Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Race Review: Chisago Sprint

Originally I was going to do the half at Chisago. It was going to be me, Bethany, and Amanda's friend Shana. Also, the two older kids would do the kids race the day before. Then Bethany had trouble finding time to do the workouts and I think had a series of injuries that got in the way and eventually she made the call that she'd just do the sprint. Now I'm not good friends with Shana, and I don't actually like races that long, so I opted to do the sprint too.

All told - this weekend I did three races. For all you wannabes that think a double is hard - here's my account of three races in two days.

Races 1 & 2 (Chisago Kids Tri - Waves 1 & 2)

For my son this is his second race, for my daughter it's her third. They see dad race a bunch, so we try to find kids tris to do where dad will be doing the same race. It's hard, most kids triathlons start at 7. Next year the oldest will be able to those. We came to this race two years ago for the oldest's first race. It went well. Things that are fresh in my head from that. The run from the end of the swim is probably as long as the entire rest of the race, the "swim" can just be a run because of not wanting little kids to drown.

Packet Pickup & Race Morning

We elected to do packet pickup on race morning for the kids - Chisago is 60 miles from our house and so making that drive as few times as possible is good new for us. The kids race starts at 9, we figure get there by 8, which means leave our house by 6:30 to account for getting lost and stuff like that.

We get the kids up - they have breakfast while I fill bike tires and load the bikes.

Summer time is construction time - there is semi-major road closing traffic on basically every road. The handy maps application on my phone tells us there is road closings on 35E & 35W, so we take a less direct route there, total travel time wasn't that different. Amanda's mom and sister are going to come and watch the race, so we two car caravan the way up. We get to the race site with plenty of time. The kids are pretty excited, they hop right on their bikes and mill around the parking lot till we get the rest of the stuff ready.

Ready to Roll

The other stuff
We made our way to the transition area - found a place for our bikes and then headed over to packet pickup and body marking
"Racking" the bikes

They get bibs, t-shirts, and a bag of schwag

Body marking - probably one of the highlights

The largest marker in the world to write on a 5 year old
After that we had plenty of time to mill around - we checked out the water, we figured out how to find our bikes (there is a building in the transition area - we were behind that.) We walked the course and then it was time to gather for the start.
Swim warmup with the Aunty

The Swim 1 - (4&5 years old)

At this race, if your kids are 6 or under the parents are allowed to help them. I am default selection for this role given the 9 month-old who wants some other than mommy about as much as she'd like to have her fingers pulled off. In the end it ammounts to me running from place to place guiding and encouraging, the only real "help" I provide is sock support.

Unlike the previous time we came here, the little kids go first. This is good because the entire wave has to finish before the next one will start, and the big kids have a much longer race than the little kids. So we're in the first wave. I am allowed to go in the water with my son, but he doesn't want to, I'll meet him at the end of the sandy exit on the way up to transition.

Action shot - this is the exact moment the whistle blew. My kid is the one pushing the other kids out of the way

The "swim" - for safety the water is shallow enough to run, so they do. My kid is winning right now
He exits the water with a HUGE smile on his face, he is having a ton of fun. We make our way up the huge hill and to our bike.

The Bike

It's not an exaggeration that for this age group the run from the lake to the bike is the longest portion of the race. I say "socks or no socks" he says "socks" we put them on, he grabs his helmet and bike and off he goes. At this age I can not easily keep up with him on his bike, and he's a good enough rider to do it himself. Plus the course is like a block long so I stand and wait. He basically coasts down the small incline and when he makes the turn he really starts to put the gas on.

He makes his way to the dismount line, we find out spot and head out for the run.

The Run

The run for this age group is through transition and down the finisher's chute - I navigate us successfully through transition.
This is like one foot out of the transition area pointing to the finish chute

The Finish

Full speed - he's running so fast he's almost falling forward

The Results
As far as I know there aren't official results for this race. There aren't chip times, they just tear off the bottom of your bib in the finish chute.
Finisher's Medal!

