2018 Triathlon Collegiate National Championship
Last week I competed at the Collegiate Triathlon National Championships in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Since I started triathlon at McGill University back in 2013, I was always envious of all the Amercian College that got to compete together in this Championship. Little did I know that I would be going to grad school in the State and get that opportunity 5 years later.
While the race and the trip were really cool, my preparation or less than ideal one started the week before with finals and a 10miler race. I finished my last finals at 9:30 pm on Wednesday, submitted my two final papers before midnight and set my alarm for 4 am on Thursday... Not the ideal rest and recovery, but that's the glorious life of a student-athlete!
I was surprisingly not that tired when I got to the airport, but the day was just starting!
Boston - Atlanta Flight : 1h hour nap, banana, oatmeal and PB
Atlanta - Tuscaloosa: Long drive in the pouring rain and a stop at Panera
We got to the hotel around 3 pm, and while most of the team went to the race site to do a shake-out run, I passed out on the bed and had a glorious 2h nap. Quick team meeting, dinner, and back to bed at 8:30 pm.
Some of the Northeastern Triathlon Team were doing the draft legal race, so we all got up and went to the race site to cheer on them, as well as get our race packet and get our bikes. The atmosphere at the race venue was awesome; I'd say even better than some of the Ironman I've been too. Obviously, my bike had to have a problem, but thankfully, the bike mech was very nice and not busy at all, he fixed the issue very quickly. I tried to stay off my feet and in the shade on Friday, but it was hard and really hot. I also had to stay longer for the mix relay meeting.
I finally got back to the hotel around 4:30 pm took a quick 30-40min nap, and we headed out to Olive Garden for our pre-race dinner! I prepared all my race stuff and went to bed at 9 pm.
Oatmeal, banana, PB and a full water bottle, put on my race clothes and the tattoos numbers and we are out of the door! We got to the race venue at 5:45-6am. I picked up my bike checked that everything was working and set up the transition zone. Oh! I forgot to mention, Monday, 5 days before the race, we got an email saying that the race was changed to a duathlon format. Run 1: 5.2km, Bike: 40km, Run 2: 5.2km, not the typical Olympic duathlon distances. Everyone was pretty mad at the change, and while I'm not that great of a swimmer, I was pretty disappointed too, because I don't train for a duathlon and it's very different. Nevertheless, I made peace with it and went in with an open mind, ready to push hard and have fun. The good thing about a duathlon is that it takes 10sec to set up your transition zone because you really just need your bike and helmet there. So at 6:30 I was all ready to go, I went for a 10min run warmup with the other Northeastern girl that was starting in Wave 1 with me, ate a gel and slowly made my way to the start, for my 7:30 am race.
Run 1: 5.2km 21:41 (6:46min/mile or 5:12min/km)
The run started really fast, and in a very narrow trail, one girl tripped in front of me, but we kept going. I settled at a pace that I thought was sustainable and not all out. I was definitely pushing but not dying, so I figured it was about right! I finished the first 5km in 21min which is apparently my 5k PR, which goes to show that I really never run that distance other than in triathlon. It also means I might be closer than I thought too that elusive sub20min 5k I have always dreamt off!
Bike: 40km 1:12:12 (20.7mph
I had really heavy legs starting the bike and got a little worried, but as I got into a rhythm, I started feeling better and just went for it. The two loop course was nice, mostly in the shade, with a decent wind on the way back. I did see a few packs of girls, some I passed, some that passed me but I'm confident that the many race marshall did their job well and it was a fair race. To be completely honest, I'm a little disappointed in my bike, I know I can go faster than that, at least I think I can. And given that the 10 girls in front of me all finished within 1 minute of me, It's a little disappointing.
Run 2 5.2km 21:58 (6:51min/mil or 4:17min/km)
This second run was just like I thought it would be... Really hard, legs were brick and didn't understand why they had to run again. After the first km, a girl slightly faster passed me, and I made it my mission to just hang on to her, which I did. I was able to run almost the same time than the first run, and I was really happy with that.
Total (for this odd distance duathlon) : 1h57:57
All and all, I beat my 2h expectation and was very happy with both my runs. My bike still needs work, or I need to learn how to push better during races. I finished far from my top 30 goals, with a 45th place out of 488, but still very happy given the level of competition and my current training and fitness geared to much longer races like Ironman.
But wait, it's not over yet... I finished racing around 9:30 am but I had to do it all over again at 4:15 for the mixed relay...
Mixed Team Realy
I'm not going to go in details about it but let's just say that it was one of the hardest race I had to do even if it was only 19min long, run 1: 1km, bike: 5km, run 2: 1.2km. It was a fun challenge, but I will probably never race twice in the same day again! Our mixed team had fun doing it, and it earned me an extra side of fries at dinner! ;)
We celebrated the end of the race at a typical Southern BBQ joint, and I went to bed exhausted but happy. The next day we drove to Atlanta, walked around and boarded the plane at 10 pm to conclude this 2018 Collegiate National Championship weekend. Thank you to the Northeastern Triathlon Team for bringing me along!
Thanks for reading until then end, now on to the next training block before Ironman 70.3 Mont-Tremblant