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Chicago Triathlon - International Course - TriathlonOlympic

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Chicago, Illinois
United States
Life Time Fitness
Total Time = 3h 26m 10s
Overall Rank = 2039/2761
Age Group = F 30-34
Age Group Rank = 99/159
Pre-race routine:

A lot of mental preparation, especially for the swim. Plenty of visualization and planning for unexpected and any possible anxiety attacks. Being mentally prepared actually helped a lot. I dedicated this race to our Mentor group fellow, Steve, who was fighting the battle with cancer, and I told myself that every time I would feel worried or weak, I should just keep remembering Steve and move forward.
My strategy for the race was to finish with the smile. Do not overdo it, since it's my first Olympic. I had some estimated times for each leg, but those were very conservative as well.
For the whole week before the race I was drinking as much hydration stuff as I could, three times a day. Ate lots of rice and fruits. Stretching my calves and hips every day for the week before.
Race morning was not fun, because we had to wake up at 3... Kudos to my kids who got out of bed with no problem. I had my least favorite p/b sandwich (bleeee) and some oatmeal with fruits. Picked up my mom and drove to the lake. The bike was set up on Saturday, and I actually had a great spot right by the runway to the transition. I placed my running and biking stuff Sunday morning, looked around to make sure what's going on, although, it was super dark, so I figured I would manage when I get there after swim.
We had about two hours to my start time, so I showed my mom some logistics, wrote my estimated timings, so they knew when to come to which spot to see me. Thankfully, there was an awesome playground right next to the race start, so they just went there to play while I was racing.
I had another p/b sandwich and went with my daughter to just watch super guys swimming super fast, as they started the race. We were standing in the middle of the swim course and I looked one way just to get a sense of the distance and I thought to myself: manageable. I looked to the other side and thought: manageable. All good. Then I just wanted to cry so badly (not because of any worries, more likely because all the nerves and stress, and attention I put toward this race wanted to get out of my body). So I let some tears come out of my eyes, but let it go quickly, so my daughter did not see it, as she freaks out when sees me crying. I think I just wanted it to finally start ;)
Event warmup:

Walking from parking garage to transition, to the swim exit was fair enough warm up. The sun begun to rise when we sat down on the grass, and I did some basic stretching. Went to my wave group and just move the arms around for a bit. I was doing more mental exercises I guess. Kept repeating you will do just awesome, just remember to focus on your arms and not the brain games.
  • 41m 20s
  • 1500 meters
  • 02m 46s / 100 meters

We got into the water and I was just waiting for the "buzzzz." It was so crowded I started to worry somebody would remove my timing chip (I know, first world's problem...) I quickly started utilizing my awesome plan to just keep swimming nicely with my rhythm (inhale-moment-bubbles-inhale-moment-bubbles....) despite girls all over the place. I figured the faster one will pass me eventually, and the slower ones, well, will not be a problem. I still got a hit here and there from someone who did not know what she was doing, but I was very calm and just kept swimming with my rhythm. I reminded myself it was only 350 to the turn, so not bad and I should be done with it in no time. But it was taking forever and the turn was not getting closer. So I took a look and the turn was super far away and I started to think it will take way more out of me than I expected.... Also, my goggles started to get foggy and I realized I forgot to anti-fog them. Ugh... Oh well, here comes the turn, I got it very nice and off to the second part of the race. I was doing fine - I did 350 now I gotta do another 350 and then I will have 800, which would be just a sprint distance (cutting 1,500 in chunks was a very helpful idea! btw), so I felt fine. But it gor very, very chaotic. From either side I got to girls who were either going in wrong directions or swimming on the back and not seeing me, or just splashed the water here and there, which was disturbing my rhythm. I was doing my best not to get into panic mode, but it was so hard... I took my head out of the water and guess what... I am on the wrong side of the buoys! Ok, I'm coming back to the course. Chaos again. Wtf! It was so freaking hard to get back to the rhythm... I was back to the other side two more times. I started to think about worst thing and how I was so unable to calm down. Finally, I reset myself with checking the arms: can the arms do the job? Yes, they can. So it's all mental. You will do fine. Go back to the rhythm. Think about Steve, think about patience, just stay patient. Once you pass the start buoy, you will go to the wall and then decide if you want to quit or just have some rest. Just continue to pass the start buoy.
That mantra sort of helped and I finally found myself in something that could be much better called open water. All the girls moved towards the wall and I stayed on the outside. Which was great, as I was the lonely swimmer and absolutely nothing disturbed my rhythm and form. Oh gosh it felt so good!!!!! I loved it so much I was thinking I could be just swimming and swimming for hours! So calm, so peaceful.. I cannot describe it. After the total chaos I reached a complete silentium sacrum :)Once in a while I almost hit the lifeguards boats, but even that was not a biggie. I decided not to look straight, because I did not want to see how far the exit was. I will get there when I get there. I had, on the other hand, nice views on the sides and I decided to just enjoy it and "be in the moment" :)
At some point I was just curious to see where I were, so I took a peak and I saw yellow buoy. I thought wow!!!! It's there, I can see it!!! I know I will make it, yeyyy!! It made me so happy and proud of myself I decided to swim faster. And then I found out why my arms are never fatigued after the swim... Well, because I was not really swimming very fast haha I finally started feeling my arms being in power mode. Then my legs started to kick really hard and I though: wow, those kicks do help speeding! Just about time to notice some technique potential ;)
I got to the exit, I was so happy! I could not walk up the stairs, I saw the step, but my leg could not step on it I felt like a baby... Awesome volunteers taught me how to walk again and I run screaming and yelling "I DID IT!!!!!! AAAAAAAA!!!!!!!" That was awesome!!!
What would you do differently?:

