Monday, August 12, 2013

USA Triathlon Age Group Nationals 2013

USA Triathlon Age Group Nationals
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

1500M SWIM --- 40km BIKE --- 10km RUN


Here I go with my only tri since Escape from Alcatraz! Yikes!
I registered for this race back in January, and I remember vividly attempting to do so on my phone in the middle of a park somewhere, feeling totally stoked to get ready for this race in the next 7 months.

The buzz of USA Triathlon Age Group Nationals is really something special. Everyone there qualified in some fashion and they are some of the best in the nation in their respective categories. It’s a great event that USAT puts together and they really know how to make these best of the best age groupers feel special. When you’re a business in it to make money, you have to make the consumers feel loved and USAT is obviously thriving at that. Triathlon Nationals versus MTB Nationals doesn’t even compare. USA Cycling needs to learn a thing or two from the triathlon community and how those race organizations create the perfect atmosphere to draw in the right people and make them feel special, fast, and that their money was well-spent. But that’s another rant I can go off on in the future as I learn more about how USAC and USAT are so very different, but their consumers are so very similar.


Race start time 7:40. After a delay at the beginning, my wave start time was 9:55. Soooo late in the morning! There was a lot of sitting around and waiting involved that I wasn’t too fond of. I like the get up and go plan of attack better. But it did allow for everything to be pretty spread out and not too bunched up on the bike. I ran about a mile for warm-up 40 min before my start time and I felt great. I don’t know why I went so downhill from there.

Swim= – 00:20:17 , 10th fastest swim split in AG, 15th overall female swim split

The venue for this swim was all too perfect in front of the Discovery World Center. Apparently no one is ever allowed to swim there, but the water quality was tested for the race and it came back super clean. You probably know I am no fan of fresh water and salt water is my favorite, but cleanliness is always reassuring. Water temp 69.4 degrees and perfect. I went closer to the end of the dock for the start and had a pretty good position for the first buoy.

The month of July did not allow me to swim as much as I should have as I was so focused on preparing for MTB Nats. Excuse, yes. Frustrated about it, very. I know I should have been farther up in the lead group and I even had a decent start, but I got winded way too quickly and had to back off on the pace a little and watched the front group slowly inch away. We caught some of the green caps from the wave ahead of us near the end under the bridge and I maneuvered my way up enough to catch a couple other girls from my wave. I got the wetsuit off, shoes on, placed my obnoxious new helmet on, and rushed out of T1.

T1= 00:02:16
Bike= – 01:04:20 fastest bike split in AG, 28th overall female bike split
Average speed = 23.2mph
Bike HR Avg = 181

The beginning portion of the bike was a 3-ish mile out north and back. That was a nice advantage because it gave me the opportunity to see how many girls were ahead of me and where they relatively were for me to catch up to them.

About 35 minutes into the bike, somewhere on Howell Avenue where the headwind was fiercest going towards Lake Michigan, at some point on the road I looked to my right and blinked my left contact completely off of my eyeball. There was nothing I could do. I saw it sitting in front of me, stuck to the attached lens of my new POC helmet, drying out with every passing second. Fantastic. I attempted to do something with it and lost focus for a few minutes, but eventually tossed it away in frustration and concentrated back on the power. I accepted the fact that I was going to be blind for a majority of the race from that point on and did the best I could. There were definitely sections of the highway on the way back, and on the run, where my eyes were just closed trying to maintain sanity.

Race finish photo that captures my frustration of having one useful eyeball

T2= 00:01:09
Run = 00:51:13
Run pace = min/mile
Run HR Avg = 173

Similar to the bike, the first couple miles allowed for some staring down of the competition in an out/back section before getting back on to the Lake Dr.

There’s not too much I can say about the run. I was hurting. I think my appropriate target run pace lasted less than half a mile, then the cramps started to itch up my inner quads and I could feel this side cramp just DIGGING into my right side like a knife. I downed a couple cups of water at the first aid station and when two girls in my AG whizzed by me shortly thereafter, I think that was the moment I resigned to the fact I wasn’t getting on the podium and I just needed to finish without passing out. The last 2 miles were the most brutal, but I did my best and that’s all I can be proud of.

Overall time = 2:19:18

Official Results Here

Well some things aren’t always going to go according to plan. Like I mentioned in my previous post, I didn’t have very much prep time nor proper run training leading up to this race. I was only confident about the biking, and that definitely showed through in the numbers.

On a positive note, though, I qualified for Worlds again! They have invitations for the top 18 finishers and roll down to 25 if people do not accept their slots. I need to look at the details a bit more as the race will be in a year from now, but I’d like to possibly make it work. I know it will interfere with Cyclocross ’14-15 season, but triathlon will always be my first love and I can’t deny a fast race. I might even try to come back and race in Wisconsin again next year for some redemption. But that’s getting ahead of myself as I’m currently a lost bike racer, ex swimmer, and struggling runner trying to find her place in a competitive world ; )

Until next time, look out for some CX updates and follow me ontwitter for more on training, a look inside Felt Bicycles as we head into MY14, Half-Asian observations, Foodie pix/ideas, Asia emails of the day, and more panda ridiculousness.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Pre-USAT AG Nats and CX China Ramblings

This entry is a continuation of the previous to keep the thoughts separate post-MTB season.

