race day. Knowing what is coming at you-hills, tight corners, railroad tracks etc, during a race helps big time if you are prepared. Gina and I took a trip over to Burlington, Vt to scope out the bike and run course set for Nationals. I can't really preview the swim course in person because swimming is not allowed in the bay, but looking at it on the map shows me enough-and I know there are no hills. We camped on the way over and was on course by 10am. Man is it different riding in the city, starting and stopping all the time, watching for cars, pedestrians. Here in the White Mountains your biggest concern is whacking a moose and getting blown over by 18 wheelers! Obviously the roads will be closed to traffic on race day. We weave our way though Burlington and head out on Park street. About a mile in it seems Park St veers left and right, straight is not an option-it's one way. We know we've got to get on 127 make a loop, continue north and turn around at Plattsburg Ave. We see signs for 127 but are a little hesitant the road looks like it leads to an on ramp for the highway. We check the map and directions: Take the highway 127 exit to take you West towards North Ave. We continued until we saw the highway sign Not Permitted: pedestrians, scooter, bicycles etc. We checked the map again and we were not in the right area but we confirmed most of the course is on the highway! Back where Park St turns to one way, the race course continues straight onto the ramp for the highway. To lengthen the course we exit the highway, turn around and get back on-that's where we were, right at the turn around spot. Apparently the event staff doesn't feel it's important to tell you on the directions, 127 is a real highway and is only open on race day. I was so mad but excited at the same time- I get to ride my bike on a highway!
We have reservations at Mallets Bay Campground a few miles beyond the course so we rode up and checked it out. I wasn't too impressed. Site 25A was mostly big roots and is designated for motor homes and RVs. Gina and I decided we weren't to happy with the site but we'd figure it out later, we were here to ride! On the return trip we split, I did intervals 30 seconds hard as possible 1 min rest. She set a goal of 30 mins to get back to Waterfront Park. My intervals were interrupted due to traffic lights but I was pretty happy with the workout and Gina arrived in 32 minutes - "damn traffic lights" she muttered. I changed my shoes and headed out to preview the run course. I knew it began with a steep hill 110 feet of gain in about 1/4 of a mile. It was tough but not super hard, now I will modify my brick workouts to mimic this course. A brick workout is running immediately after you dismount your bike or biking as soon as you exit the water. Your legs feel like bricks when using different muscles to propel yourself. Training your muscles to adapt to this feeling is very important in triathlon. After the climb the course is a very gradual uphill gaining only another 50 ft over 3/4 a mile. It descends into North Beach Campground- much nicer than Mallots Bay. I want to stay here instead. I make the left turn onto the Island Line Trail which follows the shores of Lake Champlain-its just about flat for the remaining mile and packed with walkers, kids on bikes, strollers, rollerbladers. I even pass a group of 10 casual bikers must be a family reunion or something.
As I return to Waterfront Park I picture myself on race day. The finish chute is lined with spectators cheering us all on, my friends and family are there and I finish strong in the top 18 in my age group. I see myself qualifying for Worlds!