17 In race report/ triathlon

race report // superior man 70.3

After Toughman’s bike disaster, I really wanted to race one more time before Kona. Mentally, I needed a confidence booster, rather than going into my A race a little shaky and, honestly, kinda questioning my abilities. So, once we found a great deal on a hotel downtown Duluth, I signed up (the week of!) for one of Minnesota’s favorite triathlons – Superior Man 70.3. My only hesitation: jumping off a boat into a bay of Lake Superior (because I’m a wimp when it comes to cold, and for the hundreds of thousands of yards I’ve swam at masters this year, ack… open water still occasionally freaks me out). But, do one thing a day that scares you, right?! It turned out to be exhilarating, and I’d absolutely do this race again. 


For as much anxiety I had about jumping off the Vista Fleet, I was actually pretty chill on race morning. I was in the second and faster wave (and our hotel was about five minutes from the DECC), so we got to sleep in until 4:45a (the luxury!). After setting up the rest of my transition (bikes had to be checked the day prior), I shimmied halfway into my wetsuit and then visited with the other triathletes. So many friends racing! This definitely helped keep me calm, and as we boarded the Vista Feel about 20 minutes before go – including Nick to take pics! – I chatted with masters friends Kortney and Christina, which kept my mind off the fact that I had to jump off the boat. 


SWIM // 37:56

Oh, man. I really wanted to have a good swim, but ugh… less than impressed with my performance (I think it’s my second slowest 70.3 swim ever). Not an excuse, but in between the first wave and my wave, of course the wind picked up, and there was a decent amount of chop (and maybe a bit of current) during the back stretch and again on the last stretch to shore.

Anyway, the jump off the Vista Fleet was way more fun than I anticipated, and my goggles stayed on (why was I so nervous about this?!). When I hit the water, I was pleasantly surprised: it was actually kinda warm (race officials said it was 69F that morning, but it felt more like 65F). I drank some of Lake Superior – pretty clean and kinda brown – and had to pop my head up a couple times to get my bearings, but for the most part, I stayed calm and sighted as best I could over the chop during the 1.5-loop course. 



Gear: ROKA Sports maverick pro wetsuit, ROKA X1 goggles in light vermillion, Coeur Sports speed top + tri shorts, lululemon all sport bra. 

Nutrition: caffeinated sea salt chocolate roctane Gu, Imodium.

T1 // 2:49

After exiting the water up the ramp, I ran the stretch into the DECC, clueless about my time or where I was in the women’s race. I saw Hanna exit T1 just ahead of me, so I knew I was sitting ok, but that I had some work to do. My rookie mistake: I put my timing chip on my right ankle, so moved it to my left before getting on my bike (at least it was on, though, right?! ha!).


BIKE // 2:31:59, 22.1 mph

Takeaways from the bike: It was beautiful, fast and rather lonely. After winding around downtown Duluth a bit, the course headed north on Highway 61 toward Two Harbors. I’ve driven it many times, but never biked it… such a great mix of rollers that you don’t really notice by car (about 1,500 feet total). After the turnaround point in Two Harbors, the course heads south on Old Highway 61, or the Grandma’s Marathon course, paralleling Lake Superior. The views were fantastic, but I was meh about the road. Every mile was marked for Grandma’s (I don’t wanna be reminded every mile!), the road itself was a bit rough, and it was oddly quiet (good mental training, that’s for sure)!

Nonetheless, the straight shot course was great for putting the head down and focusing on riding aero and target watts. And, I’m pretty happy with the bike, especially given the tough 107-mile ride I did a week prior. 




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, one gluten-free salted chocolate Gu stroopwafel, 1.5 packs raspberry Skratch energy chews, three caffeinated Clif shot bloks, two bottles raspberry Skratch hydration (fail!).

T2 // 1:58

Nothing fancy here, though transition is fancy inside the DECC! In and out and onto the run. 

RUN // 1:36:56, 7:25 pace

Things were a bit dicey the first mile. My stomach was a bit unsettled, and I even told Nick as he briefly biked next to me that there may be puke. Thankfully I held it together and felt better and better as the miles ticked by (the perfect weather – 60s + overcast – helped, too!). My legs felt surprisingly fresh, though, so I settled in around my target 7:30 pace. The course is two loops that includes an out-and-back, which sorta gave me a gauge of where I was (the first wave 70.3ers were also running). The top four women were far enough ahead that I knew my chances of catching them were slim, so I settled into my own race and focused on pacing. I dropped it a bit the last five or so miles, still feeling good – negative split FTW! – and when I crossed the finish line, I realized I had more in the tank and should have pushed harder. Lesson learned! You’re capable of more than you think :) 


So happy to be racing – and, racing healthy!



Meeting race winner and friend Nicole at mile 8 (she crushed it!).


