Title: How does it feel to be 18th best?
During the Olympic trials I found myself sitting on my sofa saying to my boyfriend: How can I not be good enough at a single sport on the entire planet to represent the United States? Not a single sport??
A few weeks later I received an email from USAT that I had qualified for AG Nationals at the Olympic distance. EXCITING! Nationals!! The Olympic distance was sold out, however, and the email encouraged me to sign up for the sprint distance. Done! I signed up and decided, in honor of this being a national championship, I would go swimming. On July 2 I began to incorporate swimming into my training. It’s almost embarrassing to admit I trained at all because my swimming is awful, but I really tried.
I have to say, I am certain I had the worst equipment at Nationals. I have a 6 year old road bike I race on, no areo helmet, and I wear my training sneakers b/c I can’t be bothered to put speed laces into my racing flats. I knew, however, at least no one would steal my stuff in transition.
I felt pretty good on the swim. Nothing awful happened and I swam as expected. I was slow but not hurting. (In retrospect, if I was doing okay I should have gone harder.)
After the swim I couldn’t find my bike. The day before I had taken 8 pictures of my bike in transition including a picture of the letter at the end of my row. I was in row E. Unfortunately, I found myself running around row D. I also could not get my wetsuit off . I pushed down the panic and silently yelled at myself: PULL IT TOGETHER NOW. YOU HAVE A MARGIN FOR ERROR AND YOU ARE NOT GOING TO LOSE THIS RACE RIGHT HERE IN T1. GO FIND YOUR $%#$&%# BIKE!
I finally located my bike and extricated myself from my wetsuit and got underway. I biked hard. It was a strong bike for me and I passed a few women, including ONE from my AG. I was confused b/c I was sure my swim was slow and my transition was worse and there should be more people ahead of me and I was biking well. OMG, were they THAT FAR ahead of me??
I made it back to transition without a mechanical (always a big happy moment for me) and carefully found my bike (there were 1200 bikes in there!) and put on sneakers. I hit up the run where I finally passed women in my AG (3-4 of them). That was super satisfying.
There was a 41 y/o woman running right near me that wasn’t interested in letting me pass her so we pushed each other until the final straightaway where I finally kicked it in and sped past her and a few other women in the final meters. (Remember this giant burst of speed for later in the story.)
At this point I felt as if I had for sure made Team USA. The top 18 from each AG qualify and my time would have put me around 7th in 2011. I was pumped with my race and my boyfriend and I took lots of pictures that had US flags in them. Finally, enough time had elapsed where I could go see the results….
I was 18th. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH-that was uncomfortably close. AND THEN, since worlds is in 2013, I had to see if any 29 year-olds would bump me from the top 18 as their age next year is what counts for the 2013 Team USA. When all was said and done, I was 18th in the 30-34 AG, headed to London next September, by 2 seconds over 19th place. That’s right, *2* seconds. Nineteenth place was a 29 year-old who had started in a different wave than me so I never saw her during the race. It still makes me nervous to think about!!!
I’ll tell you what, though, 17th runner-up has never felt so AWESOME :)
(I’m giving an A for Audrey here…l was trying to come up with my own symbol like Usain Bolt, Mo Farah, etc…)