Dateline: Sunday, Aug 28, 2011.
Scott completed the Chicago International Distance Triathlon.
I had a great time with my family downtown. We walked a bit more than I’d like. We got down to the Hilton Hotel (the Chicago Tri sponsored hotel) right before lunch. We checked in, and then walked to Macy’s for lunch. I’m a big fan of the Seven on State quick serve restaurants especially Rick Bayless’s Frontera Fresco. MMM… Tacos. Probably not the best idea for a pre-race meal, but so worth it. Then, we walked back to the Chicago Multisport Expo to pick up my race packet, get marked, and attend the course talk. I skipped about 1/2 of the course talk due to off-timing of the my lunch and the schedule. Luckily, the course didn’t change from last year, and I was able to revisit my notes from last year which calmed the pre-race jitters. Speaking of pre-race jitters. They started a week before the race. I could sense the tenseness, and I’m sure my family could sense my distracted mind. I was focused on the race. I had difficulty even meditating to calm myself down. After attending, the expo. we walked to Millenium Park, had a great dinner at Harry Caray’s, and then visited Chicago Summer Dance.
My main Triathlon Goal is to break 3 hours and be above the average. That hasn’t changed. However, I took note of my last year’s time and incorporated my training times, and came up with these goals:
Swim: 35 min (my 2010 swim time)
Tran 1: 7 min (my 2010 time)
Bike: 85 min (17.5 mph my 2010 bike avg)
Tran 2: 5 min (my 2010 time)
Run: 56 min (9 min miles. pace run during 2011 training pace)
Total: 188 min
Obviously, this is above 3 hours. So, I created a stretch goal to finish under 3 hours:
Swim: 32 min ( quick swim)
T1: 5 min
Bike: 83 min (18 mph)
T2: 3 min
Run: 55 min (8:40 min miles)
How did I do?
In order to get a good spot for transition, I woke up at 3:40am to get out the door about 4:10am and make my way over to transition which opens at 4:15am. Before transition set-up, I like to shower to wake-up. I also want fresh ice for my water bottles, and I like to eat a pre-race breakfast of a banana and a cliff bar. I always bring too much stuff with me, just in case, to transition. My suggestion is only bring what you need. I don’t need an extra set of running clothes. Although, I don’t know if I will listen to this advice in the future. I like to be prepared in the event of rain or just some odd occurrence. It was a windy morning, and there was a rip-tide warning for the beach. So, I was starting to get mentally prepared to be battered during the swim.
My wave for the race wasn’t until 9:06am. So, instead of watching the sunrise and the first heats, I met my brother in the transition set-up and we walked back for a little pre-race Bagel. Next year, if I have a late start again, I think peanut butter on a bagel will be an awesome breakfast choice. I then went back to the room, and tried to sleep. That didn’t happen, but I did walk through the race twice using visualization techniques to help prepare myself. That was very helpful.
The 1.5 KM Swim:
It always takes me a while to get my wet-suit on. So, I like to get to the swim-start about an hour before my race time. This gives me some time to relax. It gives me some time to put on my wet-suit which takes me about 20 to 30 minutes to do. Then, I get some time for photos and then off to the chute. Waiting in line is fun and exciting, but still stressful. Both last year and this year, I experienced an unexpected swim-shock. Its really difficult to see in Lake Michigan especially when its choppy and wavy. I’d categorize myself as a strong swimmer. Yet, when swimming with a big group of other guys all starting to swim, there’s no room. I don’t position myself in the front. I position myself in the middle. Maybe I should change that next year. By being in the middle, you have wait for the front of the line to start. So, the first 100 yards or more, I swim freestyle with my head above water so I can see where I’m going. Its similar swimming style when you try to swim freestyle without goggles.
Combine the crowded swim, with not being able to see, with a changed swimming style, and the adrenaline of a competitive race, and you get my heart rate racing super high and consequently my breathing was uncharacteristically hard. In fact, my thoughts in the first 1/4 of the race, are Why the heck am I doing this to myself again? What’s the benefit of doing this triathlon thing again? So, I can scare myself and swim in a lake with a bunch of other people, Why?
