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  • Writer's picturecchambersod

2022 USA Triathlon Multisport National Championship Festival!

April 28th through May 1st, 2022

4 Amazing days of racing!

The planning:

When USA Triathlon announced in November 2021 that it would be completely changing up the way they do several of the multisport national championships and combine them into one huge event, I KNEW it was something I wanted to be a part of! I’ve raced at Duathlon Nationals the last two seasons and had a blast in Greenville, SC 2019 and Tuscaloosa, AL in 2021. I knew I wanted to race the standard distance non-drafting duathlon and aquathlon, but the other racing options spoke to a person with FOMO like me!

As soon as I verified that the dates would work out and flights to Dallas were possible, I booked a hotel that was reasonable walking distance from the venue (Aloft Las Colinas.) The hotel rates were surprisingly reasonable, probably because they didn’t realize the demand that was about to happen. I surprisingly found a 2.5 hour direct flight from our little airport with American Airlines that was very affordable too!

Next up was figuring out transportation while there. I decided to check on public transportation systems and found that the DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit) had a train that departed from Terminal A in DFW airport and dropped off in Las Colinas Urban Center (less than a mile walk from the venue) with only a 20 minute ride. Also a plus – it only cost between $2 to $4 to ride depending on time of day. Between this to get to/ from the airport, walking when things were close, and the occasional Uber/Lyft ride, I didn’t see the need for a rental car.

Since I had already committed to an Olympic distance triathlon the following weekend in White Lake, NC I knew I couldn’t use TriBike Transport since the turnaround on my bike likely wouldn’t be quick enough. This decision was made before the last minute derailleur incident with my pink Specialized Shiv and before I tuned up my old Giant Aeryn to race Texas 70.3.

Thankfully a good friend allowed me to borrow her beast of a bike case (a Bike Box Alan), and with the direct flight with American Airlines I could easily bring my bike with me on the plane. As the race got closer, I realized my Shiv was a heavier bike than the Giant, and it would be difficult to make it under the 50 lb mark for a free checked bag. With a little creativity, I was able to get my Giant bike plus bike case and locks to be 49.8lbs!

Registering for the races:

This was a tough one for me! I knew I wanted to do 2 of the races (standard duathlon and aquathlon), and as I researched it more, the Super Sprint Time Trial triathlon really started sounding like a good time. I also really enjoyed the Aquabike in Sebring, FL last year, so I decided to add that one to the list as well.

I knew if I added just one more race, I’d be in the running for a special award called the Multisport Master (doing 5+ races at the event.) The open water swim competition filled that need perfectly! They gave out a special discount code for crazy people like me that signed up for 3+ or 4+ events.

Day 1: Flying to Dallas and racing Super Sprint Triathlon & Open Water Swim Competition

Our flight was scheduled to leave at 7:35am and arrive in Dallas at 9:14am. We were working with a narrow margin already, so when our flight was delayed to leave at 7:52 I started getting a little nervous. We arrived in Dallas around 9:30 and headed to baggage claim. The green bike case popping out on the Oversized Luggage belt was so nice to see, even if it did take over 30 minutes.

With our arrival flight being in Terminal E, we had to take the Terminal Link bus to get to terminal A for the train. This ride took about 20 minutes. We followed the signs to the DART and were able to catch a departure train about 5 minutes later.

The trains arrive every 20 minutes so we timed that one pretty well. It was nice that the Orange line was the only train that departed from there, so there was no confusion to whether we were on the right train. We used the GoPass app to buy our DART pass which was also super easy – it was $2 for each of us for a mid-day pass.

With packet pickup closing at 11am for the super sprint tri, I knew it was going to be close! Our train arrived at Las Colinas Urban Center at 10:52. Luckily I had a worn my trisuit and running shoes on the plane, so I dropped all my bags with George at the train stop and did a mad dash for Levy Event Plaza. I arrived a few minutes after 11, but they were nice enough to let me still pick up my packet and all my goodies.

