On August 10th I raced the USA Triathlon Sprint Distance National Championships in Milwaukee, WI. I have only raced Sprint Nationals on one other occasion. That was in 1997 at Catalina Island, CA. On that day I beat 26 other guys to win the men’s 35-39 age group and become a National Champion. Back in those days very few guys would get on an airplane to race Sprint Nationals so it was not nearly as competitive as today. This year there were 26 states represented just in my age group. I was going to have my hands full.
I had raced the Olympic Distance Nationals the day before. The Olympic Distance race would serve as the lone qualifier for the 2015 Olympic Distance World Championships in Chicago. The Sprint Nationals would serve as the lone qualifier for the 2015 Sprint Distance World Championships in Chicago. I chose to double up and do both Nationals to improve my odds of qualifying for one of the teams racing in Chicago. I grew up in the Chicago area so I was very motivated.
25 Team USA slots per age group were going to be awarded based on our ages in 2015. In the Olympic Distance race I placed 22nd, but dropped down to 27th based on my 2015 age. I was pretty confident that 2 guys would pass on their slot and I’d get one, but there was no guarantee. That meant I was going to have to be just as aggressive in the Sprint race…if there was anything left in the tank.
I felt good on race morning. I swam more than usual for my pre-race warmup to make certain I was ready to get out of the gate fast. The 750 meter swim was in Lake Michigan. I hammered the swim in 11:05 which put me in 16th place. My pace of 1:21 per 100 yards was actually a bit faster than the day before.
The 20K (12.4 miles) bike course was the same as the day before. We climbed about the same amount, but did not have as far to go on the flat portion. I tried really hard on the bike, but could not summon the same power as the day before. No surprise there. I had the 53rd best bike split with a time of 34:13. I averaged 21.8 mph, whereas the day before I averaged 22.7 mph. This effort put me in 39th place.
During the Olympic Distance race I actually passed 39 guys on the run. I knew I’d pass guys during the Sprint, but would I have enough real estate to pass enough guys? I took off like what little hair I have left was on fire. Only 13 guys ran under 20 minutes and only 3 of them ran under 19 minutes. I posted the 3rd best run split of 18:37 to finish in 1:07:46. I was only 4 seconds away from the fastest run split. I passed 25 guys to finish 14th out of 118 men in the 50-54 age group. Based on my 2015 age I placed 16th so I knew that day that I had qualified to represent Team USA in the 2015 Sprint Worlds. That was a huge relief!
For my age group I actually had the fastest “double”. That means I had the fastest combined times for the two races. There were actually a handful of guys that did both races. There was no award for that, but at least I have bragging rights.
It took over a month, but I did finally learn that 2 guys passed on the Olympic Distance slot so I accomplished my goal. I will get to race for Team USA in both 2015 races in Chicago.
To see my race photos, click on this link:
The #1 highlight from the trip was sharing the experience with my Mom. Mom is 93 and she still lives in the Chicago area. She joined me in Milwaukee. We had a great time together, as always. My life is very, very good. I have much to be thankful for.
Living the life…