Last weekend I raced in my first USA Triathlon Pro Nationals which was also my first ITU Olympic Distance race. Despite being often labeled as an "ITU" triathlete, I had never gotten the chance to actually race on until Sunday. The races are usually far away and cost prohibitive (spend a lot for travel with little prize money in return). But, with a race in NY and only a 6 hour drive away, Bec and I decided to head north.
In this style of racing it is crucial to have a good swim and fast transitions. I unfortunately got a bad position on starting pontoon and got stuck behind a wall of kicking and pulling and fighting. Before the first turn I had been kicked in the face and thought I broke my nose. I knew that if I just kept fighting I'd get rid of the riff raff and the people who for some reason think that swimming is a boxing match! Unfortunately I wasn't able to get around enough people and ended up at the end of the big pack. A slow transition with trouble buckling my helmet and I was left to chase down the group forming ahead of me. I was nearly there when I thought I'd put on my bike shoes. I was struggling to do what I had perfected in practice and looked down and they were velcroed shut!! I forgot to check that when I racked my bike. Big mistake and lesson learned! Always check your stuff!! I soon realized that I had a small group of 3 girls behind me. I did my best to try and catch the chase pack but they kept gaining on me. I was the strongest rider in my group and stayed in front the entire way so it was pretty much me against a pack of 10 girls who were riding well. I worked hard the entire ride and pushed as hard as I could, forcing myself to take a rest for a few seconds into the headwind.
By the time we got to the run we were 2 minutes down. Usually I can make that up, but after such a taxing ride I didn't have a lot of speed. I managed to move up to 10th place and 8th American. Far from great, but I got in a really solid workout - which was one of my goals for the weekend.
Here are some pictures from the race: