Race Recap: Chicago Triathlon

Swimming in Lake Michigan. Cycling on Lake Shore Drive. Running through the museum campus and into the iconic skyline. The Chicago Triathlon was breathtaking. Figuratively and literally.

Before the Race

This was my first time traveling out of state for a triathlon, so we added a few extra days to the trip and made a trication out of it. We packed-up the car on Friday morning and made the seven hour trek to Chicago.

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We stayed at the host hotel, which made packet pick-up a breeze by just taking the elevator down to the Multisport & Fitness Expo on Saturday morning. It’s no coincidence that one has to walk through the maze of more than 100 vendor booths before getting to back of the room where packets are obtained. I didn’t mind though; seeing the latest and greatest gear, nutrition and services just added to the excitement that built upon entering the exhibit floor.

I also decided to take advantage of the early bike racking on Saturday. Normally I just rack my bike on race morning, but given the almost 7,000 bikes that would end up in transition along with the athletes that would transport them there, I decided it might be good to just skip the race morning chaos and rack mine a day early. It turned out to be a good call. Unlike every other triathlon I’ve done, this event did not have assigned numbers on the rack. Each wave had their own row, but the individual spaces on that row were first come first serve. I lucked-out and got a spot on the front end of the rack, which would make it very easy to find. Considering transition was a couple hundred yards long, and my wave was at the far end of it, anything I could do to make my life easier would be good!

I enjoyed dinner with family and friends that night at Pequod’s Pizza – a Chicago staple. Surrounded by such great people, some of whom I hadn’t seen in more than six months, the natural tendency would be to let loose, have a few drinks and enjoy some heavy deep-dish pizza. But I stuck with my night-before-a-race routine and had one beer and a plate of pasta. It was really hard to pass up that pizza, but I knew trying something new the night before would be a risky move. After dinner, we all went to a local bar to take in the Mayweather vs. McGregor fight. I tipped back a few waters to stay hydrated and enjoyed the company of family and friends. However, I turned in early, missing the main event, so I could get to bed. It wasn’t easy leaving the fun, but Sunday was going to be a big day.

Race Day

My swim wave wasn’t until 9:15am, but I woke up at 4:00am to eat breakfast. I ate the same race-day breakfast I’ve eaten all season – an english muffin with peanut putter and a cup of yogurt. I like the early meal so my body has time to process the fuel and relax before the race kicks off. Normally I’d go back to bed after eating, and I certainly could’ve given the late transition window available to Sprint racers, but I was already awake, was anxious to see the water conditions and was too excited to not be a part of the pre-race action. I grabbed my stuff and joined the steady stream of athletes making the 30 minute walk to transition. Since I set-up my gear early, I was able walk back to the hotel and relax some more before walking the two blocks back down to the swim start.

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Pre-race smiles with my two biggest cheerleaders: my other half, Jamie (left) and my mom (right).

My wave was loaded into the start chute about 20 minutes prior to our scheduled start time. Here, I got the chance to watch a few waves before me take off on the wavy swim, and also chat with fellow triathletes. One thing I love about this sport is how nice and welcoming everyone is. Everyone is always excited to just talk about the sport, their past experiences, their goals for the day and offer any advice they can. It’s a wonderful community.

Finally at the sea wall edge, it was our turn to step down the bleacher stairs into Monroe Harbor and start treading the Lake Michigan water. This was the calmest I’ve ever felt before a swim, which surprised me given how not calm this new body of water was for me. I had never swam in chop and waves like this. But I knew I could do it. All of the three-quarter-mile practice swims at Lake Nokomis over the last month paid-off in providing new confidence that I was more than capable of handling this half-mile swim.

The horn sounded and we were swimming, all 150 of us from Wave 39. Congested is an understatement. It was hard to find any personal space for the first quarter-mile of the swim. I got kicked a lot and kicked a lot of others. I ran into others and was ran into by others. It’s just the nature of the beast. Outside of the pauses to stop and re-sight after running into someone of having my ankles grabbed, I only took one real pause on my own, which was to catch my breath after swallowing a poorly times lake wave. Once I found some space and found a groove, the swim was beautiful. The water was a fairly clear blue-green. To my surprise, the waves brought peace rather than stress, allowing me to feel one with the lake. I cruised to a new personal record on the swim, clocking-in at 00:14:18.

Swim Exit

Catching my breath and running at the same time. Ironic?

T1 was an animal like none other I’d experienced before. I was super thankful for the volunteers that helped guide each swimmer up the stairs and out of the water. Then I was off on a 450-yard run along the red carpet to transition. For those keeping score at home, that’s a quarter-mile! Then, once I reached the transition entrance, I had another couple hundred yards to run to reach my rack on the other end. By the numbers, 00:05:44 looks like a long time, but given I ran almost a half-mile and changed gear, I was pretty happy with that time!