Closing Comments

Overall this race was a lot of fun. It's fun to race with your kid and see them having so much fun up close. The race is pretty short, but for a 4 year old it might be appropriate.

Jamey had a ton of fun and really likes racing. He was disappointed not to place in the top three, but that seems pretty standard, who doesn't want to win?

The Swim 2 - (6&7 years old)

Ivy was in the second wave, so after giving Jamey a high-five we headed back to the beach. There was plenty of time, but Ivy was in the second wave so she wanted to make sure to get there on time. I had thought I would not be able to help Ivy during the race, but they announced 6 and under was allowed help, and that was good because she really wasn't excited to do the race by herself.

Like her brother though - she'd like me to meet her at the end of the beach. Which was good, because I had just run the race with Jamey and wasn't really dressed appropriately for racing and needed to cool down a little.

Lining up for the start - she's the one in the rainbow one-piece
She had told me before the swim that she didn't want to swim - meaning she wanted to do the race, but not actually swim, just run through the water. I told her she could do whatever she wanted, the goal is to have fun. If swimming in the lake during the race isn't fun, then just run. And then I said - if you fall behind and want to catch up, swimming is much faster than running through water this deep. Very similar to the last time she did this race she came out of the water first - she just ran. 

The Bike

We made our way up to transition. I said "socks or no socks" she said "socks" and then she said "hurry up, this is a race"

She put on her helmet, grabbed her bike and headed out. Unlike her brother she immediately put the gas on and started passing boys from the previous partial wave. The partial waves were a way to split the age groups. So the 5 & 6 year old "wave" was really four waves. 5 year old boys, 5 year old girls, 6 year old boys and then 6 year old girls.

The bike for this group is significantly longer - they head out of sight for long enough for me to chat with a parent. When the lead boys start coming through I take my position on the other side of the street. As far as I can tell Ivy is now in third. I cheer her on, and let her know I'll see her in transition.

The Run

She parks her bike and starts running, I say "head back to the place we came in" and she just takes off. I was very surprised how fast she took off. We get to the end of the transition area and she takes off on the run. I'd guess the entire run is about a quarter of a mile.

If you look closely you can see me taking a shortcut, I just barely catch her at the bottom of the hill. She was really booking. She makes it to the turn around and I am confident she'll finish in third, the next girl back is pretty far back and Ivy's looking very strong.

The Finish

Finishing up! That boy does get past her right at the last second
Ivy ran a fantastic race - she pushed herself hard and had a great time doing it. When she got done she said "I can't do anything more until we get home, I'm too tired!"

The Results

Again, no official results
Finisher's medal, plus some much needed water

2nd - 6 year old girls!
After Ivy caught her breath we all went and got some post race snacks for the racers. PB&J, bananas, cookies and water or gator aid. Also, as we were walking out the schwag bags have candy in them!

Closing Comments

Ivy had a great time, she's often a little apprehensive about new things or things that might be hard, but she had a great time and, for now, is really looking forward to more races.

This race is a good length for kids this age, they can go fast and have a great time without getting too tired or making it too easy.

Race 3 - Chisago Sprint

The adult races are the next day - the plan was to head back home and then drive back up in the morning. Actually, originally the plan was to get a hotel, but after a while I decided that was silly and pretty expensive.

Packet Pickup

We did packet pickup right after the kids raced, it was pretty painless. You get a running number, a helmet number (no bike sticker,) a pretty decent bag of goodies, a shirt, and the most flimsy cap ever. But it was fast and painless and we were gone. Actually before we left I staked out where my assigned spot was. The racks are set up in long rows of about 100 people each. I would be in heat 9 and found my assigned spot, which even had my name on it. Nice touch.

Race Morning

The race starts at 7, same deal as before we're looking at an hour drive. Though this time I decide to risk the construction because it makes the drive simpler. I get up at 4:15, we're out the door by 4:30 and get to the race site with plenty of time to spare.

When I was unloading my bike from my car I noticed the front wheel was a little wobbly, I take a quick check and realize the quick release isn't really tight enough - I say, out loud, to Bethany, "mental note - fix the wheel." And we are on our way to check in.

