Collegiate Cycling Regionals was held at Purdue University in West Lafeyette, Indiana this year. I road tripped down with teammates Pat and Alex. I made a huge batch of pasta for the trip, which of course they were more than happy to dig into!
The course was short 7 mile loops for a total of 50 miles. It was very pretty and there were two moderate climbs and a bunch of rollers. The road race was fairly uneventful. I sat in the field, content to let stronger riders from other schools brave the fierce headwinds. Four girls got off the front on one of the climbs, and most other riders finished in the field with a bunch sprint for 5-20th place. My role was the sacrificial lamb/workhorse for my teammates. I successfully chased down a few attacks towards the end of the race until a Marion College rider attacked about a mile from the finish. I was still recovering from reeling in another attack and tried to go after her but she managed to escape off the front. Without easing up it was also time for me to start a leadout for the other girls, something I did as best as I could but I was admittedly exhausted. Our sprinter, Holly got boxed in and wasn’t able to finish as strongly as we had hoped but it was still a great race for the four of us. I’m confident with a little more practice we can definitely make things happen at Nationals! Even though my finish wasn’t very high, I was happy to work for my team and finish ahead of several girls who have way more time to train than I do!
Outside of racing this was a very fun weekend. Pat, one of the guys on the team came along and made pancakes and french-press coffee for everyone in the parking lot on a camp stove. We were definitely the envy of all the other teams!
We also got a chance to check out the Purdue Campus and hit up a local pup, the Black Sparrow for dinner.
I ran into an old friend, Anna working there which was a great surprise and one that of course needed to be celebrated with a shot of whiskey!
Sunday it was thunder storming so I elected not to do the criterium and risk crashing/damaging my bike. We stopped in Chicago for a visit with Pat’s sister and some brunch instead.
We headed out of Lubbock Sunday morning before the sun came up. We were all more than ready to leave Lubbock behind and head back to Wisconsin. We were lucky enough to have a stop at the halfway point in Missouri for some barbecue with Kelley Hess’s boyfriend’s parents. They had enough food to feed an army and we had appetites to match.
Kelley regaled us with stories about her research in astronomy. I pretended I understood, but I was more focused on trying not to lick my plate clean!
20 hours of driving later, it was nice to finally be home. Thanks to all my friends, family and teammates for your support and congratulations for this important and memorable race!
I’ve been putting this post off much longer than I should mostly because I felt I needed a few days to get into a more positive mindset before writing. I’m not sure it worked…
Collegiate Nationals. Where to begin?
I’ve already written about the conditions leading up to the race: flood warnings, standing water on the course, cold, wind, etc.
Luckily, it stopped raining the night before the race. For the most part, the water receded off the course. However, it was still cold, with highs in the low 50′s and windy (30 mph winds) the morning of the race.
USAT announced that the swim course would be shortened to 500m due to cold air temps, which is probably the best thing that could have happened to me short of the entire race being canceled. I haven’t made it to the pool much this semester and was concerned about finishing a 1500m swim in below 60 degree water.
Swim: I was in the 6th swim wave, going off at 9:25. I was expecting to be one of the slower swimmers in the race so I started towards the back of the group. This was definitely a mistake as I spent the majority of the very short swim trying to swim around a bunch of girls floundering around in the water. It was impossible to get into any sort of rhythm.
T1: I was cold and disoriented by the time I made it to the swim finish. Thank goodness there were volunteers to pull me out of the water. I struggled with my wetsuit; definitely something I’m going to have to re-practice before my next race. I was shivering by the time I got to my spot; I struggled to put on a windbreaker and long fingered gloves. I don’t fare well in cold weather and I knew it would be worth the time to put on a few extra layers. There is a hill immediately outside of transition so no flying mount for this race either. My T1 time was 3:03 – almost long enough to take a power nap!
Bike: This is my strongest event and where I should have put the most time on my competitors. However, 30 mph crosswinds when you weight 115 pounds make maintaining aero position on the bike nearly impossible. The bike portion was not only a struggle to go forward, but also to stay upright. Exhausting and disheartening. My bike split was 1:25:17, the slowest of my career (1:03:00 is my PR).
T2: Despite being cold and disoriented, I managed a flying dismount. Running to my spot, I could tell I didn’t have any feeling in my feet or toes. I stripped off the wind jacket, slipped on my Brooks Launches, strapped on my race belt and was off.
