This past weekend, Jonathan and I returned to race The Leaning Tower Triathlon in Niles,IL, since our very first triathlon there in May 2006. This is a special tri for me for two reasons: (1) because it was my very first triathlon ever and (2) it was one of the last things I shared with my dad before he passed away in June 2006. He was in the hospital and I called him to tell him all about my first tri. He then proceeded to tell his hospital roommate all about it. He was proud. :) So, for these two reasons, I was anxious to have a good showing at the race, despite that it's still so early in the season.
As Jon reported below, we awoke Sunday to chilly temps (but it definitely could have been worse) and 20mph winds (okay, the wind could NOT have been much worse). Since I sort of sandbagged my swim time, I was not starting until Wave 8...supposedly at around 8am. Well, somehow I got pushed back to Wave 9 AND the race was delayed, so I actually didn't start until well after 8:30am. By that time, most of my friends at the race were already done racing...and lucky for them (unlucky for me) because it got colder and windier as the morning progressed. So...
I was a nervous wreck waiting for my wave to go off. I think it was more a matter of all the sitting around I did, then actually being nervous. Last time I looked at my HR before I jumped in the pool it was around 125, but as soon as they called my wave and I jumped in? 97. I somehow have this inherent ability to put my game face on and become perfectly calm at race start (I like to think it's my dad calming me down).
The swim felt awesome. Smooth and relaxed the entire time. I was second out of the pool from my heat, which made me feel good...and I was psyched to see my watch when I got out of the pool showed me almost a full minute faster than two years ago. In a 450-yard swim, that's significant!
I saw my friend Jess in transition (yep, she was done racing) and she warned me that the wind on the bike was UGLY. She was right. Luckily I was on my tri bike (AKA Lexy) and was able to tuck into aero and go. I hammered from beginning to end, even though at times I would look at my speed and see that I was only going 15 mph straight into the wind. My bike time ended up almost four minutes faster than my time two years ago. Again, another significant improvement (on an 11 mile course)!
The run...oh, the run. I had been struggling with some IT Band issues the entire week before the race. But on a 5k course, you can't really afford to hold back. And to make matters worse, the first 1.5 miles was straight into the wind. This time I saw Jon in transition and he told me the run to the finish would feel like I was going downhill with the wind at my back. Sweet! If I could just get through the first 1.5 miles. It was tough. I had to be so mentally strong not to stop and walk. My lungs were ready to go, but my legs were not. Despite that, I kept it together and finished strong. But only 9 seconds faster than 2006. Bah.
Overall result? A six-minute PR (personal record) at a sprint distance race. Not too bad. As always, us triathletes will analyze every race to death to figure out what can be done better. It's what keeps us coming back for more. After analyzing and over-analyzing, I've figured out that I still have a lot of work to do on the swim, I have a lot of potential on the bike (and I'm just starting to see that) and I need a lot of bike-to-run practice. If nothing else, this race lit a fire for my training motivation and I'm ready to go!! Up next...Subaru Women's Triathlon in Naperville June 22. I can't wait!