When there are so many great races being held on the same weekend every year, making a decision can be hard – Hood to Coast, Chicago Triathlon or Rev3 Tri in Maine (and be with my team mates). The decision was tough, but I chose racing on home turf.
There are few times you can actually say everything came together and you had the perfect race. The crazy thing is, that after you actually experience one, you might spend years training, searching and hoping to experience that once again. Ironman Lake Placid 2010 – it happened to me; a flawless Ironman race, where everything from nutrition, mental and physical state all came together for one day and worked together as one. 4 years and one month later, who knew it would happen again and with a whole lot less training!?
Who knew that with an unconventional Lollapalooza taper leading up to US Sprint Nationals, a strained back the week after and only 9 miles of running between that race and this would lead to my best race of the season so far? The Chicago Triathlon, while over sized by many opinions and chaotic, it’s home court and always a fun one if you have an elite or sprint start. But this year things were run a little differently: new sponsor, new order of events, new bike course. What does that equal? BEST CHICAGO TRIATHLON EXPERIENCE EVER!
How I got talked into racing the Triple Challenge is beyond me, but I could not be happier that I did it. Super Sprint, Olympic Distance, then a Sprint all done over 2 exciting days, taking the overall accumulative times of each race to determine the winner, and while still giving you the opportunity to place within your age group.
Day 1: I will be the first to say, never dis a distance no matter how short or long it is. If you race it correctly, it hurts. If done right, a Super Sprint HURTS…and I made it hurt. Covering a distance of 375 meters swimming, 10km cycling and 2.5km running, I took the Female Overall win and the leader board in the Triple by about 1:30. Wanting to a greater reward than my plastic circular trophy that broke on my way to the car after the race, I decided I would find my all-time celeb/athlete crush Andy Potts and ask him to take a picture with me. That in itself was an adventure! I took my coach to the expo, asked an event organizer where I could find him and then waited at the doors until he walked up. Slightly pathetic, but well worth it. (*note – I have never stalked down an athlete/celeb, so this was a first for me…although, I know my husband would beg to differ.) … The man could not have been nicer, which completely took my race win to the bottom of the list of great things that happened that day.
Why not stop if you are already on top? That is what I asked myself as I had one win under my belt, the idea of swimming in Lake Michigan did not appeal to me after the torrential downpour of rain in the afternoon, but after my new “friend” Andy told me I could hunt him down again if I took the overall win in the Triple, it was game on for me! But not before I celebrated with a couple cocktails during the afternoon and another pre-race pizza and beer.
Day 2: 5:15 Arrive to a mud pit transition area with standing water right in front of all my gear and bike rack. (Let’s not consider being flexible #ChiTri Team and allow the Triple Athletes to use the two rows of empty racks on the other side of the path – PLEASE keep us in the only area in transition with standing mud puddles – THANK YOU)
6:15 Hello Arch Nemesis – Olympic Distance. I will be the first to admit, I am horrible at this distance. I become completely stupid on how to actually race 1.5km swim, 40km bike and 10km run. Never have I placed in the top 3 in my age group, nor will I ever have this expectation until I am 80 and still racing. However, something happened when I hit the water and got into the zone as I fought the tossing waves like every athlete out there. The new bike course was the most fun urban bike course I have ever ridden! Coming out of the water, I thought I was in 5th for my group, but after only passing one female rider on the bike course, I thought I was either sucking, or in second place.
The 10km run…this was it, where I always have blown up. Never before this day have I been able to go to that place and push past every dark thought, every ounce of pain felt and finish this distance strong. Especially after dropping my dry clean shoes in the the mud puddle in front of my transition spot just before the run. 10km of wet soppy shoes – I was pissed. Out and back on the run – the turn around I realize there is no one in front of me. Could I seriously be leading this Olympic race? 2 miles to go and the switch flipped, I put my head in position (physically and mentally) and forged on with a little more intention. For the first time ever, I was the one being hunted down in this race AND the 2nd place runner didn’t really stand a chance as long as I kept it together.
