Tuesday, April 24, 2012

USAT Collegiate Nationals 2012

Going into this race, I had a feeling I was in for an interesting weekend. For the three and a half weeks prior to racing, I had not been able to run or bike without a lot of pain. Thankfully, with lots of stretching, I was able to get to the start line. I got down to Tuscaloosa, Al the Friday before the race to find my ITU road bike (courtesy of USA triathlon) had been cracked irreparably by the shipping company, and my bike box was destroyed! This was the icing on the cake, injury plus broken bike, all I could say was wow. I tried to keep my mind positive despite planning on focusing on the short draft legal relay since I knew my knee was not up to par to do a full OD triathlon. Ironically, it was the bike I needed to use for that relay that got broken.. so I was left to scramble and try to find a replacement. Thankfully, Korey from N. C. State came through in the clutch and let me borrow his.

The OD race: I started the swim with the full knowledge that I would probably not be able to complete or race competitively. This was partially realistic, but also too negative of an attitude to have- and is something I can't let happen again. After having a sub par swim and exiting my wave about 16th, I got on the bike and felt okay at first, riding with a  group keeping the average over 25 mph. However, around 10K into the ride (1/4t of the total) I felt my knee seize up, and all the muscles were making my knee track incorrectly. I had to just ride back into town, and relinquish my goal of winning collegiate nationals in 2012. Very tough decision, but something I had come to copes with before leaving for the race when I could not even bend my knee the Thursday before the race.

The Draft legal relay: This was honestly a perfect way to cap off the weekend. Although my team had some tough times with cramping, I was really happy to have the 6th overall fastest leg with the fastest run split overall.  Using Korey's bike was great, except my cleats did not fit into the pedals, so I basically rode without much efficiency (as shown by my disproportionately slow bike split), I am confident I could have ridden with anybody that day if I had my own bike, and possibly a pack to work with. I was super happy to finish the weekend with plenty of new friends from N. C. State, and get home to try and heal my knee before Dallas Continental Cup in early June, where I will be attempting to earn a birth to Under 23 World championships this coming October!

My relay team for the first ever collegiate draft legal relay
My poor Blue RC4 frame. Put a damper on the race upon arrival.

Plus the bike box. Ouch, they are pretty sturdy usually.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Injury and Moving On

This will be a short post about the events leading up to my preparations for Collegiate Nationals 2012. About 4 weeks before the event, I did a long run on a knee that was hurting right over the patella. After the run, the ensuing days were very painful, and I have still been unable to run/bike on a regular basis. On the bright side, I have had a monstrous swim block with all my weeks over 30K, and have seen times drop precipitously. I leave in two days for collegiate nationals in Alabama, and have honestly never gone into a race feeling like this. I am not sure if I will be able to ride/run at all, let alone at the pace necessary to win this race.

Here is a link from USAT about the race: http://www.usatriathlon.org/news/articles/2012/4/041612-collegiate-nationals.aspx

I hope to not disappoint, but am trying to prepare myself for anything. I will still go into this race with as much focus as possible, and actually am seeing a doctor this afternoon to try and find a way to race with less pain. This has been a tough time, but with the requisite time off training, it makes me realize how lucky I am that i can train, and it makes me appreciate those 5:30 AM alarms because you are getting out of bed to do something you love.

Injuries are part of sport (albeit not the best part), so I will try and handle this in the best way I can. Good luck to all those competing this weekend, I am excited because I have heard such good things about the atmosphere, so I can't wait.

Sweet picture from Taylor Knight of the lead bike pack early in the race.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Lake Lure "Race" and Injury

This last weekend in March, I drove down to Lake Lure, NC to race in the first ever all collegiate draft legal triathlon. I originally was not planning on doing this race, but I really liked the idea behind building draft legal racing for athletes in the US. I drove down the Wednesday before the race, but since the previous Sunday had not been able to ride or run due to (I believe) some pre patellar bursitis from crashing the week before in a bike race. I was just hoping the knee would get better through the trip, and I would be able to race. By race morning, it was slightly better, but still compromised. I figured I would just do as much as I could before pulling out. The swim went pretty well, and I was glad I got some wetsuit open water practice in before collegiate nationals. The beach start is not my favorite, but I can always use practice. There was a mad dash at the start, but for the first time in awhile I found myself at the front of the group by the first bouy. The two lap swim put me in second overall in a nice breakaway with another athlete who had draft legal experience as a junior. Below are videos from the start and the beginning of the bike. After 5 or the 10 laps on the bike (each lap was 1.55 mi long with a 600 meter hill at 12% gradient, and a screaming downhill), I had to pull out as I could feel my knee getting progressively worse. I did not want to compromise collegiate nationals in a few weeks where I hope to earn a birth to World University Games. The organization of the race was great considering they had to change location in January, and swiftly changed the race to the sweet mountain town of Lake Lure, NC. The course was a little dangerous for my liking though with such a severe downhill and speed bumps at the bottom. I was very upset to swallow my pride and stop riding while in the lead group, but knew it was for the better. Long term thinking is what I needed.