Part of the Club! Chicago Triathlon Race Report

I’m a bad blogger.  It’s already two days after my race and I am only now getting around to posting about it!  But how do you explain something like your first triathlon!?!  For those of you who like short, sweet, and to the point, here is how the day ended…

From my Instagram.

But first, let’s backtrack a bit.  I headed up to Chicago late on Friday night and pretty much panicked the entire time from the moment that I left until the moment the tri began.  And for part of the beginning the the tri, but I’m getting to that.  The day before the race involved a lot of panic and a lot of texting my coach with idiotic questions.  I may or may not have made a significant number of people assure me that I wasn’t going to die.  Before I knew it, it was race morning and time to head over to our bikes that we had racked on Saturday to set up transition stuffs!

I can at least kind of look like an athlete!

From there, we headed down to the swim start which was about a mile away.  One of the very few downsides of this race was the 400m distance between where you get out of the water and the transition area.  It ended up being a good thing for me though since it gave me a chance to clear my head after the swim.

Last moments before gearing up and lining up at the start. At least I kind of looked the part of a triathlete?  Also, how the eff do you get these tattoos off!?!

The Swim – 750m in 25:22 (3:06/100yd)

My swim was slightly faster than my time shows because it includes the time for the 400m distance to transition, but this was my roughest part of the day.  By far.  Like I had three panic attacks within the first 100 meters of the swim.  It was terrible and terrifying and I almost quit a couple of different times.   I did remember all of the advice you guys gave though and it did help to a point.  I stopped, tread water, flipped on my back, and tried to get my breathing to normalize.  It kind of worked?  It works less when waves are trying to drown you, as well as the people around you.  Apparently pool swimming does not translate well to a treading water start with lots of people in cold water and with large waves.  (Yes, you can say duh here).  I tried to calm myself down but I just kept getting face and lung fulls of water.  About halfway through I was able to hit some kind of stride and by the end I was even able to string together a little bit of actual freestyle, but free style with face up (doggy paddle?) was where it was at for most of this swim.  It’s obvious that this is was my weakest performance of the day and that I need to practice in open water.  I also really regret not wearing a wet suit.  While I was fine temperature-wise, it would have been super helpful to have the extra buoyancy.  You live and you learn.  I signed up for an additional sprint tri between now and the 70.3 so I can get more practice and plan on spending some weekends open water swimming to practice.  I do not, under any circumstances, want a repeat of this.

T1 – 5:49

In the words of Beth, I think I made a sandwich here (no actual sandwich, but I did eat some chews).  I really took my time though to gather myself after the horrible swim and wanted to make sure that I had everything that I needed.  I know that I can make this faster.

The Bike – 24.5 K in 56:35 (16.1 mph)

I knew that I had some time to make up after such a poor swim and I planned on making it up on the bike.  It helped that we had a wonderful tailwind on the way out (out and back course).  With the wind on my side, I was cruising and feeling freaking amazing.  I finally started to have a good time and began to realize that I was actually doing a triathlon!  It was a very exciting time on the bike.  I really relaxed into the moment and passed a solid number of people.  Even with the headwind on the way back, I was really enjoying myself.  I have nothing negative to say about the bike other than I think I can push harder next time.  I reigned it in a little bit so I had something left for the run, but I had more left in the tank.  Good lesson for next time.

T2 – 5:28

I had issues with people being in my way during this transition, but I tried to be as quick as possible.  I also had to slow down a bit so I didn’t fall on my ass.  The entire field was sloped and soaking from the deluge of rain the day before.  I saw three people fall on their ass since they were running and completely wiped out.  I did not need that to be me.

The Run – 5 K in 36:59 (11:54/mile)

Guys, this is really fast for me.  I am so freaking proud and happy that I ended up with a pace with an 11 in front of it.  And even better, I know I have more speed in me.  Especially considering that they had upgraded the course to red by the time I began the run.  It was freaking hot out there.  A lot of people had a solid death march going on, but I kept an eye on my heart rate and charged ahead.  I had to stop and walk a handful of times to make sure that my heart rate didn’t go crazy, but it was worth it in the long run.  Monitoring my heart rate kept me from overheating at any given point and really helped me to have a strong finish.  You better believe though that I was pouring water over my head at every aid station.  I finished the run with a strong burst of speed and a smile on my face.  I had finished my first tri and I had exceeded almost all of my expectations!

Overall Time: 2:10:14

I have no idea who this man is, but he really wanted to be in my picture and that makes me laugh.

