It’s been just over a week since my heart stopped when I saw the prized e-mail from USAT offering me a slot on Team USA for the 2008 ITU Long Course World Championship in Almere, Holland at the end of August.
It took about 30 minutes, but I finally got my breath back. You would’ve thought I just raced a hard 10K. But no, I was just so excited by the prospects of representing the U. S. A. at a world event.
I mean, how freak’n cool is THAT!
Each month on my journey toward World’s, I’ll cobble together an update of the comings and goings of Team USA, training, travel logistics, and random thoughts. I’ll start with May.
o Travel Logistics:
Since accepting my slot onto Team USA, USAT has provided me a travel agent to shore up a room in Almere, Holland at the Team USA Hotel, the place where all Team USA meetings and group workouts and meals will take place. Although the travel agent has also suggested airfare, I am holding off for the time being so that Heather and I can figure out our travel itinerary. After all, we’re going to Holland, and we plan to monopolize our time there to see the sights and doing the dirty in Amsterdam and perhaps another nearby city. Heck, we could even hop over to Germany if we wanted. USAT is making it fairly easy for us by providing a shuttle from the airport on the recommended Wednesday arrival date. So we’ll either pad the end of the stay with extra days, or we’ll pad it early on and do touristy things before the race. Either way, I don’t mind, even if I’ll be on my feet, because the truth of the matter is, I’m going to Worlds! Although I want to perform to my ability and beyond, I am going to enjoy the heck out of this experience. Because it’s not every day you get to slip into a dinky triathlon wear in the color red, white, and blue with the letters U. S. A. on front!
o Team USA Uniform:
Speaking of the Team Uniform, there’s no doubt that I’m excited over just about everything related to this experience, but the one thing I can’t wait for is to receive the Team Uniform. That’s when this will really set my eyes to water. Because I, like so many of us, had dreamed as a kid that I was wearing red, white, and blue competing for my country in the Olympics and World Cup. What kid does?! I mean, I knew it would never happen. But wow, look now. Here I am, 38 years of age, and I’m getting the opportunity to represent my country in an International competition. Competing at World’s is the absolute furthest a triathlete can get in the sport outside of going to the Olympics. And here I am! Yes, I am very lucky, very excited, and very blessed! Wow… I get a Team USA uniform.
o Opening Ceremonies:
Speaking again of the Team USA uniform, on the Friday before the race, all the countries taking part in the Long Course World Championship are required to march in a parade just as they do in the Olympic Opening Ceremonies. Think how excited I was to learn that I will have to take part, that all Team USA members will march in a polo shirt festooned with a USA logo and khaki Team USA shorts. How freak’n cool is THAT?!
o Professional-Feel Uniforms?
And speaking again of the Team USA uniform, although I haven’t been able to see the uniform and what it might look like, I did find pictures from previous World Championships, and what I saw was cooler than cool. What I saw were athletes in the elite division in the US uniform, complete with their last names printed on the material, and not just on a race number, like these were made with last names on them. Now I’m not sure if those styled uniforms make it to the Age Groupers, but I think I’d wet myself if when my uniform came it had my last name on the front. Holy freak’n coolness!
o Pride in Red, White, and Blue:
And since I can’t put uniform topic aside, I have to say again how honored I am to be able to wear the red, white, and blue and compete for my country. It is such an amazing opportunity, filled with so much emotion, that I still haven’t completely put my head around it to understand exactly what it means. Either way, you can bet I will not only wear the colors with great, great pride, but I will also be the very best ambassador I can be to represent our country and our sport to the rest of the world. Wow. Somebody pinch me.
o Communication To Date:
Outside of travel logistics and other basic introductions to the Team USA personnel, there has been very little other communications. As I’ve learned, we are still pretty far out from the event, so things will pick up shortly, but for the meantime everybody is out getting their seasons started and training away.
As for my training, World’s comes at an interesting but very good time for me in my race schedule. With Ironman Lake Placid coming in mid-July, I will have plenty of time to recover with a few weeks completely down and then begin to focus on speed. The Long Course distances are equivalent to a ¾ IM distances (sort of), so the need for crazy long rides and runs will diminish. Coming off Ironman training, I should be all set. The only thing I’ll have to watch is the burn out factor, since I’ve been going pretty hard for quite a long time. The nice thing is that my season will be officially over the second I cross the finish line in Holland. So that’s only from now (May) until end of August, a cool three months.
o What is “Long Course” Anyway?
Long Course triathlon is typically referred to any distance at or greater than the half Iron distance. This includes the popular Ironman distance, which is as follows:
Swim 2.4 miles (3.8K), Bike 112 miles (180K), Run 26.2 miles (42.2K)
Long Course, as defined by ITU, the world governing body of triathlon, is as follows:
Swim 2.4 miles (4K), Bike ~80 miles (120K), Run ~18.7 miles (30K)
These distances may look odd until you see that they are essentially three times the Olympic distances. The swim is much longer than 3 times, but the bike and run are exactly. And hence the Long Course distance often thought of as ¾ the Iron distance.
o Race Gear Upgrade:
Selection onto Team USA has prompted me to better align my bike equipment with those athletes I’ll be racing with and against. So now it’s time to upgrade for performance. The problem is things are very expensive. I have been exploring avenues of sponsorship to help me out, but sponsorships are few and far between, especially now that we are in season – most decent sponsorships have to be applied for at the end of the year for the one ahead. Instead of taking a piecemeal approach, I have decided to make a Fitting appointment at Fitwerx, the area’s best bike shop and triathlon bike fit specialists, for an evaluation. After a fit, they will recommend a next course of action for optimal performance. This will likely mean a new bike, but right now I’ll have to toe the line of being reasonable with the wallet, because a new bike is very expensive, where I might be better suited from a financial point to dial in my fit on my current bike and spend whatever dollars I can garner on a set of race wheels, aero helmet, and other basic must haves that, well, I don’t have. The premise is not to buy what I don’t need. So I’m hopeful I can get a fit on my current bike and rig that up with the fancy equipment. A current sponsorship with Rudy Project will help with an aero helmet and glasses, but I’ll have to postpone those since the sponsorship is just a discount – not for free equipment.