USAT Nationals Round 2: Race Recap

{Race Photos still aren’t available and I really want to get this out so you get a lot of words with no pics of me suffering to break it up.}

I love this race. I love the course, the support, the other competitors, the weather and just about everything that is USAT Nationals in Milwaukee. This was a day with some big ups and a few downs, but ultimately I am extremely proud of leaving it all out there and scraping by with a new PR.

Race Eve

After a full day of pre-race shake-outs and logistics, Char and I finally checked in our hotel room in downtown Milwaukee. Around 5 we headed out of the city to bring dinner to her Grandma at her retirement center. It was a really lovely evening with lots of laughter and story telling. We were back downtown by 8:30 to do all of the final prep and sit in the recovery boots before crawling into bed at 9:30.

Race Morning

Char was lucky enough to be starting at 7:37 so she was up and out of the room by 6:15, just after we had room service bring us breakfast (expensive, but best idea ever!). This worked out well since I had some time to myself to relax and get ready before heading to transition to set-up. I made the 15 min walk to the start around 6:45 and had all of my stuff set up by 7:15. But just before leaving transition, I decided to make sure I could still get my bike off the rack with my aero bottle in place. I was racked by the brakes because that was the only way to get a wheel on the ground, but my bike was STUCK. I was so glad I checked it and ended up turning my bike around with my wheel dangling. I was nervous about the T1 disaster from last year, but I didn’t see any other option. After all of that, I was swept out of transition by officials as it was closing.

I watched Char start, exit the swim and head out on the bike before finally settling in a shady spot by the bike route to relax. I was SUPER anxious and nervous sitting around by myself but eventually Brad and Jesse got there and kept me company before it was finally time to head over to the swim area.


Looking down at Brad while prepping to go swim.

1500 m Swim – 23:04 (1:24/100 yd), 14/169 AG

About 10 minutes before my wave, we were able to jump in and warm up. I swam ~200 yds then made my way to starting corral. We were all bobbing in the water at the 2:00 countdown when the announcer pulled us out of the water for a “delay” (cue more waiting anxiety). We ended up sitting on the dock for 10-15 minutes before they let us back in for another 4 min warm up. Finally, the horn blew and we were off.

If I thought last year’s start was rough, this year was twice as bad. There was so much clawing, kicking and grabbing in those first 100-200 yards. It was so brutal, I couldn’t put my head down and when I finally did, I was sucking in mouthfuls of water. I just kept repeating to myself “stay calm, get in a groove” over and over again. I did eventually find a rhythm and was able to hold it for the majority of the swim. I was pulling hard, regulating my breathing and searching for buoys that seemed to come to me quickly. I didn’t know exactly how the course went, so I was glad for the yellow caps in front of me to follow, but I felt a lot more confident once I was able to site on the next buoy and not just follow the crowd. This was the first time in a LONG time that I was able to see girls ahead of me and catch them throughout the swim. On the way back toward the finish, I was matching stroke for stroke with a girl next to me. It was annoying because we kept running into each other and I kept sucking in more lake water.

When I finally reached the steep exit, I looked at my watch and was a little surprised to see a 23:xx on it because I felt like I had swam strong enough for a 22-something. I was still happy with the effort and how much better I felt than in recent swims.

T1 – 2:31, 25/169 AG

They changed the swim out this year (for the better) but it made for a long run to T1 (Garmin read 0.26 mi). Overall T1 was smooth and much better than last year.

24.8M Bike – 1:10:26, (21.2 mph), 45/169 AG

This was, by far, the most disappointing part of my day. I got on the bike and per usual, felt winded and my heart rate was high. I did my best to find a groove and bring things back to a steady place, but still push a heavy gear. For some reason, no matter what I did, I just could NOT find any power. I felt like I was fighting so hard for every push of the pedal and it just wasn’t clicking. I was working my ass off, but the numbers didn’t show it.

My Garmin takes splits in 5 mile intervals. My thought process:

  • 1-5: 20.5 mph – Okay…not bad. I am working really hard, for that split, but its just taking a few minutes to get warmed up. I can overcome one split below my goal.
  • 6-10: 20.7 mph – This bridge SUCKS. I am wobbling all over the road with the cross wind. Whhyyyy does it feel like there is a constant headwind? Ugh. This hurts. I am working soooo hard and yet I still can’t get over 21 mph. But, there is still time…
  • 11-15: 19.7 mph – Eff this. I suck. I am slow. Why are the flags laying straight down when I feel like I am riding into a stiff headwind? So many girls passing me. I can kiss a PR goodbye with these splits.// THEN at mile 14.5…Something clicked. Wait, what just happened? I feel better now. Get in a heavier gear. Can I get this split over 20 mph?
  • 16-20: 22.4 mph – Where has this been all day? Cadence too high…need more gears. Push. Finally have power in my legs. Keep pushing…how much time can I make up?
  • 21-24.5: 21.4 mph – Push over the bridge. Wow, my speed is staying up on this bridge incline. Where was this earlier? Fly down the bridge. Pass that girl back. Can I finish this in 1:09?

