Category: triathlon

Naperville Tri Race Recap

I have never been more excited to get out of bed at 4:15 in the morning than I was yesterday. My second and last triathlon would be starting at 7 a.m. and after waiting almost two months after my first, I couldn’t wait to “tri” again.

I double checked that I had packed everything I needed for the transitions and then ate some pre-race fuel.

Brown rice bread with almond and cashew butter, strawberries, and chia seeds.

I also had 1 scoop of brown & pea protein powder with water.

Ian and I packed up the car with my transition bag, a bag of clean clothes for after the race, and my bike. Within an hour we had parked and were walking toward the race start. I had just enough time to set up my transition area, rack my bike, go to the bathroom, and then hang out with Ian for a few final minutes. Before I knew it I was heading toward the swim.

The swim portion was described as starting at Centennial Beach so I assumed I would be swimming in a lake. Wrong. The swim was in a man made pool/lake and we would be swimming in chlorinated water in specified swim lanes in groups of 4 by time. In the pool it takes me about 5-5.5 minutes to swim 400 meters so I lined up right around the 6 minute sign to be conservative.

When my group of four was called to go, I ran into the water and then when the water was deep enough I started to swim. I realized pretty quickly that the swim was not going to be ideal. The sun was in my eyes and the water was murky so I couldn’t see above the water or below it. I had no idea where I was going and spotting (swimming breast stroke) wasn’t working. I ended up looking for swim caps when I breathed and trying to follow them. I also swam a lot of breast stroke just to get my bearings right, it was kind of scary and uncomfortable swimming without knowing where you were going.

I finished the first out-and-back of the course and then the pool became really shallow. I looked ahead and saw that people were actually running around the half-way buoy so I did the same. Did I mention this was a weird course? One more out-and-back and I was done. I swam until I could feel the ground with one of my hands and then ran out of the water while ripping my swim cap and goggles off.

400 m swim- 8:27 190/1631 total competitors*
*This is a horrendous time BUT the winner swam it in 6:08 and the fastest swim time was 5:37, obviously the course was challenging, 400 m should be much more of a sprint.

The transition areas were incredibly long. I ran up the beach and onto a paved road where I ran another 200 yards until I reached the transition road. The tri was also huge and there were 3,000+ people participating in one way or another (relays, etc.) so there were a lot of bikes. I ran across a parking lot to my bike, put my shirt and race number on, threw on my helmet and sunglasses (they’d been moved?), my Garmin, and finally my socks and shoes. I grabbed my bike and headed out of the transition area.

T1- 2:43 min <– considering how long it took me to get to my stuff, I’m happy with this!

I mounted my bike at the orange line and pedaled away. My feet slid right into the shoe guards (as opposed to last time) and I felt much more comfortable on my bike. The course was a 22k two loop course in Naperville and a lot of roads were shut down so that we had entire lanes to bike in. This was a huge plus considering how many bikers there were. I can’t imagine everything trying to ride single file, it would have been a mess!

Unfortunately, something weird was going on with my bike and it was squeaking. I figured out later that the back brake had shifted and my tire was rubbing against the brake pad but during the race I could not figure out what was going on. I thought about stopping but didn’t want to have to pull over to the side. I felt some resistance on my tire but I’m not sure how much it held me back physically, it definitely affected me mentally though. At one point I was nervous I was going to lose a tire or something was wrong with my gears. I ended up biking on the conservative side as a result.

The ride was pretty and I hardly noticed that we rode through the same area twice. It was a bit windy though and I did a lot of riding into the wind. I also appreciated how the course was well-marked and that there were spectators everywhere. After I had completed my second lap, I was directed into the transition area. I rode for another .5 miles, saw Ian and screamed to say hi, and then reached the bike dismount area. I hopped off my bike and started running (or trying to run) toward my transition area.

22k bike- 45:47, 17.9 mph, 859/1631 <– I need to work on bike, are there any suggestions?