The bike course was amazing. The sprint course was a 15-mile round trip out and back along Lake Shore Drive. On one side you had the beautiful views of Lake Michigan and on the other you had the downtown skyline. I tried to take it in as much as I could, but to be honest, I spent a good chunk of time with my head down and pedaling against the wind. I had only rode my bike two or three times since the Minneapolis Triathlon in early July. It was quickly evident that my bike training had slipped a little. My quads weren’t happy with me, but I powered through and gave it everything I had. Averaging just under 19mph, I was still happy with my ride.

Bike

I had pushed my legs so hard on the bike that I was a little nervous heading into T2, worried that my legs would wobble too much to stand after dismounting. My adrenaline must have given me the boost I needed though. I jumped off the bike, ran to rack my bike, swapped helmet for hat and bolted to the run exit.

Blog COver

The quote in my head: “All it takes is all you got.” – Marc Davis

The run had been my strongest leg all year and that was top of mind heading out onto the course. I knew this was where I could really push it. It was time to give it everything I had left in the tank. The path was lined with spectators. Even though I knew none of them, I fed off of their cheers. I did my best not to think about the distance. I kept focus on the person in front of me, trying to pass them and then refocusing on the next person. After the turnaround, I ran around Shedd Aquarium where the view broke open into the iconic Chicago skyline. I could hear the cheering from the finish chute. I rounded the corner onto Columbus Drive and kicked it up a gear, setting a new run PR of 00:22:10 (07:10/mile) and crossing the finish line with a total time of 01:32:15. Wow, what a race!

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My 2017 Chicago Triathlon Results

Split

Split Pace

Age Rank

Overall Rank

Swim (0.47 miles)

00:14:18

01:54 min/100m

17/160

262/2275

T1

00:05:44

25/160

300/2272

Bike (15.0 miles)

00:48:25

18.59 mi/hr

55/161

540/2284

T2

00:01:39

2/159

19/2272

Run (3.1 miles)

00:22:11

07:10 min/mile

15/160

132/2274

Total

01:32:15

17/161

181/2283

After the Race

Getting a medal placed over your head is pretty great, but even more exciting are the congratulatory high-fives from family and friends. I was even greeted by two friends that made a sign to cheer me on, which was really cool. It’s pretty special to having the support of people that care about me enough to watch my races. There’s really only a few short moments of time where the athlete that a spectator is there to see can actually be seen during the race. Theres a lot more chunks of down time just waiting for that person to come back into view. Knowing that people care about me enough to invest that time is humbling. I hope my family and friends know how much those cheers mean to me!

Dave and Alex

Love the sign!

After the race, Jamie and I spent the afternoon down at Navy Pier. We found a restaurant with outdoor seating and lakeside views, kicked-up our feet and celebrated with a cold drink. The afternoon after a race is always a treat – you can eat and drink just about whatever you want and not even feel remotely guilty about it considering the work that was put in earlier that morning. This is the time to sit back, relax and enjoy life. It’s pretty great.

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Navy Pier

And now that the race was complete, you know I had to celebrate even more that evening. After holding back the night before, it was finally my time for deep dish pizza – Lou Malnati’s style!

Pizza

Of course we got the buttery crust!

Reflection

JamieJosh

I’m a lucky guy!

First, I have give a shout-out to Jamie. She somehow calmly handles my anxious tendencies leading up to a race. She’s my cheerleader and the first voice I hear heading into transition. She’s the first to raise a high-five at the finish line. As I juggle race-day emotions from doubt, anxiety and exhaustion to excitement, determination and celebration, her support never wavers. She even proudly called herself a TriWife during Chicago Triathlon weekend. She’s my other half, and I’m so thankful for her.

The Chicago Triathlon will be an experience I’ll always remember. The views were spectacular. Swimming in Lake Michigan pushed me out of my comfort zone and to new heights, giving me even more confidence in the open water. This was a big race, four times the amount of participants that I’ve competed against previously. Finishing 17/161 in my age group and 181/2283 overall shows me I’m capable of hanging in there with some great great triathletes. And I know I still have untapped potential in the tank. It’s bittersweet knowing my 2017 triathlon season is complete, but given the amount of support I have around me, and the drive inside me to keep getting better, I know I have a lot to be thankful for already and a lot to look forward to in 2018. Cheers!

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Perception Shift

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Six weeks have already passed since completing the Minneapolis Triathlon. It’s been my longest gap between races this season, which has provided me a lot of time to train and reflect.

