Triathlon Club Collegiate Nationals 2019 Race Recap By May Hernandez Posted on April 8, 2019 20 min read 0 1 546 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google+ Share on Reddit Share on Pinterest Share on Linkedin Share on Tumblr Like stated in previous blog posts, the goal race this year is Ironman Lake Placid but as it turns out, after talking to my coach it was actually doable to partake in an Olympic this far out from Lake Placid in July. It would be a glorified training day as she would say! Which in one way put me at ease to just simply have fun out there and not stress about going super fast. In the end I had fun and went fast! Race Week The week leading up to the Saturday Olympic I felt like I was coming off a hard training cycle. I had just wrapped up my largest distances on the bike and run portion for the month of March and my body could feel it. I was TIRED. But race week ended up being a short taper with what felt like light days of training but also quality work towards Ironman training. Thankfully training wasn’t stressful this week, nor was school or work! Friday Early morning I arrived to Tempe, Arizona. Some of my teammates had been there since Wednesday and Thursday whereas I didn’t want to miss days of clinic, school, or teaching so Friday arrival was ideal and needed to happen before 3 PM because that is when packet pick-up/athlete check in/tri-bike transport pick-up ended. (A side note to this race. This has been the cheapest race I have ever traveled to thanks to the funding from the UW-Madison Triathlon Club and USAT grants. Hotel, race, tri-bike transport were all covered by the team. All we had to cover was a small fee and transportation for ourselves. So it totally made it worth it to throw in this Olympic distance race into my Ironman training!) After checking in and retrieving my bike I was able to watch some of the Sprint Draft Legal races! I even met some people from IG/Youtube that I followed in the triathlon and athletic training community! After a great lunch and rehydrating from spectating in the Arizona heat I got out with the guys on the team and got in a quick 30 min ride around the race course and a 15 min run. I was feeling tired but overall great. This was followed by a quick nap, dinner with the team, team meeting, setting out race gear, and a good night’s sleep. Race Morning I believe the thing the entire team was stressed about was the weather. With most of them being Wisconsin natives, racing in 90 degree weather is not something we have been used to in a while. We had left Madison at 37 degrees and hadn’t really seen anything higher than 65 as of recent. I was praying my Texan blood was going to help me out for this race. It was even more nerve racking for the women’s teams because our waves started at 10:30. With it being a 2:30+ hour race that would be the bike and run would be in the worst part of the day temperature wise. Whereas the men’s teams were starting at 7 AM! This was why hydrating the whole week leading up to the race was important! Race morning for all participants meant that we had to have transition set up by 7:25 AM even if we weren’t racing until 10:30 AM. Thankfully our hotel was only a 15 min walk away from the race. Our alarms went off at 6 AM and we got our race tattoos on, transition gear in bag, and biked to the transition area. Transition was actually very huge! It was about 1,100 athletes competing in the Olympic triathlon that morning. Fortunately my rack was directly in front of the row that lead to the BIKE OUT exit so it was very easy to remember where my transition was set. The women’s team opted to set up our transition up, cheer on the guys as they got ready to race, and then head back to the hotel to get some breakfast, rest, stretch, get some “battle braids” on and stay out of the sun and heat. Of course this process involved coffee. Pre-Race We walked over to our team tent around 9:45 AM and got there at 10 AM. I just had a couple of dynamic stretches to do and then it was time to get into my wet suit (which we all know that can be a process in itself!) There were a lot of men finishing their races including some of our teammates! By then it was time for the wet suit! I opted for the sleeveless so I would have more range of motion in my arms. Tempe Town Lake was about 67 degrees which made it wet suit optional but many athletes wore their sleeved wet suit. Rarely did I see anyone just rock their tri suit for the swim. Swim We got to enter the water at 10:20 AM to get acclimated and swim/float while we waited for our 10:30 AM start. It was a good idea to get in these 10 minutes because it was COLD but it felt great compared to the heat we had been in, especially sweating in our wetsuits. In my wave I had 2 other teammates with me. We wished each other luck and soon enough it was go time. The Swim was a a start in the water