USA Triathlon Long Course National Championships

Racing at USA Triathlon Long Course National Championships and a place on the podium!

Racing at USA Triathlon Long Course National Championships and a place on the podium!

On June 8th I raced the USA Triathlon Long Course National Championships in Grand Rapids, MI. My purpose and goal for doing this race was to place in the top 20 of my age group to qualify for the 2015 Triathlon Long Course World Championships in Sweden.

The highlights of this trip revolve around the people I was able to visit. I flew into Chicago so I was able to spend my first and last evenings with my Mom in Lombard. I also had breakfast on Saturday with my sisters Cindy and Debbie.

Another highlight was traveling and racing with Dan Redfern. I’ve been coaching Dan for the past 10 months and he has been a pleasure to work with. I also got to see my old friend Matt Goble. Matt has been a good friend since our MBA days at Loyola University of Chicago in the late ‘80’s. Dan, Matt and I had dinner the night before the race and Matt gave us a huge advantage with his local knowledge of the course.

There was a chance of rain for race day and that was the last thing I wanted. I just wanted a dry, safe course to race on. The night before the race the weather looked like it might not rain. But upon waking on race day it was wet and still drizzling.

The 1.2 mile swim was held in Thornapple River which was really more like a lake as there seemed to be no current. I was amazed at how warm the water was for this early in the season in Michigan. The water temperature was 76 so we were only 2 degrees away from the 78 degree cutoff disallowing wetsuits. I had a great swim as I was 2nd out of the water with a time of 31:48 – a pace of 1:38/100 meters. It has now become apparent to me how much I have benefited by scheduling 2 of my swim workouts per week in a 50 meter pool – long course rocks!

The 56 mile bike course was a simple out and back on very flat roads. A light rain fell for about the first hour of the bike, but thankfully it was not much of a problem as there were not too many turns on the course. I cycled very conservatively for the first hour just to keep it safe and save something for the run. I think we must have had a mild tail wind on the way out because I was pleased with my pace. Things got a little tougher on the return trip, but I held it together. I thought the field had thinned out a lot until I got passed by a group of 30 at the 52 mile mark. I let them go and vowed to make those drafters pay on the run course. My bike split was 2:36:24 (21.5 mph). That was a good performance by me, but only the 21st best time on the day so it dropped me to 11th place. I had some work to do on the run!

2 flat laps comprised the 13.1 mile run course. I took a quick leak at mile 2 and from there on I flew. Matt was spectating while riding his bike around the run course. He saw me for the first time at mile 10. I was starting to fade, but there was no way I was going to slow down in front of Matt. Just having him out there really helped me to rally. At mile 12 I found myself just ahead of some guy named Norman Kim. I did not know him, but I suspected he was in my age group. I asked him how old he was. He gave me nothing! That told me everything. He was in my age group and I needed to drop him. I beat him by 33 seconds and, in fact, he was in my age group. We got a good laugh about the whole episode at the finish line. I had a great race and I knew it. My run split was 1:30:32 (6:54/mile) which was the best on the day by 4:19. My finish time was 4:43:48. I placed 3rd out of 53 men in the 50-54 age group, 85th out of 713 overall finishers. Not only had I qualified to race in Sweden in 2015, but I had earned a spot on the podium at Nationals!

My race day nutrition plan worked like a charm. On the bike I used a cocktail of PowerBar Endurance and CarboPro for my hydration, electrolyte and caloric needs. On the run I used PowerGels and Saltstick for additional calories and sodium to keep from cramping.

Dan also had a great race. He placed 10th in the men’s 55-59 age group. He improved on his previous best time for the Half Ironman distance by 26 minutes! I guess my coaching techniques have worked well for him. We had a great time together on this trip and Laurie and I are really looking forward to enjoying the Swedish experience with Dan and his family.

Click on this link to see my pictures: http://www2.backprint.com/fastphoto/123600/5393

Living the life…

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8 Responses to USA Triathlon Long Course National Championships

  1. Colin Reid says:

    Congratulations, mate! I recommended your coaching services to a guest that will be competing in Ironman Boulder last week. We’ll see if she reaches out to me….

    Colin Reid

  2. Karen Labenz Tom Hunt says:

    AWESOME, Craig!  CONGRATS!  And love that you got to see your mom and sisters and Matt, too.  GREAT JOB!   xoxo Karen

  3. janechdavenport says:

    Wow 3rd! Way to go! 🙂

    Coach & Janech

    >

  4. Denise Bienias says:

    I know this is late, but WOW! Congrats!!!!

    Denise

    • Craig Zelent says:

      Hey Denise,

      You are never too late. It usually takes me 2-3+ weeks to get these blog posts written anyway – that’s late. I hope you and Rick are enjoying the summer.

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