I’ve noticed a shift in how I view my status in the sport, and how I view my own ability. For those that already know me well this will not come as a surprise: I’m pretty hard on myself. I set high standards. And even when I achieve them, I often don’t give myself enough credit.

Take this blog for example. When I launched it last December, I set the description as “An aspiring triathlete’s thoughts and perspective.” Looking back, I can see how I sold myself short, giving myself minimal credit. I had completed four triathlons by the that point – one in 2014 and three in 2016. Yet I used the word “aspiring” like I hadn’t yet earned the title of triathlete. Maybe it was because even though I’d competed in races, I hadn’t done well enough yet (I’m not even sure what my “well enough” standard was). Or maybe I didn’t feel like I had competed in long enough distances.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, I received the following comment from a fellow triathlete on my Minneapolis Triathlon Recap post: “Hate to break it to you, but you aren’t a “aspiring” triathlete anymore. You are a veteran working hard and making gains. You can smell the podium even at large scale events (which tells me that you will pick up a lot of AG podium hardware in the not so distant future) and you are looking at longer distances as well. Nicely done! Congrats on a great race!

Wow! At the time he wrote this, I had just completed the seventh sprint triathlon of my young career. I took second place in my age group at the Rochesterfest Triathlon a few weeks prior. I wasn’t far from age group contention at Minneapolis, a race that draws some strong competition. He was right – I was no longer an “aspiring” triathlete. I wasn’t trying to be one. I was one! It felt really good to hear it from someone who has completed long distance events, including Ironman Wisconsin. Confidence boosted.

I’ve also found myself answering questions and giving advice to not only friends, but also to athletes competing in their first ever triathlon. I remember my first event. I had no idea how to rack my bike, where to set-up my gear or what to bring down to the swim start. I had no idea about keeping my bike in a low gear for an easy start out of transition. I had no idea about a lot of things. That first race can be scary. It’s been a joy to share what I’ve learned and hopefully make someone else’s first race a little less overwhelming. Yeah, I guess that’s another sign I’ve become a veteran triathlete. Confidence boosted.

Most recently of all, I’ve pushed my limits in open water swimming and have noticed a change there too. If you’ve been following this blog, you’ve probably noticed that I don’t speak too confidently about my swimming abilities. I often reference my fear and panic that sets-in just thinking about the swim. It certainly does not exude confidence. Last year, I doubted if I could do the half-mile swim at Minneapolis, but I did it and it felt amazing to prove the doubt in my brain wrong. Just a few weeks ago, I doubted I could make the almost three-quarter mile round trip across Lake Nokomis and back. But I did that too. I’m realizing I’m capable of more than I often tend to think I am. It’s been pretty sweet to see that perception shift. Confidence boosted.

Lake Nokomis

Lake Nokomis

These confidence boosts couldn’t come at a better time. The Chicago Triathlon is just a few days away. There’s a lot of unknowns in this one for me. I’ve never competed at this event so I’ll be seeing the course for the first time on race day. Swimming in Lake Michigan sounds like an animal of it’s own, but knowing it takes place behind a walled harbor calms my nerves a little. I don’t know where the elevation changes are on the bike course, so no knowledge on where to save my energy and where to push hard. The run course is not a complete loop so I’ll need to pay extra attention to my watch to keep tabs on pace and distance rather than looking across a lake to see where I am in comparison to the start.

While the unknown can be scary, it’s also exciting. The lakeside and iconic skyline views are sure to be beautiful. Reports are stating 7,000 athletes and 50,000 spectators are expected for Sunday’s events so the buzz and energy level is sure to be high. I’m really thankful for the opportunity to compete and take it all in this weekend. It’s going to be an epic adventure. I’m confident of that!

Winning the Mental Battle 

Open Swim

Sometimes challenges and tasks just seem too big. We tell ourselves we can’t do it. Sure, someone else certainly has the strength or courage to do it, but we do not. We build it up in our head to the point where it seems impossible. Those phrases are familiar in my mind. They’re dangerous and have the ability to doom a dream, idea or challenge before it ever begins.

“Our greatest battles are that with our own minds.” – Jameson Frank

Swimming continued to mess with my head over the last month or so. I can’t totally explain why, but it’s been a mental battle — a battle which begins before I even get in the water. Let’s take yesterday for example. I had a plan to attend Open Swim down at Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis, MN. The course runs about 1200 yards (or 0.70 miles) round trip across the lake and back. The furthest open water swim I’ve ever completed has been just under a half-mile. I started thinking it would be too long of a swim for me. I started running through all the what-ifs in my mind. The doubt kept increasing.

