Monthly Archives: September 2010

Wanna be a part of Team Trakkers in 2011? #fb

Want to be a part of something incredible?

In 2010, I was lucky enough to be a member of Team Trakkers. At first, I was hesitant to apply. To be honest, I felt like a faker. I had only raced three triathlons in my life! I was a newbie, an amateur. I mean, what does a rookie triathlete like me think she’s doing? Why would they want someone like me?! I thought it was just a bunch of crazy awesome triathletes in-it-to-win-it. I mean, I talked with some of the members of the Trakkers team; they were legit! But I noticed something; they were all real people. They had families, jobs, lives outside of the sport. And they weren’t always on the podium; but that wasn’t the point. They were moms, dads, daughters, and sons; they wanted to be good role models for their kids and make their parents proud. They were always sportsmanlike, always encouraging others to make healthy decisions, both for the mind and the body. They were a part of a sport that added something more to their life, but it didn’t make their life.  It added character and discipline, but they would have had that anyway. In truth, they were all-around badasses.

I applied last year with an itch to be a part of something bigger. Words cannot describe how Team Trakkers has helped me grow. Being a part of Team Trakkers has been one of the highlights of my triathlon career. I’ve made incredible friends, explored new places, and have learned so much about myself as an athlete. I pushed past the limits of what I thought I could do, and have taken my athleticism to a new height. No matter how far I traveled for a race this season, I always had a family on the other side.  I’ve been able to share these experiences with my family and my friends.  I’m growing up, and Trakkers has been lent a huge hand in helping me develop and mature.

So now, I offer this same experience to you. You, too, can be a part of this amazing crew!

The application window for Team Trakkers 2011 is now open. Click here to apply. If you have any questions about the team, don’t hesitate to contact me!

Click on the icon to apply

Photo credit: Eric Willis

Advertisements

Toeing the line again…

I’m doing it. I’m pulling the trigger.

It’s time for another race. I feel recovered from the FullRev at Cedar Point, and I want back in the game. Dare I say, that I had such great success on that day, I don’t want to fall off my (almost) winning streak.

So I’m getting back into the race mentality. I’ve got to plan out my nutrition, get a good night’s sleep, dial it in.

It’s not the typical race, though.  No, there will be no ribbon at the finish line. Putting in the time in training now will hopefully mean an easier, less effort day come race time. There are no bike pumps or wetsuits or aero helmets or disc wheels allowed here. If I flat, I’m on my own. My transitions need to be quick and well executed, that’s just free time. I’m not worried about what shoes to wear on the long run; I’m more concerned with how I’ll get to the home stretch. It’s no longer about the gear, it’s about what’s in my head.  I won’t be greeted by enthusiastic aid station volunteers at the 11th hour, when the pain cave  is closing in around me. But I know there’s going to be that light at the end of the tunnel…

One foot in front of the other, or in this case- one word after the next. The race is on, and my dissertation won’t write itself. I’m looking forward to this taper in particular…

Special shout-out to these fab folks for helping me get through this challenge: Baberaham (for cooking me real food among other incredibly helpful things), Mom’n’Dad (obviously), Peace Coffee (how else can I function?), Saucony and Lucy Activewear (because wearing athletic clothes to work is AOK in my book when it looks this good), Sharpie and my Trakkers gang (for not calling me crazy[to my face]), and the oh-so-convenient Halloween candy from ShopKo (nuff said).

The Post-"A"-Race Triathlete's Binge: Foodie Edition

I feel very fortunate to have completed my 2010 “A” race, the Rev3 FullRev at Cedar Point, before taking on all of the traveling craziness of interviewing for a post-doc position. Not because traveling is stressful (even though it is), but because my diet gets wrecked when I travel. Of course, my warm-up to this foodie binge was a trip to Madison, Wisconsin, where I ventured to for an interview around the time I was beginning to taper. Of course, I had to hit up Bluephies and the Silly Yak Bakery, which meant plenty of delicious gluten-free goodies that filled my comfort food quota.

Then, my trip to Cedar Point meant pre-race ice cream, and post race whatever-the-eff-I-wanted.

