I wasn’t planning on racing last weekend.
But, while standing in line at the Superior Man 70.3 race check-in, Nick bummed about his bum running knee and me pouting because there likely wouldn’t be time to workout on Sunday, we thought… why not ask to switch to a relay? Race officials were super accommodating, so we re-registered, paid the USAT fee (I didn’t buy a membership this year) and I got a pretty sweet race t-shirt.
Race morning started out just like any other: fumbling around in the 5a darkness, drinking bitter black hotel coffee (we really need a portable espresso machine) and breakfasting on PB + jelly gluten-free toast (er, microwaved… there wasn’t a toaster).
Our hotel was on the point just across the iconic Duluth lift bridge, so obviously, even before sunrise, we had to wait for boat to pass on our walk to the race.
Despite the wait, there was more than enough time to get to the DECC for pre-race rituals. It was oddly quiet at transition, as most racers were outside, ready to board the Vista Fleet (transition was inside on the hockey arena floor, and there were two waves of racers). After arranging T1 + T2 essentials – no towels! no baggie for electrolyte pills! – we headed outside to the boat waiting in the bay.
The swim seemed really loooooong. I swear it was farther than 1.2 miles, but Nick’s Garmin 910 read 1.28 miles, so it must have been accurate (unless, as Katie at Run This Amazing Day says, it did some fancy Garmin unicorn math).
Because the two-lap swim paralleled shore, we were able to cheer for Nick twice (not that he heard us yelling or banging the cowbell). There also weren’t as many racers in wave two, so he was easy to spot in the water.
While Nick biked beautiful Highway 61, I relaxed, americano in hand, with Mary and Amanda near the lake – the most laid back race morning ever! It was kind of weird to have so much downtime before racing; I’d rather just go, especially since I was up so early.
Nick planned to go all out on the bike, shooting for an estimated 2:20, since he wasn’t running. So, I was ready to go in T2 around 10:15a, expecting to see him within five or 10 minutes.
And, then it was 10:25a…
He finally rolled in around 10:40a, flustered and not grinning ear to ear like he usually is. Around mile 46, he’d gotten a flat. And, as soon as he CO2-ed it, the new tube flatted. Not exactly what you want to happen on race day, especially if you only have one spare. Thankfully, a nice, non-racing guy named Phil, who was out for a morning spin, stopped and spotted Nick a too-big tube and another cartridge of CO2. Not the best option, but it got him another 10 miles. Thanks, Phil!
Here’s the damage:
Overall, the run was decent. Mile one was meh because I was so cold from standing inside on concrete floors for 45 minutes. It didn’t take long, however, to warm up thanks to sunny skies + 85-degree heat. Races conditions always seem to be less than ideal every time I run in Duluth (Grandma’s 13.1 resulted in the med tent, and Grandma’s 26.2 ended with… well, it didn’t end well and also involved an hour in the med tent).
The run was a spectator-friendly three-loop route around the Canal Park area with ZERO SHADE. The first 4.4-mile lap went by in a flash; the blistering sun hadn’t gotten to me yet, and I smiled a lot (what’s the point of racing if you’re not having fun, right?!). The second and third loops slowed down considerably because of the heat. There was a bit of dizziness around mile eight, and around mile nine, my stomach flirted with wonkiness. But, because the only biff I saw on the course was padlocked – who padlocks a biff at a race?! – I had to tough it out to the finish.
As I crossed the finish line, more than ready to be done running, I had to laugh. Race officials never updated Nick’s registration from individual to relay in the computer, so race announcer Jerry MacNeil was a bit confused when “Nick” finished :)
- No shade = hottest run ever.
- The long, sunny stretch down an I-35 frontage road (this was especially brutal). Boring, industrial and not exactly the picturesque Duluth everyone imagines.
- My running form. Seeing pictures solidified that I’m a heel striker, even though I try my best to run more on my toes.
Race + run positives (which far outweigh the negatives):
- Spectators! They were awesome, and it was great to see my Sherpas so many times.
- Race volunteers. They were so encouraging and always ready with water and Gatorade. And, there were so many, which was great to see at this inaugural race.
- Well supported. With aid stops nearly every mile, hydration wasn’t ever an issue.
- Other racers. Quite a few former P2ers ran this race, and it was so motivating to see them on the run course, give high-fives and encourage each other to power through to the finish. Congrats to Christina, Lisa, Andy, D2 and Tom for fantastic races (D2 snagged a first place AG podium!)! I also ran into Birchwood racer, Paula, who took home first in her AG… congrats! (Seeing her reminded me that I really need to make a Betty ride one of these Mondays.) And, I ran into a Bike and Fitness Co. racer; seeing that familiar lime green, orange + blue jersey – the first team I ever raced for and where I fell in love with cycling – was awesome.
- My relay teammate. We make a pretty good pair.
- Well organized. For an inaugural race, everything ran smoothly (at least from what I could see).
- Good post-race food. Real potato chips, bananas, brats, beer, cookies and donut holes… what could be better?!
- Sweet medals. Cut in the shape of Lake Superior, they look like weathered iron ore… fitting for a race in Duluth.
Heat and sweltering sun aside, the run was enjoyable – a bit slower than I was shooting for, but still 13.1! – and I’m grateful for the fun opportunity and to be part of a first-ever event.
Run // 2:04:20, 9:29 pace.