We find our spots in transition and I notice, now, that my spot is right next to a tree, like 2 feet away from the bike wheel, in the direction I will be taking my bike out. Not awesome, but whatever. I'm pretty sure I don't even have the worst spot. We set up, go get marked up (which, surprisingly, actually tickled a little.) Around this time the transition area is starting to get full and I noticed that the people around me are not all 35-40 year old men, actually Bethany is in my wave and so is some random 50 year old woman. I don't know how the waves are set up, but I do, suddenly, realize that the waves of 100 people they have set up are a mix of everything.

The Swim

I was in wave 9, the first three waves are so were for the 70.3 distance, they went off pretty fast. Then we waited a few minutes and then the sprint waves started. Up until the sprint waves started we had been waiting on the hill trying to see if my wife, who had called me before transition closed, would find us. We hadn't seen her.

Yellow is 70.3, pink is sprint. It's a pretty fun environment

Cool shot of some swimmers taking off
Down on the beach we ran into our friend Paula - she's great, very energetic. We chatted with her for a bit and then filed into the starting coral. I think it's pretty accurate that I haven't done a mass start for the last two years, so I forgot that if you want to be in front you have to look tough and work your way to the front. While I was toeing the line I put my goggles on. They have a purple tint and when I looked around I noticed they made all the pink caps look white. It took me by surprise, and what's really surprising was that it was actually sort of disorienting during the swim.

The whistle went off and, much to my surprise, people sprinted into the water. In a time-trial start you don't really notice people sprinting into the water, I'm not even sure they do. But in this case people were sprinting, it was hectic. I did a quick dolphin dive and then I was near the front. There was another guy who was really cruising, and for the first time in my triathlon career he was going at a pace where settling in behind him was actually worth while. Around the second turn marker I lost him, he decided to go for the inside line and ran into a group of about 10 people from another group.

Overall the swim felt pretty good, I hopped out of the water and made my way to transition. Along the way I saw my wife and kids and her mom. As always, that's a great thing!
This is at the bottom of the grassy climb, you can see the excitement in people's eyes

The Bike

The run to transition has a small steep climb up a grassy hill, I had thought the day before that the climb would really sap my lungs, but it actually wasn't that bad. I passed some people and got to my rack, which was close to the swim out, I noticed that there was at least one other person from the 100 that beat me to the rack. So, not the fastest overall swim, but it did feel fast. So no worries. It's at this point I remember "the front wheel is wobbly" so I stop and tighten the quick release. Super smooth move.

I ran the full length of transition, which is grass so pretty easy running, and then hoped on the bike. The first quarter or half mile of this race is on a pretty narrow path, so there's lots of clumping and not much passing. After we got to a real road I put the hammer down, compared to the people around me I felt like I took off like a shot. One nice thing about being in the 2nd to last wave is that you pass all the slower people from in front of you, it's safe to say I never stopped passing people the rest of the race. Which is not to say I am awesome, just faster than some of the 800 people who were in front of me.

In the first few miles I felt like I was doing well. I was passing a decent number and while some people were passing me, there were a good number of people I was playing leap frog with. Maybe six or seven people. It took me a while to remember how fun it is to chase people and actually catch them occasionally. Prior to the race I had worried that 22 miles would be a pretty tough mental challenge, usually I start to fade after about 18 miles. But with the leap frog and others on the course 22 miles went by pretty fast.

Near the end I had finally gotten ahead of most of the people I had been spending time playing cat and mouse with. There was just one guy, very close to the end I did pass him - he had been my biggest challenge, and his number was etched in my mind (though not really, because now I have no idea what it was) so I was hoping he was a slow runner and would not come running by later. The rest of them, who would likely pass me I wouldn't recognize, so I wasn't worried about them.

I came into the transition area, heard Paula call out my name, and cruised through transition. I noticed there were a couple of bikes in my area, so I had been passed by at least a few people.