But now, I have no concerns about upcoming races (my next isn’t for another four weeks) or how I’ll feel for workout #2 in a few hours (because there isn’t one). One thing I am concerned about is the number of calories I take in when I don’t have anything to plan on. Does that sound good? Then I will probably eat it. And, one thing I’ve noticed since traveling for interviews this week is that whenever anyone talks about how awesome their locale is and why I should live there, it always gets directed at food.

“We have great restaurants!”

“The international food is to die for!”

“You can have practically any food you want any time you want it.”

Pretty sure this isn’t a good thing.

You see, in Houghton, there are basically three restaurants I go to on a regular basis. One is a Tex-Mex place that has fast service close to campus, but its close to campus… and I like to avoid that place when I can. The other is a pizza place that makes a mean gluten-free crust, but its expensive. And the third is the slowest service you could ever imagine with mediocre American food. Needless to say, I don’t go out that often.

But if I have variety, I gotta try it out.

For example, I had bacon, eggs, and potatoes at a diner near my hotel this morning, because that is my favorite breakfast and I have to compare it to the MUB score of awesomeness*. For lunch, I was treated to an Indian buffet (which was awesome, by the way). Buffets are always bad news bears, because as a grad student, I feel like I have to get my money’s worth; and as an athlete coming off from race week, I feel like I can still eat a dinosaur. Needless to say, I was stuffed.

But not too stuffed to turn down FroYo. St Louis is hot, and FroYo is not. Take some mango tart fro-yo and add some fresh fruit and shazam! you’ve got an awesome air conditioner.

And did someone say pizza? Pi Pizzeria in Central West End is amazing, the service is phenomenal, and they even have gluten free pizza. Guess what? It’s awesome. I ordered the Central West End pizza, not just because I was in CWE, but also because it was made with goat cheese and arugula. I love arugula. And, just when I thought I was too full, the server handed over the dessert menu, and *gasp!* there was Askinosie chocolate ice cream on the menu. And *double gasp!* its better than my homemade chocolate ice cream. Of course it was, because Askinosie is to.die.for.

Here’s hoping for some nutritious salads tomorrow?

I am eating like I just raced an Ironman yesterday, and I need to slow my role before I become a rollie-pollie. But, I also need to “absorb the culture”- so one more day of this foolish behavior shouldn’t hurt!

*I love MUB breakfast… when Andrea makes it.

Cedar Point FullRev Race Report

I was thinking about this post when I was finishing up the bike leg of the FullRev. I was thinking, around mile 95, of excuses I could make to tell you about why I got off the bike in T2 and never left with my running shoes on. I was construing various stories that left you with the feeling of “Oh, I get it” and “If that were me, I’d do the same damned thing.”

But before I tell you these stories, I should tell you the first one.

I considered not traveling to Cedar Point at all.

I got it in my head that leaving work for five days (weekend included), in the thicket of dissertation writing, and with two campus visits coming up (one in New York City, and the other in St Louis), I just couldn’t go. I needed to work on my slides for a lecture at Hospital for Special Surgery. I needed to go through Chapter One with a fine toothed comb so I could send it to my advisor for editing. I needed to write a manuscript on stuff I did this spring, finish a manuscript for stuff I’ve been working on for nearly two years, and work on the transitions between chapters 3-8 of my dissertation. It just didn’t make sense to leave right now. Not like this.

But Baberaham wondered why I would do that. My friend AJ was going down with me, and if I didn’t go, what would he do? It would be a long drive by himself, not to mention that we were planning on staying at my parents for two nights. And my Trakkers teammates would be there, my parents could watch me race not-so-far-away, and I’d get a break for my brain.

So I went. AJ and I drove down on Thursday afternoon, headed to Cedar Point on Friday, and dinked around Sandusky for less than 48 hours before our race. We did the practice swim, we road our bikes on a crappy road with a strong headwind, and we took naps. I wasn’t sure if I was ready for the race, but I was as ready as I was going to be. Nothing I could do now, just race and see.

