China. Team USA. ITU. World Championship. I wouldn’t have ever dreamt that these words would come out of my mouth in one sentence. But if you ask me what’s up next, you’ll hear them all. And with an undertone of honor, excitement and pride. “On September 21, 2014, I will be racing with Team USA at the ITU Long Course World Championship in Weihai, China.”
The distances and formats of ITU (International Triathlon Union) races vary. In my case, I’m racing the “Long Distance Triathlon” course. This event consists of a 4K swim, 120K bike and a 20K run, very different from races I’m accustomed to. Also new to me will simply be competing at an ITU event. I checked the ITU manual and saw that the bike leg for Age Groupers is non-drafting, just like WTC (Ironman) rules, but the water temperature limit for wetsuits is 24C, lower than WTC. I can’t find cut-off times and I don’t know how transitions are organized. I’m not sure if I can wear arm sleeves and there are limits as to the size of logos on anything you wear. And, THIS IS CHINA! I have no idea how that will add to my experience, except that my friend Carin Stevens says I will hear encouraging cheers of “jiayou”, which literally means “add oil”. All great fun!
I’m super excited to share this experience with my 50 fellow Team USA athletes from across the country.Typically, to qualify for Team USA you must first qualify to race at a USAT (USA Triathlon) National Championship and then if you place high enough, you’re invited to race with Team USA. In my case, I had qualified to race at the National Long Course Championship (a 70.3 distance) by winning my division at a shorter, local USAT-sanctioned triathlon. But the national championship was held the same day as the Ironman World Championship, where I raced. They deemed me good enough to invite because of my finish there.
I plan to wear my one piece Team USA kit which is not super easy to get on and off. But I am also taking a two-piece race kit just in case I wake up that morning with an upset tummy, hinting of (you know what kind of) trouble to come. Team USA does not pay for your kits, entry fee or any travel, so this has become an expensive adventure. But if you know me, you know I’ve always opted to spend my money on travel and adventure over almost anything else.
Traveling with me will be my husband and super sherpa, Rick Keene and one of my wonderful sons, Thomas Cox. Also coming to see the race is a long-time friend now living in Newport Beach, Cindy Thomas. After the race we’ll be traveling in China, visiting several sites before coming home.
I’ll be sharing my experiences with you after we return. I’m not taking electronics to China either, sort of a forced “electronics cleanse”, I guess. Let’s see how that adventure goes too!