The Run

The run starts with a quick downhill, and then run through a small play area. I saw my cheering section again. At this point I felt basically like death, I was having trouble getting my heart rate under control, but I just pressed onward. After about half a mile I took five or ten seconds to gather myself and then headed out again.

Right at the bottom of the hill

That guy is clearly running faster than me

I swear, I'm not trying to cut that guy off, I'm waving to one of my kids

People were passing me, per normal, but it wasn't ridiculous, and thankfully I was also passing some people. Unfortunately for my ego, the guy from the bike I was hoping was a slow runner, he wasn't. Or at least not as slow as me. After the short walk break the miles sort of ticked by pretty quickly.

Honestly I don't really remember the last mile. I saw Bethany in the last quarter mile on her way out on the run, and I saw my family near the finish. I remember thinking - the little run down the hill at the start was now a run up a hill... that sucked.

Coming back - feeling good

Stupid hill!

The Finish

The finish at the end of this race is right at the top of a little hill, and then a nice trot down a little chute, I saw my family, they took my chip, and then I got some water. There are no finisher medals for the sprint, but that's fine. I found a place to sit and tried not to barf on my kids.

Hey look - that guy didn't pass me!
The Results


The Swim
That's good for 6th overall and first in my age group. I'm pretty happy with that time.

The Bike
The Garmin has me at 21.7 because it says I biked less than 22 miles, the official time says 22. That's good for 61st overall and 13 in my age group. I'm pretty happy about this. I felt like I put in a good effort and it shows. I didn't perform like that at all last year.

The Run
The run felt pretty average - but that time is pretty decent. The garmin has me at 8:17 average, the official split is 8:21 due to the watch saying I it was slightly longer than 5k. That's good for 180 overall and 24 in my age group. It does my ego good to know that there are not only 24 people in my age group. BUT, let's back up a sec. I did stop an walk for a bit - so I was surprised to see the average so fast (for me.) So I looked up the splits


For me, those are some pretty stinking good looking splits. Also, compared to last year this is the second fastest split. So I'm feeling good about this!

13/34 in my age group. 60/493 overall. I had a great race, I am happy with all components of it.

Closing Comments

This was a fun race, and while it is WAY to far away, it sure is nice to have a kids tri for four years and up, there aren't many. This is the second time I've been up there for a race and would definitely recommend it.

My cheering squad - or 5/6 of them

Hanging out after the race
I really appreciate my wife and her mom making the trip up to watch the race. There was lots of great cheering and tons of fun pictures. I also had a ton of fun watching my kids race. We've got a bunch of years of little kids before they can participate in many other races, and so it's worth it to drive a little ways to find a race that is really for the whole family.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Hitting the (mid west) Hills

Yesterday, I did some hill work on my bike.

Last May, I did a similar workout.

First - follow those links, and be amazed at my animation skills.

Today I was browsing some of my workouts and noticed that the workout from yesterday ranks as the #3 largest amount of climbing I've done in a single ride. #1 - the ride from May. #2 - Trinona Olympic distance. The Trinona elevation map doesn't animate as well, there is basically just one hill.

I know - for sure - that here in the upper mid west, we don't really have hills. I mean there are some, but it's not like it's hilly around here. Hillier, than Florida, but not really compared to a lot of places. My #1 highest amount of climbing in a single ride - 1,700 feet - over 40 miles. If that were a constant climb, 0.8% grade (or 1 inch up for every 10.5 feet forward.)

Still I'm proud of my hill work - the ride from yesterday was only 16 miles - for 2% average grade (or 1 inch up for every 4 feet forward.) It's no mountain climb, and I got rest every two minutes, but still, I went out and found the hard work and that helps.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Hitting the hills

I hit some hills last night on my bike - actually I just hit the same hill 15 times in a row.

munch munch munch
Two minutes up, two minutes down... repeat. When your legs start complaining, tell them to shut up!