Race morning was pretty low key. I set the alarm for 4:15, got out of bed at 4:30, had a cup of coffee and a cup of Panda Puffs and packed up the car. Our bikes were already checked in, thanks to Rev3’s awesome pre-race bike check-in (so convenient!) and I just needed to fill bottles and my nutrition pouch. My stay-with-me bottle had four scoops of Orange EFS and 4oz of Liquid Shot mixed with water, and I affixed a Nathan Sports Propeller carry between my aero bars for a Liquid Shot flask (fits perfect, by the way). I was a little slower than anticipated, mostly because I hadn’t planned on needing to be weighed pre-race (not sure why I didn’t think about that…), but I got it all set up to go and headed to the swim start. I sipped on PreRace and Nuun on the walk over.

Lake Erie looks eerily calm

Swim: I sprayed my ankles and wrists with TriSlide and slipped into my wetsuit. The water was cold, which was amazing. I expected the water temperatures to be high and wetsuits to be illegal because the summer temps had been so high. Before the race, I was getting nervous and excited. The pros were delayed 10 minutes, which only extended the nervousness a little more. I was looking forward to the swim, though, because I’ve been working on it lately. And to be honest, I’ve never felt better, more in control, than I felt on today’s swim. I was smooth and fluid, I found feet, and I felt fast. Granted, my time wasn’t fast, but I think that had a little to do with the chop (especially on the second loop). I am not sure if the in-and-out-and-back-in swim course made times slower, either, but I definitely felt faster than I did last year at IMWI, even though my time was the same. However, Madison was a clusterf* of people, and there were times where I didn’t have to actually swim and I was moving as fast as everyone else. The thinner crowd at the Rev3 race might have made things a little slower in that reason alone. Not that I’m complaining though, I’d rather not get punched in the head or stomach…

2.4 mile swim: 1:14
T1: 1:31

T1 was fast for me, since I didn’t grab my gear bag and just headed straight for my bike. I actually thought it would be faster, but I think the chip mat to T1 exit was a little of a long run.  I ripped off my suit, and it came off like butter thanks to TriSlide. I threw it in the box next to my bike, slipped on my shoes and helmet and Trakker device, and off I went. No armwarmers for me today, because even though the water was cold, the air really was not.

Bike: The bike is what I like to call the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. The first ten miles or so were rough, which I expected and didn’t really care about because we had a slight tailwind and, well, I rode it the day before. And, it was the beginning of the ride. Once I got out onto the open roads, I could go a bit faster, and averaged anywhere from 15-26mph.

The good: We cruised through the town of Edison, which was cool and somewhat Tour-de-France-esque, and popped out onto one road that was absolutely amazing. Smooth as glass and a tailwind to boot, and cruising at 26mph was easy with a 54 chainring. But, turn the corner fifteen miles later and the road turns to chipseal. Aid stations were plentiful, miles were marked every 10, which was awesome, and draft marshals were out in full effect. Traffic on the course was minimal as well! My nutrition was spot on, and not having an aero drink bottle was worthwhile. I missed a few bottles of water at the aid stations but they weren’t essential. I always had a bottle of water in one cage and a bottle to sip from that had EFS and Liquid Shot in it. The Nathan Propeller carrier was perfect, too, and the flask and EFS bottle stayed with me the whole way.

I yo-yo’d with a woman on the bike for both laps. She caught me on the rough stuff and barreled ahead of me until she was out of sight. Then, I would I blow by her thanks to my extra toothed chainring on the flat, tail-wind-assisted roads, and not see her in my wake. I have no idea how she could catch me, and she probably had no idea how I could find her again. The last time she passed me, on the chipseal of the second lap, I stopped to turn my wheel around (I got paranoid that running it the other way would propagate the small gash in my tire I got a few weeks before), and I never saw her again in the saddle.

The bad: The chipseal wasn’t so bad, in reality, but the wind was. It was demoralizing. You wanted to go 22mph, you knew you could (the road looked flat, right?), but you couldn’t. Or at least I couldn’t. I sat at 15-17mph and just grumbled my way through it. And to be honest, I don’t know what is worse: hills or headwinds. Obviously, both are awful, and having them together is a death wish, but hills are at least gaugeable. They end when you get to the top and you get a break on the way down. A headwind is just a battle the whole way, until you turn off the road or throw your bike into a cornfield. Which I considered doing.

