race recap · triathlon

Third Time’s The Charm

What could be more fun than jumping off a boat?

Jumping off a boat into a Great Lake?

And then swimming in those cold, dark waters?

I am so in.
For the last 3 summers the cherry on top of my triathlon season has been Duluth, Minnesota’s Superior Man triathlon. Initially I had planned on racing the 70.3 this August but since I already raced the Liberty 70.3 in June and the Toughman 70.3 in July, I felt satisfied with the 41.5 distance. In fact, I was slightly giddy at the prospect.

The 41.5 is extremely fun. A bike heavy triathlon alongside Lake Superior with a very spectator friendly run course.

 

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So much pure joy! (photo credit: Jesse)
Swim
My family and I stayed at a hotel right in Canal Park which makes everything about bringing your husband and 3 young children to a race so much easier. Plus, sleeping in one room as a family and having my children wish me well and tell me how much they love me as I fell asleep the night before a race is a pretty great gift.

In the morning, I slunk out of our room before they could be woken up and went down to the hotel breakfast room. After a quick plain english muffin and coffee I walked the 5 minutes over to the DECC to the race transition. Athletes are required to rack bikes the night before at check in so race morning was easy. I fussed with my gear, said hi to Sarah & Erin & Nick, went to the bathroom (not a port-a-potty!) 8 times, went through body marking, took a little run to work out the caffeine and then walked outside to watch the 1st wave of 70.3 racers.

A short time later we were ushered onto the Vista Fleet and away we went. I LOVE the start of this race. I just cannot get over how much fun it is to jump off a boat and into Lake Superior to start a triathlon. In this go around, my goal was to stay on course and just swim as steadily as possible. Every time I took a breath on my right side I could see the Duluth Lift Bridge and a U.S. Coast Guard boat – not your average swim sight!

The swim course on the 41.5 is only 800 yards so before I could really get into a groove we were at the ramp and then hoisted out of the water. I am happy to say that I PR’d the swim and actually stayed to the course!

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Hmm, is that bike a wee bit too big or is it just the boat? (photo credit: Nick Weiler)
Bike
In 2014, I crashed on some slick cobblestones at the beginning of a turn and ended up with a concussion. That resulted in me racing pretty conservatively in 2015 on this course. So this year I really wanted to just relax and bike the 35 mile course hard. And that is basically what happened – except for the fact that my handle bar stem had become loose somehow and was now tilted very far forward! As soon as I realized that it was so jacked I decided to get past the railroad crossing (mile 9?) and fix it. It is this type of situation that I fear the most on a triathlon course. But actually, it made my day so much more fun. I know that sounds weird but all the athletes that I’d just hung out with on the Vista Fleet ship now went zooming past me, asking if I needed help and wishing me well. I knew how to fix my bike and I had the tools to do it so receiving all this generous encouragement just lifted my spirits.

Once the bike was fixed I hopped back on and made it my goal to pass the 7 people who passed me so that I could feel like the pit stop had cost me nothing. I love a solitary bike ride (or run for that matter) so this course is fun for me. It isn’t very technical, nor is it totally flat. But it is simple and that allowed me to just pedal and smile. I even managed a PR.

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I can’t imagine how many unflattering run shots I have taken in order to have just this one. Thank you Nick Weiler.

Run
Everything about this 5.5 mile run was great! In countless triathlons I have never felt this good on a run. I mean it was dreamy. And I got to high five my boys at about the 1 mile mark. My legs felt good. It wasn’t hot. It wasn’t sunny. I didn’t feel like puking. And I was hitting my pace goal! The only criticism I could offer myself was that instead of making friends with the guy running next to me on the 4th mile and dropping my pace to meet his, I probably should have stayed focused on me. But in my defense he seemed to need a little distraction and he was on the 70.3 run so I felt empathy for him. That can’t be wrong, right?

In the last half mile the eventual 2nd place woman in my AG passed me going at a speed that I just could not match. She had gotten a flat on the bike and I was just so happy for her that she had fixed it and was running so strong!

I finished depleted and happy and my boys ran alongside me to the finish line. Another awesome Superior Man tri.

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A pivotal picture. (photo credit: Nick Weiler, race stalked extraordinaire)

Lessons learned

My bike was too big for me! I knew this but had worked at forgetting it because the cost behind getting a new bike intimidated me. When I saw the above photo I realized it was time. The Felt I was riding is a 54 cm bike. I just bought a 50cm Felt. BIG change. BIG BIG BIG change.

What’s next

I bought the new Felt because I’m going to train and race Ironman Wisconsin 2017! Stay tuned…

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