August 6-8, 2021 is not a weekend I will forget anytime soon. Wow! My goals heading into my first ever USA Triathlon Age Group Sprint Distance National Championships were to start, finish, and have fun. I met and exceeded all of those goals!
Race weekend started with the check-in process. My eyes may have been big like saucers since one of the volunteers got a good chuckle out of my facial expressions. There was so much to see and multiple steps along the way. We then headed to watch the Open Water Swim Competition. That was such a cool experience rooting for all those who were competing. It also gave us a peek into what race day would look like. I definitely took advantage of the swim practice and learned that there was no wall to push off of. It is really just a pier (as my legs floated underneath!).
Day 2 was the Olympic Distance. These athletes are amazing! It was fun to watch the start of the race for multiple waves. I also volunteered this day and what fun this was. I highly recommend volunteering if you have the time.
Day 3 was the Sprint Distance and I had quite the wait between leaving transition and my wave start. During my ‘down time,’ I had breakfast, watched the first few waves start., and chatted with those around and relaxed (as much as possible). Thankfully, there is a swim warmup before finding a spot on the dock. All the women around me were supportive, high-fiving one another, and rooting for one another. Ten seconds of the deep heartbeat sound and off we went. I was surprised that I kept up a bit on the swim but that didn’t last as swimmers broke off. Half-mile later, I was at the stairs and moving into transition where I promptly got lost. I was in the right aisle (there are large letters) just didn’t go far enough. Thankfully I could look at my wrist for my athlete number and eventually find my bike. Longest time in transition ever! LOL. The bike started really well with the first 3 miles being 16+ mph. Then the hills started – I don’t have hills to train on. There was a moment on the long bridge that I considered getting off the bike and walking up. But I didn’t. The view from the top was amazing and the ride down was so much fun, except for the 90 degree turn at the bottom. By this time, transition was just a mud pit due to the nightly rainstorms and now hundreds of athletes but I found my stuff! Swapped one top for another and off I went. The energy from the spectators and volunteers was amazing and definitely gave me the oomph I needed after the bike. The heat and humidity was quite high by this time so I was thankful for the many hydration tables along the way. Especially those with ice! First time I ran with ice in my run bra. LOL.
But the best part? Running down the famous red carpet to spectators hitting the walls and cheering for you. Teammates were near the finish line yelling my name and I was so surprised to see them. I crossed the finish line in 01:57:32.0 and couldn’t be happier with that. Every single moment I took in, race photographers caught me with a smile at each photo, and I enjoyed the entire journey. Was it my best time? Not by far. But, I had dealt with injuries, physical therapy, surgery, and finding new ways to workout during the pandemic without a gym. Overall, I’m thrilled with how the weekend went. I crossed the line at Nationals! That is surreal. Thank you to everyone who have supported this journey both near and far.