My left leg started getting sore about twenty miles into the bike, and it stayed sore until about mile fifty. I had a hard time shaking it, and the only thing that would relieve it was adjusting my position in the saddle to stretch out my IT band. However, by doing so hurt my crotch even more.

My stomach hurt, too, and at first it was because I was so hungry when I started riding. I ate a Snickers bar about twenty minutes in and that held off the hunger pangs, but my intestines did not want to move anything through for another hour or so. I should have sat up to let things settle, but I didn’t want to sit up going into the headwinds. Eventually, it settled.

Oh, and from the time I got onto the bike to the time I got off, I had to pee.

The ugly: One sweet part of the race was the choice of doing the FullRev or the HalfRev. I liked having the halfers out there on the course, because it split things up, took my mind off what I was doing, and put more people on the course. Not that I like more people, but there were plenty of times where I was completely by myself. One example of this was not intentional though. I was passing a halfer up a hill around mile 95, so I took to the left of the lane and passed. Only, I passed him at an intersection where people were standing. I was looking for cops, but I didn’t see any, so I continued through. I heard someone yell something about bikers, but just continued on. There was a guy ahead of me before the intersection that I’d keep my sights on, but with the rolling hills I couldn’t see farther than 200yards ahead. Eventually, I could see farther out, but I couldn’t see him. Could he have got so far ahead of me in that short of time? Hmm. Kept going, until I got to an intersection with lots of cars, no police, and no signs. What? The? Heck! I took a wrong turn somewhere. No later did I say this to myself than do I see a minivan pull up behind me to yell “You gotta come back! You’re off course!” I shook my head, tears welled in my eyes, and I wanted to be done. I missed the paint markings on the road, since the halfer I was passing at the time was riding over them. And I didn’t see the turn sign because it was probably in line with the halfer as well. Or it got knocked down from of the wind. Whatever the excuse is that I come up with, I ended up adding 2.5 miles (and 8 minutes) unnecessarily to my bike. And I was soooo over being on the bike.

I wanted to ask the minivan guy if I could put my bike in his car and get a ride back to transition. I wanted to be done. I was done with chip seal, I was done with wind. And when I eventually got to Huron and had to ride through the town, I was done with that, too. A little, fuzzy, football-sized brown and black lump of fur scurried out from a bush and nearly ran between my spokes, and I was thinking that would really make me done for the day. What the eff was that? I said to myself. Out loud. I might have even yelled it. It looked like a porcupine cat. Or a porcupine Pomeranian. For whatever reason, the fuzzy unknown being stopped before running into me, and scurried back into the bush. Eff.

The bumps, the wind, the bumps, ugggh. I told myself on the way back to the park, on the eight miles of road that was bumpy, jarring, and painful in the crotchal region, that if I wasn’t having fun, I shouldn’t be doing it. And I was NOT having fun. I started making excuses to give you, my dear readers, about why I didn’t leave T2 with my chip and running shoes on. I wanted to just rack my bike and stand next to my mom and cheer for the other, more tough, more deserving athletes. The last six miles were knocking me around, the crosswinds made me want to cry some more. Eventually, I saw the turn into the park and knew there was not much left. I could not wait to be done.

I dismounted and ran into T2, handing my bike over to an amazing volunteer.

112 mile bike: 5:49
T2: 2:11

“Want me to rack it?” I asked.
“Uh, no! Go run!” He said.
And I wanted to run.

I didn’t even notice it. It was almost as if the last twenty miles hadn’t happened. I ran along the black runway without even thinking. Grabbed my transition bag without even thinking. Ran into the changing tent and dumped my bag upside down.

Two women in transition asked me if I needed any help. I told them that I did.

“What shoes should I wear?” I asked. They looked at me puzzled. “Seriously. This is an important decision.”

My Saucony Guide 3s sat next to my Fastwitch 4s. The green of the Fastwitches looked so good with my kit. The Guides felt heavy in my hands. The women wouldn’t answer me.

“It’s up to you!” They’d say.

I put the green shoes on without thinking any more about it, and one of the women asked why I wasn’t wearing socks. “You crazy athletes, not wearing socks. I can’t believe you can run a marathon without socks.” I shrugged. I should have worn socks.

