USAT Nats – Take 1

July 3, 2007 · Print This Article

by Raja

I’m back…

…and I think I could sleep for week…

While I would love to report back that I came home as the W30-34 nationalchamp…. you all would know I would be hallucinating and perhaps in some serious sleep deprivation. I didn’t go to Nats to win. ‘Cause of course, I’m already a winner. If I happened to qualify for Worlds, that would have been amazing, and very very scary. But I didn’t. And I’m really ok with that! Let me explain…

Dave leaned over and looked at me with a little twinkle in his eyes, “Did you ever imagine that when you did that first Mission Bay triathlon on your, mountain bike that you would be here two and a half years later?”

Actually no. It hadn’t even occurred to me.

My road in triathlon to date has been short and fun. I’ve now had 1 year of coached training, so you won’t hear me complaining about my perceived “lack” of performance at Nationals this year. I managed to miraculously slice 4 minutes of my swim time. I couldn’t have been happier.

The bike didn’t go as I’d hoped, but that was my own fault. A newbie error. I was hell bent on using the disk. Was it a head game? Having the disk gave me confidence? Setting up in transition prior to the start I had noticed the disk loosing tire pressure. Down from 130 PSI to 80 in about 10 minutes. No holes, tire looked good, I pumped it up again to give it another test. Pumped to 150 PSI. (Which takes a feat of strength for me since that’s far more than I weigh!). In the rush to get everyone out to close transition, I felt the tire, maybe a little lower, but not nearly as bad as before, tightened all the valves and left. If I got out of the water and the pressure was significantly lower, I’d just change my wheel prior to leaving transition. If it felt pretty solid, the leak wasn’t that bad.

In a nut shell, I think I shot myself when I didn’t change the wheel. I’m usually very solid on the bike. Steady. Aggressive. Fast. This time the bike felt squirrelly on the downhills and squishy on the uphills. With about 1500′ of climbing and almost continuous turns, my legs were toasted and my time was slower than it should have been. I asked someone on course if my bad wheel looked low, “no, well yes, but not flat” was the response I got. That’s about how it felt. It definitely wasn’t so low I couldn’t ride. But I found I was riding very conservatively on the downhills & corners. No risks. Within the first 2 miles of the ride I passed the first crash victim. Even Nats isn’t immune to crashes.

When I racked my bike and hit the first of 7 hills on the run, I knew my chances of qualifying for Worlds was done. I got kind of excited…

You see, Dave & I got married in May. Since then I have been training like a mad woman. Honeymoon? That would have to wait until after training. If I qualified for Worlds, that’s an entire summer of training and the first week of our honeymoon spend racing in Europe. As exciting as that may have been.. I haven’t really been in the sport long enough to know what I’m really doing. So now that Worlds wasn’t going to be an option… all I can think about is how great Italy is going to be in the fall… and we can take the road bikes and ride where ever we want in Italy…

So while I was suffering like a beast on the run, it occurred I had a lot to be happy about. Breaking my back/pelvis 8 years ago had made me a stronger person. Who knows if I’d even be racing triathlon or cycling if it hadn’t had been for that accident. I really was just excited to be doing something extraordinary.

Some things I learned:
1. Jim was right.
2. Starbucks coffee is better than their danishes.
3. Starbucks sandwiches are better than their coffee.
4. It doesn’t pay to be stubborn.
5. Got a lot of training left to do!
6. Bellas ROCK! Ashley Erickson did GREAT! placing 10th in her age group.
Nikki Shue also did great in her crazy age group!

Happy Racing!

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