I am currently en route to Milwaukee for USAT Age Group Nationals.

The last triathlon I did was back in March (almost 5 months ago, holy crap) for the Escape from Alcatraz of 2013. They had to hold the event earlier than normal this year because of the America’s Cup races in SF Bay, and that point in time was the beginning of the MTB Season. I decided that I was going to focus on that and then come back to triathlons towards the end of summer in time for this AG Nats race.

Back in March I didn’t have any plans to make a trip to Pennsylvania because I didn’t even think I’d be good enough to compete there. So my original idea to start more of a triathlon focus following CA State Champs was kyboshed when I realized I could do well in PA.

Because I went to MTB Nats, that gave me approximately 3 weeks of prep time for Wisconsin as opposed to the 2 months I had previously planned on.  No worries though, I think I’ll be ready to rock on Saturday with just the right amount of prep under my belt to go fast.

We’ll see how that goes!

Next up will be the cold, winter months of my first full Cyclocross season with the SDG Factory Team. Am I excited? Beyond excited!!! I can’t wait! Cyclocross is pure fun, hard work, and brass balls.  I’m just getting into the amazing community of people who surround the sport and fall more interested in it every day. It’s such a different world than the triathlon community and I love mixing up the people I surround myself with. Bicycles of all sorts draw such a wide variety of interesting people as I’ve come to learn the past couple years. It truly is fascinating and I love learning about all different types of people who are drawn to the two-wheeled, man-powered machines.

Well the one piece of exciting news that’s happened to me in regards to the world of CX is the invitation I received earlier this week to race in Yanqing, China for the first ever UCI Sanctioned Cyclocross race in China!!!! I have to thank the writers over at CX Magazine for helping with the selection process on that one.

They held a search via online applications to help the Chinese race promoters find some Elite athletes to receive all-expenses paid trips to China for the race.. and apparently my application was compelling enough to receive an invite! The only problem, and it is actually a BIG problem, is that the race is the Saturday of Interbike, the 21st. Yeah, I know, it’s pretty much impossible for me to make it. However, I am currently leaving it up to the CX gods to somehow give me a sign in the coming days as to whether or not I can make it happen.
The problem with traveling for Cyclocross races is that 1) you need a backup bike and 2) you need at least one other person to support you with that backup bike in the pit for whatever issues arise during the race. Even more of a reason why this trip is looking more and more unlikely, no matter how hard I try to convince myself there’s a slim chance of it working out.

Regardless,  I got an invitation to race in China for free. That’s pretty freaking awesome.
Definitely can’t say anything close to that has happened in my triathlon career.

On another positive note, I am currently signed up for the UCI Elite Womens race at Cross Vegas on September 18th. A few coworkers will be racing the Wheelers & Dealers race right before I take off, so it will be fun to cheer them on, race, then get straight to the beers : )

Other than that I will be racing some of the Socal Cross Prestige Series on a local level and traveling to a handful of UCI races on the road to USA CX Nationals in January. Stay tuned for more of those plans. Should be another fun adventure just waiting to be had!

'Cross is Coming

Mountain Bike Season 2013

Why hello there, strangers!

I haven’t been around the blog all that much this year. It’s been an awesome fun-filled year of adventures and I just haven’t had the time to write about it like I used to when I was in college.

Well I’m currently sitting on an airplane to Milwaukee, Wisconsin and I’ve got a couple hours to put some thoughts down on paper. I figured it’s an appropriate time to reflect on the closure of my first mountain bike season ever, the upcoming USAT Age Group Nationals race on Saturday, and my plans for my first full Cyclocross season this year.

A few highlights of the 2013 MTB Season:
Joining up with the SDG Factory Team
Learning the ropes during the late winter Fontana series
Racing a full lineup of the US Cup West XC Series
Riding in Big Bear a few times
Winning the overall Cat1 19-29 US Cup West Series
Winning the CA State Champ Bear Jersey for the XC Championships
Making the trek to PA for MTB Nationals
Overcoming fear of rocky death in PA for a Stars and Bars Jersey

A couple days after I returned from MTB Nats, a previous colleague of mine was let go from Felt Bicycles due to the tough downswing in our industry. The funny part about the timing was that our Marketing Department has been talking about doing an “Inside Felt” campaign to try and get to know the people behind the bikes at our company a little better… and literally 2-3 hours after conducting an interview and taking pictures, he was told to pack up all his stuff and thanked for his hard work while he was at the company. Pretty sucky. But anyways, the piece was never resurrected, so I figured I’d put some of the interview here because there were a few memorable moments of my trip in Pennsylvania that I’d like to share.

