Tuscaloosa Alabama was home to the USAT Triathlon National Championships August 22, 2009. It was situated around the University of Alabama’s’ beautiful campus.

We arrived in town Thursday late afternoon in time for a ride on one loop of the bike course. I really enjoyed the ride, flat to rolling terrain with smooth pavement. We finished just in time to be greeted by thunder, lightening and rain. Kevin went in for a quick swim before the storms and found the water to be calm, warm and current free.

Friday was registration and bike drop. We completed that early, had a chance to catch up with triathlon friends from around the country. I love Nationals as that may be the only race I would run into old friends…some from my first years of racing

Race morning was humid but cool, low 70’s, picture perfect blue skies but I knew something was amiss as I was standing waiting to swim and Kevin noticed a 3 foot long dead catfish (eyes gone and whiskers out of the water) moving at a fast clip past the 60+ age group already lined up in the water. The catfish was gone in a blink of an eye. The current was on and moving fast! My wave was left at 7:12 and immediately I saw a purple cap pull away. I wondered why my legs felt tired during the swim and as soon as I exited the water, looked at my watch and realized I had been in the water for 32:00 for an Olympic distance swim, I knew I had just completed .9 miles swim agonizingly slow. It was an adventure.
I loved the bike course. It was a terrific course with some harder climbs and awesome downhill’s. I finished in 1:03 for the 5th fastest women’s bike split. (Thanks to All3sports for taking care of my bike before I left for the race) It was now time for the run and it was heating up. I did not know where I stood in my age group but after the first uphill climb, I only saw Karen (from another age group) in front of me, but on the downhill I recognized Liz Buhlman from my age group only :40 seconds back and 4 miles left in the run. I saw her again on the 2nd and 3rd hill climbs and each time she had taken 10 more seconds back and seemed to be gaining quickly. The run is not my strength and I was waiting for her to come by, but on the last part of the run, I realized that she was not there and I crossed the finish line winning by age group by 18 seconds (!) and winning the National Age Group title for 50-54. It was such a surprise and a hard fought win. It was a great race against an awesome competitor and I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of the day. Thanks Liz for pushing me into a new heart rate zone 🙂

All in all it was a wonderful atmosphere for a race. It is so much fun to race the best people in your age group and even better that is over in less than 3 hours!!
Next year, I hope they put mile markers up on the run and bike.

Hope to see you at Nationals again in 2010. Laura