After getting my packet, numbering my swim caps, and putting on my SS Time Trial bracelet, I started running back to help George carry all of our luggage and bike to the venue from the train stop. He had been slowly making his way with all of our bags (I don’t know how!) and was almost to the venue by the time I caught up with him.

We found a nice grassy spot a few hundred feet from the venue for me to put my bike back together. It’s around 11:30 at this point and transition closes for SS Time Trial in less than an hour. Luckily with the Bike Box Alan Triathlon Easy Fit case, all you have to do is take the wheels off and the pedals off, so it took less than 10 minutes to get it all put back together.

What took longer was putting all the stickers on the bike, bike helmet, and applying all my TriTats (4 sets) to my arms and legs before I could set up transition.

Thankfully nothing was damaged or lost on my bike’s trip through the airport and I got everything squared away in transition with at least 15 minutes to spare!

The Super Sprint Time Trial (250m swim, 5km bike, 1.2km run)!

This race format was super exciting to me since my favorite races are short and fast ones. I knew this race would be over in less than 25 minutes and transitions would be super important. Water temperature was around 70 degrees – wetsuit or no wetsuit – that was the question. I decided to go with the wetsuit since I had a long race weekend ahead of me and the energy saving of a wetsuit would be worth it.

Swim time: 5 minutes, 8 seconds for 283yds – 1:48/100yds pace. I was without a doubt faster in my wetsuit and was able to get it off in less than 10 seconds since it was sleeveless.

T1 time: 1 minute, 30 seconds. Everything went pretty smoothly here. Wetsuit off, toss my swim cap, goggles, and ear plugs that I took off while running to my spot, then helmet on and go!

Bike time: 9 minutes, 33 seconds for 18.85 mi/hr pace. This was the closest my flying mount has come to a disaster. Right foot went in easily, but as I was putting in my left foot I somehow wiggled my shoe out of the clip with only my big toe holding my shoe. I envisioned by shoe going flying across the road and having to dodge other riders to grab it and put it on. I slowly moved my shoe back onto the pedal and thankfully heard it snap back in. I held it while I slid that left foot in that time! At this point I felt accomplished for not losing my shoe and the ride was over before I ever really settled into any kind of pace. My flying dismount after the bike went much better and was uneventful!

T2 time: 1 minute, 33 seconds. Another smooth transition! Racked bike, helmet off, running shoes on, grabbing my sunglasses, visor, and bib number and off I went.

Run: 3 minutes, 49 seconds for a 7:03/mi pace (per Garmin). This was as much of a sprint as I could handle after 15+ minutes of being at/over threshold heart rate. The first 0.25 felt harder and I settled into a faster but easier stride for the second half. The finish line came FAST, and I almost felt like I could have run harder. I guess that’s the nature of racing something this short though.

Total Race Time: 21 minutes, 31 seconds for 3rd in age group, 30th out of 105 women, and 122nd out of 286 participants.

Overall thoughts on this race: I should have actually set up some super sprint training sessions to understand how I could better pace myself and where my limit might be. It’s such a fun race format and I’d LOVE to do more of them. Highly recommend to all levels of athletes from a novice in the sport to the elites who want to see just how fast they can go. I’ll definitely sign up for this one again!

After the super sprint ended, there was about 2 hours until the open water swim competition started (and our hotel check in wasn’t until 3pm anyway!) so we just relaxed in our grassy spot where I assembled my bike.

Open Water Swim Competition (750m swim)!

This one was a wave start where all 73 women started together. I’ve gotten used to the nice and spaced out rolling starts that Ironman does, so I had to remember how to be aggressive while avoiding getting kicked and punched in the water.

After the first 200m everyone was more spaced out and I had plenty of room to have a comfortable swim. Sighting the buoys was very easy and the swim course was very easy to follow. Since I haven’t had much open water practice this season, adding this event was more of a training benefit for me.

