The moment of truth! The USA Triathlon National Championship is here. I still remember how I felt when I received my qualification email. I always dreamed to qualify for the National Championship, and to get that freaking e-mail notification. So the work is done, now is time to race.
The trip to Milwaukee was a bit bumpy. Our flight got cancelled on Friday and team was split into different flights thru the day. The plan was to get to Milwaukee at 1pm, but I finally got there at 10pm. On the way back, Miami airport was closed due to thunderstorms and we need it to wait on the air and then on Ft Lauderdale for several hours. Then arrived to Miami, and we had to wait a couple of ours to get a gate to pop out of the airplane. WHAT A MESS! With that out of the system, we can continue with our programed race report!
The weather was perfect for race day, although we had some concerns with the water temperature on race day. The water was 50 degrees, a temperature that we are not used to, plus it was mandatory for us to use wetsuits. After doing Escape from Alcatraz on similar conditions, I was not really worried about it. The Olympic distance race was held on Saturday and we got to see a glimpse of it. The organization for this event is top notch and the goodies are good, we got a nice long sleeve shirt and a run cap… which can of paid for itself. Plus the finish line was amazing!
I was on the first wave on race day. I was there to do the best I could with my current abilities. I knew it was going to be a super competitive field, and the last time I felt like I was going to get my ass kicked… was in Kona. But for me is the experience what counts.
So with my wetsuit on, I jumped to the water and… IT WAS FREAKING COLD!!! My feet, hands and face were frozen! I tried to warm up a little bit but then everyone was called to the start line. When I got there I noticed everyone in wetsuits, except one person… he was on Speedos!!! Are you kidding me? Do you come from Alaska or something?! Anyway, we got lined up, and then the sounds of some drums came from the speakers… it gave the sensation we were going to WAR!!!
Started the swim and off we went. I believed I had a solid pace and I was in the middle pack… not bad. I was thinking if can hold this pace, the beat down wouldn’t be that bad. But, then the ghost of the wetsuit appeared. As some of you know, sometimes I have problems while swimming on wetsuits… I start hyperventilating and choking… and it happened again… on a National Championship. I thought if the water was really cold nothing would happen, and after the nice experience in San Francisco I would be fine… but no, I was completely wrong.
I was starting to panic, but the first thing I remembered as a Jedi Knight was to keep control and relax… breathe. I was thinking of quitting so bad, but after coming all the way here to Milwaukee to quit… that wasn’t really the person I know. So I turned on my back and started to breathe and relax. I was saying to myself: It doesn’t matter if you finish last (well.. actually it did LOL), just relax and start swimming slowly. Little by little I caught up my breath and I noticed the whole pack waaaay in front of me. But right now it was only for survival and to get the freaking wetsuit off me as soon as possible.
My friends Bernie and Sebas were waiting for me to get out on the Swim Out. The leaders went thru, and as expected by many I could be in between the middle pack. The middle pack went thru and no signs of me. “Where is he?” “Did he drowned?”, and then there I was getting out of the water dying and telling then with gestures… “IT WAS HORRIBLE, abort mission, ABORRTTT!”. Bernie and Sebas know that my swimming is not THAT bad… and they got discouraged that if I was beaten so badly, they might be eaten alive… encouragement at its finest!!! Haha!!!
After going to transition and taking the wetsuit off (finally!), it was more of a catch up game the whole time. Got on Lightning, and rode the Lightning the best I could. I passed some people which felt good. A lot of false flats and a little hill on the turnaround. On the way back there was a nice down hill until you need to climb a bridge, go down and then get to the second turnaround… climb up again and then go down. I knew I need it to save some legs for that bridge!
Back to transition and off to the run. Probably the run was the thing I liked the most from the race. Flat & scenic, and the weather was great to run off your heart out. I caught up to a guy that passed me on the bike, exchange some encouragement words and basically we ran together the whole time. I was trying to out pace him in the first mile but he stayed with me until he got in front of me. I used him as a pacer and I stayed behind him the whole time. I was impressed to see the top 3 females from the second wave fly through us on the run. Absolutely incredible.
On the last mile I was just trying to keep up with my pacer, and on the last yards he took off and I couldn’t keep up with him. I have to tell the finish line was awesome, and of course I finished hard with some PANDA KICK!
42nd out of 67 (That’s 42 in the Nation and I was second Floridian :) )
So that was the National Championship. It was a great experience. Next year they are moving the race to Omaha. Probably I will qualify again, and I will come back... but not anytime soon. First I need to lower my times, plus next year I'm moving up age group, which is an even tougher one with more competitive times.
With my "A" race done, is time to enjoy whatever is left from the season with... you guessed it.... MOAR RACESSSS and even MOAAARR PANDA KICKS!!! :D