Saturday, September 27, 2008

Nationals Recap

I contemplated not writing this post at all. But then I decided that you can't make something go away by pretending it never happened. Further, I've always believed that any athlete who has a blog should not just skip over their failures and only write about their successes. So here goes probably the shortest race recap I will ever write...

This past weekend, the elite and age group nationals took place in Portland, Oregon with the age groupers taking the morning shift and the elite women and men starting in the afternoon. With a noon start time, I was able to sleep in until 8 (which as I've mentioned before is really sleeping in in the triathlon world) and take my time before rolling out of my hotel at 9:30.

The women's race had a noon start time, and since this was an ITU race, we were able to pick our spots to start on the pontoon. Since I haven't competed in an ITU race in over a year (Kelowna 07 was my last one), I had one of the higher numbers and was one of the last to pick my spot. I ended up choosing the slot between Julie Ertel(2008 Olympian) and Sarah Groff. I knew I'd have to get off to a quick/clean start in order to not get beat up and was pleasantly surprised when I was able to jump on Julie Ertel's feet after the start and hang on them for a couple hundred meters before she kicked it into another gear. For the rest of the swim, I really had no idea where I was in the pack of 15 girls. So, I hammered the rest of the swim, fearing that I might be at the back of the pack. When I exited the water, I glanced back for a quick second and was super excited to see about half of the pack still coming around the last buoy.

So, I sprinted into transition and had a good T1 before I headed out on the bike, knowing that I would most likely have a pack to work with after a lap or so on the bike. And that is exactly what happened. After about a lap, a group of six girls caught me on the technical part of the loop heading down into transition. The bike consisted of 8 loops of 5k each, and each time we had to pass through transition and over timing mats. As the group passed me, I looked for a place to settle in and eventually had to take the last wheel as there were no gaps in the group. As I latched onto the last girl's wheel she started to overturn the corner and had to end up braking to make the turn. This lost us the pack. We both sprinted out of the saddle for about 15 seconds trying to catch up. She was able to catch them after about 10 seconds. As hard as I tried, I didn't have enough power to catch them. So, for about half a lap I rode with the pack about 5 seconds ahead of me. No matter how many surges I threw in, I wasn't able to catch them. Over the next couple of laps, the pack was gaining about 20 seconds per lap on me. Then, after 4 laps, I realized the lead pack of girls were gaining quickly on me. I held them off for six laps, until they lapped me. It is a rule in ITU competitions that if you get lapped, you're out. So, my day was done. I was very disappointed as this is only the 2nd race I've ever DNF'ed (besides a race my junior year of high school where I crashed my bike and injured my arm and carbon frame), so I'm not used to the feeling of just quitting. I know I am in better shape than I was last year at this time, but that breakthrough race can't come soon enough. One more race to go for the year so stay tuned..
~AHahn

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