25 In race report/ triathlon

race report // toughman minnesota 70.3

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

High-fives to my tribe! Nick, Andy, Coeur Sports, ROKA Sports, Argon 18, HOKA ONE ONE, Sound Probiotics, pure clean powder… the best, I tell you! ♥


Racing’s always better with friends! Congrats to Megan


This guy ♥


And, this bike!

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  • Reply
    08/03/2016 at 10:00 am

    I’m sorry you didn’t have the best day. Did you see the guy in the blue that was in front of you in the picture at the swim start? He looked as excited as you did!

    • Reply
      08/13/2016 at 8:56 am

      Thanks so much, Amy! Onward to the next one :) Yes, so funny! Nick captured some fantastic pics!

  • Reply
    08/03/2016 at 10:32 am

    That is infuriating, and I could at here and say “but it is such good practice for when things go wrong, and good job on toughing it out mentally, you still had a great race all things aside and you proved your fitness” etc etc etc… I know that you know all that ;) and I would still be sooo mad, too! Nice work anyway, girl, and way to always present things in such a positive light. I can’t waaaait to track you in Kona!!!

    • Reply
      08/13/2016 at 8:57 am

      Always good to hear it again, so thank you, Rosanne! :) I should have known better, but lesson learned and onward! Thanks so much, lady! Can’t wait to track YOU in Australia!

  • Reply
    Leslie Nagel
    08/03/2016 at 12:07 pm

    Great race report! I was there too! Great but hot day! Do you have a discount code for Sound Probiotics? I’d love to try it. Thanks! Good luck at Kona!

    • Reply
      08/04/2016 at 7:47 am

      Thanks, Leslie! Congrats on your day! How’d it go?! Hope our paths cross at another race!

      Yes! Use SWEETSWEAT for 10 percent off of Sound :) Hope they help… they’ve been a game changer for me and have kept me healthy!

  • Reply
    Katie @ Daily Cup of Kate
    08/03/2016 at 12:27 pm

    Oh my gosh…I would’ve been so mad about that bike course mishap, but wait to not let it get in the way of an awesome race! You are an inspiration!

    • Reply
      08/13/2016 at 8:57 am

      Thanks so much, Katie! Super frustrating, but onward! Can’t wait to see you tear up Wisco! I’ll be all over the course cheering :)

  • Reply
    Megan S
    08/03/2016 at 12:47 pm

    Oh, your coach Andy was so nice to me on the course, erin. I was wondering who he was because not that many men know Couer Sports well enough to recognize the kit and cheer for the athlete wearing it. Thanks for solving that puzzle for me!

    It was a beast of a day but we shall live on to conquer the next one, right?! “Onward”!

    • Reply
      08/13/2016 at 8:59 am

      Ah, that’s awesome! He and Nick are such great support system and sherpas! Yes, onward to the next one! Congrats to YOU!

  • Reply
    Megan S
    08/03/2016 at 12:48 pm

    Whoops! ^^ *Coeur*

    • Reply
      08/13/2016 at 9:03 am

      I knew what you meant :)

  • Reply
    Kelsey @ Happy Triathlete
    08/04/2016 at 10:43 am

    Damn girl, you are fast! Tough day, but way to get it done! Kona, here you come :)

    • Reply
      08/13/2016 at 9:04 am

      Thanks so much, Kelsey! Watch out, Kona ;)

  • Reply
    08/04/2016 at 2:17 pm

    You are so strong….you can tell you worked hard this winter! But the real question is…..how the heck do you handle snot rockets with that helmet/visor?! ;P

    • Reply
      08/13/2016 at 9:05 am

      Thank you, Laura! LOTS of hours on the trainer and running in the dark this past winter :)

      Haha! So funny you ask! It was tricky!

  • Reply
    madison + IMWI love. - sweet sweat life
    08/05/2016 at 5:50 am

    […] as Nick was out of town for work, and coach gave me a free training pass for the week following Toughman. His only directions: have fun and don’t bang out 10+ miles. And, have fun I did! The best […]

  • Reply
    08/05/2016 at 10:08 am

    Congratulations Erin! What a strong run on a VERY hot and humid day. So impressed :) Can’t wait for Kona!

    • Reply
      08/13/2016 at 9:06 am

      Thank you, Jessie! I can’t wait for Kona, too!

  • Reply
    08/07/2016 at 3:55 pm

    Ugh, what a crap situation on the bike course. I’m glad you were able to pull it together for a solid run, but still…gah!

    Also yay for you racing elite!

    • Reply
      08/13/2016 at 9:07 am

      Totally should have known better, but onward! Thanks so much, Caitlin! Yes, elite FTW!

  • Reply
    Leslie @ TriathleteTreats
    08/07/2016 at 7:12 pm

    Still a great race with the hiccup!!! It is funny you said that about the gal not wanting to race in the elite wave. I was reading some other blogs about gals that are super fast/that could get their pro card but want to stay as AGers because it would be harder for them to get a slot in Kona then to just win their AG!! Crazy!! I can’t wait to see you race in Kona, this is just one of those stepping stones toward that big goal!! Congrats!!! Keep up the hard work!!

    • Reply
      08/13/2016 at 9:09 am

      Oh, interesting! I’ve heard that, too, but have never seen it posted on a blog. Which ones were you reading? The lure of Kona is pretty strong, so I get it, but at the same time, when women step up their game, big things can happen :) Anyway, thanks for the cheers, Leslie!

  • Reply
    Luv What You Do
    08/08/2016 at 9:20 pm

    Way to go! I love seeing your race reports!

    • Reply
      08/13/2016 at 9:10 am

      Thanks so much, Jen! :)

    your thoughts…

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