Once on the beach, I gazed out at the marked and life-guarded course as I began the long process that is putting on a wetsuit. For some reason, it looked doable. It wasn’t quite as scary as seeing the tetrahedrons out on the water the morning before a race. But I had already built it up in my head as being too difficult. I began making a plan b. Maybe I’d just swim halfway out and then come back. Yeah that would be safe. That was my plan.

I waded into the lake, dunked my body to adjust to water temperature, took a few breathes and started swimming. My body became weightless and enveloped by the water. I was surrounded by other swimmers, yet I still felt alone, in a peaceful way. I settled into a groove and was at the middle of the lake in what seemed like no time. This was where I had told myself I’d turn around. But I wasn’t tired. And I wanted more of this weightless, relaxing exercise. I kept swimming.

I progressed to the opposite shore and turned around for the return trip to the beach. I was completely relaxed yet actively engaged in swimming against a light wind current on the lake. How was I doing this? I’ve been much more tired while swimming shorter distances. I blocked these thoughts out of my mind the best I could, focusing on each stroke. The moment was very present. All that mattered was moving through the water with efficiency. I could analyze it all afterwards.

I stepped back on shore and looked back to see where I had been. Wow. I did it. I swam all the way across the lake and back. My confidence was sky-high. Earlier in the day I doubted my ability. Now I had completed what I thought I could not.

This didn’t cure my swimming fear, but it’s one more piece of evidence that I can use against my own brain in the future. I’m already looking forward to next week’s Open Swim night. This boost was just what I needed with only a few weeks to go until the Chicago Triathlon. A new race is sure to produce jitter and doubt. But now know I can handle a swim longer than what I’ll encounter on race day. It’s me against my brain.

It’s amazing what we can accomplish when we set fear aside, tune-out our own negative thoughts, push our limits and just believe in ourselves. Cheers to the next challenge!

Race Recap: Minneapolis Triathlon

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It was the strongest and most meaningful performance of my young triathlon career. I finished with a time of 01:27:38, beating last year’s time by more than eleven minutes. I represented Team Save the Children, connecting my race efforts to a worthy cause. And it was all in honor of Olivia Ann Christiano.

Before the race

I knew it was going to be a special day. It was the culmination of months of fundraising for Save the Children, totaling $1,420 that will make life a little better for kiddos somewhere in the world. I was surrounded by family and friends, including Robbie and Alisha. I had joined Team Save the Children just seven months prior as a way to honor the memory of their daughter.

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This race was different than the others because, for this race, my body was a vehicle carrying a much larger message.

My emotions ran the gamut as I stood on the beach of Lake Nokomis, waiting for my wave to be called. I was anxious to get started. I was thankful knowing my friends and family were there to cheer. I was tearful knowing that Olivia was not, but at the same time, was inspired to be honoring her. I felt a lot of pride representing Team Save the Children. I was excited to compete.

Before I knew it, I was standing on the lake’s edge in front of a race official, our knuckles bumped together. Then he dropped his fist as he said, “Go!” and I dashed into the water. The race was on.

The Race

My goal was to finish in 01:30:00, which would’ve been almost nine minutes faster than 2016. That was a big chunk to cut off. I surprised myself, finishing the race in 01:27:38 — beating my goal by almost two and a half minutes, and beating last year’s time by eleven.

My MPLS 2017 Results

Split

Split Pace

Age Rank

Overall Rank

Swim (0.47 miles)

00:15:36

02:04 min/100m

9/27

131/539

T1

00:03:01

6/27

140/539

Bike (14.8 miles)

00:44:52

19.79 mi/hr

16/27

222/539

T2

00:00:59

1/27

6/539

Run (3.1 miles)

00:23:12

07:29 min/mile

8/27

75/539

Total

01:27:38

8/27

107/539

At 0.47 miles, the swim was almost twice the distance of the 0.25 milers of Trinona and Rochesterfest. Fortunately the water temperature measured 76°F on race morning, just two degrees below the limit for a wetsuit legal swim. Having the extra buoyancy of the suit gave me the peace of mind I needed to tackle the longer swim. Overall, I was pleased with my effort in the water. Sure, I still needed a few breaks from the freestyle to breast stroke, catch my breath, and regain bearings and composure, but even during those breaks I maintained focus on forward progress instead of treading water. The swim is still a hurdle for me (mostly mental), but with each race I become more comfortable and see more improvements in pace and time. I was a half-minute faster than last year.

