The race was actually in Tempe, AZ this year, but since the location for Collegiate Nationals changes every couple of years I didn't see the need to add a new race to the race calender just because the location is different.
I flew all the way to Arizona with 11 others on the Clemson Triathlon Team. The team's funding couldn't support to bring everyone to Nationals, so I felt honored that I was picked to represent Clemson in the biggest collegiate event for triathlon.
There are bound to be some complications when 12 college students fly across the country with 12 bikes. I must say that the girls on the team (myself included) have no idea how to pack bikes into boxes and put them back together, so the poor guys on the team had to worry about packing their own bikes along with all the girls' bikes. When we got to the motel in AZ and we began unpacking our bikes, I was watching one of the guys put my bike back together when I saw the blood drain from his face. He nervously started fiddling with the handlebars, and then finally he told me that he forgot to pack my bike pedals. I was pretty shocked but I wasn't upset because in the end I don't have anyone else to blame but myself since I didn't pack my own bike. Although my missing pedals was a little annoying and caused some confusion when the team wanted to do a easy brick workout the day before the race, I finally managed to get pedals from a bike shop right by the race site. The guy on the team who forgot my pedals paid for the new ones, and a guy in the bike shop put the pedals on for me and even re-wrapped my handlebar tape for free! The bike shop guy must have felt sorry for me because the bar tape was a mess; at this point it was actually falling off the handlebars since it was still the original tape from when I got my bike 4 years ago.
Race day was a little weird because the first wave for the guys started at 7:30 AM, but the first wave for the women started at 11 AM. The late starting time threw all the girls off since we're all used to racing early in the morning. The late start time sucked because I wanted to watch the guys on the team race, but at the same time I had to focus on taking care of myself by staying in the shade, staying hydrated, and conserving my energy. The high temperature for that day was 95 degrees and we would be racing in the hottest part of the day, so I was very concerned about keeping myself hydrated. The day before was slightly cooler, but I was outside all day with the team and I got a TERRIBLE dehydration headache despite the fact that I was constantly drinking water. I suspect that maybe I drank enough water but I didn't take in enough salt to compensate; this must have been the theory that one of my teammates had for me because right before I started my race he ran over and gave me three salt tablets to swallow.
Well anyway, enough pre-race rambling...
This is a pretty bad swim time for me, especially since I was wearing a wetsuit; however, this was also the most aggressive open water swim I have experienced. I guess when you throw 50 or so super competitive college students into a swim start wave, it's going to get pretty aggressive. I spent almost the first half of the swim fighting other girls off of me. Obviously, this was extremely frustrating and I couldn't get any kind of rhythm going. Finally, I managed to lose the people around me and I could swim in peace.
I felt pretty stupid when I ran past my bike rack twice...this always seems to be my problem in transition when the racks aren't numbered. I always try counting the racks but in the excitement of the race I always lose count and I get confused.
BIKE: 1:10:18 (21.2 mph)
The bike course was mostly flat, with some steady hills that were annoying because I kept expecting the gradual hills to be easier than they were. The course was two loops, with A LOT of turns. One turnaround was so narrow that I accidentally hit my front bike tire on the curb. If you can imagine turning a bike around on a sidewalk, that's a pretty good comparison to what that turnaround was like...and when you factor in averaging over 20 mph on the bike...yeah I think you can cut me a little slack for looking like a total idiot when I hit my bike tire against the curb. Hopefully I wasn't the only one though, otherwise that's pretty embarrassing. Anyway, I was extremely happy with my bike time since I still have the same road bike that I always complain about in all my race reports (but I still love my bike dearly!). I am continuing to improve my bike times, despite the fact that I don't have a tri bike, bike speedometer, aero helmet, etc.
I made the same stupid mistake of running past my bike rack again. You would think I would learn!
RUN: 56:42 (9:08 min/mile)
Even though I have improved my running a lot recently and I am normally running a 10K in 48 min now, I can't really complain about my run time since I was really hurting. Unfortunately for me, improving my run time ALWAYS means I get injured. Leading up to the race I was feeling pain in my foot...it wasn't excruciating pain, but it was painful enough that I stopped running completely leading up to the race because I didn't want to fully injure myself. Within the first half mile of the run, the pain in my foot was back, and it kept getting worse. I just kept pushing through because I think walking with pain is a lot worse than running with pain...walking just extends the amount of time you're out limping on the course. At least that's the way I look at it, so maybe that's why I always get injured. As soon as I crossed the finish line and I tried walking, I could almost immediately identify the pain...it was a pain a felt two years ago when I got a metatarsal stress fracture in my other foot.
When I got back on campus, I got my foot checked out by the doctor and she gave me a lovely boot that I have to walk around in until my fracture heals. I'm signed up for the Columbia Tri, so I don't think I'll be able to race that now. I'm still trying to be optimistic (maybe too optimistic) that I'll be able to race if I drink a lot of milk. I'm still only 18, and young bones should heal fast, right? Hopefully. But I still have no regrets because I had so much fun racing in AZ with the Clemson Tri Team! I feel a lot closer to the other people on the team now. Plus I got a new best time for the Olympic distance, so I think all that pain was worth it :)