Race Review: Minneapolis Tri

I've done this race three years now. It's a pretty good race, in the past my wife has not enjoyed coming to this race, but she gave me the green light to sign up again. There are several things I think about when signing up for this race. First, it's pretty expensive, close to $200 for an individual entry. It's large, nearly 2,000 people between the two races. The roads have historically been terrible, very bumpy, last year my water bottle shook out of the cage. Finally, my wife has said several times it's not spectator friendly.

Packet Pickup

I went down Friday before the race, it had rained in the morning, so they had sent out a note to not worry about coming during the rain that they would stay open later to accommodate the weather. The forecast had the weather clearing up by about mid-day. So I went down around noon over my lunch break. It was quite windy, and apparently the little expo tents were flapping all around. Also the rain had made the expo a little swampy. Overall though it was fine. I went to get my packet - here's a system I will never understand. They have the packets arranged by number, and so to get your packet you have to look up your number using your  name. Then you remember it for 12 feet, tell it to someone and then give them an ID so they can verify you have the right packet. I have no idea why I can't just go by name ... I'm sure there's some really fantastic reason that defies logic ... which is why I can't think of it.

After that I walked to the beach to see what the water level looked like, all the lakes and rivers are way up due to spring time rain, and so I was interested. It was definitely up, but it didn't look like it was going to cause any problems.

Two interesting things about packet pickup

  1. They were handing out clear plastic bags "This is the only bag you will be allowed to enter the transition area with tomorrow" I didn't ask why, I just took my bag and left.
  2. You were allowed to drop your bike off in transition - which would be fine, except there didn't seem to be limits on who could get into transition. I, for instance, while looking for the beach walked right in. I also left the transition area not through an entrance, but a gap in the fence. I assume that had I tried to leave with a bike someone would have said something, but still. I would not have left my bike or any of my stuff there. I'm sure it worked out fine though, this isn't their first rodeo.

Race Morning

My race started at 8 (ish) and transition closed at 6:45, which was also the same time the pro race started. I elected to arrive around 5:30. That meant get up at 4:30. I had laid all my stuff out the night before and hopped out of bed and got ready.

A note about the bag - too small. I put

  • Running shoes
  • Towel for wiping my feet
  • Wet suit
  • Goggles
  • Cap
  • Flip flops for pre-race walking
  • Race number for running

It did not close - when not full of racing equipment (shorts, shirt, flip-flops) it was plenty big enough

Usually I get there early enough to just drive right up the road that will be closed in a couple of hours and get to a side-street and park. This time they had already closed off the side-streets, so I had to be more creative. I ended up parking in about the same spot though. It's not totally clear to me why the roads were closed more than an hour before transition closed, but my guess would be a mis-communication.

There was no wind, the temp was mild, it was overcast, but overall it looked to be a decent day for racing.

I made my way to transition. Riding my bike with the little clear plastic handbag was an adventure. I'm thinking there is a reason transition bags are backpacks :) On the way in they were checking for plastic bags, and giving them out to people who didn't have them, but here's the kicker - you were still allowed in transition with the non-clear bags, they were just saying "make sure you don't leave this in transition." So I think the rule really was, you wouldn't be allowed to leave any bag in transition that wasn't clear. There was also a bag check - missed the memo on that one. After the race there were many people leaving with backpacks on their backs - so now I know - that the clear plastic bag thing still sucks and communication around it was really lacking.

I found my assigned spot - which I love because it means there's no worrying about if you have great transition placement strategy or if someone is going to try to squeeze their bike on an already full rack. Also I happened to end up on the end of  rack, which later would turn out to be fantastic. End of the row is always my favorite place to be.

I milled around transition for a bit, talked to the people around me, ran in to a couple of people I knew, overall things were good. I had looked around for the guy I mentioned in the pre-post, I did not see him. He's a little taller than me so he's easy to spot in a crowd.

This is the first race I've been to where you have assigned spots where they announced more than once that people were racking their bikes in the wrong spot. I mean, the rows had number ranges on both ends, the racks had numbers (though usually more than one) on them, and then, of course, you have a number. It seems pretty simple.