My second transition was a little quicker but only because I had less stuff to put on/take off. I still had quite a long run from one end of the transition area to the other. I racked my bike, took off my helmet and sunglasses, and then headed out running.

T2- 1:27

The 5k started out on a shaded jogging path which I loved. No more highway runs for me! We ran along the path for the first half of a mile and then headed out onto another shaded street. My goal for the 5k was to run a consistent pace. My last few races I’ve gone out too fast and then died at the end, things were looking bad for marathon training! I had no time goal in mind but just wanted to finish strong, my first mile was somewhere shy of 7:00 minutes.

We took a turn and saw the second hill of the run course, it didn’t look too bad except it was in the sun. I told myself not to push my pace up the hills and that I could make up any “hill time” later on and just ran by feel until I reached the top. This hill killed a lot of people and I saw many triathletes start to walk. I did my best to encourage them to keep running. For whatever reason my legs felt good and I just kept running along.

Around mile 3 we turned back toward the jogging path (shade!) and it became clear we were going to run on the path until we reached the finish line. I loved this part of the race! The path was lined with spectators who were cheering the runners on and it actually felt cool after being in the sun. I recognized that my legs felt okay and I wasn’t going to fade and allowed myself to pick up the pace a bit. I saw Ian and gave him a high five before making the final turn and finishing the race!

5k run- 21:04, 6:48 min/mile, 105/1631 overall

With the race over, I downed two bottles of water, a banana, and some grapes (I was so happy they had fresh fruit!). I found Ian and we relaxed until the preliminary results were posted.

I finished in 1:19:28, 8/61 in my age/sex group, 302/1631 overall

I’m pretty happy with my time considering the bike fiasco and the swim course but I’m eager to see what I can do next summer. I’m hoping to join a swim club and push myself harder on the bike. I’d also see some long distance tri’s in my future but we’ll discuss that another time :P.

Overall, I really enjoyed the Naperville tri. I think it would be a great course for beginners too considering the swim is in a pool and you don’t have to worry about open water swimming.

Fortunately, the Naperville tri volunteers were letting people into the transition area to get their bikes while the race was still going on (otherwise we could have sat there until 11). I packed up my stuff, grabbed my bike, and Ian and I headed out to enjoy Naperville. We were planning on meeting some friends for lunch so we killed time by wandering around the historic downtown and sitting in Starbucks.

I also snacked on this spiced paleo pumpkin muffin that I had baked the night before.

After hanging around for a few hours, plans fell through (it wasn’t anyone’s fault in particular), and Ian and I decided to drive to the nearest sushi place and grab some lunch. We were hungry!

We ended up enjoying quite the feast at Wild Tuna. There was salad, three rolls, and nigiri. What can I say? We were hungry!

How was your weekend? Did you do anything fun?




Foggy Brick Workout

Saturday mornings are reserved for my brick workouts. Bricks are so different from my weekly route that I really look forward to them. I also love how much farther you can go on a bike than by foot in the same amount of time.

I slept in a little bit this morning and then headed out on my bike. I did my favorite 17 mile loop where I head straight to the lake path, cycle south until I reach Hyde Park, cycle back north going a little past my apartment, and then loop through the city. Fellow Chicagoans please do not be afraid to head south on Lake Shore. You are truly missing out. The path is not nearly as crowded as it is up north and the views coming back into the city are spectacular. There are also quite a few hills, a rarity in Chicagoland but valuable for training. Sounds good right? Try it :).

I always turn around at the point near Hyde Park and the views from the tip of the point are amazing. I brought my iPhone with me today so I could snap a picture but unfortunately it was too foggy to see the city.

Bummer. Maybe next Saturday.

I did get to see the end of the sun rise from the point though. I love being close to the water!

As I was biking back into the city I finally started to come across groups of runners. CARA must have started later this morning? Dealing with runners definitely slows me down but I kind of enjoy weaving around people on my bike. It’s helping me improve my steering and general contorl. Plus it keeps me on my toes :P.

