On August 10th I raced USA Triathlon National Championships in Cleveland, OH. Nationals is always my favorite race of the year. It is the best organized, most well run and very competitive. USAT does an outstanding job with this race every year. In 2018 I placed 11th in the men’s 55-59 age group. I am 1 year older in that same age group this year so the goal was to only lose a couple of places. The primary goal was to earn 1 of the 18 slots for the 2020 World Championships in Edmonton, Canada.
The day before the race I met up with Mike Land who now lives in Bath, OH. Mike and I have been friends from the Glen Ellyn, IL days for 45+ years so it was great to see him. I also enjoyed a pre-race dinner at Olive Garden with 3 members of Team Wade – Wade Grow, Steve Wade and his wife Becky Wade. We’ve all been friends for about 20 years. It is always special seeing old friends!
We had perfect weather on race day – sunny and highs in the mid 70’s. There had been an E. coli issue in Lake Erie a few days prior to the race. I actually figured they would cancel the swim, but they tested the water and it met all the criteria so the swim was on. But due to strong currents, they cut the swim in half from 1500 meters to 750 meters. I think I would have benefited slightly from a longer swim, but I was not going to stress over it. If the swim had been cancelled and replaced with an extra run, I would have benefited a lot, but I was here to swim, bike and run.
With the shortened swim course, my main concern was the short distance of 150 meters to the first turn buoy. I feared a big traffic jam and a lot of kicking and screaming at that buoy, but it was pretty civilized. I did swallow some water, but it’s 2 weeks since the race and I never got sick so I am very thankful. I had a good swim. My split was 12:50 which put me in 17th place.
The 40K (24.8 miles) bike course was the same as 2018. The road surface was great with plenty of flat sections with a few sections of easy rollers. My 2018 split was 1:08:42 and my 2019 split was 1:07:07. This improvement was a pleasant surprise. I had the 49th best bike split and I dropped down to 39th place. I was right where I wanted to be.
They did change the 10K (6.2 mile) run course from 2018 and I would say they made it slightly easier as it was not quite as hilly. I started the run with Michael Smith. He is a great runner so I was hoping to run with him as long as possible. By the time we reached the 2 mile mark Michael put a gap on me. As much as I wanted to close that gap, I figured my best strategy was to run my own race. By 3 miles I had completely lost touch with Michael. At mile 4.5 I caught my friend, Jeremy Oury. He’s a great guy and I told him I thought we were both doing well. I wanted us both to succeed. In 2018 I nearly crashed out on the run with the “flyover bridge” which was ¼ mile from the finish line. This flyover bridge was a temporary bridge that was installed for the race so the swimmers could run under it on their way to transition while the runners ran over the bridge on their way to the finish line. The bridge had a steep up section and an equally steep down section. In 2018 I went way too fast on the way down and almost crashed. I was much more careful this year. I had the 3rd best run split of 39:00 (in 2018 my run split was 38:01). Michael had the best run split of 38:25. Michael finished 12th, I finished 14th and Jeremy finished 17th out of 122 men age 55-59. My finish time was 2:03:53. I placed 343 out of 1,525 male finishers and 368 out of 2,676 overall finishers. I was very happy with this result and am already looking forward to Edmonton 2020.
Lee Walther won our age group by nearly 4.5 minutes over 2nd place. An amazing performance! Lee also won our age group in the Sprint race the next day! Other friend’s in men’s 55-59 who finished were Clint Dowd (5th), Kyle Welch (7th), Kip Kimble (16th), Don Alden (20th), Mike Plumb (41st), Wade Grow (42nd), Steve Wade (12th place men’s 60-64) and Adrienne Leblanc (1st place women’s 50-54).
To see my race pictures, click on this link https://www.finisherpix.com/gallery/photos/en/USD/2777/3594
The day after the race I did a nice, easy 8 mile run from my hotel to the race venue. For 7 of those miles I could hear Tim Yount from USA Triathlon on the loud speaker announcing the Sprint race which was going on. I know I enjoyed hearing Tim’s voice, but I’m not so sure about the folks that live in the neighborhoods I was running through at 7am. Next I toured the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame. I spent 5 hours at the HOF and was thoroughly impressed. If I ever visit Cleveland again, I will absolutely go back to the HOF. It was that good!
Living the life…