between two buoys. So we treaded water while we waited. I positioned my self near the front right of the pack. We were counted down the last 10 seconds by dramatic “heart beat” and then the gun went off. Out of all the open water swim races I have participated in, this was the most aggressive swim I have been in. Although the girls were very nice to each other while we treaded water they were cut throat during the swim! I had one girl maliciously body slam into me. I am very comfortable in the water, so this fortunately did not freak me out but I had no choice but to body slam her back and over kick her out of my way as I got in front of her. The rest of the swim was no different. It was a lot of targeting, blocking, and grabbing. It probably didn’t clear up until the last 300 yards where I felt like I was finally able to swim without 2 people directly on each side of me I had to fight off. The swim was technically supposed to be 1500 meters. My PR for this is sub 25 min. I pride myself with my open water swim and swimming abilities thanks to high school swimming being my sport background but this course ended up being much longer, a 1700 to be exact. I did the swim in 26:39 min. T1 I was so glad to get out of the water but I knew this run to T1 was “longAF!” I felt strong going from water to land on that ramp up. I took my goggles and cap off and proceeded to start shedding my wetsuit. I pulled it down to my waist and continued to run as hard as I could. T1 was about 500 meters total of barefoot running. I got to my bike and struggled to slip off the right leg of my wetsuit. I said a lot of F bombs under my breath but managed to get it off with my weak arms. My arms were trashed form that swim and fighting off so many people. I threw on my helmet, glasses, cleats, took some nutrition, and started running with my bike out to bike mount. Total time: 4:01 min Bike This bike course had some very minimal rolling hills. Overall it was very flat but with a lot of head wind. It consisted of 2 loops that were very technical and had some sharp turns. I saw many athletes who had gone down not taking those turns conservatively. In this race drafting was illegal so my biggest concern was not only for my time but our team points. I did not want to risk our team having a big point deduction for a mistake I would make. I made sure to be 3 bike lengths or make sure I could overpass someone in 15 seconds and hold them off. The bike was very fun and my focus was to hold a steady state and work on my nutrition I had been doing for Ironman. In past races this is typically where I start getting light headed and seeing black but that did not happen once! 25.5 miles in 1:25 holding 18 MPH. T2 Once finished with the bike, I ran into T2 holding the saddle. I racked my bike by the seat and made sure to rack it correctly by not pulling it through to not get a penalty. I took off my helmet, threw on my running shoes and got to running! Total time: 2:13 min Run I felt great! My legs were not tired from that bike at all! It made me regret that perhaps I should have pushed a little more on the bike. The run was one loops with some overlapping sections but filled with a lot of support along the way! Aid stations were every mile with Gatorade and water. The volunteers were very prepared to splash cold water on us but by the time we raced that water was warm and some stations ran out of water all together and only had Gatorade. Many girls were going down with heat illness. (Surprisingly from some southern state schools?) The whole time I focused on running form and kept realistic expectations. I knew in the cold I could easily hold a sub 8 min/mi pace for an 11 mile run but in the heat and for 6 miles it would be different. In some of the flat sections I hovered around 8:17 and then came the hills and slowed down my pace. I was also battling some right foot metatarsalgia that came out of no where and would not leave until after I stopped running! I ended up averaging a 8:50 min/mi for a 10k run at 54 min (A little slower than I hoped for but still good in my eyes!) Overall I was very pleased with my efforts. It was a personal best I had been trying to beat since TriWaco 2015. My time to beat was a 3:01 and Collegiate Nationals bested it with a 2:54 time. I believe I owe a thanks to Heidi Knapp with Ironworx for coaching me this season. I truly believe I am getting my fitness levels back to where they were back in 2015 when I trained exclusively with Madison Flowers from Mad Dog coaching (such a great team in Texas.) This race made me so happy because I wasn’t technically training for an Olympic distance and I still performed well. Paces were as close to ideal for a training day, nutrition was perfect, and it was the best I had ever felt during and after a race. I can’t wait to do Collegiate Nationals with the Wisconsin Tri team for the years to come!