The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

2007 USAT Age Group National Championships
Portland, Oregon

4th Place age group

All I can say, is that if I can have my worst race this year and have it turn out with a 4th place finish and a slot to World's in Germany - Life is good!

The week leading up the the race was difficult as i was still battling the breathing issues that just wouldn't go away. Yes, I was gradullay getting better, and able to get some key workouts in, but my lungs were not totally clear and I was not fast enough for a good "A" race. But all was paid for, and I was going anyway, so I would take whatever the day offered and make the best of it..... all I had to do was end up top 16 to get to World's.

Ryan and I arrived Thursday in Portland to stay at a local athlete's home for the weekend. Kelly is an X-terra triathlete who threw her hat into the mix for nationals since it happened to be in her hometown.(.... and she did quite well, i might add! ). Anyway, she and her roommate Lori opened their home to us - and it was fabulous! They lived in in a great 3-story house on the edge of a mountain with a view of Mt. St Helens to die for. Ryan and I satyed downstairs (which I have affectionately named "the cave") and the entire back side of the room was lined with windows having that same breathtaking view. It was a real treat staying there, better than any hotel could be, and our hostesses really out did themselves! It was a lot of fun.

A few things that I learned about Oregon - first, is that sun is up for about 18 hours in the summer time. It's still light at 10, and the sun begins to creep up at 4. It was hard to get to bed at first. it just didn't seem like it was 9pm when it was so light outside. And another thing - it's frekin' cold in Oregon, too! I was not prepared for the 50's which is what the temperature was when i got off the plane. can you say instant chill? this louisiana girl's not used to seeing those cool temperatures until winter! I was told it doesn't get super cold there in the winter time, but ididnt know the summer stay's cool too - especially when it rains! I mean, it was the end of June for goodness sake, and if it rained, it was a 20 degree plunge! I thought it was hot everywhere in America in June....now i know better. I will have to be better prepared when I go to Santa Rosa at the end of July for Vineman 70.3.

Ok, so onto the race....as I mentioned earlier, I was still having some lung issues going into the weekend, so my expectations were not very high. I really don't like to race when I'm not 100% because I know I am capable of doing better, and racing half-ass is not my cup of tea. So it was a real mind game the week leading up to make a "just ok" race acceptable to me --something i had to do since Nationals is a one time chance to qualify for worlds. So i had to get out there and give it what I had, even if it wasn't as good as it could be. at least I could be out there at all....."I get to do this" kept going through my mind. Deep down I knew I was fast enough to have a bad race and still qualify - - but there was that "what if" that still had me a little worried.

Race morning was chilly. I left the house with 3 layers on! We arrived about an hour before transition closed since all of our waves didn't take off until after 8am. the first wave was at 7:15, and I was off at 8:28. I'm used to getting there right when transition opens, But since we were in a group, I didn't want to subject everyone to my ridiculous obsessive pre-race behaviors, so we went about an hour later and ended up having to park pretty far out and hike. It wasn't too bad, we had enough time to get things together and get out of transition before it closed. I was kinda relaxed anyway...no expectations - no nerves. I set my stuff up and put a long sleeved riding top and my arm warmers out for the bike. I wasn't sure if id need them, but just in case....

During the wait for my wave, I saw some people I havn't seen in a while - like Fooshee and his wife and the baby, who I might add look cool as a cucumber. We took a picture together, and I am waiting to get it from her to post. I also saw stephanie wheeler (formerly pella) and her new husband, Dawson, who wished me luck and also took a photo or two (i am waiting for them to drive home to Tennessee before I can get those pictures). Dawson's son, Josh, was racing in the ever competitive19-24 group and had his work cut out for him. He has been thru a lot in his short life (check out the last issue of "Triathlon Life"), and is a real expample of what this sport is about. Triathlon means different things to many of us, so many forces driving us to be here, yet it is all the same. A mere reminder that we are alive, able, and given opportunities to thrive and excel. again, we get to do this....

