This past weekend I competed in the "windy city" at the 26th Annual Chicago Triathlon. It was my second attempt at the race and it was a much better experience the second time around!
I arrived in Chicago on Thursday morning because I had a number of appearances to get done before Sunday's race start. The appearances started at a dinner with a group of "newbie" triathletes in Chicago. It is always nice to get to meet and talk to new triathletes and I really enjoyed sharing some of my experiences and secrets with them. Apparently, many of them heeded my advice and left their watches at home on race day!
Friday was a very busy day for me. I had to get some training in and then make a short appearance at the Garmin booth at the expo before heading to Fleet Feet Chicago for the "Evening with the Pros" discussion. I had done the talk two years ago, and was happy to return to the shop (which I love) to try to help some of the local athletes. They had some great questions for all of us and by the end of the panel I was quite hungry and quite tired!! Then, it was dinner time at a local pizza joint in "Old Town" Chicago.
Then came Saturday, pre-race prep day! I spent the morning knocking out my swim, bike and run before I headed to the Garmin Store on Michigan Avenue for my first official autograph signing!! I was nervous that no one would show up, but was pleasantly surprised when a number of people stopped in to say hello and to get a signed "hero card" from me. And, most of them even knew who I was! The best story was the grandfather who knew nothing of triathlon but came to get an autograph for his grandson who is a 17 year old triathlete and apparently a fan. I think after the signing I may have gained a new fan for the sport!
Race day, Sunday!
I got up and did my usual morning wake-up prep. Then headed off to the race site just before 10am. It was a bit chilly but perfect racing weather. I had an okay start to my swim but started to feel ill after the first turn buoy. The waves were tossing me back and forth and I actually felt like I was on a boat dealing with sea sickness. I got out of the swim in 6th place and ran hard to transition. It is a LONG run (for those of you who have never done Chicago) and by the time I got there my wetsuit was suffocating my legs and I couldn't wait to get it off. I charged hard out of transition onto the bike and into the headwind. I rode well, but probably not as hard as I could have, simply because I have not done a non-drafting event in over a year.
Coming into transition I was in 5th place, which was a bit of a shock since I thought I was still in 6th. One of the leading women had been involved in an unfortunate encounter with an age grouper and was forced to retire from the event. I pushed hard and tried to settle into a quick rhythm. I wanted to have a fast run on the day. All was great until I hit about 8k and got a side stitch. I did the best I could to keep it from forcing me to run but had to slow down a lot to do so.
Running around the aquarium on the way to the finish in Chicago. Photo courtesy of Competitive Image.
In the end, I finished a very solid 5th, which is about where I thought I would end up on the day. It was another good race and a good way to end the 5 races in 6 weeks! I really enjoyed the event and absolutely loved being back in Chicago again. Let's hope we win the bid for the 2016 Olympics!!