I ended up with a distance of 846yds at a pace of 1:52/100yds per Garmin. This was a tad slower than the SS Time Trial but a huge improvement from my open water swimming times last year.

Total Race Time: 15 minutes, 56 seconds seconds for 3rd in age group, 39th out of 73 women, and 84th out of 145 participants.

After the second event of the day, it was time to head to the hotel. It looked like an easy walk on Google maps, but we learned the hard way that Dallas is not a very walkable city and the sidewalks ended about halfway to our hotel. We finally made it to our hotel after walking through parking lot after parking lot to avoid walking on the freeway that Maps told us to walk on.

Aloft Las Colinas was very welcoming and our room was so comfortable! After getting a much needed shower, there wasn’t enough time to make it to awards, but I was more than happy to call it an early night and get some sleep.

Day 2: Racing the Aquathlon with Jacki!

Since the aquathlon didn’t begin until 1pm, we were able to get some much needed sleep from the long day before. Jacki and Paul arrived around 10am. I managed to convince Jacki that she wanted to race the aquathlon with me less than 2 weeks prior to race day since she was already planning on being at the race festival with Paul. We prepped out stuff in the hotel and headed to the race venue around 11:30 (we got an Uber this time!)

Aquathlon (1000m swim, 5k run)

In the lead up to the race, there was so much talk about water temperature and how that would impact race format. If the temperature was below 71.6 degrees, it would be a swim-run and wetsuit legal, but if it was above that it would be a run-swim-run and not wetsuit legal.

The temperature ended up being under 71.6 so I definitely brought my wetsuit. The waves were a little smaller than the open water swim the day before, so after the first 50m, the crowd spaced out.

I managed to get a glimpse of Jacki swimming beside me about halfway in, but then we went around a buoy and lost each other. This swim was the perfect length – long enough to settle into a pace and short enough to not fatigue.

Swim time: 19 minutes, 49 seconds for 1121yds – 1:45/100yds pace. Coming out of the water, I was excited to run.

T1 time: 1 minute, 34 seconds. Another smooth transition here! Wetsuit came off maybe even faster than the day before, running shoes on, grabbed my sunglasses, visor, race belt, and water bottle and headed out!

Run time: 22 minutes, 43 seconds for a 7:19/mi pace per race results (I messed up my activity on my watch so I don’t know exact distance/pace). This was my favorite part of the race and where I hoped to make up ground that I’d lost in the swim. I tried to channel the mental strength from my track workouts and pull out a negative split in the second half of the run.

Total Race Time: 44 minutes, 4 seconds for 3rd in age group, 31th out of 124 women, and 97th out of 261 participants.

This was a lot smoother of a day in general since we got plenty of sleep the night before and the race itself was a short one. We were able to attend the awards that evening and soak in the atmosphere of a National Championships ceremony. It was super cool getting to stand on the podium with another incredible athlete! I was definitely inspired by the level of athleticism there.

Day 3: Racing the Standard Distance Duathlon with Paul!

It was an early morning race start thankfully to (somewhat!) beat the heat. Paul and I left the hotel on our bikes with our transition bags to set up early, while Jacki and George slept a little later and took an Uber to the race start.

The race was filled with fierce competition between Paul and me. After I had claimed earlier in the year that I could run faster than him, it’s been fun ever since to push each other. His wave began 5 minutes before mine, so he might have threatened a rugby tackle if I tried to pass him HAHA!

The race format was run-bike-run, with the first run being a 10km, the bike being 25 miles, and the second run being 5km. With a bit of duathlon racing experience now, I knew that I had to be slightly conservative on run #1 if I wanted to have the energy to pace well in the latter stages of the race.

I completed the first mile with a 7:46/mi pace feeling great, so I gradually quickened my pace through the next 5.2 miles, finishing the first run in 46:27 and a 7:38/mi pace average. I felt fresh and comfortable heading into T1, and had a nice smooth transition with a 1:21 T1 time.

