Raja’s Report: USA Triathlon Nationals

October 2, 2008 · Print This Article

By Raja Lahti
San Diego, California

USA Triathlon National Championships, 2008
Hagg Lake, OR

Well, it’s done and over.. so that’s good news. No mechanicals, that’s good news. It didn’t rain, more good news (start temp was estimated at 45 degrees). And I did much better than last year, so that’s good news. Last year I was plagued with the mystery leak in my disk (turned out to be the stem). This year, new disk, no problem! Not…

On Thursday before the race I got a good ride on the course and I would even say the course & I had a little pow wow, chatted up some issues I had on the mind, and by the end of the ride we became good friends. :o) I did my feel good brick after and jetted off to go jump in a hot shower at the hotel. Upon opening the back of the car the theme to a horror movie started to play in my head. I was cursed! Disk was flat as a pancake. F#@%!!!!! Online store Team Estrogen came to my rescue. I called them up having ordered a ton of stuff from them in the past for some solid bike shop advice. They pointed the way to a local tri store called Athlete’s Lounge, where tri bikes, leather couches and napping tri geeks come together. Their mechanic was a saint and was able to patch my teeny tiny hole without having to use one of my spares or start the stretching process all over again. PHEW!

During check in USAT had a “More Cowbell” giveaway – so yes, you can bet I will be ding-a-linging my sweet cowbell when the pro tour rolls into town next Feb (Tour of CA) for the march up to the Mt Palomar finish. Sweet! Always wanted a cowbell…

On race morning we were delighted to feel the weather warm up a bit (to the 60s). The lake, in the low 70s, was going to be a pleasure to jump in, it really is a beautiful lake.

The swim felt pretty steady. I was on a mission for feet. Bubbles, find the feet, attempt to stay there. Loose the feet, find new bubbles, new feet, and try to stay there. Repeat. I figured if I could keep finding feet I would have a decent swim split. I exited the water at 26 minutes, which was good for me (one day I’ll like swimming…). Last year at this race I achieved my first 26 min split ever, so it was nice to stay consistent at that split.

Once on the bike I felt great and let it go. According to Dave, I was 25th out of the water, so I had a few spots to make up if I wanted to try to make Worlds. I finished the first lap in just over 34 min and was on a roll. Then the second lap hit and an all too familiar pain started to radiate down my left leg. Stupid sacrum! I had been feeling this over the last 3 months and was delighted to be pain free after my last visit to Dr. Crunch (Dr.Elleraas, my chiropractor) and Gino Cinco (UCPT ART), the Miracleman. Since the course is so hilly (~3000′ climbing in 24ish miles) I backed off the big chain ring over the last couple of miles with the more pitchy climbs to give the legs a break before the dreaded run. Sacrificing some time on the bike would probably save me minutes on this run. I finished in 1:10, good. Marked improvement in my time from last year (1:13).

Then the run… oh the run. The run from hell… and back. I forgot about these hills. I mean I remembered there were hills, but I forgot how long & nasty they got. Coming round the half way point, my left leg was loosing power and push. I tried to latch on to some guys that were passing me and managed to keep my head on straight. Only 3 major climbs left on the run at this point, I could do this. I looked at the asphalt (’cause trust me, looking up at the hill was just depressing!) and tried to use the pain in my left leg as a distracted. The I looked at my heart rate. Approaching 200. Shit. I was at max and there was no avoiding the pain and lack of oxygen at that point. Coming in the final hill, I was gaining on the girl in front of me, but as we turned to go down a rather steep incline, she widened the gap. I just didn’t have the coordination to turn my left leg over any faster. I finished the run in 46 min, a marked improvement from my 49 min run last year.

I finished in 21st place with a time of 2:26. I missed the chance to go to worlds by 1 spot. You’d think that should be bad news, but really, it’s good news. I’m that much closer to qualifying that last year! As frustrating as it can be to be that close and not get it, things happen for a reason, and with the crazy competition in this age group, I truly felt like I gave it everything I had for today. That’s all you can ask for when you’re trying to sync all 3 events on one day. For a year I didn’t expect too much, I would say it was a success. If not, I can always wait until I’m 60 to qualify!

Many, many thanks to coach Peter Clode for loads of schedules that get better and better every year, Lesley Paterson for reminding me I can suffer longer and harder, Gino Cinco at UC Physical Therapy for un-tweaking me after all my muscle tweaking workouts, Chris Elleraas of Carmel Valley Chiropractic who was the first brave soul to straighten my broken body, Cassidy’s Massage Clinic for reminding me that going injury free is an option, Tri Club San Diego for being the best tri club & training group on earth, and of course, my husband Dave, who was at the finish line with a bottle of wine and a box of chocolates.

Now, you can bet I’ll be calling all the above to figure out how to un-tweak my left leg so I can start training again.

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