This was my last Collegiate Nationals, My last chance to race in my Zebra, My last days of traveling with 40+ College athletes and being apart of one of the biggest/baddest/fastest Triathlon teams in the Nation. It was kind of emotional, but the memories I share with my A&M teammates will last forever. I had to make my one last time something to remember...and I did!
My last year at Penn State, I was hit by a car the week before XC Nationals. I never got to compete in my Collegiate Championship. Though, I have been to Nationals for triathlon before, this is different- Its the last one ever! [Unless I decide to go back for a different degree!]. I went into this race with high intentions of placing in the Top Ten; and I never lost sight of that as I trained for the months leading up to it. However, One thing that is different about Collegiate Nationals, is that this time it is a team sport. Triathlon may be an individual race, but you have to work together to win the title. We had a few unfortunate bumps along the way, including one big loss the day before (Get better Cici! FREE Scott!), But I tried to push those thoughts away and remember that these are my teammates, We train together, We race together, No. Matter. What. Being apart of the A&M Team is something special, and I think every single athlete will agree.
The Race: I have done the course 2 times before (Collegiates 2011 and Age Groups 2010), so I had alot of knowledge as to how to tackle the course. The Bike had some hills, a windy bridge, and was 2 loops. The run included 3 massive hills at the beginning and then it was smooth sailing. Knowing these little obstacles can play huge when it comes to mental mind games.
Me and Lauren before the swim!
Last year I got punched, karate-chopped and drowned almost the whole race and I wasnt going to let that happen again. I started in the BEST location ever and never got touched. I felt pretty smooth, and just kept going. Once I turned the corner for the first buoy I couldnt believe how many girls were ahead of me. What the heck was I swimming slow?? I told myself I would catch them on the bike and run and just kept swimming. I swam one of my best miles: 22:15, but still came out of the pack in 34th place. Ouch!!
I ran my way up the quarter mile hill/run to T1 and jetted off as fast I could. I started catching girls fast, but I felt horrible. The hills came fast and my heart rate climbed fast. I tried to relax a little and catch my breath. Thank goodness for downhills, as I got a chugged of my drink and was able to catch my breath. I was starting to feel better. It was game time now! I cycled my way back to 13th place and entered in T2 READY to run! Time: 1:10 (almost 3 minutes faster then last year and 15th fastest bike split).
Danny, from Endurance Films
chased me out of transition with the video camera and straight up the hill ( I bet that looked good!). I was in a pack of girls, 5 deep. I knew I could get them. I began tackling them one-by-one and then by mile 2 it was down to 3 of us. Mile 3 I broke away and began to feel myself becoming tired. Crap, I wish I had another gel. Determined to not loose my spot, I just kept running and running. I heard someone on my feet- Dangit, there she goes. Her coach was screaming insanely and He basically made me feel like a crap athlete. BUT, I had worked hard enough between mile 3-5 to secure a big enough gap and I was in the home stretch before I knew it with a new course PR by 4 mins and a 10th Place FINISH
I wasnt actually sure I made the top ten so I started asking around and people thought they had counted right around there. WOW, I thought- Hard work does pay off
. 7 of the top 10 girls were all pros, and I couldnt of raced any better. I left it all out on the table and really just tried my best. It may not be a win, but its a win in my book. I ended up 5th female grad student as well. So a Top 10
and a Top 5
in the afternoon I raced in a draft-legal demo relay. [I know- I am crazy! Who races twice in the same day!] The first loop was really cool to watch as the pack of girls came in. By the time I went (I was 3rd), there wasnt really much drafting going on. However, my team composed of some of the top athletes in the Region (Mark Saroni, Ben Hall and Lauren Lewis) secured a 4th place finish to 38 relay teams and took home some cash prize! Although the run was an all out suffer-fest, it was a fun experience.
My Weekend was really a blast, and I am so happy that it ended on a high note. The team didnt walk away with the finish we would have liked, but everyone sure did walk away with a great experience, great friends, and a new meaning to the word Training
=>> Podium 3.0! I will miss ya Aggies!