I ran out of transition quickly. My feet were turning over faster than I thought they could. I felt how I feel after riding 56 miles, not 114. I tried to slow them, but they just didn’t want to. They were having a mind of their own, those legs. I swear it had everything to do with my fast shoes. They had been racing fast all season, why would they ever stop now?

I hit mile 1 a little sooner than I expected. 8:02. No way. That seems too fast. I shouldn’t feel so good after biking so long, right? I hit mile 2 soon after. 7:25. Seriously? Slow down. The Go Fast shoes wanted to go, though.

I sipped on EFS and liquid shot from my Nathan handheld flask and moved through aid stations with ease. No stopping, no walking, just moving. I didn’t take any aid, I just moved through. I felt strong, holding steady at sub 8min/mile pace. I saw AJ’s bright kit and his wicked hair as I passed mile 5, taking a mental note of where he was on the course. I held strong, focused on my form, and ticked off the miles. I passed the point where I remembered seeing AJ and realized he was two miles ahead. The math in my brain was still working, maybe I wasn’t running hard enough. If I could run 1min/mile faster than him, I could catch him. That would be hard to do, he looked strong. But there was nothing I could do about his race, I could only focus on mine. So I did.

I came through the first loop on pace for a 3:30 marathon. That just seemed too fast, but I wasn’t worried about it. My legs would take me where they wanted to take me. I shouldn’t even be running, I should be standing by the side, cheering for others, done with my day. But my legs had other plans. They were showing me they weren’t ready to quit just yet. I held steady. Strong.

I couldn’t see any other amateur women ahead of me. I saw the pros, both Kathleen and Jacqui rocking the vibrant green Trakkers kits like me. I saw some of my Trakkers teammates and gave them high fives. I should have been in the pain cave, but I felt like giving high fives.

Around mile 14 I started drinking cola at the aid stations, mixing it half and half with water in my flask so it would go flat. My quads wanted to seize up around mile 15, and I drank a cup of Cerasport. Amazingly, that kept the cramps at bay. I kept drinking it at every aid station. Ice went down my top on purpose. Cola and water filled my flask and was emptied before the next aid station.

The liners on my shoes started to fold under my toes, and I couldn’t tell if it was just that or if my feet were cramping. My toes weren’t cramping. I started a mantra in my head. No cramping, no cramping. Stretch it out. As if I could will myself away from cramping.

The run course had a lot of turns, and it was hard to see who was in front of you more than a half mile ahead. But the amazing thing about a race this long is that you can pass (or get passed) by people you were separated with by miles off the bike. And that’s exactly what happened. I passed people I remembered on the bike. People who blew by me and must have started the run a half hour before me. An hour before me.  At mile 20, I told myself that a 60min 10K would get me under 11 hours. And then I was counting down the miles.

It started to hurt, whatever “it” was. I got tired, my legs got tired. My legs lost their pep. My feet hurt, my hips sank, my shoulders scrunched up around my ears. I felt sloppy and slow. But I kept moving. Two miles to go. One mile to go. My smile turned to a grimace and I ached to be done. And then I thought about the finish. My mom. My dad. Amy. Owie. They’re all there. They’re all watching. Owie was getting ready to run with me. I turned the corner and there he stood.

I grabbed his hand and we ran down the chute together. Sure, some dude passed me in the chute, but I didn’t care. I was running holding hands with a 3-yr-old across the finish line of my second ultra-distance triathlon. The volunteers at the finish lowered the tape, I felt everything from the day just float off my shoulders. I looked down at Owen’s smiling face and couldn’t help but feel like we just spent a day playing in the park. As I crossed the line, I didn’t have the emotional crash that I had at my first ultra distance triathlon (last year at IMoo). I didn’t feel like I just did what I actually just did. If that makes any sense. I did have tunnel vision, and I saw the volunteer inching toward me with the medal and I asked them to put it around Owen’s neck instead. They draped him with a foil blanket and he danced around. It was euphoric, watching him. It was almost an out of body experience. 26.2 mile Run: 3:39:20

Soon after, AJ crossed the line, and I convinced one of the volunteers to help me take off my shoes. My shoes were bloody, and I didn’t think I would be capable of taking them off myself. It was like a band-aid, and I encouraged the volunteer to treat it as such. Sure enough, my foot was anhiliated from a popped blister. I realized about three miles into the run that I had forgotten to spray the inside of my shoes with TriSlide. I have no idea how I forgot to do that, but I think my entire pre-race prep that included not thinking about the race influenced that incredibly poor foresight. I’ve raced all season with amazing results, and atmy “A” race I forget one of the most important things related to damage control. That was dumb!