Across the finish line – 2:30 minutes ahead of the next female athlete in the Triple Division! Another WIN and I could not believe it. Now almost a 4:00 lead with one more race to take on.
10:15 Time to Sprint! I love this distance; 750 meter swim, 24.5km cycle (on this course) and 3.1km run. The swim was rough, colder than earlier and continuously choppy from the start. But, what does it matter when everyone else is racing in the same conditions? 2nd place Triple female had made it her mission to beat me since the first pass I made on her in the Super Sprint. Up until now she had yet to make it happen and now was her last shot.
Out of the water she passed me on the way to transition, but couldn’t hold. Onto the bike, and off we go! At the turn around she tried to make a pass, which ended up being a game of cat and mouse fore she couldn’t maintain a steady pace. Into the final transition of the day – she chose the shortest route, I chose the less muddy. 50 feet ahead of me out on the run she went, running full speed with 3.05 miles left to go. Another 400 meters into the run it was over for her. I was lucky enough to have another Triple athlete willing to pace me and pave the way for me as we got tied up with the slower runners who were still on the course. I know I could not have come across the finish line as first Triple female without him.
DONE! It was amazing – I set out with 1 purpose this weekend, and that was to win the Super Sprint Overall Female…and I did it. But in addition to that, I won the Women’s Triple Challenge, managed to come across the finish line as the first female of the Triple Challenge in every event.
As we head started to leave, I thought I should just check to see how I placed in the Age Group Division in both distance. Good thing I did, because I placed 2nd in both the Olympic and Sprint! HOLY COW!!! I was beyond surprised, shocked, excited and proud. Not only did I have a blast racing this weekend, but I also had 3 perfectly chaotic races.
THE GOOD THINGS:
- Great new bike course
- Volunteers, especially the Triple Challenge Valet Team was amazing
- New sponsors = better run race? Whether it was the sponsors or not – the race was so well done, better than any year I have ever done in the past
- Aided – job well done with aide, especially once the course was red flagged
- Mandatory Pre Race Meeting – FINALLY! Not a waste of time and very well done
- Finisher medals – bottle openers are always a brilliant choice
- First Aide at the finish line group is amazing – gave me a well deserved ice bath (that hundreds of gross bodies were already in, of course)
- Amazing photos by Ali Engin
- Andy Potts
THE BAD THINGS:
- Transition mud pit (can’t control the weather) – but not allowing the group to move to the other side of the path where racks were empty and set up to hold a few hundred bikes
- Awards were beyond disappointing, especially after 2 days of hard work
- 375 meter swim, 12km bike, 2.5km run
- Time: 38:17
- 1st FEMALE OVERALL out of 386, 1st Triple Challenge Female
- 20th Overall Men and Women out of 720
- Bike average 24.5 mph
- 1.5km swim, 40km bike, 10km run
- Time: 2:32:48
- 2nd FEMALE AGE GROUP out of 94, 1st Triple Challenge Female, 10th Female Overall out of 781
- 152 Overall Men and Women out of 2623
- Bike average 20.5 mph
- 750 meter swim, 24.5km bike, 5km run
- Time: 1:28:50
- 2nd FEMALE AGE GROUP out of 116, 1st Triple Challenge Female, 8th Female Overall out of 913
- 79th Overall Men and Women out of 2132
- Bike average 21.4 mph
- 57.3 total miles of swimming, biking and running
- Total Time of all 3 races: 4:39:56
- 1st OVERALL FEMALE out of 31
- 11th Overall Men and Women out of 104
NUTRITION – POWERBAR
- PowerBar Performance Energy Blends – 1 before each event and 1 heading onto the run of the Olympic
- PowerBar Performance Energy Bars (PBJ flavor) between the two back to back races
- PowerBar Protein Plus post race and beer
- 100% Fluids were pure H2O in this short race
- Steel Cut Oatmeal for breakfast with strawberries
Can’t wait for next year!