Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Chicago Triathlon 03:06:31

Overall Time 03:06:31
Overall Place 2414/4243
Gender Place 1942/2951
Age Group Place 392/557

So here it is...my season's A priority race. This is what all that hard work has been for.

The Chicago Triathlon is the world's largest race. There were over 9,000 athletes in attendance, with over 4800 registered for the Oly. It was also part of the lifetime fitness triathlon series, and brought pro's from around the country. Matt Reed and Sarah Haskins were the first place pros. Unfortunately, Andy Potts crashed into an age grouper and had to be taken the the ER with severe road rash and possibly additional injuries.

Enough about the pros for now...here is what the race was like for me:

Packet Pickup

Packet Pickup was on Saturday, the day before the race. It took place at a huge expo that was PACKED with people. The various stages of packet pickup were scattered throughout the expo, which made it a bit of a quest. Go here, get number, go there get chip, go to the next place to activate chip, and so on... They could take a few lessons in organization from the Tri-Shark Classic!

Here I am being interviewed by "The Age Grouper" which is apparently a Pod Cast I intend to check out.

The interview was apparently a stump the triathlete game of some type. I'm sure I sounded like a tool, but luckily I could answer the "how far is an olympic triathlon" question. :) He also asked me if I pee in my wetsuit. Silly question...how else are you supposed to stay warm!

Here I am being body marked


On race morning coach/crew Lana and I were up at 4:00am. Transition opened at 4:15 and closed at 5:45. I got there about 4:30 and it was already packed. I got my stuff set up and walked about a mile to the swim start to wait. My wave started at 7:48, so I spent the next few hours trying to stay warm (It was in the low 50s that morning) and watch the sun rise. I had a Cliff Bar for breakfast at about 6, then I applied my sun block and body glide around 7 and climbed into my wetsuit.

The crowd was HUGE!

Here I am lined up to start the race. My age group (30-34m) was about 3 waves big, with each wave containing about 150 athletes. There were a few first timers, but for the most part this wasn't my group's first rodeo.

Time 00:35:46
Distance 1500m
Swim Rank 2370

Right before we dove in the lifeguards brought an elite back with a broken nose...talk about a psych out.

The announcer told us to get in and we had to tread water in the start. There was alot of swimming over, under, and on top of each other after the gun went off, but it thinned out very quickly.

The water was crazy cold! It was 63.2 degrees according to the USAT officials.

I'm in the middle of the pack in this picture. How Lana figured out which rubber clad purple hatted dude I was is beyond me, but she did...

Time 00:04:37

The Swim ended with a 450m run from the water to the timing mats. As I exited the water I fell and banged up my foot. That seems to be a theme with me. I need to be more careful getting out of the water, I do that all the time!

Midway through the run into T1 I stopped in some grass to pull off my wetsuit. Thats when catastrophe struck. I noticed my timing chip was gone. The plastic chip strap broke. I was ready to panic. I checked the leg of my wetsuit and was somewhat relieved to find my chip there. Thats good. I asked a volunteer what to do. She told me to just drag the chip over each mat. Thats bad. Oh well, this is triathlon... Bad things happen sometimes, so you just have to HTFU and roll with it.

Time 01:20:20
Distance 40Km
Speed 18.9 Mph
Bike Rank 1870

The bike course was crowded. There were fasties, plenty of sub 15mph first timers, and even some people riding beach cruisers with baskets. Unfortunately those slow athletes on the crowded course made some of the turns rather treacherous, as Andy Potts would unfortunately find out later on.

The course was essentially a two lap out and back up Lake Shore Drive from Randolph to the far north part of the City (around Lawrence Ave).

There was a 15mph head wind on the north bound parts of the course that impeded progress a bit.

Here I am rolling down LSD. Heading South was awesome! The (now) tailwind made the course completely surreal as I flew down LSD at about 24mph and approached the loops sky scrapers. Wow...that was cool!

Turning on LSD to go down the Wacker exit towards transition.

I drank about 300 calories in the course but felt like I needed a little bit more so I used one of my emergency gels as well. I'm glad Lana suggested I carry a few extra...

Time 00:04:16

My second transition went well. I still had to drag my chip across the mat but at least I knew it was coming. Some knucklehead put his bike in my spot, which was annoying, but again...it's triathlon.

Time 01:01:29
Distance 10Km
Pace 9:55/mi
Run Rank 2982

The run was awesome! The crowd was so huge and so supportive. I was getting high fives as I ran by, and lots of "alright, go Tri-Shark!" That was very cool. It was so awesome to see all the supportive families cheering their athletes on as well.

Here I am running out of transition on to the run course (sorry for the butt shot).

The run course crowd was massive! I had a small gatoraid at an aid station about 2 miles out, putting me at about 450 calories in at (I was guessing) 2 hours.

At about 4 miles out there was a huge aid station where I took on some water and a gu. As I ran through "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey was playing on the PA and I couldn't help but smile as I realized that this race was in the bag and I tried to remember to enjoy it. Unfortunately that gu was probably a little too much, putting me at 550 calories in 2.8ish hours. It was probably more than I could digest because I had a bit of a sour stomach at this point.

I didn't pay much attention to that though, the crowd picked up again and everyone was cheering and encouraging us. I heard someone shout "alright Tri-Shark, finish strong" as I rounded Balbo to Columbus and saw the finish line. I heard the announcer shout out "and here is Mike BerNEEHCOH" as I drug my timing chip across the mat one last time.

At the end of the event I was completely fine, but I knew I was going to be sore the next day. I was very happy to be done, and happier still to quickly find Lana and start celebrating the completion of my first olympic distance triathlon.

Thanks to the Tri-Sharks, the people at Beginner Triathlete, and the Triathlon community at large for all the help, this was an amazing accomplishment for a previously 380 pound computer nerd and I couldn't have done it without you.

Most importantly though, thank you Lana. You made sure I ate enough on hard training days, you never got upset when I needed a nap or had to take a few hours for a bike ride on one of our weekends, and you took care of me when I needed it. I couldn't have done this without your love and support lambda!

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