Out of the water

I was pretty tired when I stepped back onto land, but I was quickly re-energized knowing the hardest part was over. I ran up the chute into transition, slipped out of my wetsuit, laced up my shoes, slapped on my helmet and shades, grabbed my bike and headed towards the bike exit. I shaved almost two full minutes off my T1 time from last year. I think I’m getting this transition efficiency thing down!

The bike leg was smooth sailing. Almost the entire length of the course contains new blacktop, which provides a lot of opportunity for higher speed. I passed a handful of people and got passed by a handful of other riders. It was rather uneventful. Just a 00:44:52 pedal grind. Looking back at that time, and seeing where it ranked against the field, I’m realizing that cycling is where I could use the most improvement. Every other category stayed within the top 140, but cycling, I ranked 222/537. It certainly makes sense given it’s the sport I train the least in of the three. Guess it’s time to reassess training efforts!

The second transition was a breeze. I racked my bike, removed my helmet, ran towards the run exit and was on the course in less than a minute. Much of that super fast T2 time can be attributed to me not changing shoes. My bike still has the stock platform pedals and I wear my running shoes for the last two legs. Eventually I should upgrade to clip-in pedals to maximize cycling power. Whatever time would be lost in swapping shoes would surely be made up for with a faster bike time.

Josh Running

I have to admit, I was feeling a little tired when I embarked on the run. My legs were gassed from grinding it out on the bike. I had been pedaling hard. But I kept with it. I kept repeating a running quote in my head: “Tough runs don’t last; tough runners do.” Looking across the lake and seeing how far away the finish line is can mess with your head. I tried to simplify the run into smaller increments. I kept my eyes on the person in front of me and tried to pass him or her. Then I set my sights on the next person. And again and again. That kept my mind distracted from the remaining distance. It worked. I had another strong run at 00:23:12 (07:29 per mile pace). The run has become my strong point all year and it feels pretty good to have that to rely on at the end.

Finish

My MPLS Tri Time Comparison

MPLS Tri 2016

MPLS Tri 2017

Swim (0.47 miles)

00:16:05

00:15:36

T1

00:04:47

00:03:01

Bike (14.58 miles)

00:51:04

00:44:52

T2

00:02:39

00:00:59

Run (3.1 miles)

00:24:11

00:23:12

Total

01:38:44

01:27:38

Reflection

This was the seventh triathlon of my career and by far the performance I’m most proud of. Physically, it’s probably my strongest performance to date. I crushed last year’s time. I finished eighth in my age group, which means only five people stood between me and the podium. That’s pretty cool to think about given the level of competition at this race. I’m trending in the right direction.

Sporting the Team Save the Children gear was a pride point of the weekend. It was truly an honor to represent an organization that in making a difference in the lives of kiddos around the globe each and every day. I thought about the important work they do throughout the race and that helped me keep things in perspective, and keep trucking along. I’m so thankful to everyone that donated to my personal fundraising campaign. Together, we helped make a difference in the lives of children somewhere in the world, who will now have a little better life because of our efforts and contributions. Thank you.

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And most of all, it was really special to do this in honor of Olivia. I thought about her throughout the race. My emotions were up and down, but they reminded me to keep going. I still remember the day I heard she left us so soon — I had no idea what to say to my dear friends Robbie and Alisha. I said I was sorry and I was here for them in any way I could be. But there really was nothing I could say to ease the pain. There was, however, something I could do to honor her and joining Team Save the Children for the Minneapolis Triathlon was it. Her memory lives on through the lives of the children positively impacted by the Save the Children donations. Every dollar raised, every swim stroke, every pedal, every step — it was for Olivia and her family. Robbie and Alisha, I love you guys.

This race will always be near and dear to my heart.

Thank You for the Support

Thank YouThanks to the generous donations from family, friends and some very kind people who I’ve never even met, I’ve raised more than fourteen hundred dollars in support of Save the Children.

I joined Team Save the Children seven months ago to honor the memory of my close friends’ daughter and I committed to raising at least $500. I was a little nervous if I’d be able to reach that goal, but I knew is would be totally worth the effort. I’ve been blown away by the generosity and support I’ve received ever since, surpassing the goal by almost three times. That money is going to make a direct and positive impact for some kiddos somewhere in the world that urgently need help.

To everyone who has contributed to this campaign, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Tomorrow morning I’ll be standing on the beach of Lake Nokomis, waiting for my wave of the Minneapolis Triathlon to be called to the starting line. And I’ll be ready to give it everything I’ve got, hoping to make you proud. Together, we’re making a difference in the lives of children throughout the world. Thank you.

Making Lemonade with Life’s Lemons

JoshBikingLong story short — my car was in the shop for most of the week for some unexpected repairs and I had to get a little creative on transportation in the interim.

