Friday I took PTO from Cisco to head way, way north to Burlington, Vermont to do course reconnaissance for the fast-approaching USA Age Group National Championships. I remain both giddy and terrified to have qualified for and be competing in this event; I figured a little scouting might soothe my nerves and stoke my fires as I prepare to compete against 1,811 other qualified athletes on August 20th. (For fellow data junkies: 40 percent of the field is female and 123 of those chicks—including yours truly—will descend upon Burlington from 31 different states to create the “F 40-44” age group.)
Sorry to be a meanie, but most of my reconnaissance is Top Secret and I’ve only granted security clearance to my coach 🙂
Here’s what I’m willing to share:
Vermonters want us…they really want us! Nationals isn’t for another three-plus weeks and yet the city is already decked out with signs urging residents to
GET READY TO TRI!
USA NATIONAL TRIATHLON CHAMPIONSHIPS!
After the whole “dissed by Nantucket” thang, being welcomed and wanted by Burlington made me feel all warm and fuzzy and hurrah-ish. Duly noted that locals are also really excited about this weekend’s Grecian Festival…and about a “MAJOR” sale on “ALL THINGS HEMP!” at cannabis-themed store The Hempest. So it’s possible that Vermonters are just a…really excitable cannabis-loving gaggle. Jus’ sayin’. 😉
Riding the Interstate—twice! If you’ve been keeping tabs on my insanity, you know that I’ve run every road in Marlborough that can legally be run—and have become fairly fixated in covering I-495 and I-290 as well (though I have promised the fam I won’t do it sans permission from Police Chief Leonard).
Well, perhaps this’ll help scratch that itch: on August 20th they are closing a portion of Interstate 89 for the bike loop! Yep, we’ll ride a grand total of 3.75 miles (that’s 6.04 km for those of you whose minds think metrically)—half in order to get away from downtown Burlington and into what’ I’m calling the course’s “back 40” and the other half in order to return to the transition area on the shores of Lake Champlain. BigbigBIG smiles!
About that Back Forty…We triathletes are going to have a heck of a lot of fun racing amidst Burlington’s horses, hay bails and hills. This section of the course is just fun-fun-fun with a great mixture of challenging uphill bursts and awesome views of Lake Champlain.
It never ceases to amaze me…In every reconnaissance mission I’ve run, there is a least one tricky part where the provided directions prove less than adequate. The authors of these instructions seem to know this—the word choice is always a little awkward and often says something like, “this part is a little tricky”. In Burlington, this part comes on the run. The directions say:
Turn left on Leddy Park Rd. heading W/SW for approximately .71km (stay right on the north pathway when Leddy Park Rd. splits). Turn right immediately when entering the parking lot heading N/NW for approximately .21km through the path till Dale St. Continue N/NW on Dale St. (which turns into Stanbury Rd.) for approximately .65km.
Huh? What path? I ran around in search of it for several minutes, then, being tight on time, finally stopped to ask at the parking attendant’s shack. “You have no idea how many people have asked me that this week! I have no clue!” she said, while her male colleague looked glassily off into the distance, perhaps day-dreaming about the Hempest sale. If I ever become a race director (or get one to listen to me even) I’ll laminate a sheet with more explicit instructions and give it to the parking-shack attendants of the world. This is not rocket science, race directors! I eventually found it but it wasn’t simple.
Never found Champy though. The only portion of the course I didn’t get to make friends with was the swim—it isn’t appropriate to just jump into this portion of Lake Champlain on a bog-standard Friday as it’s chock full of boats and there’s no sandy beach or anything. I did, however, take a few moments post-run to splash some of its water on my face as I scanned the horizon in a quick attempt to spot Champy the lake monster. While I’ve qualified for Nationals, sadly I have not qualified to add my name to the Big Board of Champ Sightings. Yet.
Talk about tight transitions! I didn’t have any wiggle room in my schedule on Friday—I awoke at 4:45, loaded the minivan from 5:15 to 5:30 am, drove to Burlington from 5:30 to 9:30 am, biked, transitioned and ran from 9:30 am to 1:30 pm and then drove home again from 1:30 to precisely 5:12 pm—rolling into my daughter’s summer camp with just three minutes to spare before closing time. No time to grab an iced coffee in the Church Street Marketplace. That’ll have to wait til post-race.
In short, Mission Accomplished: I am slightly soothed and seriously stoked!
Until next time!