Four a.m. is reaaally early when you only get three hours of sleep…! Thanks to race anxiety + anticipation and too much sleep the night before, shuteye was elusive Saturday night. I tossed and turned for at least two hours before I finally drifted off.
When the alarms (yes, plural after last week’s fiasco) finally did sound, our gear was packed and ready to go, so all we did was eat – two pieces gluten-free PB + jam toast – and down some espresso, and we were on our way to Chisago City. I tried to doze during the 40-minute drive, but more or less just ended up closing my eyes and listened to Nick and him mom, Mary, chat.
First things first upon arrival: Packet pick-up. (We’d normally do this the day before, but driving 90 miles round-trip seemed a bit out of the way, especially when it was allowed race morning.) My race number, 547, and Nick’s, 548… meaning we were right next to each other in transition. I’m pretty sure this rarely happens at triathlons. (We mailed our registrations together, so maybe that’s why?)
After body markings, which promptly washed off after applying sunscreen, and setting up our transition areas, Nick realized we forgot race belts. Thankfully, a local bike shop at the race-day expo had extras, and we were able to purchase two.
While milling around, I ran into Hyedi… it was so fun to see her and wish her good luck before her first ever triathlon (she rocked it, by the way)!
Nick and I were both in wave six, so we made our way down to the beach around the 7a start. My stomach was a ball of nerves. The buoys looked crazy far, and teammate Chris, who we ran into in transition, said the first 25 meters were black and mucky. Not exactly what I wanted to hear given my open water anxiety!
SWIM // 47:10.8, 2:26/100m
Before I knew it, we were wading into the water for the start. I positioned myself to the outside left to avoid the chaos, which worked fairly well, as I only felt a few bumps and kicks. The water wasn’t as mucky as I feared it would be and actually felt pretty good in the heavy humidity. Overall, the swim was solid. I found a good rhythm the first third and actually enjoyed it. The backstretch was decent, too, though my goggles leaked a bit. During the final quarter-mile, the weeds were out.of.control, and they caught several times in my ankle timing chip. Normally this would have put me in a tizzy, but I focused on the balloon archway and running up the beach to T1 and kept it in check. Whew!
Running up the beach couldn’t have been better; I saw my parents and sister cheering with signs and Mary snapping a few pictures. I’ll spare you the photos, as they’re all a bit water-logged :)
T1 // 2:48.3
T1 went smoothly, and I was in and out in 2:48 (nearly 30 seconds faster than last weekend). Having my nutrition already opened and in my bento box – this is the way to do it for long rides! – really helped.
BIKE // 3:00:31.4, 18.6 mph
Aside from a wicked head wind for about 20 miles, the bike was 56 miles of wonderful. Rollers rounded out the fast flats, and I passed a few miles chatting with other 70.3 virgins. I even saw Hyedi pedaling strong!
Bike nutrition tasted good! The rundown:
- Honey Stinger caffeinated lime-ade energy chews – I ate these within the first five miles.
- Coconut cream pie larabar – eaten between miles 30-35.
- Honey Singer caffeinated strawberry gel – eaten around mile 45.
- Skratch Labs raspberries exercise hydration drink – two bottles.
- Total bike calories = 650.
T2 // 2:53.5
I had just enough Skratch in my water bottles and entered T2 just as I finished the last drop. I chugged about half of another water bottle in between swapping my shoes and putting on my race belt and a lululemon headband. Total time in T2: 2:53, a slight improvement over last week, too.
RUN // 2:11:22.5, 10:01 pace
Ah, the run. Most of it was fantastic. The end, not so much.
I saw Nick and all of my P2 teammates (even Coach Matt, Rob and Nanette were out for a spin by the run course)… such a pick-me-up! Sonia, who just rocked the sprint, pedaled with me for about a half-mile just after the start. Her video is hilarious!
Run nutrition was minimal. I alternated between Gatorade (blech!) and water at stops, took two Hammer electrolyte pills at mile seven, dumped many, many glasses of water down my neck, and shoved a handful of ice down my top.
And, up until mile 11.5, I felt strong and maintained a decent pace, despite the sweltering out-and-back course (there wasn’t much shade along the highway). This last little measly 1.7 miles tested all of my limits and pain threshold. Right when I started to kick – I felt so good and was determined to finish strong – something shifted in my left leg behind my knee and sent shredding pain down my leg. I thought I could walk it off and bargained with myself that I would start running at the 12-mile marker. Well, when that didn’t work and the pain continued, I walked a bit more and finally sucked it up and ran the last half-mile to the finish (which was uphill…!).
Race announcer Jerry MacNeil of MinnesotaTriNews.com was right… sunglasses aren’t just to keep the sun out; they’re to hide the pain and tears, too. That last half-mile they nearly spilled over several times – in relief to be done and in complete joy that I did it!
All that pain disappeared (or rather I ignored it) as I ran down the chute toward the finish of my first 70.3. Nick resembled the paparazzi, and my family high-fived me just feet from the finish.
Chisago 70.3 = most fun race ever!
And, I’m not kidding when I say that, either. In all of the races I’ve done, not one was as much fun as Sunday’s race. I thoroughly enjoyed every single sweat-soaked second – and smiled for most of it! – and cannot wait to sign up for my next half iron (most likely Square Lake on September 9).
Also, after nearly every single race I’ve ever ran, I’ve never felt as good as I did at the finish of Chisago. I’ve either ended up in the medical tent with hypothermia or with such intense waves of nausea that eating or drinking water was unthinkable the rest of the day. This time around, I felt amazing! My stomach cooperated, though I really wasn’t hungry the rest of the day and had to make myself eat. Chaffing was better than at Life Time, though there was still a bit on my neck (it’s from the swim… weird; I never thought to put body butter there). And, aside from the leg pain that lingered long after the race, I felt awesome physically. Maybe I’m just cut out for longer distances? :)
While the race was well organized and the course well marked, I wasn’t impressed with the post-race food. A large cheese plate?! And, there were no potato chips! Whaaa?!?!!? I had a perfectly ripe banana – and anyone who knows me knows that I’m super picky about banana ripeness – but seriously, what kind of race does not have straight up regular potato chips! C’mon, Midwest Sports Events! A bag of Lays would have been nice.
A few other thoughts…
- Use waterproof body glide instead of chamois butter the next race.
- Using a bento box is slick. My nutrition was opened and ready to go when I hopped on my bike, so there was no fumbling to open wrappers while moving.
- Again, my teal plaid SOAS Racing kit proved to be the perfect race day attire. I ordered this one on Wednesday afternoon, and thanks to some incredible customer service that involved calling who knows how many retail partners to find my size, it was here in time to race. Thank you!
- Having my family cheering me on every step of the way couldn’t have been any more awesome. Seeing them on the beach post swim, at the start and finish of the bike and when I crossed the finish line made my race. Thanks SO much, Sista and M+D, for your support!
- Nick’s mom, Mary, is also a super fan. She’s knows exactly where to stand and cheer. Thanks, Mary!
- My professional photographer sister takes some pretty sweet photos :)
- Congrats to all the finishers! Way to go, Sonia, Hyedi, Sarah, Suraya, Chris, AC, Erik, Casey and Kristin! You all did amazing and inspire me to push harder, farther and faster.
- My partner in crime and training, Nick, nailed his fifth 70.3. I’m so proud of you!
- I beamed when I saw Nick at the finish. His post-race hug was perfect.
- I am hooked on triathlon!