Chisago Lakes 70.3 on Saturday was my first race of the season – and, with a shiny new PR (for Nick, too!), it was a good one! I knew if everything went well, a PR was gonna happen, but no one was more surprised than me about the sub-five(!).
Chisago is about an hour drive from our house, so Nick and I were up early (earlier than we were for Ironman Canada!) and out the door around 4:40a. We arrived with the sunrise, and following packet pick-up – and me swapping from wave five to elite – set up our transitions next to bike in/out. We milled around for a bit, talking race strategy with coach Andy and catching up with friends who were also racing. Around 6:50a, we headed to the beach for a super quick warm-up swim (maybe a minute) to shake off the butterflies.
SWIM // 34:23, 1:38/100, 2nd AG
I was a bit apprehensive about the swim, as I’ve only swam open water twice this summer – the options are limited near our new place in the ‘burbs – and given Chisago was my first race of the season, the buoys looked far. I also felt a little out of my league starting in the elite wave… because the elite wave!
Nonetheless, the swim ended up being great and set the tone for the day. I positioned toward the right front of the beach start and more or less swam just to the left of the buoys for the clockwise one-loop triangular-shaped course. Zero issues with mass start craziness, and I quickly settled into a nice rhythm. About a quarter way in, Nick popped up to my left, and we swam stroke for stroke for a minute before he veered off. The rest of the swim was uneventful unless you count the weeds; they were out.of.control on the stretch back to shore… as in clumps so massive I had to adjust my stroke so my hands didn’t get tangled in them. Gross. With about a tenth to go, I caught super triathlete Suzie Fox and kept the pace to exit the water in fourth female, just ahead of her (and ahead of Nick… ha!).
A run up the beach and a big hill, and I was in T1 (this added about a minute to my swim time). (Below, I’m in the yellow swim cap.)
Gear: TYR nest pro goggles in smoke (brand new and no fogging!) and ROKA Maverick Elite wetsuit (no chafing!).
Nutrition: Banana around 6a (~100 kcals) and one salted caramel Gu 10 minutes before go (100 kcals).
T1 // 1:48.26
Nothing exciting here. Just pulled off my wetsuit (the ROKA is SO easy to take off, even over an ankle timing chip), put on my cycling shoes and helmet, and stuffed my nutrition in the back pockets of my tri top.
BIKE // 2:37:36, 21.2 mph, 170 average watts, 2nd AG
From the get-go, I had a few issues on the bike. First, my Garmin wouldn’t calibrate (do this before the race, duh) and then it froze on the calibrate page, so I had to completely restart it. Then I noticed my right hand was covered in blood thanks to a giant scab on my knuckle that had ripped off in T1.
I settled in around 170-175 watts and around mile five, Nick flew by with words of encouragement. At mile 10, I lifted the visor on my aero helmet to blow a snot rocket (so very ladylike), and the screw holding it on the right side fell out, leaving it flopping in the wind. I messed with it the entire bike, trying to keep it tucked inside my helmet. It kept blowing out whenever there was a crosswind, which was often… because ALL THE WIND. It was ridiculous most of the bike.
I came into the first water station at mile 20 too fast and missed a bottle. Lesson learned, so I slowed down at the second at mile 40 and was able to grab one. Just after, I was stung by a bee on my left collarbone, which hurt (the second in two days, as I was stung the night before the race during my shakeout spin). This was also around the time my right sciatic started acting up – so much so that it was a fight to the end of the bike to keep my watts up (my average is a bit lower than I would have liked).
The bike course is a nice mix of flat and rollers with plenty of turns. Between miles 20-30, however, the road was rough with consistently spaced cracks, which made a nice da-dunk, da-dunk, da-dunk sound. Nonetheless, it was well marked, and volunteers were great.
Gear: Argon 18 E-118, Coeur Sports checkmate kit, Garneau Vorttice aero helmet, Sidi T3 shoes.
Nutrition: Two bottles Osmo Nutrition active hydration (180 kcals), one bottle water, one PB+J Bonk Breaker (260 kcals) and one pack caffeinated lime-ade Honey Stinger chews (180 kcals). Total: 620 kcals.
T2 // 2:36.91
I could not get my left bike shoe off, which probably added at least 30 seconds to my T2. And, then I couldn’t find run out (it was on the other side of transition hiding behind trees… probably should have listened a bit better during pre-race). Gah!
RUN // 1:39:27, 7:40 pace, 3rd AG
The run really couldn’t have gone any better. It took about a half-mile to shake out my aching sciatic, but after that it was smooth sailing. My first mile clocked in around 8:15, with miles two and three just under. Still feeling good – I checked in often… how does my heel feel? my GI? my legs? – I quickened the pace to sub 8s (with a little encouragement from coach, who was biking back and forth along the run course). A few miles around 7:50 and I still felt great, so at mile eight, decided to go for it and dropped it down to 7:30s.
I took water at every aid station, slowing to walk a few steps so it all didn’t miss my mouth, and ate one Clif Shot Block at every mile. This was also a great way to pass the miles, as I carried one pack in my right hand (the second in my back jersey pocket until I needed it) and had just enough to get me through 13.1. With about two miles to go, Andy biked by and said to push it; sub-five was happening (whaaa?!). I had a bit more in the tank, so pushed a bit harder. The last mile was tough… I just wanted to be done. The faster you run, the faster you’re done, though, right?! I passed a guy about 100 yards from the finish and after I crossed the line, shocked and super excited about my time, hyperventilated a bit. It took a solid five minutes before the wheezing stopped.
The course is an out and back, following Chisago Lake, so was able to see the leaders (and count how many ladies were ahead of me!) and high-five Nick and friends. Really glad it was overcast with a bit of rain because had it been sunny, it would have been a hot run.
Nutrition: Water at every aid station and two packs caffeinated black cherry Clif shot bloks (400 kcals).
OFFICIAL RESULTS // 4:55:51.88, 2nd AG, 8th OA
So many thank yous for helping me get to the start and finish lines! Nick, for being my bike fairy (and my number one supporter); somehow my bike magically gets cleaned and is always running in tip-top shape (and, new bar tape!). My parents and Nick’s mom, for the unwavering support and for cheering on race day (and everyday). Andy, for preparing me, kicking my butt repeatedly and pushing me well out of my comfort zone to do workouts I never thought possible. Johnny, for loaning me some sick HED race wheels and endless encouragement. Jen, for loaning me her aero helmet (definitely gained 10 mph because of it and the wheels). Grand Performance, for the last minute, top-notch bike prep. Coeur Sports, for outfitting me in the most stylish and comfortable kits out there (seamless chamois magic!) and their all around awesomeness and support (you rock, Kebby + Reg and Hailey!). And, Osmo Nutrition, for keeping me hydrated and recovering well (two post-race recovery shakes are ok, right? So GOOD).
Bring on the last big build and Ironman Wisconsin!