Age Group Nationals Race Report: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

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I arrived in Milwaukee last weekend with a mixed bag of feelings. Excitement to be racing side-by-side with Adam again, happiness to be at a race at all, motivation to put out a strong performance, and anxiety about whether I could meet my performance expectations given the (lack of) quality training I had been able to get in leading up to the race.

I looked for the positives and tried to focus my mind on what was in my control and what I wanted to accomplish that weekend: strong swim, stronger bike, and a respectable run. If I executed to the level I thought I was capable of, I felt I could see a good result. My nerves were evident though, as I was snappy with Adam all day leading up to the race (sorry again!).

Race morning - thanks to WellFit for allowing us to hang with them at their tent!

Race morning - thanks to WellFit for allowing us to hang with them at their tent!

Come race day, I felt as ready to go as I could. I was positive and mentally crush-ready. Alas, the day ended up being a mix of the good, the bad, and the ugly. Report below:

The Good - Warm up went as expected, and I timed arrival to the swim start just right. The gun went off and arms were flailing. I didn’t have the start speed that I needed to in order to really break out so got stuck in the main pack a bit. Within 100m or so, the group spread a bit and I found some feet to latch onto. I focused on finding my rhythm and went at it. I love the Milwaukee swim course – the water is calm and the layout allows for spectators along the whole swim. I got out feeling fine – not fresh but not wiped either – and my foot felt much better on the run to transition than I expected (win!).  I de-wetsuited quickly and out I flew to the bike course.

The Bad - Hopping on my bike, I could NOT get my feet into my shoes for the life of me (!*#(&@)!*#). After a couple minutes I finally got situated and set about digging in. Legs felt flat, but I pushed past that and took down a few girls in my wave, single-mindedly focused on my goal: 1hr ride time, Until...

The Ugly - … I hit a pothole head on while reaching for my wattle bottle at mile 3-ish of the ride and went straight over handlebars (again, !*&@#$!&). I stood up in a bit of daze and checked bike: it seemed a-okay after knocking my aero bar back in place. Non me hurt too much, just bloodied up a bit (THANK YOU to TYR for making such durable race suits, otherwise there would have been some indecent exposure goin on!). I re-mounted my bike but heart sank when I went to pedal and felt my back rim hit the pavement over a bump. Despite my best efforts, my wheel would not hold air… but it wasn’t completely flat either. So, there was no choice in my mind other than getting through the bike. It was a long one! But I was determined to finish this race after having to pull out with my injured foot last year.

I suppose I could categorize the run as “good-ish” given the amount of run training I’ve been able to do this summer.  Good would be an overstatement, but it wasn’t the disaster I feared it might be. And I could walk without shooting pain after the race (vs. ITU Chicago 6-weeks ago), so I’ll take it! Regardless of whether a race is good, great, bad, or just plain ugly, I add to my book of experiences and focus on how to use it to become a stronger racer. I learn something about myself with each challenge I face, so despite the disappointing results, I found great value in this race in terms of the larger process.

GREAT coffee scene in Milwaukee! Adam and I are big Colectivo fans!

GREAT coffee scene in Milwaukee! Adam and I are big Colectivo fans!

The highlight of the weekend (other than just being able to RACE again, which is still something I hold a new appreciation for) was exploring the city of Milwaukee with Ad! We love adventuring and finding great coffee places and hidden (or not so hidden) gems. We got some quality downtime (watching tons of our latest obsession: Sherlock on BBC/Netflix) and made the rounds of Milwaukee’s food scene that weekend, exploring Cafe Benelux, Colectivo, Milwaukee’s Public Market, Smoke Shack, and Honey Pie (see pics below!).

I don’t know if/when I’ll be racing again this season… but this weekend was only fuel for the fire, so stay tuned for updates!

What's YOUR blues name?! (Mine = Blind Eyes Jackson :-P )

What's YOUR blues name?! (Mine = Blind Eyes Jackson :-P )

Amazing eats at Smoke Shack - we give it 2-thumbs up!!

Amazing eats at Smoke Shack - we give it 2-thumbs up!!

Fresh food, local brews, and al fresco dining at Cafe Benelux - doesn't get much better!

Fresh food, local brews, and al fresco dining at Cafe Benelux - doesn't get much better!