After finishing my ride, I secured my bike in our storage unit and headed out for a 3 mile run. My usual goal with brick workouts is to do my run portion pretty fast. However, as I raced a 5k earlier in the week, I figured it would be best to let my body fall into its own natural rhythm. Interestingly enough, that rhythm was about a 7:14 min/mile. Hmm… could have used some of that speed over the last few days.

Lots of errands on the agenda today! Have a great one :)

Edited to add: for those of you who are as obsessed with the Olympics as I am, check out this article on the female athletes to watch!




Triathlon Training and a Travel Day

Hey guys, in case you missed it my triceratops tri race recap is now up. Be sure to check it out!

When I first started training for the tri, I had a few people request that after the event I talk about my training plan and how prepared I felt during the race. Remember I am NOT a professional and created this plan myself! But given the requests, I figured it would be easiest to lay out what worked for me in a post.

For the 800 m (.5 mile swim): Every week I tried to fit in two swim workouts. I chose to do them after a shorter run but I think I would have been fine swimming in the mornings and running in the evenings or vice versa (I just prefer to have my evenings free). I also probably would have been okay just swimming too. I chose to swim 1,650 meters (mile) but I’m sure 1,000 would have been sufficient for the shorter distance. I also alternated swimming laps at a constant pace “for distance” with interval workouts. The interval workouts kept things more exciting while also forcing me to speed up in the water. I felt prepared during the swim portion of the race but for my next triathlon I would probably add another swim (I would go too long without a swim sometimes and I’d lose the feel of the water) and I would practice in open water. I didn’t feel like I was at a huge disadvantage without doing these things but they would have helped!

For the 12.4 mile bike ride: I chose to keep bike training really simple. Part of this was because I knew that I’d probably not be riding my bike during the race but also because my old bike was too small and uncomfortable for me to ride too long. I opted to do one brick workout a week (bike with a quick transition to run) and varied the bike distance between 9 and 13 miles. I also rode my bike to and from work every day (5 miles a day). Had I not been cycling to work, I most definitely would have added another day or two of biking into my schedule. I also would not recommend buying a new bike just a few days before the race and riding it for the first time that day. I was very lucky and it worked for me but there were definitely some kinks with the bike that I couldn’t figure out. In terms of endurance though, I felt pretty prepared for the race.

For the 3.1 mile run: I started off running about 20 miles/week and then gradually increased to a little over 30 during the course of training. I ran 6 days a week, only because I wanted to get my body back in the habit (marathon training is fast approaching). I ran between 4-5 miles the two days a week that I swam, a 6-8 miler in the middle of the week, two 4-7 weekday runs, 1-2 miles on brick day, and then a longer run on Sunday (I capped it at about 9). In terms of distance, I ran a lot farther than necessary to do this triathlon. I probably could have run 4-5 days/week and kept the distances around 5 miles and been just fine. The most important running workouts were definitely the bricks. Even if you’re a strong runner, the feeling of running right after cycling is like no other. The first time I did a brick I couldn’t believe how weird it felt! I wish I could have done a few more, especially on my new bike.

For the transitions: I didn’t practice at all. I recommend you do!

In terms of a weekly training plan, here is an example week:
Monday- OFF/ bike to work
Tuesday- 4 mile run + 1,650 meter swim + bike to work
Wednesday- 7 mile run
Thursday- 5 mile run + bike to work
Friday- 6 mile run + bike to work
Saturday- 10 mile bike ride + 2 mile run
Sunday- 9 mile run

So this is the plan that worked for me and I felt totally prepared for the race but like I said, I’m not a professional. Do what works and feels best for you!

Yesterday was a traveling day. I woke up early in Michigan, finished packing my things, made a sandwich for the bus ride, and got dropped off at the Megabus stop in Detroit. 2 hours later, I was on the bus 1/4 of the way to Chicago, munching on my almond butter and applesauce sandwich.

