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Chicago Triathlon - Olympic Distance - TriathlonOlympic

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Chicago, Illinois
United States
Capri Events
73F / 23C
Total Time = 3h 53m 30s
Overall Rank = 2965/3325
Age Group = 50-54
Age Group Rank = 124/142
Pre-race routine:

Just so there’s no pre-conceived notions, this is a report from a Bottom-of-Packer, but a finisher! My wife and I both did this race – our first Olympic distance. We arrived the day before to attend the Expo and do the packet pick-up. Wow, what a maze. It wasn’t one-stop for the pickup – we had to go to several different areas to complete the pick-up. All worked out fine, although we had to ask the very helpful volunteers on where to go next. We stayed at the Hilton Chicago- I would HIGHLY recommend this as it’s “across the street” from the swim start (more on this in a moment).
Tossed and turned during my “sleep”. We left the hotel around 4:00 AM to get to the transition. They warned us repeatedly to get to T-Town early (it opens at 4:15). I was kind of cool riding our bikes on the streets at that hour- we did have lights on our bikes but took them off once we were racked. We were amazingly in the same wave. We had a great spot so it was easy to find our bikes on the swim exit. We had time so we walked the transition. I can’t begin to describe how huge it is!! We walked back to the hotel- easily more than a mile. Transition closed at 5:45- we couldn’t believe how many people were cutting it close getting there. Hung out at the hotel- no way we were sleeping. Had a banana, natural applesauce, part of a Power Bar, sipped water, and my requisite Diet Coke (see Porta-Potty section below).

Event warmup:

Left the hotel at 7:00 for our 8:02 start. The Hilton is the closest hotel to the swim start, but it’s still a couple of blocks away. I watched other waves start- it was windy and the water was VERY choppy. I saw the Elite Amateurs start. Uh-oh, one guy was floating on his back and another was doing breaststroke. The waves start literally like clockwork. There is no swim warm-up. If being nervous is a warm-up, I did a GREAT job!
  • 38m 8s
  • 1640 yards
  • 02m 19s / 100 yards

Our mob got in the water. We were truly like corks floating in the ocean. 100 or so people getting into the water in one minute is disconcerting at best. I was hoping to stay to the front, but somehow ended up at the back of the pack. There must have been some in front of the start line, so they pushed us back which pushed me even further to the back. Horn sounds. Off I go. NOT! I waited what seemed like an eternity to have room to swim. I could take a couple of strokes, and then be cut off. I was getting frustrated (swim is by far my strongest of the three). After taking a major kick to the chest, I said “the heck with this” (well, maybe not those exact words) and decided to get swimming. I did my best to thread my way through the crowd without trying to disrupt others. Several times I had people hanging onto my feet – I know drafting is good, but this was ridiculous! Got around the turn buoy without much trouble and had good open water. Open water until I started catching the previous waves. The water was pretty rough. Lots of people in trouble- hanging onto the boats and seawall. It didn’t happen to me, but I heard they were having trouble controlling the lifeguard boats and they were getting into the swim lanes. I grew up in Chicago, and it was VERY cool sighting off of Sears Tower (I guess it’s Willis Tower now). The swim felt good when the traffic was light. This was also my first race in a wet suit. I got to the exit at the Yacht Club feeling far better than expected- I get seasick pretty easily and was worried that might happen but it didn’t. There were many volunteers helping us out of the water. It was VERY much appreciated, but they must have been freezing! The distance to transition is included in the swim time- I believe it was about a third of a mile. At least you get some time to start getting out of your wetsuit
What would you do differently?:

The only thing I should have done was stick with my plan and get to the front. The wet suit wasn’t an issue, but I didn’t use Glide on the back of my neck- I sporting a nasty burn at the moment!
Transition 1
  • 05m 28s

Found the bike easily and walking it earlier gave me a plan how to get out of there. Someone else on our rack said that our rack had fallen down, but they put our bikes back as best they could. Mine was fine, but my wife’s aero bottle was almost empty- she didn’t know that until she was out on the ride. I took my time (obviously) in T1 – the wind was strong and I knew what was ahead!
  • 1h 40m 25s
  • 24.85 miles
  • 14.85 mile/hr

