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.

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