Now a few days removed from race day, I have had time to reflect on the good and bad that came from racing ITU World Triathlon Chicago Olympic. Overall, a strong first Olympic distance race, but there are many takeaways as well.
I am stoked to have completed this distance and glad to have it under my belt going into the Half Ironman and Nationals. Racing a new distance always seems more nerve racking. It brings a lot of unknowns, which is scary for someone who sticks to a schedule and likes things to go as planned. This is me.
So, this is how the weekend played out…
Pre-Race Day: Saturday was the usual packet pick-up/expo day. I woke up and got in a 30 min easy shake out run. I then had to shower and get ready because we were going to the Cubs game! I thought this would work out perfectly…drive down to Wrigley, ride my bike to Buckingham Fountain, get my packet, rack my bike, then cab it back for the game that started at Noon. Welp…not so much.
Instead it was all kinds of stressful. Once we made it down to Wrigley I rode my bike (with Converse, regular clothes, and my big purse strapped across me) about 9 miles down the Lake Shore Drive path to Buckingham Fountain. By the end I was pretty sweaty, it was sunny and humid. There was a little bit of a wait to get my packet/goodie bag and I then had to take my bike to the transition area, which was a bit of a walk.
Packet Pick-up Line
Elite Girls Transition!
This is when I realized I did not have my phone…I had to have left it in the packet pick-up tent. So, I hurry back to the expo and thankfully they grabbed it and kept it safe! At this point it was past Noon, game had already started, I was still sweaty, hot, hungry, thirsty…I walked (more walking) to Michigan Ave to grab a cab, which took me to the stadium. Yes! Finally, I could sit and relax, missing 4 complete innings.
The game was fun, even though we lost, but it was definitely not the most ideal pre-race day. I felt exhausted, both body and mind.
Race Day: After an absurdly early wake up time of 3:15 AM, I gathered my gear, made some food for later, filled up my water bottles, and drank a glass of water. I left my house about 10 minutes before 4. Transition opened up at 4 and closed at 5:45, I live a little less than an hour from the city. As I was about to get on the highway, already at least 15 minutes from my house, I realized I forgot my water bottles in the freezer! Seriously, what is wrong with me! My head must have been somewhere else…nerves maybe? I absolutely needed the water bottle for my bike so I quickly made the decision to turn back and head home. Oh, it also had just started to storm and downpour.
I made it down with only 15-20 minutes to spare. I parked in the Millennium Park Garage and began walking to transition. Fortunately, it stopped raining! Things were looking up! I quickly set up my gear and rushed to the restroom, I had to go so bad. At this point I was able to relax. First wave was set to go off at 6, but my wave was scheduled for 8:35. I made my way to the Buckingham Fountain steps and posted up there. I ate some more food, peanut butter, banana ezekiel wrap and a peach then just sat/laid down and waited for time to pass.
Eventually the time came to go near the swim start, directly across from Buckingham Fountain. My parents made it just in time too! It was great having them there cheering and supporting! They have not been to a race since last year so it was a treat!
It was go time! I should mention they were waiting 10 to 20 minutes between waves in an effort to keep the bike course less crowded, since it was 4 laps. Good call!
Swim: We were able to get in the water 10 minutes before to get acclimated with the 66 degree temp and get in a quick warm-up. The water felt great.
The horn went off and it was suddenly a mad dash, everyone was sprinting. I admit I was kinda caught off guard. I said to myself, “Oh, ok I guess we are going to go all out!” We headed north first then turned around and went south, a total of 1,500 meters. I never really felt comfortable or smooth. The first portion there were so many girls I was trying to not hit anyone. I was also having trouble swimming in a straight line and sighted way too much. I believe this slowed me down tremendously. Uhh and I might have ran into a buoy…that was embarrassing. The one cool thing that came out of the swim was the view I had every time I breathed to my right heading south…the Sears Tower was clearly visible.
1,500 meters (.9 miles) 24:27 1:38/100m 32/469 OAW 5/20 AG
T1: We were immediately pulled up a steep ramp by amazing volunteers and a longer than expected run was made to the transition area. I could immediately feel the tightness in my calves from the day before. I was definitely not fresh and I was questioning how the day would turn out. Unsure I would be able to run a decent 10K later as I am usually well rested going into races so this was pretty unfortunate.
T1 was long, around .3 miles of running and a muddy run in transition.
4:23 31/469 OAW 4/20 AG
Bike: 4 lap course on Columbus and Lower Wacker. It was flat and fast and I am pretty sure it was shorter than 24.8 miles. I messed up my watch by pressing too many buttons, so I don’t have the statistics for my bike and run. The first lap through Lower Wacker was a little difficult to adjust my eyes and find where the bad parts in the road were, but once I was through one time the other three were a breeze. The course wasn’t too crowded. At times I did have to slow down because of other folks and I made the turns carefully. I became faster as time progressed, I think it just took my legs longer to get warmed up. There was also a headwind heading south on Columbus. I was thankful to be out of the sun for a lot of the ride because it was heating up!
I was able to see/hear my parents a ton thanks to the lapped course!
1:07:02 22.2 mph 152/469 OAW 5/20 AG
T2: Another long run…almost ran off with my helmet too! That was a first.
3:35 91/469 OAW 7/20 AG
Run: Ran out of transition at a steady pace, staying focused and relaxed. The course was 3 and 1/2 laps around Grant Park and Buckingham Fountain. The finish was next to the fountain. There were no mile markers because I am sure it would be confusing and only 2 aid stations. I had no idea what my pace was and I was going completely by feel. Although I had super fast guys whizzing by me, I knew I had to run my race and not focus on what other people were doing.
Temperature had started to creep up into the 80s and the sun was beating down. I know that I do not do well in the heat so I tried to keep my cool as much as possible. The goal: do not walk. I took two waters at most aid stations and dumped one on my head and drank the other and then took a gulp of Gatorade. I also took one peanut butter GU right when I started my run and then one towards the end. That was all the nutrition I took besides the water on the bike, it worked perfectly.
I was able to finish strong and sprint at the end.
54:41 8:48/mile 204/469 OAW 12/20 AG
Total: 2:34:07 106/469 OAW 5/20 AG
Overall, I am pleased with this result, I gave it my all for that day, it was my first one! I thought I did great on the run, as this leg always gives me the most trouble. The last timed 10K I ran was just over 1 hour. Many say that the run was short, but even so I crushed my time after swimming and running. I did not walk and I was able to beat the heat and not bonk or have a melt down. All of those are wins in my book!
1. Beautiful, amazing race setting.
2. Strong first shot at the Olympic distance. Now having completed one, I am more ready for my Half Ironman and Nationals.
3. I need to all out sprint at the start of the swim and find my stroke without sighting so much. I am disappointed with my swim.
4. Stay off my feet as much as possible the day before the race.
5. Nutrition was great, but I still need to plan that out for the half. I have a long ride and a brick on the schedule for tomorrow so I will work on this then.
6. Stay focused and positive, always.
On to the next!