1. What is the correct name of the event you won, its date and location?
USA Cycling Cross-Country Mountain Bike National Championships
July 18-21 - Bear Creek Resort, PA

2. What is the correct title you earned for winning the event?

2013 USA Cycling Cross-Country Mountain Bike National Champion for Women Cat 1 Senior 19-24

3. What USA Cycling categorie(s) are you? What category do you compete in at USA Triathlon events?

MTB Cat 1
Cyclocross Cat 2
Road Cat 4
USAT Age Group 20-24

4. You are a strong road rider who participates in the fastest California group road rides, races at the highest level in triathlon, off-road triathlon, mountain bike racing and road racing: How have been able to develop such versatility across all these racing disciplines?

I would have to contribute a lot of that versatility to the exposure that I’ve had to all sorts of bike disciplines while working at Felt Bicycles. Prior to working at Felt I was solely focused on competing in triathlons and I would occasionally ride an old mountain bike during summer trips to Mammoth. My exposure to all sorts of two-wheeled fun slowly grew and I’d have to thank all of my coworkers and friends who helped inspire me to try out some new forms of bike racing that I wasn’t previously accustomed to. Going even further back though, I’d have to contribute most of my success in such a wide range of bike racing to my start as a swimmer. Luckily I had years of aerobic training under my belt being a competitive swimmer from the age of 6 through college. This ultimately led me to do my first triathlon and subsequently make me fall madly in love with riding my bike!

5. How did you develop as a racing cyclist? 

To add more to the previous answer… It all started with swimming and then racing triathlons. I raced triathlons during my off-season from swimming in college and slowly started to focus on furthering my racing success in that discipline. I also raced on my school’s cycling team in college and developed a love for going fast on road bikes. Once I realized that riding bikes was one of my favorite things to do in life, I started looking for jobs in the industry and getting a job at Felt is what ultimately opened up many more opportunities for me to get involved in all sorts of racing from cyclocross to mountain biking. Specifically for dirt racing though, the local SDG/Felt team and my CTS coach have been a big part of my successes in 2013. It’s been quite a journey, but it all comes down to loving two-wheeled, self-driven machines and a desire to be the best at anything I put my mind to.

6. What was the most difficult part of the event you won? (one moment in the event that may stand out in your mind.)

The most difficult part of the event was a technical section in the back half of the course called the “Rocky Drops.” This section was an obviously technical section that collected quite a crowd of people who made the trek through the woods just to watch the riders attempt to make a clean ride through. On lap one I choked and had to run most the section, so I promised myself I’d take a risk on lap two and attempt to ride the whole section. I came up to the rocky drop, heard the cowbells, listened to the cheers, saw the beers and crowd of people, took a deep breath, let the adrenaline go, and totally nailed the section. Couldn’t have been more stoked that I rode that!

7. Going into the event, did you have any specific worries about the course, the competition, the conditions?

I was a complete worry-wart going into the event. It all started at the airport when my bike box arrived at baggage claim, but someone had taken my suitcase on accident without me noticing. Luckily my suitcase was returned to the airport the next morning, but I ended up not being able to build my bike up until the afternoon before race morning. Because of that, I was forced to pre-ride the course during a thunderstorm which made for a terrifying and slippery experience. I psyched myself out worrying that the technical sections were going to be way too difficult for me. Fortunately I raced in the middle of the day on Saturday and the sun had been out long enough to dry the rocks a little bit and I was able to focus more on doing my best effort instead of stressing over the course conditions. East coast mountain biking in rocky PA is a challenge all on its own!

8. What specific equipment did you use: Bike, pedals, shoes, wheels, tire choice, gearing, components? 

Felt Bicycles Nine FRD – Size S
Crankbrothers Eggbeater Pedals
Pearl iZUMi Women's Elite MTB II Cycling Shoes
Stan’s NoTubes ZTR Race Gold 29er Wheelset
Maxxis 29X2.20 IKON Tires
SRAM 11-speed XX1 Drivetrain
SDG Components: Circuit MTB Saddle
Raceface Components: Turbine Stem, Next Flat Bar, Next SL Seatpost
Kali Protectives: Maraka Helmet
Weight: ~19.2 lbs

9. At what point in the race (if any) did you realize you were going to win? What went through your head?

I actually came across the line one second behind the first place girl after lap one and was slightly concerned that my less than stellar descending skills were going to cost me the win. I don’t think I realized I was going to win until the last half mile coming out of the trees where I could see that I was safely ahead of my competitor. Luckily I was able to push the final climb and take some risks on the second lap that allowed me to pull a four minute lead to win!
“Ouch! Cramp!!!” is what went through my head as I crossed the line and proceeded to drink water and stretch out a few cramps. Humidity is a killer.

10. How did you celebrate the victory?

We went to a well-known east coast supermarket called Wegmans where I got an enormous piece of carrot cake and a large bottle of Brooklyn Brewery beer to take back to the course in time to watch the Pro XC race and cheer on the Kenda-Felt guys. There may have been a cupcake, ice cream, and a donut thrown in at some point too.

 11. What's next for you? 

2013 USA Triathlon Olympic-Distance Age Group National Championships on August 10th in Milwaukee, WI. After that I’ll start a big focus on my first full Cyclocross season!