Heading out for the bike, I was focused on being smooth with my flying mount, and thankfully everything went great this time.

My bike time was decent, but riding a bike that I hadn’t been training on slowed me just a bit I feel. The bike course was fantastic, with an entire lane blocked for biking from traffic! It had a slight bit of rolling elevation, but overall is a fast course. I finished the bike in 1:16:49 with an average pace of 18.9 mph. I could tell I was slowly gaining time on Paul on the bike, but it wasn’t until T2 that I caught up to him.

Coming into T2, everything was very smooth with my flying dismount. My transition time was 1:23 which was about 10 seconds faster than the bike to run transition I did for the super sprint (practice makes us faster apparently!)

The second run is where things get serious and embracing the suck is necessary. I had really focused on trying to keep enough in the tank to have a good run #2 and it worked! I held onto my pace from the first run and managed to gradually negative split the 5k, finishing run #2 in 22:29 with a 7:36/mi pace.

The last mile I definitely had to dig into a deep place I don’t often go, and the suffering was obvious after seeing the videos taken by George!

My overall Standard Distance Duathlon time was 2:28:27, which put me in 3rd in my age group! This made my fourth 3rd place finish at the Multisport Fest HAHA!

After this race my body was majorly feeling the accumulated fatigue from the races completed so far.

We headed back to our hotel to get showered, have lunch, then head back to the venue to watch the exciting new event, the Super Sprint Mixed Relay!

This race was basically the same course as the super sprint time trial, but in a draft-legal format with a team of 4 (two male, two female). Watching this race inspired me to want to put a team together for next year and try it!

Although tired, George and I went to the awards ceremony again and I had the honor of taking the podium for a 3rd place finish in the Standard Duathlon. It was really impressive to see how many races some athletes at the Multisport Fest were completing (and doing well!)

Day 4: Racing the Aquabike to round out 5 events!

It was another early morning, and it was quite a bit cooler than the previous days. I actually was shivering after setting up transition and waiting for the race to begin, so I put my wetsuit on early to keep me warmer. I was definitely feeling tired from the last 3 days of racing and grateful for a swim-bike DONE format, with a 1500m swim and 25 mile bike.

My wave was the last one to start. It was the same style where everyone starts from the dock at the same time, so all women in my wave were in the water a few minutes before start time just waiting for go time.

About a minute before we were set to go, an unfortunate emergency popped up with a participant that had already started. Emergency medical teams were fast to act until an ambulance could arrive, so our wave was called back out of the water to wait until the situation was under control.

Once we were back in the water about 20 minutes later, I couldn’t quite swim more than zone 2 effort on a fresh day. I decided that this race would be more of a training race at that point and just enjoyed the experience. Surprisingly, I managed ANOTHER 3rd place age group, which meant I got 3rd place in EVERY.SINGLE.RACE.

We headed back to our hotel with enough time for a quick shower, pack up, and check out.

With our flight home set to leave at 6pm, we had just enough time to watch Paul race the draft legal sprint duathlon Sunday afternoon.

The weather ended up being toasty and humid, and I was even sweating just spectating.

Around 3:30 we began the walk to the DART pick up back to the airport.

Unfortunately our flight was delayed multiple times and didn’t end up actually leaving until almost 9pm, but we thankfully made it home safely!

Final thoughts on this event:

I HIGHLY would recommended attending the Multisport Festival in Irving, Texas in 2023. It is an amazing venue for an event like this. It has something for everyone – there’s triathlon, duathlon, aquathlon, aquabike, and open water swim competition. You can also pick between draft-legal or non-drafting events as well!

Plus, if someone has a desire to make TeamUSA as an age group athlete, this festival has qualification spots for at least 6 (possibly even more) races for World Championships! It was overall such a fun experience where you get a lot of racing options for one trip!

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