I went into Toughman Minnesota 70.3 with a fair amount of mental and physical stress. I won’t go into detail about the mental stress other than to say that I think it dulled my mental edge a bit. And, as for the physical stress, well… though the few days leading up to the race were chill, the weekend prior consisted of both a long run on Saturday and a pretty wicked 90-mile ride + t-run that ended at 9p Sunday night. That’s the first and last time that happens!
Am I satisfied with my performance at Toughman? Hmm… yes and no. I have plenty to sharpen between now and Kona, but you know what? Any day you toe a start line and cross a finish line is a good day! I learned some value lessons and am really hungry to race again. Onward!
I was oddly nervous during the drive to Chisago. My stomach wouldn’t stop turning – until I realized about 20 minutes out that I forgot my bike shoes. Thankfully Nick’s mom hadn’t left yet, so she picked them up with time to spare. Thank you, Mary!
Pre-race felt like a bit of a rush. I picked up my packet, got body marked, set up my transition spot (super close to bike in + out), talked to a few friends who were racing, and did a swim warm-up, all in maybe 35 minutes? But, that’s the beauty of a local race… rush in and out and ready to go!
SWIM // 35:09, 1:40/100 yd
A steamy week leading up to the race meant it was non-wetsuit legal. I’d been on the fence about wearing a wetsuit anyway – full sleeves have been claustrophobic lately – so was thrilled to hear this. And, it was a great chance to test out my ROKA swimskin, which made for a super comfortable swim (for anyone wondering, I wore my Coeur 3/4-sleeve aero top underneath, unzipped and around my waist… worked great!).
As I looked around as the elite wave lined up, one thing stuck out: There were only six or seven women in it. Step up, ladies! You are completely capable of racing the elite wave! Case in point: One woman beat me by less than ONE SECOND, but because she started in a later wave, I had no idea (and am actually kind of annoyed… because one freaking second!). How fun would it have been to actually race each other at the finish line?!
Anyway, starting in the elite wave still feels a bit out of my element, but I quickly settled into a groove and felt strong. The start wasn’t mass chaos and by the time I reached the first buoy, I had clean glass-like water the rest of the way. And, other than swimming a bit wide on the backstretch, I kept a pretty close line on the buoys. I’m still working on finding my edge in the water… swim suffering just doesn’t come naturally to me like it does on the bike and run!
I was really excited to swim apparently.
Wore my Coeur aero top unzipped, sleeves off and around my waist under my swimskin… worked awesome! Great Kona prep.
The swimskin was amazing, but it needs a ribbon on the zipper (like on the wetsuit). I couldn’t reach to unzip. Thanks to the volunteer who helped!
Gear: ROKA Sports viper pro swimskin, ROKA Sports R1 goggles in light vermillion, Coeur Sports speed top + tri shorts, lululemon all sport bra.
Nutrition: caffeinated sea salt chocolate roctane Gu, Imodium.
T1 // 1:29
Transition was all about the hustle. After a quick run up the hill, swimskin off, bike shoes + helmet on, I was off. Almost spot on my T1 time from Liberty last month.
BIKE // 2:50:50 (official), 59.57 miles + 21.2 mph (per Garmin)
Third woman out of the water (what?!) and onto the bike was exactly where I wanted to be. I was ready to hammer, and unlike Liberty, my legs felt great from the first pedal stroke. But then, at mile three-ish, just before the crest of a hill, there were official course signs that said turn left – onto a gravel road. The course was new this year, so I thought it would just be a short jaunt and we’d be back on pavement. Boy, were we wrong. A handful of us took the wrong turn, and after about eight or so minutes – way too long… WTF were we thinking?! – we turned around. Absolutely maddening (also because I lost my flat kit, a carbon Gorilla cage and a bottle of Skratch), and I knew immediately the podium + my 4:45 goal were out the window.
My anger about this stupid mistake fueled the fire. Of course I wasn’t going to not try the rest of the race! I put my head down and began picking off half and sprint racers one by one (the course was so crowded). The new course was fantastic and a nice mix of flats and rollers. I felt so strong on my Argon – it’s a freakin’ dream to ride – and if it wasn’t for the damn detour (20 minutes total)… man, I’m quite happy with where my bike fitness is at right now (I’m coming for you sub 2:30!).
Gear: Argon 18 E-119 TRI+ bike, Cobb Cycling Fifty Five JOF saddle, Zipp Firecrest 808s, Quarq Elsa, Giro Aerohead helmet, Coeur Sports speed top + tri shorts, Sidi T3 shoes.
Nutrition: One gluten-free salted caramel Honey Stinger waffle, two packs raspberry Skratch energy chews, maybe a half bottle of raspberry Skratch hydration and three bottles of water.
T2 // 1:41
Oh, the frustration coming into T2 knowing all the top women – who I should have been racing with – were ahead of me and likely out of reach. I briefly talked to Nick and Andy here (my transition was right next to the fence) and was on my way.
RUN // 1:41:57, 7:48 pace
The wheels didn’t fall completely off on the run, but because of the bike fiasco, my head definitely wasn’t where it normally is. My legs felt great, though, and I made sure to keep it in check the first few miles (this was the first 70.3 I was actually running in two years!).
Right before the gravel out-and-back section around mile three, Nick and Andy rolled up and lucky me got a bike escort and a pep talk, which really helped me stay focused. There was little shade along the gravel stretch (miles 3-10), so it was hot, and I just wanted Coke (it was only at one aid station)!
My pace stayed pretty steady around 7:45 – I walked the aid stations to drink water and shove ice down my sports bra and under my hat – but there were a few darker spots the last few miles where I just wanted to be done. It was a different wanna-be-done than past races, as I just didn’t have my normal how-much-can-I-suffer gusto. I crossed the finish line 25 minutes slower than I’d hoped, feeling defeated and disappointed in myself. But, like I said, good lessons learned. Onward to the next race and the last build to Kona!
See?! Here’s where the course marking was messed up, and we turned! It never said run course. But, still… my fault. I should have known.
Bike escort from coach Andy and Nick.
More than half of the run course was on gravel with little shade… so hot.
Winding around to the finish line.
Gear: Coeur Sports speed top + tri shorts, HOKA Clifton 2 and trucker hat, Feetures elite socks, lululemon all sport bra.
Nutrition: One pack caffeinated black cherry Clif shot blocks, water, Coke at one aid station.
OFFICIAL RESULTS // 5:11:08, 4th AG, 11th OA
Racing’s always better with friends! Congrats to Megan!
This guy ♥
And, this bike!