The bus ride was uneventful, save for the kid next to me eating sour cream & onion chips and drinking a 2 liter of coke at 9 a.m. (it was the smell of the chips that really got me) and before I knew it, it was 1:30 p.m. and I was in my apartment.

I made sure to give the furball lots of love.

I’m off from work today but have some other stuff to do. Happy Friday!




Triceratops Triathlon {2012}

Having a mid-week evening race is weird. I am so used to waking up, shoving something down my throat, and heading to the race. During the day I tried to pace myself with food, making sure I ate enough before the race to feel fueled but I also wanted to avoid any stomach upsets or feeling too full.

I decided to eat an early lunch and had a salad with a mahi mahi burger and hummus around 11.

I also enjoyed some of these Go Raw crackers and a huge fig.

And then around 3:30 (about 2.5 hours out from the race and right before we left) I had a slice of brown rice bread with strawberries and chia seeds. This ended up putting me over the edge fullness-wise. Oh well, live and learn!

I also packed the protein shake I’ve been drinking as part of my food allergy recovery diet to have right before the race.

My mom and I got to the park really early because I wanted to make sure I set everything up and was comfortable with the transition area. After getting my new bike out of the car and over to the transition area, I got marked up!

Bib number on my arms and then age on my left calf. Note: this was the worst possible top to wear for a tri. Learn from me and don’t wear anything too long or loose!

Then I started setting up my transition area. I put my bike on the rack and laid my shoes, socks, and bike gloves on the towel. I stuffed my Garmin in one shoe and eye drops and a date (for fuel) in one of the gloves. I hung my race belt on the handlebars of my bike and set out my helmet upside down with my sunglasses inside.

Worked for me!

Then we sat. We had about an hour and a half until race time which could have been killer but both the people watching and the live music kept us entertained. I also took advantage of the time to go to the bathroom (twice) and to scope out the course.

With about 20 minutes to go until the first wave of the swim, I started to get nervous and put my swim cap on. Blue cap= wave 3 (although age-wise I should have been in wave 2!).

And then it was time to go to the water to start the swim. Waves were going off every 5 minutes starting with an elite wave (sub- 1:12 for men and sub-1:24 for women). I watched the two waves go off with butterflies in my stomach and before I knew it, I was standing waist deep in water.

The first thing I did was put my goggles on and test if they were leaking. I raced in my contacts and I knew that a leaky goggle could cause me to lose a lens. After my goggles were secure, I tried to pump myself up for the race by moving around in the water. I totally sold myself out as a runner too by jumping to get my legs ready. What, swimmers don’t do that?

The swim course was shaped like a triangle and marked by three large buoys with smaller dinosaur shaped buoys between them. I situated myself in the back on the outside so the fast swimmers would be in front of me. I figured it would be better for my morale that way. Before I knew it we were all swimming and kicking and clawing at one another. My heart rate shot up and I took off in a full-out sprint. I started to panic, I knew I couldn’t keep up the pace I was swimming and I was nervous that I was going to have to DQ. Somehow I calmed my mind and switched over to breast stroke. After about a minute my breathing was back to normal, I switched back to freestyle, and found a rhythm. Crisis averted!

Swimming in the lake was fun and after I hit the first buoy I started to pick up the pace. I was swimming in a pack the entire and was dealing with miscellaneous hands, feet, and seaweed grabbing at my ankles. I also switched into breast stroke every once in a while to “spot” and make sure I was swimming in the course and to look for the shore. Before I knew it, my hand hit the lake bottom, I stood up, tried to pull my swim cap off before my goggles (whoops) and was running into the transition area.

.5 mile swim: 15:46 (3 of 5 in my age group, 123/439 overall)

I ran over to my bike and immediately went for my shoes and socks and then remembered I had decided to put them on last. Instead, I put on my sunglasses and helmet, buckled my race belt around my waist, and put on my Garmin (I wanted to have it for the run).

Lastly I put my socks and shoes on, grabbed my bike, and headed out!