Ok, so off to warm up - HA! now that's a joke. exactly how does one warm-up in 68 degree water? still don't know the answer. (I must mention, however, that the girl in my wave from alaska commented on the warmpth of the water....um, yeah.....) I swam out and back and seemed ok, yet, i was in slow-motion. my wave finally came and we were off. the swim is still a blur for me. i couldn't see the buoys from the glare of the sun, so i just followed the other blue caps. i was breathing every other stroke (which i even thought was weird while i was swimming) because i needed air (i was short of breath)and felt like i was going slow. hard to explain, but i just had a feeling i was "off "- and i was....but i "got" to be out there regardless.... i found the turn buoy's and headed it. this time, i could see and stayed on course.
When i got out of the water, i was immediately dizzy and noticed i couldn't see well out of my right eye. it was all blury and cloudy...? i had to close it to try to walk straight! i made it into transition and began to feel realy woozy. where was my bike? couldnt remember....oh, there it was. ok, now what. I spent too much time in transition fumbling around with my stuff trying to decide what to wear if anything. finally i just said to heck with it and put on my shoes, grabbed my bike and headed out (without any extra layers). what a waste of time i thought....once to the mount line(uphill), i struggled to clip in - i got my left foot in, but since my vision was off in my right eye, i couldn't "connect" with my pedal. it took 3 or four attempts and a near crash to get on, but i eventually did with some cheering from the croud. once i was in, i was good....or so i thougt. the bike was absolutely gorgeous with some uphills at 10mph, and downhills at 30+. the problem i had was that the temp was so cool (60?), so i couldnt get warm. the uphills were relatively short - not long enough for me to get warm, then a downhill wet into cold air kept the chill on. I really had a time with this - and remember, i still couldn't see straight! i had to keep my good eye on the road...and keep from shivering so hard it would affect my steering! (this eye thing is actually funny as i keep going thru it..it must have been humerous to watch from the sideline!..)well, i was pretty frustrated with how i felt and didnt know if i would ever get past this wooziness, but i just kept going - no matter how slow it seemed. then about 8 miles in, i got into that long hill which warmed me up good, and then the sun began to peer onto the road. thank GOD. the switch was turned on, i could see straight again and i was feeling better. now it was time to play catch up......so i began to finally pass people on the bike, then got out on the run feeling pretty good. i knew the hills would be tough, but i was going to get up them the best i could. if i couldnt breathe, i was already ok with walking- but i never needed to. yeah, i got slow on some of the ups, but i have been really working on my downhills - and i was able to fly on those.

at the finish- i was glad it was over and walked around in a daze for a while until ryan finished. i made my way over to the medical tent for a nebulizer treatment- and after about 20 minutes, i felt good again. i want my lungs back. i wish we could figure out how to stop this....

so after the race, we all collected our things, stopped by the chocolate chip cookies for a stash and went back to the house for a shower. Then, it was off to the awards ceremony. None of us knew how we did as there were no results posted until the awards were being dolled out.

In the end, I ended up 4th in my AG which got me onto Team USA for 2007(Germany), & 2008(Canada). Mission accomplished. My teammate, Bob, kicked butt and got 2nd in the old-fart division (70-74) and got the same invitation. Some others from Louisiana did very well also - the 5 of us are in a photo above- from left to right Philippe Kozub, Brett Reagan, Me, Lisa Colvin, and Lindsey Hebert.

Anyhoo, that's the skinny on nationals. it wasn't a great race for me, but it was a great experience from start to finish. I know I still have some things to learn ( like how to tolerate cooler temperatures...hehe), and I vow from now on stop whining about the pool when it's a mere 79 degrees. this will be difficult for me, but I am determined to get past this. (ahem...all of you who know me can stop laughing now and pick yourselves up off the floor)

A BIG shout out to Kelly and Lori who opened their home to us. Y'all realy made it a wonderful and chilled out for us. Thanks again!

more pictures will come as I get them.....

Vineman in less than 3 weeks (Kona & Clearwater on the line....)


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