Run: I felt okay for the first mile of the run, until we had to run through a puddle of ankle deep water that covered the entire run course. At that point, wet shoes and clothes combined with cold air really took their toll. I was also pretty psychologically shot by this point as well. It was all I could do to keep going and not walk. I tried to use my usual trick of telling myself that I’d forget the pain after the race but even then I knew that this was one time that the suffering wouldn’t be wiped out by the joy of finishing. As if things weren’t bad enough, the run course was almost 1/2 mile long. Nothing like prolonging the suffering!
This is part of the puddle we had to run through during the race:
I crossed the finish line and was immediately hit with how cold my body temperature was. I started shivering so badly I couldn’t walk. One of the volunteers was nice enough to escort me to the medical tent. There I was layered with warm blankets and my leg muscles were rubbed down in an effort to warm me up. It took nearly 30 minutes in front of a heat fan before my teeth stopped chattering.
I ended up finishing in the top 1/3 of female competitors. 24th female in the grad division. Two of my teammates, Summer and Kelley Hess had very strong performances and we managed to place 9th in the team competition. Most of the teams in front of us were either military, had no true winter to contend with, or were located at altitude.
The male and female winners of the race were both professional triathletes. This is something unique about triathlons and cycling. Having a pro license doesn’t exclude you from competing for amateur titles!
I don’t think I’ll recover psychologically from this race until I do another triathlon. I really have a lot to prove to myself right now and I need to regain a lot of confidence that I lost this weekend. I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to compete again.
I have a lot of really big things coming up in the next few weeks: Collegiate Cycling Regionals, Collegiate Cycling Nationals, my 25th birthday (Friday!) and of course my last block of my first year of medical school exams. I can’t wait for summer!
Collegiate Triathlon Nationals has officially turned into an adventure race. It’s been raining here since we arrived with no sign of stopping until after the race is finished. There are flash flood warnings and temperatures around 55 degrees. Definitely not ideal conditions for a triathlon!
I’m trying hard to stay positive for this race but it’s hard to get psyched up for what will surely be one of the most miserable 2 1/2 to 3 hours of my triathlon career thus far (ever?). On that note, it’s probably a good idea for me to make a public apology to the friends and family I’ve yelled at for trying to cheer me up about tomorrow’s race. So much for staying positive….yikes.
We checked out the course today but left the bikes in the car due to 30 mph winds and torrential rain. We did get some swimming in and one positive is that the swim temp is about 10 degrees warmer than last year!
Swim course preview:
This weekend has confirmed my thoughts that you have to be a little nutty to be a triathlete. We saw people on bikes, people out running in just shorts, people running in wetsuits…it was definitely a circus!
We also made friends with some other teams, including these guys from Waco, TX:
The bike course had almost as much water on it as the swim. KHess got out of the car and checked out the situation:
We learned that if the water doesn’t recede by tomorrow, there will be mandatory dismounts and remounts on the bike course where there is standing water! It’s definitely going to be hard to find a rhythm if that’s the case.
We wrapped up the day with a team pasta dinner put on by USAT and some last minute tweaks of our bikes.
The captions for the above photo are endless:
Kelley Hess sizing up the competition
Kelley Hess getting in the zone
Kelley Hess – constipated
Kelley Hess – insert your quote here
Car Awesome (KHess, myself and SteveS) hit the road on Thursday afternoon for the 20 hour drive to USAT Collegiate Triathlon Nationals.
Being triathletes, we only made it to Iowa City before the taper week hunger took control, forcing us to stop for all-you-can-eat soup, salad and breadsticks at Olive Garden.
Nothing says “I’m carb loading” like four bowls of breadsticks, 4 bowls of salad, four bowls of soup, a pasta entrée and a tiramisu boozy drink for three people.
We also said “heck yes” to a sample of the featured wine, practically before the waitress could get the word complimentary out of her mouth. I was the only one who was carded, which, the waitress informed me is because “blonde hair makes you look young.” Guess I better keep up the highlighting!
Back on the road with some leftover breadsticks and a stack of mints, KHess and I have made it our mission to make #TriNats a trending topic on Twitter. Check out the action via @KHesser and @RunBlonde if you’re into that sort of thing.