Transition closed at 6:45 - and the pro race started at the same time. I watch the pro-women and the pro-men start, then watched them get out of the water. They are quite fast. An interesting thing to me was that the women come out basically one at a time, and the men come out in a big group. The men basically swim single file. After that it was about 7, so I found a place to sit down and kill some time.

After the Olympic racers all get in the water there is a break to give them a chance to get out of the water before the sprint wave start. I put my wet suit on, and guess who I saw? The guy from the pre-post. We talked for a while. I mentioned I was hoping not to see him on the run, he said he felt under-trained, I immediately disregarded that is modesty/politeness. We talked till it was time to line up, and then he took his spot at the end and I walked up a little. I was probably in the last half of our group, and expected to swim past most of them. He bills himself as a slower swimmer and I think doesn't like to be swum over.

Interesting note: At this race age groups rack together, so the people near you in transition are also your direct competition. I like this format, you get to talk to people who are likely to see on the course and care about who they are. It also means that during the race you can sort of keep track of your age group position. So why didn't I see this guy near me? My number was 1219, his was four hundred something. Well, he had signed up for the Minnesota series, and as part of that you get the same number for every race. What's more interesting, is that this was very confusing during the lineup for the swim. Most people expect to see numbers close to theirs when we are all lining up.

The Swim

I saw my wife at the start of the swim - she was there with our youngest - the other three were visiting her mother for the week.

Apparently they had been "looking" for me for a while
Overall the swim felt fine, I didn't feel super strong or anything, I did pass a TON of people. At one point I passed a guy, and it's a not an exaggeration, the first part of him I saw was the back of his head, I was literally on top of, but not touching, him. I paused for a second to check out his body position, he was basically swimming like this:

Mad art skills
Pro tip - when you're swimming you want your feet at the surface of the water, and your butt, and shoulders and head, your whole body, at the surface. Practice it, you'll be about a million times more efficient. If you're having trouble, do what my sister does "engage your core."

Second Tip: Don't run over people - it's not nice. Even though I didn't see this guy until I was actually on top of him, I still didn't swim over him. I hopped over to the side and swam past.

The only other time of note on the swim is when I did some breaststroke around the second turn - I got stuck behind a lady and felt it would be faster to take a slow stroke or two and then take the inside line since she was turning right at the marker. Usually the inside is available because open water swimming is a challenge and most people aren't actually at the marker - this time that didn't work out.

I'm the guy in about waist deep water, see the other guy in a blue cap - he was in my group. For the first time in a long time I was not the first person in my division out of the water.
Reference shot - a guy in front of me running in his wet suit. Me with my wet suit almost off
Side effect of taking your wet suit off on the run, cool pictures "Whazzzup!"

The Bike

The transition setup this year was that the swim-in/run-out were in the same place, and bike-in/bike-out were in the same place. It basically looked like this
For reference, the distance from bike-in to my spot and then to run out is about .2 miles
This causes everyone to have to run the full length of transition three times. And unless you're near bike-in/out about half of the time you're running with your bike.

I got to my bike no problem, struggled a little with my wet suit, but because I had an end spot I just tossed it under the rack from the side - very handy. During this I saw and heard a woman talking to some sort of transition helper or official. She had no idea where her bike was and she said "My number is x, but I racked it at y I think" ... I don't get it.

Grabbed by bike and headed out.

I was in the seventh or so group of sprint racers to start. There were a series of relay waves, and then women under 19, and then my group. Normally what that means is that there is not anyone in front of me on the bike and I spend a lot of time alone with just the occasional speed demon passing me. Much to my surprise there were plenty of people in front of me the entire way. It is, I think, significantly easier to ride fast if there are people in front of you. So this was welcome.