The Garmin was a little off (0.3M) so some of these splits were likely slightly faster than it read. And the last split showed 22+ until I had to slow down into the finish and dismount.

The most frustrating part was feeling like I was laying it all out there, without the results I wanted. Looking back, I took a GU around mile 10 and felt better about 10 minutes later. Maybe I just needed calories? With the late start and delay, I may not have timed it right. Or maybe the lack of putting myself in an uncomfortable place on the bike in training really did make me forget how to truly make it hurt?

T2 – 1:18, 21/169 

In and out. Super happy with this one.

6.2M Run – 43:18, (6:58 min/mile), 18/169

I ran through the exit and saw Brad, Char and Jesse cheering for me. I told them, “That didn’t go well” and ran on. Despite being disappointed in the bike, I immediately felt good on the run. I settled in, did a little body check and liked what I was feeling.


Exiting Transition. And the form has already fallen apart. Yikes.

Miles 1 – 3: 7:04, 6:50, 6:54

In mile 2 and 3, I thought, damn I feel good. I saw crazy numbers like 6:35 at one point and while I felt great, I also knew that probably wasn’t smart. I held back slightly, but didn’t want to let my watch dictate my pace too much. I ran on feel and focused on passing girls ahead of me when I could.

True to form in this race, mile 4 is the absolute hardest. All of a sudden, I felt like I hit a wall. I cursed myself a little for being “stupid” in mile 2 & 3, but tried to remind myself that “It’s supposed to hurt”. Mile 4: 7:08

In a last ditch effort to change my attitude, right before I hit the 4 mile marker I took a Gatorade chew that I had thrown in my pocket in T2. I slugged back water shortly after and within a minute, I felt like a new person. I took full advantage of the 2nd wind and picked the pace back up for the 5th mile. Mile 5: 6:54

By the start of mile 6, the 2nd wind was gone. My pace slipped to 7:15 and I was trying every mental trick to push harder. Then I thought, “What the hell. Why not?,” and took another chew and some water, figuring it was probably too late to help. But sure enough, a minute later, I got a 3rd wind (in a 10k? huh? I know.) I was able to get the pace back down some, but not under 7:00. A girl in my AG was passing me right around the 6 mile marker and I tried to hold onto her. She was too fast, but having her there helped me push it into the chute as hard as I could. Mile 6.2: 7:04, 6:37 (o.2)

ABSOLUTELY stoked with my 10k time. It is a 36 second PR, over my standalone 10k, and over a minute faster than last year at this race. The fact that I was able to troubleshoot and find a 2nd and 3rd wind when things got tough is something I am really proud of and is a good lesson learned going forward.

2014 Olympic Distance Nationals Overall Time: 2:20:39, 19/169 AG

Not quite the sub-2:20 I was looking for but still a PR by 37 seconds. I think I can easily assume 30ish extra seconds in T1 for the change in the swim exit, but that isn’t what caused me to miss my goal. It was the bike. Even riding as well as I did last year would have put me 1:30 faster and gotten me a 2:19. That is where there was the biggest question was for me going into this race and I knew it could go either way.

I am stoked with a Top 20 finish in my AG, but unfortunately since I age up next year, that doesn’t get me a Team USA slot for World’s. My time puts me at 30th in 35-39 AG. (But would have put me at top 20 in that AG last year!) Wrong age, wrong year.

I was super happy to hear that this race is coming back to Milwaukee again next year. You can bet I will be back again searching for that elusive sub-2:20.

photo 2 (26)

Not making Team USA obviously did not stop us from celebrating properly.

About Corey

I am a 30-something swim, bike, run addict married to my best friend and in love with my two schnoodle doggies.
This entry was posted in bike, friends, Goals, Race reports, Races, running, swimming, training, triathlon. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to USAT Nationals Round 2: Race Recap

  1. Sorry to hear you didn’t qualify for World’s 😦
    But congrats on the PR – and wow you smoked that 10K! I can’t picture running that fast after swimming & biking 🙂

  2. Wow, congrats Corey! It is truly inspiring to follow your training, and even without the sub-2:20 you clearly rocked it! Congrats!

  3. What an amazing race! You are so speedy at all 3 sports – I’m very impressed! Congrats on the top 20 finish!

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  6. elizabeth says:

    still super proud of your PR and 10K!! CONGRATS! And love that post race pic of you and char. Wondering if I need those gatorade chews?? I’m literally buying all the options to figure out what will help these days…

    • Corey says:

      The Gatorade chews are REALLY sweet and probably super high in sugar. Served their purpose for the quick boost when I needed it, but probably not a good nutrition source across the entire race.

  7. erin says:

    Awesome race, Corey! PR! Way to keep pushing on the bike, and holy speedy run! Congrats!

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