Time constraints forced me to utilize ride-share services on the first morning. But after work I decided to ride my bike to the gym so I could jump in the pool and knock out some much needed laps. A relaxed pedal to the gym was the perfect opportunity to dust off my mountain bike, which was still outfitted with a pair of more road-friendly tires from races past. This was my first time on the saddle of the mountain bike since getting my first road bike earlier this year. I had almost forgotten how much fun this bike was to ride — the big comfortable frame and disc brakes that stop on a dime.

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Riding the ol’ mountain bike also made me realize just how much faster and lighter I am on my new road bike. It’s almost hard to imagine that I completed four triathlons on this bike. It’s heavy. The geometry isn’t the most aerodynamic. And most of all, you run out of gears way to fast. I’m really thankful to have a road bike this year.

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Anyhow, back to the gym. 32 laps are about equivalent to the .47 mile swim I’ll be tackling in the first leg of the Minneapolis Triathlon next weekend. So that’s what I did; I swam 32 consecutive laps and finished with a time of 00:14:52. Not bad. For perspective, last year I swam a 00:16:05 at Minneapolis. It’s really hard to compare pool swims to open water given the contrasting conditions, but as least I know I’m in the ballpark. I took a short break, swam eight more laps and called it a workout. It was a short one, but I was a little excited to jump back on the bike instead hopping into a car for the ride home. In a way, it was almost like mini brick workout, transitioning from one sport to the next. This one just had a longer transition time from pool to bike. Still good practice.

Sure, it was frustrating to be without a car for a few days. But that part was out of my control. The car needed repair and I needed to wait for the work to be completed. Rather than getting down about it, I found a way to get to the places I wanted to go and got to have some fun along the way. It was surprising how much joy was found in riding an old bike. And now I want to get the knobby tires back on it and hit some trails. Sometimes we can’t control what happens in life, but we can control how we react to it. We might even be surprised with what we find along the way.

Cheers to the glass being half full.

Race Recap: Rochesterfest Triathlon

FinishLine

Less than 48 hours after my wild last-minute idea, I’ve completed my second triathlon within a week’s time and second overall for the year.

I finished with a time of 01:09:24 which was good for 2nd place in my age group and 27th place out of 114 participants overall. This was the first triathlon where I placed in the top three of my age group, so I’m super stoked about that. To be honest, I think it’s all still sinking in, which is making the smile on my face bigger and bigger as the day goes on. I’m sure it’ll still be there when I wake up tomorrow.

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My Rochesterfest Triathlon 2017 Results

Split

Split Pace

Age Rank

Overall Rank

Swim (0.25 miles)

00:08:35

01:57 min/100 yd

1/7

18/118

T1

00:02:26

3/7

57/118

Bike (10 miles)

00:34:42

17.3 mi/hr

3/7

45/117

T2

00:00:38

1/7

4/117

Run (3.1 miles)

00:23:05

07:27 min/mile

2/7

23/114

Total

01:09:24

2/7

27/114

My overall time was also 04:55 minutes faster than Trinona seven days ago. Rochester’s bike leg was one mile shorter than Trinona, but I was faster in every leg of the race except for the swim. My swim time was only 16 seconds slower and I can live with that. I opted for the wetsuit, which helped keep me warm pre-race and buoyant through the swim. Even with the wetsuit, I beat my T1 time from last week by nine seconds — and I didn’t even wear a wetsuit last week! It’s pretty great to see small improvements like this.

Jumping back to the swim. This was my first time doing a mass start from the beach. The previous races I’ve competed in all released two swimmers every three seconds, allowing for some more even spacing throughout the water. Today was different though. It was kind of fun to run into the water at the same time, but once in the water, it was immediately congested with swimmers. As I swiveled my head underwater in-between breathing, I was constantly presented with a view of kicking feet not far from my face. It took a little while to get used to, but the lake was clear, free of weeds and still pretty warm from the weather of the last week. It was quite refreshing to be in the warm water after spending 30 minutes on the beach in 62 degree air temperature.

AfterSwim

After running out of the water and into transition, I knew it would be all downhill from there. Well, I knew there would be some uphill climbs on the bike, but I’m speaking figuratively here. Swimming is my weakest leg, so once that’s complete, I feel like I can tackle the rest with a clear head.

The ten-mile bike ride turned out to be a challenge. The first five miles out to the turnaround were almost all into the wind. I was ok with that because I thought I’d have that wind at my back as I powered through the last five miles to transition. Wrong. It felt like the wind changed, greeting my face with a smirk of its own for most the ride back.

