Almost 3 weeks ago now (I can’t believe its been that long!) Andrew and I finally took a vacation! We drove all the way to Milwaukee for USA Triathlon Age Group Nationals. It took us 2 days each way to drive, but it was worth every mile. It was an incredibly humbling and inspiring experience to be able to race with some of the best triathletes in the country.
So, lets start from the beginning. Andrew and I opted to drive because of just how darn expensive it is to ship a bike across country. Even using airline miles for our plane tickets, it ended up being cheaper to drive. So we split our drive into 2 days. We wanted to get to Milwaukee on Friday, so we drove from Winston to Indianapolis on Thursday, then on to Milwaukee on Friday.
We were pleasantly surprised by Milwaukee. Being a major city in the north, we expected bad traffic and people in a rush. Despite their being 3 major events in town that weekend (USAT Nationals, opening weekend of the Wisconsin State Fair, and the PGA Tournament), traffic wasn’t very bad. The people we interacted with were all pleasant and welcoming. And the food! We expected cheese, beer, and sausages, but we had some of the best food we’ve had in a long time! We found a great fresh sandwich and juice shop in the Public Market that we visited after the races both days. There was also a wonderful coffee shop in the Public Market – they roasted their own coffee, even used locally sourced milk and honey. Sunday night, after both our races were finished, we found a farm to table restaurant in one of the hip neighborhoods in town, and had an AMAZING dinner of small plates – local cheeses, fresh vegetables, and flavors combined in creative and innovative ways. I only wish we’d been hungry enough for dessert!
But you don’t come here to hear me talk about food.
The race was set up on the Milwaukee waterfront – right on Lake Michigan. Transition area and finishers village were set up on the grounds of the Milwaukee Art Museum. Both races took place on closed courses. The swim was in a small harbor on the Milwaukee waterfront. So even though we were swimming in Lake Michigan, the water was calm and protected. The bike took place on a main road along the waterfront, then up onto the interstate. The worst hills on the course were the on- and off-ramps going onto the highway. Check out the picture below – the yellow bridge you see in the background is actually the bridge we biked on! The run was on greenway and jogging paths through the Art Museum grounds.
Andrew raced the Olympic distance race on Saturday – 1500m swim, 40k bike, and 10k run. The swim started in waves – with each age group going into the water at a different time. The race started at 7:30am, but Andrew’s wave didn’t go until 9:08am. The weather was perfect for Andrew’s race. The water was cool – 68 degrees by the time he started his race. Air temp was mid-70s, and there were just a few clouds in the sky. Andrew had the fastest swim, bike, and run times he’s had in a race this distance. He finished in 2:22:42, good enough for 96/128 in his age group. He had an incredibly competitive age group – racers from his age group took 1st, 2nd, and 3rd overall in the race.
I raced the Sprint distance on Sunday – 750m swim, 40k bike, and 5k run. My swim wave started at 9:21am (after a 7:30am race start time), so I also had plenty of time to wait around for my race to start. The water hadn’t changed temperature any for my race. But the air was cooler, and fog started to roll in about 20 minutes before my wave started. By the time my swim started, it was difficult to see the sighting buoys in the water. I had the worst swim I’ve ever had in a race – I inhaled water early and couldn’t get into a rhythm after that. But I recovered, and had my fastest bike and run times ever in a triathlon. I finished in 1:39:36, which placed me at 61/66 in my age group.
After both races, we headed back home on Monday – driving from Milwaukee to Cincinnati on Monday then on to Winston on Tuesday. Overall, it was an incredible experience, and we would both race Nationals again. We had a ton of fun on the fast course, and seeing a new part of the country. And it’ll be interesting to see if we can both PR again next year like we did this year! So be on the lookout for another post like this next August, reporting from Omaha, Nebraska!