Overall the ride was pretty uneventful, the bumps didn't seem as bad as last year, but they were still there. There was even a segment where a police officer was standing in the course suggesting that due to lots of bumpiness that it would be wise to ride in the (very narrow) bike lane. I felt like I was doing a decent job of keeping my effort level up, and not zoning out. Much to my surprise I was sweating a ton. That was surprising mainly because of the cooler temp, but also because normally sweat is not dripping off my face at 20+ mph. Then it hit me


It was humid! According to my weather source 94% humidity. This can be terrible if it's super hot, because sweat won't evaporate and help cool you. But it wasn't that hot, so I was, thankfully, not starting to heat up super fast. What it meant for me though was two things

  1. My sunglasses were foggy the entire way. I had to wipe them off with my finger more than once (from the inside) just so I could feel safe.
  2. My arms and hands were very slick with accumulated sweat. Every time I got up on the breaks to make the several 110 degree turns my hands would slip and slide around, one time I even lost grip with one of my hands.

During the ride I figured at least five guys in my age group rode by me. They were cruising, much faster than me. I came in to transition pretty confident in my 5th or 6th place, hopped off my bike - lost a shoe temporarily - and made my way into transition.

The Run

I made my way through transition without incident, I had trouble getting my shoes on because it was basically like trying to put shoes on immediately after getting out of the lake due to the amazing amount of sweat I can produce. Also, I was SUPER angry with my sunglasses, so they didn't get the privilege of doing the rest of the race with me!

I ran out of transition and sort of settled into what I figured was a good pace, and then someone patted my butt

Official race photo

That's the guy - the official race photo captures the moment he passed me, for the third time. Last year at this race it took him about 3/4 of a mile to catch me, at Maple Grove, more like a mile and a half, this time, less than a 1/4 of a mile. I yelled out "DANG-IT!" he laughed and ran on. He was cooking, he was out of sight way before the half way point which include a short out and back where you can sometimes see people ahead of you.

Other than that the run went pretty well, I tried to keep myself honest on pace and speed, and felt like I was doing pretty decent. There were times I wanted to slow down, but didn't. I did stop for a second to see if someone was alright, he had cruised by and then I found him doubled over in the middle of the route. Cramping quads - he was fine.

As is normal for me, many people came trucking by, I watched a bunch more people from my group pass me, my best guess coming into the finish was 12-15th in my group.

Another first for me, I actually witnessed someone getting a penalty on the run. She didn't have a race number on, based on her outfit I assumed she was part of a relay, which makes it a little harder to understand how that happened. A sort of funny thing though - when the guy asked her what her number was she rattled it right off, and then suggested he write it on her.

The Finish

Over the course of the run I felt like I was picking up speed, I tried to muster whatever speed I could in the last little bit so I'd look good coming into the finish, and also, who wants to be passed on the chute? I was feeling pretty good, and the finish area has a long lead in that is lined with a bunch of people so it's a good way to finish.

This is probably the only picture I have of me running where it doesn't look like I have some sort of super truncated running stride, like I just shuffle along

The Results


I had zero goals going into this - just go hard. The overall goal for the season is to have fun and be fit. I like racing, I like being in shape and I like being with my family. So sometimes workouts get skipped in favor of sleep, and sometimes they get skipped in favor of family walk.

The Swim
That's good for 2nd overall and 1st in my age group. Honestly I wasn't sure what to expect, I had a couple of junky workouts leading up to this race, but I guess for the race I was good to go.

The Bike
Garmin has this at 21.7 mph, and while I'd really love to be consistently over 22 by now and getting close to getting into the 23 mph range I really don't know how to get there. Considering where I figured I'd be, I'm happy with this.

The Run
The run felt surprisingly good, there were a few times where I really wanted to throw the towel in, but overall I'm happy with this. That split is roughly 8:40 per mile. I looked at my intermediate splits, and I was accelerating through the run (8:45, 8:42, 8:28) so that's something. I think that's good, it shows some consistency, and that I didn't hit the wall. I'm not sure if it means there was room for more effort somewhere or not. I wish these were under 8, but for now I'm going to take what I can get.

18/67 in my age group. 77/712 overall. I'm a little surprised how close I guessed on my overall place while running. Part of me was disappointed by this, but then I got to thinking. This is faster than last year, not as fast as the year before, but all things considered I did pretty well.