T1: 1:30 <– Need to practice this next time!

I ran my bike up to the “mount bike sign” and hopped on. I should have watched the more seasoned triathletes though who were running up the grass and mounting on the concrete. I’m sure that was easier than gaining speed on the grass!

My new bike felt awesome but will definitely take some time getting used to. My new pedals have shoe cages and I’m not quite used to them. I started off with my feet on top of the cages and pedaled until I gained enough speed to coast, then I leaned down and tried to slip my feet in. My right foot went in easily but my the cage on my left foot has jammed down so hard that I couldn’t pull it up. I ended up biking about half the course with my foot on top of the pedal before somehow I managed to slip in my foot.

The course was an out and back through a very pretty park. There were lots of hills and scenic views of lakes and fields. I really enjoyed it. I also started to really get the hang of my bike gears. I pedaled hard and fast for me but was still passed by quite a few men. I also did a fair amount of passing myself.

One of my big mistakes on the bike was not drinking enough water. Even though I had my bottle attached to my bike, I only drank from it once or twice. I took water at the water station on the bike path but I don’t think I even drank the whole cup. For a 94 degree day, this was not enough fluid!

12.4 mile ride: 39:59 (18.0 mph, 3 of 5 in my age group, 290 out of 439 overall) <– my weak spot

I had told my mom that I thought the bike ride would take me 50 minutes so she missed the transition entirely. Whoops, my fault. Even so, the transition wasn’t very exciting. I placed my bike on the rack, took off my helmet & sunglasses, tried to sync my Garmin, and grabbed the date.

T2: 1:00

My legs felt like lead when I first started running. My Garmin wouldn’t sync and my mouth and stomach were disagreeing with the date I force-fed myself. I felt like I was hardly moving but I was passing other people and when my watch finally synced it said I was running 7:07′s. I couldn’t believe it!

This is when my dehydration + the high temps (still in the 90′s) really started to get to me. A lot of the run was on pavement in the sun and I could tell that my body hated me for making it run. My legs wanted to run faster but I could feel that my body was no longer sweating and I felt dizzy. I kept my pace short and kept telling myself I only had to run for 3 miles. I stopped at the second water station and poured water over my head. I also grabbed a cold towel and placed it on the back of my neck. Cold water has never felt so good!

I forced myself to keep moving, I did not want to walk, and finally after what seemed like an eternity, I crossed the finish line!

3.1 mile run: 22:38 (7:18 min/mile, 2 of 5 in my age group, 7 of 146 females, and 72 of 439 overall)

When I crossed the line and saw 1:30:55 I was ecstatic. I had started 10 minutes behind the elite and had finished with an elite-caliber time! Considering the circumstances: first tri ever, new bike, bad choice of outfit, I could not stop smiling!

Official time: 1:20:55 (3 of 5 in my age group, 22 of 146 females, and 151 of 439 overall).

I drank A LOT of water after the race and we hung around (couldn’t get my stuff out of the transition zone yet). I ended up winning an age group award, a bike chain with a beer opener on top. I’m sure Ian will get more use out of it than me but it was pretty cool.

I had such an awesome time at the triathlon and I CAN’T wait to do another one! You can bet I’ll be researching some this weekend and registering soon! Any suggestions?

We didn’t end up getting to my mom’s until around 9:00 so I showered quickly and then ate some food. My appetite was finally back, the heat must have sucked it out of me!

I made a strawberry-banana smoothie using rice milk, frozen banana, strawberries, and raw oats and also had some nuts & a mini almond butter toast.

I also had a plate of veggies and hummus. My hunger was raging!

Despite feeling revved up from the race, I ended up crashing early.

I guess I was worn out!




I Swam, I Biked, I Ran

And I had a blast!

Unfortunately, race results were just posted (although they were also posted at the event last night) and I am leaving for Chicago in 10 minutes so a recap will have to wait until this afternoon.

Stay tuned and have a wonderful day :)