After I get to the buoy turn-around, I know that I’m 1/4 of the way done with the swim. so, I usually settle down. For some reason, I didn’t settle down as much. It took me unbelievably long to get into a rhythm. I am normally a breath every 3rd stroke swimmer in the pool. However, in the lake, I turn into a breath every other stroke. In addition, I know my form was off. I was not feeling the water. It felt foreign. I know I was not stroking the way I can. I think more practice in the wet suit is required. As I’m going along, I’m thinking I have to get my stroke back, and I’d break into a little bit of a sprint, then I’d have to stop and do a little breast stroke to see where I’m going, then do the whole sequence over again. One part, I’m glad I practice is cleaning my goggles while in the deep end of the pool. My goggles were foggy about 1/3 of the way through with the swim. Once, I cleared my goggles, I seemed to calm down and get my breathing under control. Now, about half through the swim, you are back at the swim start. That always energizes me, because I know I’m half-way done. However, the next part of the swim is where the break wall opens up, and the waves were really pushing me around. I was kicking much stronger than normal, and it seems every fourth breath, I’d get a wave in the face. Happily, Lake Michigan, being a fresh water body, tastes much better than pool water. For the next part of the race, I was playing bumper body / tag with a couple of other swimmers. We were all at about the same pace, and one would go a little faster, and then I would pass him, and back and forth until finally, I concentrated on my form, and I pulled away from that pack. However, I ran right smack into a slow group of swimmers which means I had to concentrate on sighting better to swim around all that group. Once, I got to the final buoy, I was swimming towards the stairs, and I had a little difficulty getting out the lake. Happily, the volunteers were great in helping us out of the water.
Part of the Chicago Triathlon Swim, is about a 450 yard jaunt back to transition. I did my best to unzip my wetsuit while running. I had to run around a few participants which was good. I’m glad the cloth they had on the ground was in tact. The cloth really helps running bare-feet on the concrete path. One thing that was new this year, was I heard my wife call out to the kids. ”Oh, there he is.” I quickly turned and tried my best to wave while running. That put a smile on my face after the wavy choppy swim.
1.5 KM Swim Time: 37:23 minutes
I am a little disappointed in my swim-time. I can swim faster than that. I know I have a sub-30 minute swim in me. I guess that gives me incentive to freak myself out again next year.
I wanted to beat my transition time of last year (7 minutes). I like to sit on the ground when I take of my wet-suit. It just makes it easier for me. So, as soon as I cross the timer, I find a spot in the grass, pull of my wetsuit. Then, I ran to my bike. put on my socks/shoes. Throw on my shirt and shorts. Grab my iphone and put it on my bike. Set-up runkeeper on the iphone. I totally forgot my glasses. (Can I blame my bike time on lack of glasses?) Luckily, I’m not blind. I just have a little difficulty reading signs that are far-away which wasn’t a requirement while riding. I also drink some water, and grabbed my bike nutrition. I think I want to get a little bento box or something for my bike so I can reduce the time for that. I also have to work on transition. it still feels slow! I did my best to run to bike out. I was quicker than last year, but I feel I go get better.
Transition 1 Time: 06:12 minutes
The 40 KM Bike:
I forgot the first part of the bike course requires an ascent for the initial ramp onto Lake Shore Drive. I wasn’t mentally prepared for the initial burst of energy required to get up to speed. Combine that with the Head-wind coming from the North, and that lack of initial burst set the pace for a mediocre bike ride. Last year, I averaged 17.5 mph. This year, I averaged: 16.8 mph. Quite a bit slower. The one saving grace, I feel is that I was rarely passed by anyone with non-road bicycle. In fact, I think only one non-road bike passed me. The rider looked like he was 6’8″ tall. I have a fitness bicycle, the Trek FX 7.3. It has a similar riding position to a mountain bike or hybrid bike, but has tires and bicycle frame styling closer to a road bike. So, on a windy day like Sunday, my riding position really is a detriment. Knowing that, really set me back. Mentally, due to wind, I let myself relax in the first quarter of the race and did not push as much as I should have. That was my second mistake.
Now, on the second qua