Posts Tagged ‘biking’

My USA Triathlon Sprint National Championship Experience

MY MOTIVATION

TRI-UMPH

TRI-UMPH

 

The day was Sunday August 11, 2013. Place Milwaukee, WI.  I had been waiting for this day since last Fall. I am a former elite triathlete and triathlon coach. This was supposed to be a race to be competitive and do well but the plans changed with my diagnosis of anaplastic astrocytoma and 7 hour brain surgery. Brain cancer was not going to stop me from neither starting nor finishing. In the back of my mind, I knew I was doing this for a cause, the American Brain Tumor Association and for those who cannot. It had been 11 weeks since my brain surgery and just over a week since my last oral chemo dose and radiation treatment. I had been unable to train much because of post-surgical restrictions, slowed recovery from chemotherapy, and fatigue from treatments. I reminded myself with a quote from President Obama at the Boston Marathon Memorial Service, “Even when our heart aches, we summon the strength that maybe we didn’t know we had, and we carry on, we finish the race.”

PRE-RACE

Pre-race Reminder

Pre-race Reminder

My morning started with getting my race kit on, my chip on, my race number tattoos on and drinking my meal replacement shake mixed with coffee.  Off to the race, just a 15 minute drive from the hotel to the Milwaukee lakefront. I was one of the first in transition, but where is my chip. Oh, we cannot leave transition bags in transition. One minor problem, my chip was gone. I spent over 15 minutes getting a new chip and renumbered. Where was I going to put my fancy transition bag that I won at a Duathlon a few years ago if I did not connect with my Mom?

Well I met up with my Mother then gave her my bag. I put on my wetsuit on and she zipped it up. The national anthem played, but I still had over an hour before my wave would start. Next, I headed over to the swim start and stood by the railing overlooking the harbor. I talked about the race and triathlons with other racers. We watched wave after wave begin.

SWIM

Done with the swim

Done with the swim

Finally, my wave was called. I walked down to the dock with other triathletes in my age-aroup and crawled into the cold Lake Michigan water. We had about 10 minutes to warm-up. My second open water swim this year. My third time swimming since my surgery in May. We lined up next to the dock and the horn went off. I started slow, kept it steady, and concentrated on my form. While swimming, I got a little dizzy from turning the head to breathe but that was not going to stop me. The swim went under the bridge, around the buoy and back under the bridge to the swim exit which was a metal ramp with wooden rungs. There were catchers to assist. My time was 17 minutes for 750 meters swimming, which was when I crossed the timing mat so it included some extra running.

T1

Thoughts for T1

Thoughts for T1

I was so excited that I finished the swim I ran into transition put my bike gear on. My bike gear did not include my aero helmet as I wanted to make sure I had a secure helmet. Under my helmet was a sweat cap to protect my bald spot from radiation therapy and surgical scar from the sun and my helmet. Next I ran with my bike out of transition. Someone was ahead of me. I tried being nice and letting them go first but they were too slow. This is the ten seconds that cost my one place in the Athena under 40 division or maybe it was the ten seconds that I choose to put sunscreen on after the bike.

BIKE

Up, down, and around

Up, down, and around

The bike was relatively flat. I kept a high cadence and built the bike portion. Not taking it out too fast and finishing stronger during the last few miles. There was a small hill before the first turnaround and a ramp to a bridge that we went up and down one way and reversed on the way back. I was able to remain seated in the saddle on these hills thanks to my CrossFit workouts. My average mph was 16.7 over 12.4 miles.

T2

Motivation for T2

Motivation for T2

Came in on the bike to run transition and continued to run my bike into transition. I put my running shoes on casually and took off putting my hat and number belt on the run.

RUN TO THE FINISH

Keeping a slow but steady pace

Keeping a slow but steady pace

I ran the first mile without a walk break. During the second and third mile I took 1 minute fast walk for every 3 minutes of running. Racers were passing my left and right and some with names and USA on the back of their tri suit saying “good work” and ”keep it up”. I kept my own focus throughout the run.  Once I heard the finish I continued to run it came up so fast. When I got to the carpet I was filled with tears. I took off my TriRochester cap and pointed to the bald area on my head while I heard Karen Smyers say, “Dawn Johnson from Rochester Minnesota still top 10 in the Female Athena division” I had finished my first triathlon of the year and my first triathlon since my brain cancer diagnosis. To top it off, I was honored to have Chrissie Wellington hand me my finisher’s medal. Overall, my run was 37:01 for an 11:55 min/mile pace. Here is the link to the finish video http://www.marathon-photos.com/scripts/event.py?event=Sports/CPUK/2013/Age%20Group%20National%20Championships&match=4178&name=Dawn

POST FINISH

FINISHED

FINISHED

 

 

I stayed long enough to get some food and wait to get my bike out of transition. Since I had placed, I was upset that I could not stay for the awards ceremony.  I had to get back to Rochester, MN to work night shift at my nursing position. My plans are again to race and place again at the National Championship event next year. Maybe even earn a spot to Worlds. The sky is the limit.

~dmj

 

 

 

 

 

 

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