Final Reflections

I know that I can do better than this, but I am really proud of this race.  It was a solid effort and I didn’t give up when things got tough.  I learned a lot and I am significantly more confident in my ability to complete my 70.3 in October.  I’m also really interested to see how I can do when it isn’t triple digits hot.  Plus, I had more fun than I have had in any other race in recent memory!

And I can’t forget to thank all of you guys!  All of the advice leading up to this and all of the positive words and encouragement leading up to the race really means the world to me.  I love being able to tell people about the running, cycling, and tri communities because it’s so easy to brag.  So truly, from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU!

Everyone shows off their guns at post race brunches, right?

Mimosas are how everyone celebrates, right?

I would really like to note that this is a top notch race.  The race organization was second to none and I think that they responded to the heat index incredibly well (doubled the staffing at aid stations and increased the amount of water and Gatorade).  I would highly recommend the Chicago Triathlon to anyone looking for a good beginner race or just a solid race in general.

Happy Tuesday!


Part of the Club! Chicago Triathlon Race Report — 32 Comments

  1. Congratulations on joining the triathlon club! Way to stick it out and push through in spite of the swim struggles. Now you know what to expect for the next one.

  2. How Awesome!! The fact that you did NOT give up during the swim speaks volumes. Who cares about your transition times, those will change w/practice. Ahhhh, the joy of riding a bike. Its it amazing how riding along will change your perspective???? And you pulled off a sub 40min 5k at the end of the day, FANTASTIC!!! 3 Cheers!!! I so look forward to watching your progress over the next few months. You WILL have just as much fun then as well because its all in the positive attitude that you have started out with. Big Hugs

  3. Congrats! This is a great race report – glad that it was such a fantastic experience (except for the swim – but way to keep going and not giving up! Open water swimming does get easier with experience). Can’t wait to hear about your progress!

    Man, you ran a 5K almost as fast as my fastest 5K and I didn’t swim or bike before it. Rock it, lady!
    I love that you are excited to do better. Go you!

  5. Congrats on your first tri!!! It seems like for so many people, their first is about surviving the swim, and it’s awesome you did just that! I didn’t realize you had no OWS before this! I hope you do get more chances before 70.3 (and like you said, at the other sprint tri!). 🙂

    It must have been so fun on the bike! And you kicked butt on the run! Good call and not going to fast in T2 so you wouldn’t slip. LOL, says one klutzy friend to another 😉

  6. Congrats! I am so excited for you just reading this! I still can’t believe you signed up for a 70.3 without every doing a tri! I didn’t venture into the 70.3 until like 2 years of sprints!! You are a rockstar in my book.

    I would definitely, definitely practice swimming in a wetsuit. It can feel really restrictive and suffocating. I had a friend pulled out of the water strictly because of the wetsuit…she just felt like she couldn’t breathe. I’m glad you pushed through and made it through the open water swim…they can be pretty brutal.

  7. OMG, so exciting!! Congratulations on a really, really amazing race! I’m so proud of you for fighting through the open water panic. It’s so freaking scary out there. And to finish with such a strong run? You are a ROCK STAR!!

  8. Not sure how I missed this post but Congrats! The swim panic is normal for sure. Way to gather yourself and plow on. Glad you had fun, gained confidence and had a great run in tough conditions.

  9. Oh my god I can’t believe I didn’t notice that you were doing the Chicago Tri! My Brother and Sister-in-law were doing that! They were actually getting married THAT SUNDAY too! I’m so glad you had a great race! And yes, it is mandatory to show your guns at a post race Brunch ^_~

    • It’s a Nike dry fit top. I got it a couple of years ago and I swam, biked, and ran in it. It isn’t a tri specific top, but it worked really well. I didn’t have the $70 to spend on a trip top!

  10. Congrats!! I joined the club around the same time you did. My swim mirrors yours almost exactly, except I hung on to and chatted up one of the life guards for a while. 🙂 Like you, I pool trained, overshooting the distance thinking it would account for an ocean swim. Wrong! It was a super choppy surf with a fast moving current (fortunately in our direction!!). How fast, you wonder? I finished a 1/2 mile swim in 14.5 minutes… I nearly drowned at least 3x and I had that nice visit with the lifeguard. Lol. Already signed up for another one in 2 weeks, our last chance before the cold water is too cold (rented wetsuits for this one). Good luck with your future endeavors! 🙂

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