Last Saturday brought us a cool 50 degree day that is perfect for running but a bit chilly for triathlon! However, it was the 11th annual Pokagon State Park Triathlon & I was signed up for the Olympic distance event. 1500m swim (.94 miles), 40K bike (24.8 miles) & a 10K trail run (6.2 miles). First triathlon for 2017 and I was excited. I’ve been working on my swimming ALL freaking winter and was hoping to be comfortable in the water and well, let’s be honest, faster. So I was ready!
The race didn’t start until 9am so we weren’t rushed. We got to the park early. Made it thru packet pick up in about 60 seconds, which included body marking. Checked on the water. The weekend previous the water temp for Lake James was 39 degrees. So water temperature was on everyone’s mind. Fortunately after a week of 80-90 degrees, the water temp increased to 63 degrees by race day. I know that’s cold for some people but honestly, it wasn’t that bad with a wetsuit. My fingers & toes didn’t go numb …. so it was good.
Swim – We walked down a longish stone staircase to get to the beach for our swim in Lake James. Keep in mind that when we come out of the water, we have to climb back up to get to transition. So a decent walk to the swim start. But once we were on the beach everything was good. Even though it was an early spring race, the beach was in decent condition & the water was pretty clean. What I love about this swim, that I haven’t seen at many other races, was the line between the buoys. So nice. So minimal sighting was necessary & I was just able to follow the line. I’m not a straight swimmer so did hit the rope a couple times with my stroke & I may have hit someone on the other side once, thankfully it was Julie so she didn’t get too mad at me! The Olympic swim was straight out from shore 375m , around a buoy, back to shore, walk onto the beach to the other side of the line & repeat. 2 loops. Easy. My swim wasn’t perfect but it was decent for me & “fast” compared to my previous swim spits. I don’t usually drop a lot of numbers because I know we are all at different levels but I was happy to get out of the water & see a 31. I lapped my watch to start my transition 1 time & stop my swim time. After the race, I saw I swam a 31:52, which is about 2:03/100yd. Fast for me. I was happy!!
It took me a little over 2 minutes to get up the stairs & into transition. I wasn’t running hard but I was jogging & trying to move as quickly as I could without wearing myself out on the steps. Little did I know, the real challenge was getting my wetsuit off over the huge square box of a timing chip that was attached to my ankle! It took way more effort than I expected. I had to sit down. I almost panicked because I just couldn’t get my suit off over the chip. Somehow I was eventually on my way & running out of transition with my bike.
The bike. 40K – 24.8 miles One loop. On my beautiful new bike! Yes, the bike is faster than me!
I did this race in 2007, before I owned a wetsuit, and ended up doing the duathlon because the water temp was cold that year too! But I rode the Olympic bike course that day. Not sure it is exactly the same now but I remember it being hilly and windy. It was exactly as I remember on Saturday. But maybe windier & maybe hillier.
I think I talked a little bit last year about a few discs in my back that ruptured (June 2016). Well, I’ve not really recovered. The back issue has caused some neuro issues & my legs are constantly fatigued & lack the power that I had previously. Last year was a long year, fighting the issue with my back & legs, which comes to the forefront when I ride. As soon as TRI season was over, I took some serious time off & did some serious treatments (Anti-Inflammatory, PT, Chiro, Cortisone/Steroid cocktail injections). Took the edge off but I’m far from “better”. I had hoped this would be a great TRI season with the new bike. Well, the bike is only as good as the machine riding it. And my machine has a couple blown valves! So my bike split was about 5 minutes slower than my conservative estimation but I eventually made it back to transition & attempted a real dismount. I learned a couple years ago how to slip out of my shoes as I was riding into transition, but I had yet to get brave enough to do a proper dismount. I tried it once last week in the yard, while it was raining & figured I’d just go for it. So as I was nearing transition, I slipped out of my shoes, then attempted to gracefully dismount. Keeping my left foot on the pedal (atop my shoe) and swinging my right leg over the bike to drop it down behind my left foot. Right foot hitting the ground first. I came in a little fast. And hit the ground “running” a little hard. But I didn’t crash & it didn’t jar my back anymore than random daily activities. See a smoother version of the dismount from Derek Taylor who competed in a different event last weekend. His dismount is opposite mine but its still the same concept. Photo credit: Amanda Taylor – Get to Goal.
Slow bike but my 2nd transition rocked. I loved the new dismount & it really helped me speed into transition and get out on the run quickly.
Run – 10K Trail Run – 6.2 miles! Once again, I’ve ran the 10K portion of this event previously. But I was a lot younger & a lot faster! But still, I remember it being hilly. Trail runs usually are hilly but they are beautiful. I’ve never had a more scenic run portion in a TRI than this one. Temps were still coolish, in the 50s. The trail run was mostly shaded. 3 aid stations. Nice day. I couldn’t go real fast. I had to walk up some hills. And my back was really crabby about the pounding down the hills. But I eventually made it back to the start/finish area. 5 minutes slower than I had anticipated but I made it back!
Best part was that I had time to grab my camera to capture Julie’s first ever triathlon finish! We went 1-2 in our age group, you know. But don’t ask how many people were in the age group!
Great SWAG at this event. Unisex Brooks technical tee, pint glass & a few other goodies. Then I got a certificate & coffee mug for the AG award. Very cool!
Huge shout out to FNA Bicycles in New Lenox IL for helping me find the perfect bike. Huge shout out to all the police & volunteers at Pokagon for keeping us safe. And the biggest shout out of all goes to Pokagon State Park which is one of my all time favorite State Parks. Great running trails, beaches & camping areas! Hope to see you out there sometime!
** Give Triathlon A TRI ** Amanda – TooTallFritz