USA Triathlon National Championships

When I send out my race reports my #1 goal is to inspire people to exercise and discover a healthy lifestyle. It is so obvious to me that most of our society suffers from bad eating habits and a lack of fitness. I want to have a hand in changing that.

This particular report may or may not turn anyone on to exercise. It shows that sometimes sweating and getting your heart rate up is hard. And not just physically hard, but mentally and emotionally hard. That may scare some people away. Trying to lose weight and simply get healthy is every bit as hard. I respect anyone willing to “put it out there” and take a chance by participating. Everyone who participates is a winner.

On Saturday, August 18th I raced the USA Triathlon National Championships in Burlington, Vermont. Nationals is one of the biggest, most competitive races that I do. It really matters to me. Things that matter can be centers of great joy, but sometimes also pain. After racing yesterday I did not feel like much of a winner. Thankfully those feelings are changing as I write this. Here’s the story.

I have trained so hard this entire year and was absolutely fit enough to place top 10 today, but placed 24th. I had horrific navigation problems during the swim that probably cost me 4+ minutes and that was my race. The sun and glare were extremely difficult to deal with. The turn buoys during the swim were yellow and I believe I made the mistake of swimming for a yellow buoy that was not even part of the race course. When I got to it, the people on kayaks were hollering at me and a few other athletes to go the other way. I now realized I was way off course. My race was effectively over almost before it even started. I would never blame the Race Director or volunteers. It is always the athlete’s responsibility to know the course. This was on me.

Nationals was the 1 qualifying race for the 2013 Triathlon World Championships in London. It’s a 1 shot deal. After watching the Olympics and seeing all the sights of London I wanted to qualify more than ever. I thought I would qualify with no problem. Piece of cake. For each age group there are 18 slots for Team USA. The 18th slot can roll down to 25th place. That means if I place 24th and 6 guys say they don’t want to go to London, then I’d still qualify. But the USAT rules say that the slots cannot roll down past 25th place.

The Team USA selection is based on the ages of everyone during 2013. I’ll spare you the details, but based on our ages in 2013 my finish place dropped to 27th. Officially out of any chance to get on Team USA. One competitor whom I beat easily both times I raced him earlier this season by 4:16 and 5:31 placed in the top 10. I was devastated and numb the rest of the day. I did not see this coming.

Devastated until I attended the Awards ceremony last night and learned a guy died in the race. During the swim. A 50+ year old guy (so probably a guy in my age group). Around 8:05am. 17 minutes into my race. About the time when I made all my mistakes. As sorry as I’ve been feeling for myself, I think I’d rather be me…and have my 24th/27th place result and not be on Team USA, but live to fight another day.

Perspective, Craig. Perspective.

I heard another story during the Awards ceremony. 3 weeks ago a woman was killed when she was hit by a drunk driver while she was biking at 7:30am. The woman was training for her first time to race Nationals. She was a Mom. A wife. A daughter. A sister. She was the friend of many people. I don’t know her personally. But at the same time I feel like I do know her. We were cut from the same fabric. My tail wags when I exercise. It makes me so happy. I want everyone to feel that joy.

So exercising has its risks. Is it worth it? Absolutely! It is going to take me a long time to recover from yesterday. But the 16 mile run I did today as my final long run in preparation for Ironman Wisconsin 3 weeks from now was the best therapy I could ever imagine. I knew that while I was trying to pull my head back together on this run, my super cool wife who cheered for me yesterday was racing the Timberman 70.3 Half Ironman in Gilford, New Hampshire. That is an awesome wife!

And things are already looking up today. It dawned on me that I could probably race the 2013 Aquathlon World Championships in London. Aquathlon is swimming and running and I’m certain I could represent Team USA in that event if I desire. The Aquathlon would be held the same week as the Triathlon so I’d still get to whoop it up with my friends while we drink the warm beer and eat their sorry cuisine. It might be nice for once to take an international trip without schlepping my bike. Just a speedo, goggles and running shoes. This has possibilities.

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