Regardless, I cannot put into words how grateful I am to have continued through T2 with my running shoes on. To see my mom and dad, Owen and Amy, standing there, cheering, taking photos… it made all of the anxiety of the bike disappear. To feel the way I felt on the run is indescribable. My legs just wanted to go. To be honest, I don’t know what happened. I was convinced that, on the bike, I was done with the day. But my legs had other plans, and they ran me to a 2nd place overall finish for amateur women, with a time of 10:46.

I learned a lot about long course racing at Cedar Point that I didn’t learn before. My independent training really paid off, because I rode a lot of the bike without anyone else in sight. My carefree attitude going into (and throughout) the race paid off, too.  Perhaps there is something about the long course race that makes it easier for someone a little more easy-going. One bad thing can ruin your day, and in a shorter race, like an Olympic or a half, it does. But in the long, ultradistance races, you can shrug it off and continue, perhaps even pretend like it didn’t happen. There’s not always time to fix things when bad things happen, but the day is usually long enough to work through a problem, or at least stick it out.

And I am so glad that I did stick it out. Seeing the smiling faces of my favorite support crew was the best feeling this girl could have.

I love you, Mom and Dad! I love you Owie and Amy, too. Thank you for sharing this special day with me, and for helping me after the race. Your support means so much to me!

And thank you to my sponsors, especially Team Trakkers and Rev3. Being a part of this team has really opened my horizons in the sport of triathlon and has encouraged me to try new things, push new limits, and reach new heights. Being a part of Team Trakkers has brought so much to my life in the last year! Rev3 puts on the best races, awesome for athletes as well as their families. I have never had a better race experience than what I’ve had with all three Rev3 races I’ve done this season.

And as usual, my nutrition was spot on with First Endurance, Nuun, and Honey Stinger, and awesomely accessible with cool gear from Nathan Performance Sports. My feet were fast in their FastShoes, the Saucony Fastwitch 4s. My bike was a rocketship thanks to the awesome guys at The Bike Shop.

Trak me online for the FullRev at Cedar Point! #fb

Tomorrow, I’m racing the FullRev at Cedar Point. At 7:05am EST, I start swimming 2.4 miles! Then, I’m off on the beautiful roads of Erie County, Ohio, for 112 miles of biking, and then slip on my Saucony shoes for a quick 26.2 miles of running. Wanna join me?

Because (virtually), you can!

Trak me in real-time with the Trakkers device! You can trak me here: Trakkers Live. I’ll be wearing the device as soon as I’m done with the swim.

You can also follow me on the Rev3Tri site, which will have periodic updates (as I cross mats at various places along the course), and my number is 411. Word!

Distracting myself before Rev3 Cedar Point

It’s 10:31pm and I’m assessing the situation. I have my duffle bag, filled with clothes that I literally threw from across the room. I have a cloth grocery bag, filled with my race day nutrition, water bottles and race belt. I have a messenger bag, sitting in the back seat of my car from my last trip (interview in Wisconsin), just sitting there. And an iPod shuffle, battery dead, sitting in my cupholder.

My gas tank is on empty and my running shoes are somewhere in my car. I don’t know what shoes I am going to wear on race day, what chamois cream I am going to use, or what hotel I’m staying at (off the top of my head).

Life has been busy, simply put. I am not sure if its a good thing or a bad thing, because its kept my mind off the race and I haven’t even thought about writing out a race-day play-by-play. I am going into it blind, but not as blind as last year. I know what I am getting myself into, but I am excited about the prospect that I don’t have a plan.

