want to kick each others A**. One of these ladies in my age group goes on to win overall today, another goes onto 2nd overall. Four (4) of my fellow Coloradans come in top 10 in the age group. We are treading water and we sort-of know, but not really, that this is the most competitive age group of them all. Some say it’s 30-34 or 35-39, but you run the numbers off of this years race results, and it’s us, 25-29 ladies. And somehow, we all know this as we tread water and wait for the bull horn to sound. The energy and spark in the water is unreal, and finally we are off. The swim course is a 6-buoy rectangle and we are to swim counter-clockwise, keeping the buoys on our left.

About half way to the first buoy I look up and I am all by myself, the entire field has left me, I’m just too slow to keep up. I panic a little, but continue to swim and try to focus...while I panic. Between the 2nd and third buoy I am being passed by the wave behind me...the 30-34 men. I round the third buoy, and round the fourth and I am now getting passed by the wave after that, the 30-34 year old women. Panic is an understatement. I feel like I’m swimming correctly, and as fast as I can, and I am overwhelmed by this sense that “It’s not good enough to compete on this level”. That is truly how I feel the entire swim. That...and that it drives me nuts that I can’t swim straight. I keep veering right. I do the best I can, and before I know it, I am coming in, right between the two piers like I am supposed to.

TRANSITION: It goes smoothly, and about the only thing I notice is the glaring fact that none of the bikes on my rack are left, meaning that I am last. Okay, last, I knew this, okay, okay, this happens. Little over my head, I guess. (As a note, I actually did beat 4 ladies in my age group out of the water...out of 74)

THE BIKE: There is a steep hill leaving transition, so I am not able to get into my shoes until I am at the top of it. I thought it would be really hard to climb that hill out of my shoes, but it’s no problem. Once in them at the top of the hill, I am off. The course was awesome, no real flat sections, just a lot of up and down. It’s a two loop course. I start to pass people in my age group and go back and forth with lots of women in the 30-34 age group that caught up to me in the swim. It was good to have some ladies to compete with and I had a lot of fun. There were a few pretty tough hills that I was out of the saddle at the top for. I finally felt like I was redeeming myself a little. I one point a motorcycle pulled up next to me. I got a little nervous, thinking that it was an official, and wondering what I was doing wrong. I looked over and it was a guy with a video camera, Then I got a little self conscious. At the end of the second lap the runners are on the right side of the road, and there are lots of spectators, it’s mayhem! As a result I sort of “forgot” to get out of my shoes.

TRANSITION: I ended up getting to the dismount line, unclipping and running to my transition spot in my bike shoes. Oops. Most the bikes were back, but not all of them :). On with the running flats and off I went.

THE RUN: Up up up that big hill again. The run was really exciting because now I was really reeling in the ladies in my age group. I think I passed around twenty of them on the run. There were 6 large hills on the run course, 3 out and 3 back. I hit the turn around (5K) at 21:50, which is about what I run for an all out flat 5K here at home, and this time I was doing it after 2 hours of racing! The way back was fast too, mile 5 was a bit tough, but my pace didn’t slip. One mile to go was at the top of the last hill. There was a guy playing a drum and I knew this was the spot to give it your all. I took off and just booked it home. I left it all out there that day. When I was done...I was DONE.

POST: We had a great dinner together that evening. At the awards ceremony we got to watch Kirk receive his 6th place medal, and qualify for World Championships. None of the rest of us qualified for Worlds. USAT said that this was the most competitive National Championships they have ever had. Wowzer! It was such a good experience for me, and it just makes me that much more hungry to get better. I know I have more in me, and I know that with experience I am going to be able to tap into it. I was surprised how quickly the 2.5 hour race went by, you are so busy, no time to think! I learned that my swim needs serious work, I have to find a way to get better at it. All in all I am really proud of my performance. I learned a lot, and I will be able to build on that experience from here!

THE DETAILS: Swim (1.5K): 30:19 T1: 1:23 Bike (40K): 1:14:57 T2: 1:13 Run (10K): 44:13 Total Time: 2:32:04 40th 25-29 year old female (out of 74) 192nd woman (out of 475)