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PTO Milwaukee Race

This summer I competed in the USA Triathlon Nationals. It was held in Milwaukee at the same time as a Professional Triathlon Organization (PTO) race. Such a cool experience. Nationals was awesome, roughly 4300 athletes with 200 in my age group alone. They started us off in waves; even though there were thousands of athletes on the course already, it felt like I was in my own private race with just the women in my bracket. Despite people coming from all over the US, most of the ones I met lived within the VA area!

The age group races were Friday, Saturday, and Sunday AM with the professionals racing Friday and Saturday evening. This gave everyone a chance to do their own thing and the courses to be cleared prior to the pro races. I follow a lot of the pros on YouTube or through podcasts, so it was really cool to see them in person, but also very humanizing. Jan Frodeno, one of the best in triathlon for 20 years, forgot to take his wetsuit off during the first transition and was climbing onto his bike before he realized it! Despite that he still won the whole race. Paula Findlay, ranked # 5, lost her water bottle off her bike during a sharp corner. And Magnus Ditlev, 2nd overall in the world, had to pull out of the race midway because of stomach problems. Jan retired at the end of this season so getting to see him in one of his last races was pretty special.

Photo credit: PTO

Jan’s setting up his transition area here. It’s fun to see the athletes beforehand, laughing and joking. There aren’t that many pro triathletes in the world, so most races are the same group and they become a pretty tightly knit community. You can tell they’re good friends before and after a race, but anything goes during.

We spent time watching the professionals get ready for their races. It was amazing to see the quality of their gear. This is Kristian Blummenfelt’s tri bike. It was custom made for him. I’ve never seen anything like it, from the front you can see the forks are spaced out around the wheel like a motorcycle more than a bicycle. He’s the current Olympic champion in short course triathlon.

Here the pro women are getting ready for a swim familiarization. It was a little awkward as most rode to the venue on their bikes and then changed into swim suits on the dock. Impressively managed though, they would wrap a towel under their armpits and do a complete wardrobe change. The following day I attempted this move after my open water swim race, scoffing at Hubs’ offer to hold the towel for me…needless to say, wardrobe changes might require as much training as the actual race.

Below is the course for my race, strangely enough there was a strong current going under the bridge so a lot of pre-race strategy was involved in placement on the dock. My strategy during a swim is Don’t Be Last. I knew dock placement would have little affect on that result so I didn’t worry about it too much!

I’ll follow up with a recap of my race and how it all went. Overall it was great, very humbling to race against the best in the nation, but also very motivating for my future training!

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