I’m finally getting a clue and had my bike in a low gear to get started. There’s a fairly steep ramp to get on Lake Shore Drive. I passed a woman halfway up the ramp that didn’t gear down and she looked like a turtle on her back trying to unclip her bike. She was fine, just embarrassed. The ride was wild. Two loops for the International distance. I suffered in the wind going north. The south was obviously better, so I tried to conserve some energy. The course was rough in places- it got easy to tell where the bad spots were as they were littered with water bottles. As a slower rider, I stayed close to the guard rail. However there were LOTS of slower riders out where they weren’t supposed to be and in the way of the fast people. I lost count of how many people I saw broken down or with flats. Every bridge expansion joint successfully crossed gave me a sigh of relief. It was pretty confusing figuring out how to finish- at least I was going slow enough to figure it out! On my second leg north, I was starting to get a headache – d’oh, I hadn’t been hydrating! I was feeling better by the finish.
What would you do differently?:

Hydrate sooner and push a little harder. I recently got clip-on aero bars, but I hardly used them due to the roughness of the course, the number of people in close proximity, and my lack of experience with them. Since this was my first Oly, finishing in one piece was a success.
Transition 2
  • 05m 51s

Again, I took my time to hydrate and take a GU. My early morning Diet Coke was really yelling at me that it wanted to go to a new place.
  • 00m
  • 6.21 miles
  •  min/mile

It was very cool starting the run. So many great spectators. So many great spectators that I had to run into the Porta-Potty in front of! Oh well. My run can be best described as fast-walking. I’m a few months past a foot injury, so I was just hoping for the best. It was a beautiful course. It was a little intimidating to see Soldier Field and McCormick Place in the distance and think; I have to run past there, AND BACK?? I plugged along. There were many people again in tough shape- cramping, puking, etc. Oh well, I just kept telling myself to keep my feet moving. Lots of very nice people that were very encouraging. My pace starting picking up when I realized I might be able to make my secondary goal (Goal #1: Finish; Goal #2: Finish in less than 4 hours- I told you I was slow!!). It seems that every time I get within earshot of the finish line, I get totally choked up; this race was no exception. On to the finish- I did my best to run, but I think I was doing my impression of the Ironman Shuffle. So great to cross the line!!
What would you do differently?:

Run more- simple as that.
Post race
Warm down:

My wife was waiting (she did AWESOME!!!) with water and a G3. I’ve never had one before (hey, race was over, I could try something new!). It didn’t taste all that great (I was eating a banana too) but I think it kept me out of a ton of hurt- I will try that again. They gave a VERY nice finisher’s medal. We eventually got in line for food- it looked good, it tasted good, I just couldn’t eat much. Very nice vibe in the post race- more chairs would have been nice, but hey, they had almost 10,000 racers over the three tris!

What limited your ability to perform faster:

My top three limiters are my brain, my brain, and my brain. I did loosely follow the BT Olympic Training Plan, and it did EXACTLY what is said I would do; allow me to finish and be a BOPer. Yeah, I could have pushed harder, but I had a great time and wasn’t too miserable at the end!

Event comments:

IMHO, every triathlete should do this race once in their life. The scale of the entire event is beyond description. Will I do this race again? Maybe someday, but not in the foreseeable future. It was a blast, and I will always remember it!

Last updated: 2011-02-15 12:00 AM
00:38:08 | 1640 yards | 02m 19s / 100yards
Age Group: 0/142
Overall: 0/3325
Performance: Good
Suit: Wet suit
Course: 350 meters south, the rest of the way north
Start type: Deep Water Plus: Waves
Water temp: 74F / 23C Current: High
200M Perf. Bad Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting:
Waves: Navigation: Good
Rounding: Good
Time: 05:28
Cap removal: Average Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: No
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed:
01:40:25 | 24.85 miles | 14.85 mile/hr
Age Group: 0/142
Overall: 0/3325
Performance: Below average
Wind: Strong with gusts
Road: Rough Dry Cadence:
Turns: Average Cornering:
Gear changes: Average Hills:
Race pace: Hard Drinks: Not enough
Time: 05:51
Overall: Below average
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike Average
Shoe and helmet removal
00:00:00 | 06.21 miles |  min/mile
Age Group: 0/142
Overall: 0/3325
Performance: Below average
Keeping cool Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Good race?
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5

2011-09-02 10:01 AM

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Subject: Chicago Triathlon - Olympic Distance

2011-09-02 10:59 AM
in reply to: #3670675

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Extreme Veteran
Subject: RE: Chicago Triathlon - Olympic Distance

Great job out there and congrats on completing your first Olympic.  The waves and headwind were a bit tough but way to conquer through them and finish the race.  It's a huge race but very well organized and so much fun. They sucker me into doing it each year since I live downtown...darn them for the peer pressure haha.

Oh and congrats to your wife too for racing!  That's awesome that you were both in the same wave together.

Edited by blackledge 2011-09-02 11:05 AM
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