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!
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!