And what was I doing on the hottest day of the year? Why, running my first olympic triathlon... that's what!
You can check out an article from the Tribune here that details some of our struggle. The only issue I have with the article is the sub-headline: "90-degree heat plays big role, but thankfully water plentiful".
HA! Not from my experience! Read on as I chronicle my first olympic race and the worst run of my triathlete career...
The gorgeous view from our hotel room downtown Chicago...
The "World's Largest Triathlon" makes for a massive multisport expo. We went browsing, shopping, went to an hour-long race talk, and even heard some Olympic triathletes discuss their training and answer questions. I was all marked up and ready to race!
Despite my wave not going off until 9:12 am, I had to have my stuff in transition by 5:45 am, so we were up really early...
I tried to smile, but this photo shows just how tired I was...
We arrived at transition around 5:15 am, and it was already packed. This photo was taken way later in the day, but here is a small representation...
When I went to rack my bike, there was absolutely no room. I found a little bit of space, and right as I went to rack my bike in, a girl across from me threw down her towel right where my bike was going to go.
Me: "Umm... I was going to put my bike there."
Girl: "Oh, well, sorry." (She continues to lay down her things)
Me: (Looking around at the full racks) "Yeah, well there really isn't any other place to put it."
Girl: (Sighs heavily and moves her towel over 2 inches)
Gee... thanks. I ended up with about 6 inches of room for all my stuff. I can't even imagine where I would have put my bike had I showed up 5 minutes later.
We headed down to the water to watch the sunrise and the first waves head out.
My Dad completed the Sprint-length triathlon. His wave went off over 2 hours before mine, so as he was headed toward the finish line, I was getting ready to begin my race.
I always get really nervous and feel a little nauseated before races. I think this photo says it all...
My wave was next...
And we're off...
I tried to stay at the back of the pack to begin with because I was panicking a little (not unusual for me). But after the turnaround, I was feeling stronger...
1 mile later, and the swim was over...
Except there was a quarter mile run between the swim finish and transition. Ouch. And for some reason, they counted it as part of the swim instead of T1. Bleh. Way to mess up my swim average.
As I was running to T1, Ryan said I did really good on the swim, but I didn't feel like it. I felt slow, and it took me almost 1/4 of the course to get comfortable and actually start swimming normal.
The bike went really well. That is... except for when I lost my water bottle. I lost it only 2 minutes into the bike. I'm a total spaz and just dropped it while I was trying to put it back into the cage. I cursed up a storm as I saw it fly onto Lake Shore Drive, never to be seen again. I'm just super thankful I had the foresight to install a second water bottle on my bike only days earlier. Phew!
I was flying during the first half of the bike. Everytime I looked down, I was going 18, 19, 20+ miles per hour. Awesome!
I had a minor bonk during the second half of the bike. My average mph dropped significantly, and even minor hills seemed to slow me to a crawl.
The thing I would change about the bike was how crowded it was. There was such an enormous range of biking abilities that there were sometimes 5 bikes across, all passing at the same times.
Along with that, they said we had to pass on the right! I'm not sure everyone knew about that... so there were people passing every which way and weaving in and out of bikes. Gurrr.
A while later, I was off the bike, super thirsty (stupid lost water bottle), and onto my run...
When I saw Ryan and my mom, I practically begged for water...
Ryan ran by my side for a minute or two while I gulped down water. He told me all I needed to do was average 15-minute miles. Normally, I would laugh at such a slow pace, but I just wasn't feeling it for this race. The thought of having to keep 15-minute miles made me start to tear up. I opened my mouth to say "I don't think I can do this", but decided that saying it might make it come true, so I just kept running.
That's were it all went downhill. In short, it was probably the worst run of my life.
- It was HOT. It was after noon at this point, and the temperature had gone above 90 degrees with not a cloud in the sky.
- I walked. That's right... I walked for the first time during any race I've ever done. Ouch.
- They ran out of cups. They didn't run out of water... just cups. But how do you get water to people without cups? They were pouring it directly into people's mouths as they ran by.
- I ran with a jug. After I realized the cups would be a no-show, I grabbed a jug of water at mile 2. I ran with the jug for the next 4 miles, refilling it at each water station, and pouring bits of water over my head every few minutes during the scorching run.
6.2 painful miles later, I was finally going to finish this race. I threw out my jug and headed for the shoot...
Swim 39:29 (3233/3859)
T1 7:10 - adjusted to include the 1/4 mile run
Bike 1:28:10 (2944/3859)
Run 1:36:39 (3662/3859)
268/323 AG (25-29)
Overall, I felt a little disapointed after the race was over. I thought it was going well, but the run completely ruined it. I didn't make my A or B goal times. But now that I've given it some time, realized just how hot it was out there, and read race reports of other triathletes who struggled just as much as I did, I feel a lot better. It was a good effort for my first Oly.
The best part of the race is that I PRed my bike with a 17.2 mph average (yes... I PRed even thought it was twice the distance I normally do!).
I'm sure there were a million other things I was going to include in this race report, but I that's all I can think of right now. I'm at home enjoying my first day off work all year, which I scheduled months ago. Ahhhhh....
I'll leave you with my favorite post-race activity...