As my last collegiate nationals has come to an end, it has been so great to look back at my past nationals experiences. Tempe 2014 was nothing but sunshine both days, and everyone loved the course. It was a fast race with a ton of athletes pushing themselves to their limits. Clemson 2015 was a much different experience for me. Having taken a break from tri for a little while due to study abroad and subsequently having zero money in my bank account, nationals wound up being an eye opener. Previously being told, “don’t worry, this course is flat!” and showing up to ride the large rolling hills of that highway made last year’s nationals a very challenging race for me. Realizing I had lost plenty of what I had gained, the training increased, leading me to my most successful year of multisport yet.
I don’t think anybody was fully prepared for the change of course this year. The bike course was very challenging, as can be seen by the slower times across the board this year. The run course was also very hilly, and I’m sure nobody was happy about running over that honeycomb strip of sidewalk. We compared GPS watch data and wound up with a unanimous consensus that the run course was longer than it was supposed to be. All around, this year’s race was my most challenging Nationals experience. I think if I had given the Tempe course the same effort I had put in this year, the time difference would be enormous. Triathlon is a sport where mental prep can push you leaps and bounds, and I was not mentally prepped for this race. I applaud the top finishers for kicking butt in Clemson because this race was definitely one of the harder collegiate races.
On a different note, the general morale felt throughout the weekend was amazing. Having friends on some other tri teams, it was great to see a bunch of college athletes ready to race their hearts out. The atmosphere on the course is always my favorite part of this race. There is no other triathlon event where everyone is cheering you on, no matter what
school they attend. In the end, NCSU Tri was very successful. Having our top female, Margaret Tobey, place 13th overall helped our team score tremendously. And with our top four scorers from each gender putting in work all season, our team finished in the top 30. I was so proud to have so many teammates race their first nationals and in some cases, their first Olympic-distance triathlon. I hope that they saw the hype I had been talking about all year and really enjoyed themselves.
We returned to Raleigh sore, tired and ready for Cookout milkshakes, and this team is excited and ready to race at Tuscaloosa 2017 next year! Who knows, we might even wind up with some alumni MTR teams.
Julie Falzon, 21, is a senior member and president of the N.C. State Triathlon Club. She has competed in over 15 multisport races in her lifetime and wrapped up her collegiate career at the 2016 USA Triathlon Collegiate Club National Championships in Clemson, South Carolina, April 22-23. It was be her third collegiate nationals.
For more on of the Collegiate Club National Championships, such as a live blog, social story and other features and news, visit the 2016 coverage page.