My legs were exhausted as I hopped off the bike, racked it in transition and embarked on the run course. It took about a half mile to shake off the circles my legs were used to moving in. Once I loosened up though I felt like I just kept getting faster with each step. And my time showed the results with a 07:27 min/mile pace. That’s 11 seconds per mile faster than last weekend and 34 seconds faster overall. Again, more improvements.

It seems like just yesterday that I learned about the Rochesterfest Triathlon, which makes sense because it basically was just yesterday. I’m glad I acted with my heart instead of my head and just went for it. Sure there were risks. Was I doing too much too fast? I don’t really know. What I do know is that I can look back and know that I did two triathlons within a week’s time. And I got a little faster in that time too. Each event teaches me something, either about racing or life. Sometimes you just have to go for it. And I’m glad I did.

Rochesterfest Triathlon on a Whim

RochesterTriRegistration

Two triathlons in seven days? Sure, why not.

It started with a conversation about a friend of a friend who was doing a triathlon on Sunday (which is now tomorrow already). Naturally, I was intrigued. What was the name of the race? Where was it being held? What were the distances? I just wanted to know more out of curiosity. Then I realized I didn’t have any plans for the weekend and was free on Sunday. “Hmmm, were they still accepting registrations?” I wondered.

I jumped on the Rochesterfest Triathlon website and found that they were indeed offering walk-up registrations during packet pick up until the race was full. So that’s what I did. I drove one hour down to Rochester, MN and registered for my second race of the year, exactly one week after Trinona.

Why choose to do this? Well, I figured I could use the open water swim experience as I thought I could’ve done better last weekend. And honestly, it just sounded like fun. That’s what’s really important anyways. Go out, compete and enjoy the experience. It’s pretty simple when stated that way.

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Since this will be my first time participating in the Rochesterfest Triathlon, I drove down to Foster Arrend Park to familiarize myself with the lake and transition area.

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The buoys were already out on the water, but I’m not really sure if they’re in the final spot for tomorrow. The manmade lake looked really calm, which should make for a smooth swim. My only concern is how much the temperature is supposed to drop tonight. With a forecasted air temperature of 62 degrees, I’m not sure if that will also make for cold water temps too. I’ll pack my wetsuit just in case and make a decision in the morning.

RochesterTransition

The transition area construction was well underway but empty of  any bicycles. It was like a two-wheel ghost town. The races I’ve previously competed in have had many athletes racking their bikes the day before the event. So tomorrow morning, the transition will be bustling with activity and all of the athletes rack their bikes, prep their gear and start mentally preparing for the swim – a swim from which I gather is more a “mass” start for each wave versus releasing swimmers in pairs every few seconds. I could be wrong, but I guess I’ll find out at the swim start.

There’s certainly an element of the unknown for me in this race. Except for a few glimpses of the swim course, I know almost nothing about the course. But how could I? I made the decision on Friday night, registered in-person at packet pickup on Saturday afternoon and will be racing on Sunday morning. Not a ton of time to prepare. But in a way, that’s kind of exciting!

Race Recap: Trinona 2017

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Crushing goals, making memories and having fun. That pretty much sums up my Trinona 2017 experience. But one sentence can’t quite capture the awesomeness that was.

First, I got to spend race day with two close friends who were competing in Trinona for the first time (a first tri ever for one friend and a second tri overall for the other). It was a joy to hangout and share banter in transition before the race, walk to the swim start together and ultimately reunite at the finish line to high-five, share stories and celebrate our accomplishments.

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Second, I had the support of many family and friends that showed up to cheer. Running into the lake and embarking on the swim can be a bit of a lonely feeling in my opinion. Sure, I was surrounded by dozens of fellow swimmers who were so close that I’d accidentally run into them or they’d accidentally run into to me, but ultimately it’s up to me to power through to shore. Enveloped in water I can’t hear much except for splashing and my own gasps for air. It’s a huge energy boost to step out of the lake and hear friends and family screaming as I dash to transition. It gets better when hearing them while dismounting the bike for T2. And it’s even better hearing them while closing in on the finish line. Not only did I make it through the race, but I had their support the whole way. That’s pretty special to have others invest that effort.

My TRINONA 2017 Results

Split

Split Pace

Overall Rank

Swim (0.25 miles)

00:08:19

02:04 min/100m

77/285

T1

00:02:35

155/285

Bike (11 miles)

00:38:50

17.00 mi/hr

111/185

T2

00:00:57

21/285

Run (3.1 miles)

00:23:39

07:38 min/mile

39/285

Total

01:14:19

61/285

Third, on a personal note, I crushed the goal I set about a week ago by almost three whole minutes, setting a personal record of 01:14:19! That’s almost 12 minutes faster than my 2016 time and good enough for 61st place out of 285 racers overall. I was faster in every segment of the race over last year.

