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Collegiate Nationals: A Look Back at Something Special

By Edie Nault | April 24, 2013, 12 a.m. (ET)

Virginia Tech Tri Team, 2013

Heat… an endless, bottomless pit of heat seemed to radiate off the road. I guzzled the last remaining droplets of Gatorade from my bottle as wave of emotions rolled over me with the realization that I was at my last Collegiate Nationals, coming into my final lap on the bike leg. The jostling for the positions coming into T2 were forgotten, the roar from the crowd faded into the back ground. All I could hear was the pounding of my heart as my focus started to fade. Calmness seemed to surround the transition area as a scatter of other competitors quickly transitioned to the run, but I felt anything but calm as my chest started to tighten.

I could still feel the heat baking down on me with my mind shouting at me that my body was wavering though I had tried to conserve energy on the bike. Then the Tech boys started shouting, “GO EDIE,” and with a jolt I was shocked back into the present. Even though my mind was telling me I had only fumes left in the tank, my body still had the heart to push and I was loving every minute of wearing the maroon and orange colors!

The past four years have been something special. It’s been a week since Collegiate Nationals in Tempe, Ariz., and I had sat down several times to write a race report, but ended up just staring at a blank screen. How you can you sum up the majestic feeling, that special something that makes up the past four years of collegiate triathlon that has been your life (combined with school of course). I had been very lucky when I first transferred to Virginia Tech in that I was welcomed with open arms into the Tech Triathlon Team and the Blacksburg community.

Virginia Tech Tri Team, 2012

Four years ago, the team drove 25 hours straight to Texas where we met flooded roads, freezing rains, and an incredible time.

The past two years at Alabama has been as unique and amazing an experience with the Tech Team as the first time I experienced Collegiate Nationals.

Even though this is just one weekend, it morphs and expands into something more, something special. A team is formed with a goal to represent their college/university at nationals, but along the way you have potlucks, training camps, bonfires, car wash fundraisers, relationships, century rides, book hunts, Biker’s Ball (formal attire joined with the cycling team for a fun night of bowling), team meetings, lake swims, Tour De Wine bike ride, more training, midnight runs, and of course ice cream eating contests against the Cycling Club. You form friendships and new experiences that will last you a lifetime through the collective motivation of ordinary college students who together become extraordinary.

Virginia Tech Tri Team, 2011

No one forces us to do these things, but these things create moments that we will never forget. One of these moments was over two years ago when our past President, Justin Morrison, helped us gain a sponsor at the local running store, RunAbout Sports, where he worked. This is where I first met who is now my fiancé, who faced off with Justin to fit me for racing flats. Two years later, an Austrian Cattle Dog named Steely was taken in by the two of us.

As the final chapter of the allure of Collegiate Nationals closes a new chapter opens in my life. I’ll be leaving the Hokie team and will be pursing my profession as a future registered dietitian. My internship starts in August in Pittsburgh and though I will be leaving Blacksburg community, I will forever be a part of the Hokie Nation and thankful for being able to have the privilege to be healthy and able to join another community, the Collegiate Nationals community.

I’m nervous and excited to venture out on the new roads, pools, and trails that I can find in Pittsburgh. Though my life will be filled with clinical rotations and projects, I will still be training for triathlons. My surroundings are being completely turned upside down, the triathlon aspect though will always be strong with me (wish me luck at Age Group Nationals in August!).

Virginia Tech Tri Team, 2010

I will forever be grateful for my teammates who first taught me how to do flying mounts, to those who sang me a poem during a triathlon meeting while handing me a bouquet of yellow flowers in a PBR can, to my coach for motivating me, for my parents never wavering support, and I will neVer forgeT.