Gear: Coeur Sports speed top + tri shorts, HOKA Clifton 2 and trucker hat, Feetures elite socks, lululemon all sport bra. 

Nutrition: three caffeinated black cherry Clif shot bloks, half pack Skratch raspberry chews, water, Pepsi at miles 3 + 9. 

OFFICIAL RESULTS // 4:51:38, 1st AG, 5th OA

There are takeaways from every race, and this one included:

+ Be more confident in the water + swim a little bit harder (you aren’t going to drown!).
+ You are capable of more than you imagine, so run a little faster.
+ DRINK MORE WATER (there’s nothing worse than being sick for two days – on the verge of going to urgent care – because you’re dehydrated). 

Lessons aside, I’m stoked about my day! A shiny new PR and the top spot on the podium (my first ever!) are pretty rad. Up next: Kona! 

Biggest thank yous to my tribe! Nick, Andy, Coeur Sports, ROKA Sports, Argon 18, HOKA ONE ONE, Sound Probiotics, pure clean powder… I couldn’t race happy + healthy without any of you ♥ 


Yay podium! Yay custom epicurean Lake Superior cutting board (Duluth made!)! Also, kudos the race organizers for a stellar race that also included post-race shower facilities at the DECC!


Sherpa + photog extraordinaire! ♥


Racing’s better with friends. High-fives to Sarah and Megan on fantastic races!

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  • Reply
    09/06/2016 at 11:19 am

    Congrats Erin! can’t wait to see you crush it in Kona!

  • Reply
    Feisty Eats
    09/06/2016 at 3:25 pm

    Wow, wow, wow! Congrats. What a mental boost also. The thing I love most about your recap is your genuine smile in all your race photos. Awesome!

  • Reply
    Jennifer Hjelle
    09/06/2016 at 4:15 pm

    Go you! That’s awesome. Congrats!

  • Reply
    09/06/2016 at 5:16 pm

    Congratulations! I attempted this race a few years ago and loved jumping off of the Vista Fleet! It is a fun way to start the swim :)

  • Reply
    Leslie @ TriathleteTreats
    09/06/2016 at 8:21 pm

    Awesome job!!! What a confidence boost!!! Can’t believe Kona is getting so close!!! So excited for you!!

  • Reply
    09/06/2016 at 8:46 pm

    Post race shower facilities? Dreamy! Awesome race, Erin – can’t wait to see what you do at Kona!

  • Reply
    09/07/2016 at 7:01 am

    Congratulations Erin! What a great race…and award! Just think, if you can handle swimming in cold, Lake Superior where you can’t see anything, plus jumping off a boat…swimming in the crystal clear, warm waters of Hawaii is going to be a breeze!

  • Reply
    09/07/2016 at 11:07 am

    Congrats! Sounds like you had a fantastic race in so many ways, and, as always, it’s nice to walk away with a few ‘note taken’ moments too. Enjoy the final build for Kona!

  • Reply
    09/07/2016 at 8:22 pm

    Heck yes! I did the short course last year and loved it! I wasn’t training much this year, but might have to do it again next year.

  • Reply
    09/07/2016 at 9:39 pm

    Great job Erin! Can’t wait to watch you in Kina!! (On line)

  • Reply
    09/07/2016 at 11:20 pm

    Congratulations!!!! Your paces amaze every time. Your hard work had truly paid off. Keep up the great work. Thank you for your inspiration.

  • Reply
    Celeste E.
    09/08/2016 at 5:50 am

    In one month is the big race and I can’t wait to watch it online! I will always remember the time we spent working together at the newspaper. You were one helluva (wink-wink) co-worker. And now look at you…a Kona bound Iron[wo]man triathlete! You are one amazing, strong, awesome, determined woman and I am so proud of you! Go get ’em!

  • Reply
    Laura Y
    09/08/2016 at 11:20 am

    Hurray for a new PR!! This was just the race you needed as you head into the final countdown to Kona. Your hard work and attitude are taking you FAR this year!!

  • Reply
    Lindsay Dunton
    09/08/2016 at 11:55 am

    Way to go woman!! You rock!

  • Reply
    The Running Princess
    09/08/2016 at 3:18 pm

    Well done!

  • Reply
    09/13/2016 at 7:49 pm

    Congratulations Erin! Very well done.

    I was wondering how your hair looked so good after a half-Ironman…how nice that they had showers available!

    I would be very nervous jumping into Superior like that…brrr! you are very brave!

  • Reply
    my top 16 of 2016. - sweet sweat life
    12/31/2016 at 6:23 pm

    […] summer was punctuated by three local 70.3s – Liberty, Toughman and Superior Man – and a shiny new PR (4:51!). Each race had its own quirks, from using new gear on race day […]

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