As we were talking before the race started, the runner-in-white and I were talking about how there seem to be faster and faster people showing up at the sprint level. He suggested that perhaps some of the people who had been doing Olympics were coming down and dishing out some pain at the sprint level. Some people say "only a sprint" but honestly it's not like just because it's a shorter race it's easy, and so my guess is that perhaps people are switching because it's just more fun. Half the time, same amount of fun!

Ice cold towel - yes please!

Closing Comments

I had a good time at this race, my wife did too. She says races are easier with only one kid that wants you to hold them or is happy in a stroller. Also I think they redesigned the race-site a little and it's a little more spectator friendly.

Even though triathlon is primarily an individual event, it's fun to see people you know at races. Especially if I can turn it into a fun game that motivates me a little.

A couple of thoughts about the non-racing portion of this race

  • Race meetings that happen during a work-day, are not great for people who have a job. I sort of wanted to attend to see what course changes might be in store due to flooding in the area, but also wanted to not get fired for taking a three hour lunch.
  • Clear plastic bags in transition - they said "for safety" and that's a better reason than most, but it sort of sucks. At least make sure the bags are slightly over-sized.
  • The post race food - I wish I knew where it came from - super tasty.

I like big races, I mean many people like small races and they are good too, but big races like this really make it fun to be in triathlons. There are people around from all over the cities and states, there's the opportunity to see pro athletes race each other instead of just get first. And it's sort of inspiring to see every size/shape/age/ability person out there having fun!

At every age the kids always want whatever drink I have in my hands

This is not a lake - flooded field. The flooding didn't have much impact on the race, a minor off road section on the run was all I noticed.
Final thought - My wife sent me this text during the race
Devon Palmer just recognized me and said "hey Amanda, how are you"
She's kind of a big deal, and good looking, so it's understandable he wants to make sure she knows he's around. He's a local pro triathlete and coach, and apparently he and my wife communicate regularly and are Facebook friends. Now, I've not met Devon, or talked to him, we participated at the same race once (in Florida no less) He's the kind of guy who writes blog posts where we pretend his dog is giving training advice, if that helps frame him in your mind any better.

In any case, it's another piece of evidence that Minnesota has a great triathlete community, and that triathletes in general, from beginners to seasoned pros are a good group of people.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Race Preview: Minneapolis Tri

I'll admit it, about 70% of the reason I signed up for this race was to try to win a set of race wheels. I figure a 1 in 2000 chance is pretty decent ;p As for the rest of my motivation - this is the first race of the year and I'm excited to race. I like this race, there's nothing quite like racing the "overwintered" intersections of Minneapolis. I assume they are like the cobblestones you'd encounter while racing The Tour. I was feeling pretty good with my fitness two weeks ago before vacation, so I'm looking forward to blowing some suckers out of the water and then trying like the dickens to hold them off during the bike, and then sacrifice a small pony in T2 in hopes of staying out front during the run :)

Race Info

The swim is a triangle in a lake - spring has been cool and rainy, and the other times I've raced this one it's been wet suit legal, so I'll be trying not to rip my wetsuit to shreds putting it on. For whatever reason this swim always feels fast, so I'm looking forward to a quick showing.

The bike is a 15 mile loop, as referenced above, it's a little bumpy, so I'm going to see if I can hold on to my water bottle for a few more minutes. I had grand plans of figuring out how to secure it better ... that didn't happen. Other than that, the course is rolly, but overall pretty flat.

The run is a loop around the lake we swam in, 3 miles - lefse flat - the goal here is to not watch every single person from my age group run by me :)


Overall - just have a good race. I honestly I have no idea what to expect performance wise. I was talking to someone recently, and figured what I need to do is convince myself that I can push harder on the bike and still run fast. I have heard it can be done, I've never really hit the wall, I think there is gas in the tank.

Closing Comments

Last year I met a guy at this race and then raced him again at Maple Grove, and in both races he ran by me. While it's not super likely I'll see him again, I would like to redeem myself.

The race starts at 7:00 - I start at start around 8. It's a big race, if you've not seen it you should come by lake Nakomis and watch me bring the pain.