Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Going to Nationals

I did very well at the King Pine Tri this past June. It is partly due to my increased training this year and zippy new bike, and partly due to who showed up that day. No matter, I did well enough to qualify for the USAT National Championships happening this coming weekend in Burlington VT. If it were on the other side of the country, and not just a 3-hr drive, I probably would not have bothered. But being so close, and considering how unlikely I am to be in this position again anytime soon, I have taken the plunge, plunked down a whopper of an entry fee ($150!), and will be racing this Saturday.

Sunday is when they hold the Sprint-distance competition, which is my usual distance. Saturday is the international (a.k.a., Olympic) distance, which I have yet to do in competition. How does finishing well in a sprint distance qualify me for the international? I don't know. I don't really care, either. I have been gearing up for an international-distance race this season, and am genuinely looking forward to it.

To say that I am looking forward to a 1-mile swim, 25-mile bike, and 10-k run may put my sanity into question, but I'll be good company with the 1000+ others who will be there. Based on my recent training, I know I can do the distance. On paper, I estimate this will take me around 2:30:00 - 2:45:00. While that sounds impressive, and any finish will automatically be a personal best, it actually will put me in the bottom half, and possible the bottom quarter, of my age group. For comparison, the Olympic men's triathlon even, just last week, was completed in a well under two hours.

Really, I am OK with how poor (relatively) my performance will be. I am blessed with neither the natural ability nor the abundant training time nor the deeeeeep pockets that would be necessary to really be competitive at this level. My goal is to finish, and finish in a time and manner that I can respect. In other words: racing for myself, rather than competing.

Because I qualified late, and got off the wait list just two weeks ago, there is not a single hotel room anywhere in the vicinity for me to use. I have heard some competitors are shacking up in Plattsburg, NY, clear on the other side of Lake Champlain! There are, however, campgrounds nearby, which are a whole lot cheaper. Really, all I need is a comfortable place to sleep Friday night and a place to shower Saturday afternoon. I am undecided about staying over Saturday night. I won't finish my race until almost noon (first wave starts the swim at 7:30 am; my wave not until nearly 9:00!). Burlington is supposed to be a great town to hang around. The campground option makes staying over pretty easy and inexpensive.

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