Monday, August 22, 2011

USAT Age Group Nationals

Burlington didn't let me down. Mostly because I exited the water to the familar and comforting voices of my husband and one of  my dearest college girlfriends, Martha.  It was a great start.
I guess I should back up a bit.
I'm not going to get too into the nitty gritty of this race. I don't have tons to say to be honest.  I was unsure what I'd be able to do on that day. I wasn't about to claim I was unfit or talk too much about this new foot injury I'm dealing with. But the truth is, I have spent a lot of time resting since Lake Placid. After all, that is exactly what I needed to do. I also spent a week or so nursing a pretty impressive case of plantar fasciitis.  It's annoying.  That stuff aside, I am fit. After all, I raced a solid Ironman less than a month ago and my fitness is super deep from that. I'm experienced and I love to compete. So, I put aside my insecurities about this day and just went for it.
The boys and I drove to VT on Friday. We got ourselves settled in the hotel, met up with Mary and Steve at the expo, we racked our bikes, nearly ran out of gas, had dinner with the kids, Steve, Kurt and Mary and then finally found my husband at a secret little airport just out of town.
That was that. Time to race.

I admit to being a little surprised at how big the race was. I don't know why it surprised me. But there were tons of people there. It was hard to find my friends. But I did manage to see most of them. I met a few cool new people, reunited briefly with Kari that I met at AZ training camp in 2010, and even somehow found my gang of boys before the start.

The swim start was strange. It was aggressive and crowded. I got clawed by some woman for a long time and finally decided to KICK her off me. I was highly irritated. I swam and swam. From time to time I realized I was in Ironman pace lala land and reminded myself to get Moving!  I caught a few waves that went off before us ( my age was wave 11!!) and got caught up in that cluster. A little commentary. I know that we have drafting perks by starting with big groups and in back, but I am convinced I could pull off a much more impressive swim time if given the chance to swim a course without weaving in and out of so many others.  I had to stop and do breaststrokes multiple times because of the huge clusters of people. Whatever, it's part of the sport. 
The water was refreshing and clean and cool.  I swam fairly hard into the chute.  I was stroke for stroke with a few other red caps in my wave. 
Out of the water and as I said, I hear Martha!! and Mark! I hadn't seen Marty in years but I knew it was her and it made my day.  She's an old college swim team friend and we heard many GO GO GO screams from each other over the years.  I recognized her yells in a second.

I struggled to get the wetsuit off. I'm just lousy at that.  It was the only race I had to do it myself for all summer! No practice = lousy technique. remember that Ange and practice.

Off on the bike.
Yup....  I'm riding. Come ON body. GO! It took me a while to warm up. I felt ....fair. Not bad, not good,  just...fine.
I was having fun riding through Burlington though!
I turned onto Spear Street and started to smile.
Because within a very short time I saw more of my Girls!!! Kath was holding a big sign and all I could read was MAINE. But I knew....
HEY! I hollered to them and instantly Wendy, Kath, Gina, and a few other ladies started jumping around and cheering!!
THAT is why I wanted to race this race so much.  My college years in B'town were some of the best of my life because I honestly had ( still have ) the worlds most devoted and loyal and honest best friends. These women are the kind of women that are there for you come hell or high water. I might 1, 3 or even more years without seeing them and it makes No difference. It's just like it was yesterday back on south Union street when we are together again. I smiled for miles after riding by them. They all dropped everything on their Saturday to be out there for me. 
Thanks girls. It meant a lot. 
I rode and rode and felt fast and strong here and there.
At mile 13 ish we made this crazy hairpin turn. I saw teammate Carrie on the move. Before I could even think about it, she flew by me. Go Carrie!!! I yelled 'good job' and hope she heard me.

There were some faaaaaaaaaaaaaast women out there. I must say.
Finally, around mile 17 or so, I felt pretty good! I was warmed up! The problem? It was ending at mile 24+. Oh well.
The last .5 or so was a cluster. I could barely ride it was so crowded.  I know I lost a little time there. 

It was kind of hard for me to get into the mode of FAST moving everything. Ironman is so methodical. I went fast through things but allowed myself time to think too. Not in an Oly.
I was in and  out for the run and feeling pretty good.
I heard Martha a few more times though T2.

The boys and Mark were on the big hill out of the run. I high 5'd them and headed off. I felt fine! Actually, I felt good!
I hit the flat and just cruised. I maintained a sub 6:40 pace with what seemed like little effort.
Ok, don't get me wrong Kurt. I used a Lot of effort that day. that's not what I mean... but it did feel easy. 

After a couple miles, I could see Carrie up ahead. I felt myself catching up. There were tons of people on the roads... I picked them off one by one. A few men flew by as if they were running the 400 yard dash and all I could think was, "where have they been??"  Strange.
I passed Carrie back at mile 3 or so. She looked strong and was having a great day. 

And then, before I knew it, I could hear the finish line. I cruised in as fast as I could. Until, some chick came up beside me. Damn. I totally cranked my head over to read her leg. All I saw was a 4---. that's MY group! nope. Sorry hun...I have a little in the tank. I sprinted even more and saved my spot.
6th in the age group. 
total time 2:16
swim- 22:xx bike 1:09xx run 41:xx.... I am not sure of the exact seconds.
but I'm happy!!!  My run was great and I made top 10 for this big race full of lots of hot shots.
The rest of the day was perfect!!!!  The girls and I gathered our families and spent the afternoon on Lake Champlain at one of their family's homes.  It was just right.



kT said...

Great job, Ange, and nice to meet you!

Marisa said...

Congrats on the race. And how fantastic to spend the weekend with best friends!

Michelle Simmons said...

THAT is super impressive 1 month post ironman! Congrats!!

Kim said...

incredible ange! way to go rockstar!!!

Beth said...

Congrats on another great race Ange!!! Way to get on that podium!

Carlee said...

Awesome job!!!

Where did you go to college? I swam at UVM.

Ange said...

Carlee... I swam at UVM too! 1988-1992. how about you?

Mary IronMatron said...

It was a fun weekend... :) And you were awesome! xo

JenniferLeah said...

Congrats!! Two different animals of a race for sure and you rocked 'em both