My Trinona Time Comparison

Trinona 2014

Trinona 2016

Trinona 2017

Swim (0.25 miles)

00:11:29

00:09:27

00:08:19

T1

00:04:44

00:04:07

00:02:35

Bike (11 miles)

00:45:35

00:43:40

00:38:50

T2

00:01:21

00:01:07

00:00:57

Run (3.1 miles)

00:27:17

00:27:54

00:23:39

Total

01:30:25

01:26:13

01:14:19

My swim time was faster than last year by almost a minute, even though I took a few breaks to tread water and catch my breath along the way. When I took those pauses I wasn’t exactly tired but more so just trying to mentally stay calm. Those breaks are a sign that more training is needed before the Minneapolis Triathlon in just a few weeks, which swim distance almost twice as long as Trinona at just under a half-mile. I’m still happy I was faster than last year though. I’ve come along way in my swimming abilities over the last year. The only not so fun part of the swim was passing the last buoy towards shore and grabbing hand fulls of weeds with each stroke. But hey, that’s all part of the experience of swimming in Lake Winona!

I skipped the wetsuit for the swim, which lead to a much improved first transition time. But in comparison to other racers, it was still fairly slow at 00:02:35. I might have to think more about what the heck I’m doing in transition that’s taking up so much time (maybe get better at swimming so I’m not so tired at this point of the race).

The new road bike made a significant difference in this race, shaving off almost five minutes from last year’s bike time. I could feel how much lighter the bike was beneath me as I shifted through gears for efficient pedaling and maximum speeds. Hitting a couple downhills at 30mph was a highlight from the ride.

T2 was a breeze at 0:00:57. Not much more to say about that!

Then came the run. I crushed the run. Seriously. I was more than four minutes faster than last year. Four minutes! I guess it makes sense considering most of my training efforts this year were put into running. I’ve been hovering around 8-minute miles during my training runs. In a 5K race at the end of April, I averaged a 07:29 min/mile pace. At Trinona, I averaged a 07:38 min/mile pace, and that was after swimming and biking. I’m still a little surprised about how much energy I had left for the run, but super stoked about it too.

Crossing the finish line was a real joy. All of the training and preparation came to a conclusion that resulted in a new PR. I’m really, really proud of this race. And after receiving my medal, returning my timing chip and grabbing a bottle of water, I was able to cheer for and watch my buddies cross the finish line. Trinona 2017 was a special day. I’m thankful for the opportunity to compete and share the experience with such amazing people. Cheers friends!

TrinonaFinishers

Trinona: The Day Before

The countdown to Trinona 2017 is down to one. Today was the expo, which features sponsor booths, packet pick-up and pre-race meetings. 

Many of the benches down at the Lake Winona bandshell sat empty as most triathletes opted for shade under a tree or back near the Veteran’s Memorial. I can’t blame them. I was one of them. It was hot and windy out there this afternoon, with temperatures in the mid-90s. 

Speaking of weather, the forecast for race day looks to keep everyone on their toes with the possibility of rain. The race director mentioned his contingency plans in the case weather causes delays. He also said that either way, there will still be a party considering all of the beer from Island City Brewing. Rain or shine, I’m ready to have some fun tomorrow. 

After the meeting, I walked down to the lake to check out the water and see if the course buoys were out yet. Lake Winona is known for its abundant weeds and plant growth in the water. When people ask, “You’re going to swim in that lake?”, I like to reply, “Don’t worry, they’ll probably mow it first!”. As expected, there were plenty of weeds in the water near the shore. Luckily we’ll be swimming out far enough to be in the clear, but it could be interesting going in and coming back onto shore. It’s a small price to pay considering the rest of the beauty of the course. 

I also scoped out the transition area. It’s always good to be familiar with the entrances and exits so you know where to come in from swimming, exit and re-enter with the bike, and exit out to the run course. It was pretty early in the afternoon so the transition was pretty empty, but tomorrow it will be a small village of bikes and people. 

After eating a stereotypical night before the race pasta dinner, I applied my helmet and bike stickers, double-checked and prepared my gear and turned on some tunes to relax. It’s going to be an exciting day tomorrow. I’m excited to be participating in this increasing local triathlon in the town I grew up in. I’m excited to have my family and friends there to cheer me on. I’m excited to have two good friends also participating in the race. I’m excited for this opportunity to compete and have fun. I’m just excited about it all. The hard part is going to be getting some sleep tonight with all that excitement going through my head.

Good luck tomorrow fellow triathletes!