Lake Zurich Triathlon Race Recap

So this was my first Olympic distance triathlon.  It was a .9 mile open water swim, 25 mile bike ride and a 6.2 mile run.  I was racing my best friend in this race and of course the goal was to beat him.  At this point in our short amateur racing careers, he has me beat on experience, especially considering he did a full Ironman as his first triathlon. Going into the race I knew he was faster than me at the swim, likely about the same on the bike, but the run was going to be where I would make up my time.  I knew my estimated speeds for the race and I had a goal of sub 2:45 for the race.  My estimate breakdown for the race was as follows:
  • 30 minutes for the swim
  • 85 minutes for the bike
  • 48 minutes for the run
I knew I could that no problem based on the previous races and training.  The swim starts and it is the first time I am in a mass start instead of a timed start.  I see my friend and he just takes off.  His speed in the swim was far better than I had thought it would be.  I made certain on my swim to try and spot people and the giant buoys.  I wanted to stay as close to the buoys as possible which resulted in me running into more than one.  My goggles decided they wanted to fog up even though they were “anti fog” and with roughly 500 yards left I got a nice kick to the calf from another swimmer.  This charlie horsed my calf and caused it to cramp up real bad.  I was trying my best to pull my knee to my chest to stretch it while still swimming.  If I fully extended my leg, it would start to lock up.  I knew if it did fully lock up, I would be in bad shape getting out of the water.

I spot the finish and I realize that I can probably walk at this point. With my calf still wanting to seize up on me, I opt to go the slower route and walk in chest deep water. Due to the soft ground in the water, I was able to stretch my calf out a bit while walking. Heading out of the water, it was a near quarter mile trek to T1 and instead of running it, I walked most of it, all the while stretching my calf with each step.

I knew my friend was ahead of me and based on my time, I estimated he was likely 4-5 minutes ahead of me. This still gave me hope to pass him even if it came down to the run. I hit T1 and was out of my wetsuit the fastest I have ever been able to do it. I put on my socks, my shoes, helmet, grabbed a chew and went to the bike course.

The first couple of miles I spent just trying to get my heart rate down while keeping my cadence up. Seeing as this was a new course to me, I had to follow people and thankfully there were a good number of people in front of me and behind me that would help lead the way. It was a two loop course so I spent the first loop just trying to learn it; where the hills where, how much of an incline/decline etc. When I got onto the second loop just after mile 14 there was a section that came back on itself almost. In reality it’s two quick right turns and the back portion is another road. At this point I saw my friend and was determined to catch him. I kept telling myself to push the bike. He was roughly half a mile away, but that can be like forever on the bike.

Finally, entering T2 I saw him. I was a little anxious to pass him and while dismounting my bike, my right leg caught my rear cage and snapped it clean off my bike. Seeing as it was made out of carbon fiber, it was sharp. The race director saw it and talked to me during T2 about it. I asked him to put it in my race bag for me as I had already brought it over to my spot and he said no problem.

In the commotion of dealing with that, I forgot to eat in T2. Well specifically I forgot to bring my food with me. Why waste time in T2 eating when you can just as easily take it with? My T2 time was an awesome 1:10. I hit the ground running and I saw my friend was still in transition.

Now all of my running is based on heart rate. There are two exceptions to this. 1. Speed workouts and 2. the last quarter mile of a race. I headed out for the 6.2 mile run and while I was in the right zone, my HR was elevated. I was doing my best to slow my HR down but at the same time I didn’t want to slow down too much. The first mile was my fastest, and that was a mistake. By my 3 I knew that I was in for a bad run as my pace was slowing (not by choice) and my HR was steadily climbing. I didn’t want to walk as I knew that I would not be able to run the same speed after a walk break, but by mile 4, the legs just gave out and wouldn’t do much of anything. I was able to run at a much slower pace for the last two miles but I never fully recovered during the race.

My official time was 2:43:03. Had I been able to keep my run where I wanted it to be, I would have been a sub 2:40 finish no problem. But even with the run crashing the way it did, it was still a very enjoyable race. I had a good swim and a great bike and for my first Olympic distance, I am happy with it.

And no, I did not notice right away that my medal said I completed it in 2016 instead of 2015. Replacement medals are being made and shipped to us.

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