I usually race poorly with a plan. Does that make sense? No. But if I have a plan, I usually push the limits of said plan, instead of diligently sticking to it. Want to run a 70min 10mile? Gotta run 7min miles. But last year, when I did the Canal Run (a local 10mile race), and my goal was to break 1:10, I went out at a 6:40 mile. Oops. That oops didn’t get me across the line in 70minutes.

Sure, I have goals in the back of my head that I’d love to hit. I’m sure most athletes out there on Sunday will. But truth be told, I can’t compare what I did at Ironman Wisconsin last year to what I can do this year at Rev3 Cedar Point. This season, my training has been different, the Rev3 race course is different than IMWI, and the weather in Sandusky is most likely going to be different than it was last year in Madison. I am just going to do my best to push it (just a little) in the swim, stay comfortably steady on the bike, and get it done on the run. The run is my favorite part.

But in the mean time, I am focusing on other things. I’m writing my dissertation, doing experiments in the lab, and consulting with local physicians. I’m trying to write manuscripts, I’m interviewing for post-doc positions, and I’m traveling like a maniac. Maybe these distractions will keep my mind busy and away from focusing on must-dotime restraints on Sunday. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Chicago Tri- Sherpa Steez

This past weekend was yet another whirlwind, but I was lucky enough to meet up with my Trakker teammie Michelle in Chicago. She was in from Colorado to race the Lifetime Fitness Chicago Tri, and I was en route to Madison for an interview. I filled in as her midwest tri sherpa, and was it ever a good time.

Although I quite enjoy the sunrises over Lake Superior and the quiet, rather than hustle-and-bustle, that the UP offers, I did really enjoy my time in the windy city. However, if I ever go there again, remind me not to bring my car. I got in a little later than I wanted to on Saturday night thanks to rush hour (on a Saturday, at 6pm) traffic. We headed to dinner around the block and got nestled into bed at a decent hour.

Michelle was racing elite, which meant she was one of the first waves to get going in the Olympic distance event. Fortunately, that meant she wasn’t taking off at 6am, before the sun even came up. Unfortunately, that meant she had to get to the race before the sprint tri started so that she could get her stuff set up in transition before it closed at 5:45am. She was able to get things in order, hopefully under minimal stress, although I wish I had brought along a bike pump for her. We found a good viewing spot on top of a grassy knoll and watched the sprint athletes race out on the swim and in on the run.

Eventually, it was time for her to head in herself, so I found a good spot in line with the swim exit and waited. I started to get excited. I can only imagine how Michelle felt…

After grabbing the most horrid gluten-free breakfast I could find near the race start (Fritos and Coke) I made my way back to the lakeshore to watch the tailend of the sprint group finish up.


One thing I was so in awe about at the Chicago triathlon was that there were so many athletes. At least 8,000 athletes. Not just elite athletes that can put it down in the swim-bike-run, but also pro athletes. Even though I have raced two Rev3s this year and have had my share of the pro-exposure, I am still in awe if ever I see a pro triathlete in my vicinity. But along with these crazy fast athletes came the beginner triathletes. Athletes who may have never swam more than three times before the race. Had no idea how to sight for buoys, swim front crawl, or keep their face in the water. But they were out there, givin’er, on Sunday morning. Sure, some of them got passed by the first (and second) elite waves of the Olympic, even though the elites had a significantly longer swim and started later. But they didn’t seem to care, they were out there having a good time, doing something they would have perhaps never done before if the Triathlon hadn’t come to their city.

Fordy Ford got out on her bike and I did’t get a good chance to see her until she came back in. She was rockin’ though, and she racked her bike up quickly and swapped out her shoes. Off she went, speedster out of T2.


The finish area was several blocks away from transition, and it worked out so that by the time I made it over there (crossing traffic, getting water, and going pee) the elites were already starting to come in. I guess a 10K doesn’t really take that long, so I found a spot on the grass and waited for the women to come in. I started counting blue bibs, and the lead woman came in with a huge lead. Before I knew it, I saw the Green Machine heading toward me.

