I was really excited to have the chance to race for MIT at the Nationals in Tempe, AZ. Since starting grad school here in the U.S., I haven’t had the chance to travel much and I was just as excited to travel to a new part of the country as I was to race.
Background: I’ve done 7 triathlons before, and this was my 3rd olympic distance event.
Waking up atlocal time wasn’t too bad with the time zone change. Thanks to the sweet airbnb place we rented, we were super close to the race site and had a fully loaded kitchen. I had my usual breakfast of banana oatmeal and a bagel with PB&J. Transition setup was smooth, but there was almost 4 hours between setup and race start as the women raced first. Watching the women race made me even more excited to get into the water. It was fun to cheer for Allie, Sarah, and Morgan when they got out of the water and when they came back from the bike course; it was too bad I couldn’t see them finish since my wave was lining up to start while they were out on the run course.
SWIM [1500 m, 25:43, 1:34/100yards]:
The swim course was a rectangle lap in the beautiful Tempe Town Lake. The mass swim start went better than expected, although there was a lot of contact in first 500 m I was able to stay calm and kept on the feet of a group of people in front of me. There was a bit of chaos at the first turn buoy, with people swimming over each other. After the second turn, it was myself and two other guys swimming next to each other almost stroke for stroke to the third and final buoy. I felt really good at this point and picked up my pace, starting to kick harder, in the last 300 m. I was happy with this time, considering that in January I was struggling to do 10x100s on.
I was surprised to see that many of the bikes in my rack were still there. I took some time to put on my socks and shoes and threw on an aero helmet (first time racing with one!). In the future I’d like to practice and learn how to do flying starts to cut down on the time.
BIKE [36 km, 1:04:36, 20.8 mph]:
Of all three disciplines, biking is my weakest, but luckily the bike course consisted of 2 laps that were pretty flat - though there were a couple of sharp turnarounds. I brought two gels with me and took one in at the half way point, and drank about half a bottle of gatorade during this leg. I was passed by so many guys on the bike but I reminded myself that I could probably catch some of them on the run. On the final lap I even passed a few people. It was a great experience to see crowds lined up along the bike course cheering us on. Thanks to Mitchell for the super cool disc covers [see attached photo], got plenty of compliments and made my bike look fast :).
I still don’t understand how this was slower than T1, but I definitely need to work on my transitions. I threw on my sunglasses and shoes, took a swig of gatorade, then was off.
RUN [10 km, 42:57, 6:54/mile]:
I didn’t feel as fresh as I usually do coming off the bike (probably from the lack of brick workouts in my training this winter) but I felt I could still hold my goal pace of. I should also mention that I was starting the run around so the sun was high in the sky and it was hot, especially coming from the cold Boston weather. The first two miles went well, clocking in at . On the third mile, I’m not sure whether it was the heat or not, but my legs started to feel like bricks and I had to put so much effort into each stride and completed the mile in . This was probably one of the hardest runs I’ve done, with each successive mile getting slower and slower. However in the last 5-600 m I saw Allie cheering like crazy and yelling my name which gave me the last boost of energy needed to finish strong. Also, I must have gotten more than 20 compliments on my hair color from other athletes and spectators on the course which was cool.
This was my fastest olympic distance race so far, though the bike course was shortened, and was all in all a great race. I’d like to thank everyone who organized the logistics for this and the whole tri-team. I’m going to make more of an effort to come out to all the tri-practices in the near-future and am looking forward to more races in the summer! I’ve attached a couple of photos of the team and me racing on the course.