After she crossed the finish, we meandered around the finish expo, which was great by the way. Eventually, we headed back to transition to get her bike, put it in my car, and head to awards. Although Michelle could get her splits after the race, she wasn’t sure where she had finished, although I was certain it was a top 20 finish and she was thinking it might have even been top ten. She ended up winning her age group and finishing 12th woman overall on the elite/AG side, with a time of 2:21:52. Not bad considering her swim was wetsuit-less (and everyone else had one on..), the bike was bumpy (but she still hammered out nearly 23mph) and the day was hot and humid.

Michelle did a good job of batting her eyes at the consierge and got a late checkout, so we made our way back there to shower and pack up, and then hit up Pizzeria Uno (the original!) on my way out of town. I did a good job of not appearing jealous of her deep dish original pizza, and gnawed on my greens.

The last few tweaks

Aside from the notion that I haven’t had time to sit down and plan out my race-day strategy for the FullRev at Rev3 Cedar Point, I’d say things are going well. I’ve been all over the midwest, and August flew by faster than me on my Plasma. Interviewing, racing, writing, dissertation-ing, powerpoint-ing, yearning-to-throw-computer-down-the-stairs-ing, and all sorts of other ing-ing going on in the Land O’ Endurance Meg. Luckily, I have kept my sanity. And I am not convinced that distractions from races like a FullRev are a bad thing when the taper lurks.

One quite glorious distraction is that my Plasma got a few upgrades. One of these included a new wheelset that I ordered individually from The Bike Shop in Houghton. I saved up, bought the front Sram S60, saved up for another month or two and then bought the rear S60. Luckily I know the owners so they didn’t think I was some neurotic, crazy, insane-o triathlete that was indecisive about what wheels to get (in reality, I could only afford one at a time).

Psychologically, the new wheelset has been a huge boost. The hubs are smooth as butter, and they wheels aren’t heavy or cumbersome. I am pretty sure that my new tires help, too. A friend, follower, and former Tech alum – who tests bike tire rolling resistance – pulled a few strings out of the kindness of his heart and a set of Bontrager Race X Lite Pro clincher tires wound up on my doorstep. These are awesome handmade (290 threads per inch) tires with a treadless, supple rubber. Since there was a dramatic change from my Shimano R500s to the SramS60s wheels, it might have been hard to notice, but the smooth, freeing, and speedy feel of the tires could hardly be ignored. I never had to look down to see if I had a flat, like I did constantly when I was riding Gatorskins. And the Race X Lite Pro tires connect to the road in a way I’ve never experienced before with any other tire. They feel responsive, but also a little like ice-on-ice.

So the Bonty RaceXLite clinchers are the third fastest clinchers out there, which makes me feel a little gear-whorish, only because “it’s not about the bike.” But, when the difference between RaceXLite Pros (MSRP $64.99) and the Bontrager Sports (basic tire, $12.99) are the price and nearly 10 watts per wheel, well… I’ll take it.

Go figure, with the recent rain/traffic/weather, there is an influx of gravel on the roads up here, and I’ve already successfully got a small gash on one of my brand new tires. Luckily, it doesn’t appear to be spreading… But I am keeping an eye on it. Plus, the tires at least appear to be non-directional, and since my front wheel was on backwards (my roommate is a roadie/bike mechanic), I just flipped the wheel and now the gash will likely stay put for sure.

Tweaking is pretty much done, and I only have two more key workouts before the big dance. I am excited to race the FullRev at Rev3, and the more I think about it, the more excited I am. There’s less pressure, since I’ve already experienced the distance a year ago. But then again, there’s more expectation, because since I now know what to expect, I can at least ponder ways of how to improve. I’ve worked on my swimming more. I have focused more on intensity on the bike. My run is stronger than last year. I am excited to see what will happen, how the day will unfold.

And I am risking things more this year than last (eg. by running faster but less puncture-resistance tires, by having a more aggressive position on the bike, and by not racing with an aero drink bottle- I’ll be using regular caged bottles instead). I’ve raced more this season, I’ve traveled more to both race and spectate, I’ve been reminded of the joys of the word Team, and I’ve been more involved in the sport than I ever thought I would be. Each day, I have come to love the swim-bike-run more and more. Am I a triathlete? You betcha.