Definitely took care of the goggles, so they don't fog. It did not really bother me much, but did not help my confidence at the beginning.
I need more practice in the crowd, so I know how to manage the stress of chaos.
Transition 1
  • 06m 7s

I had to adjust from horizontal to vertical, but it was not bad and I was actually running the whole transition (400+ meters). I saw my mom and kids and high-five'd them. Found my bike very fast and got ready fairly quickly. Again, my overall plan for this race was not to race, but have fun and taste the distance, so I wanted to take my time in transition and not hurry. I drank some of my Nuun water and run with bike for another leg.
What would you do differently?:

I could have done it faster, if I wanted to. But the relaxed attitude actually made me enjoy the race even more.
  • 1h 23m 49s
  • 25 miles
  • 17.90 mile/hr

Ohhh..... biking.... mmm.... Such a great experience!
Once again, my strategy was to enjoy the race, not push too hard, making sure my legs won't suffer on the run. I also thought: when is the next chance to see all those beautiful views? Let me really take some time to enjoy everything around.
The course was great, not too many bikers. Beginners and slower cyclists stayed to the left, which was great, because I had enough space to pass them, giving plenty of space on the right in case there was someone else (of course, every time I passed somebody I looked to the back to make sure speedos where not behind me).
I was checking my time every two miles. The plan was to do one mile in 4 minutes, so I should be at 8 minutes by every mark. And guess what, I was at 6... It did not feel fast at all. But I wanted to slow down a bit, to not ruin the run. Another mile marker - 6 minutes again. What the heck... I feel like I'm cycling snail tempo, and I am faster than during the training. Oh well, I feel pretty comfortable, so let me just continue. Maybe in the second half when I get a bit more tired I will naturally slow down a bit. So I'm biking and it feels so cool, and we got underground, to the famous Batman course and it felt sooo cool!!!! I was by myself and all that I wanted was a full speed! I though, forget about the snail and the run - I love being here and ride this fast and it feels so great I want to do it!!!!! It may sound silly, but I felt so much freedom I just wanted to continue. It reminded me of the myth about Daedalus and Icarus. And I realized I don't blame Icarus for flying up pursuing his dreams. I was a little Icarus on the bike, in the dark tunnel ;)
After around 16 miles my toes got numb. I tried to move the feet around to get some blood circulation going, but it did not seem too helpful. I remember reading something about the feet position and moving my feet on the pedal a little bit. I did that and it changed my whole biking experience. Omg, I felt like I've been biking for over a year completely wrong....
After mile 20 I was still in a great pace and felt awesome. I decided to follow my last year's Sprint idea that "my run will be screwed no matter how I ride, so let me enjoy the ride." I felt like a super cyclist. I started to wonder: I realized I was a super awesome swimmer, now I feel I am super awesome rider, will this continue on the run and I will be super awesome runner....? Probably not, but let's not worry about it during this fascinating ride.
Seriously - I did not want it to end. I was so upset when I saw the bike exit haha
What would you do differently?:

I guess I would go to full speed mode from the very beginning. But it's hard to say if it would have affected my run even more (my run was awful...)
I think being more careful and conservative in your first Oly race is much more reasonable. Therefore, no - I don't think anything should've been changed :)
Transition 2
  • 02m 24s

I thought it was way longer than 2.5 minutes. I had no problem finding my spot. I had some issues with racking the bike, but that's because I wanted to be courteous to other girls next to me (both had bikes rack the same direction, so I wanted to squeeze mine the other way, so our handle bars don't bother one another). Had a bit of hydration, took my shirt, and off to the run.
What would you do differently?:

Maybe did not struggle with the bike too much?
  • 1h 12m 32s
  • 6.2 miles
  • 11m 42s  min/mile

The plan was to either walk or run very slowly from transition. My legs did not feel like wood so I skipped that plan and just started running. Slow. Since my ride was wayyyyy faster than I planned, I was on the run sooner than the note I left my mom. So I called her and let her know they won't make it to see me out of T2, so they should be at the finish line in an hour. I turned RunKeeper on to tell me my pace every 0.5 mile. I wanted to make sure I was not going too fast. The plan was to be at 12 minutes/mile. First audio clue said 10-something and I though omg, here we go again, feels super slow, but it's actually way too fast. So I slowed down. For the rest of the run I was somewhere around 11+ min/mile, so very, very steady and nice pace.
The run was brutal. Super brutal. I don't think it was because of the bike, so at least I did not feel bad for being crazy cyclist. In my opinion, it was just not enough running training in the last few weeks, but I was prepared for this poor performance, that's why I did not expect going faster than 12 min/mile. But it was still very hard. I walked at every water station. I drunk so much water I could not believe. The water never tasted so good!!!!! I also poured as much on myself as I could. I had cramps in my belly all over the place. I was pressing my hand to the spots with the biggest pain, but eventually - I run out of hands... I tried to enjoy the beautiful views around me, think about my life plans, but the pain from cramps was just too awful. I hated running so much I wanted to cry. I was very happy, though, because I reminded myself that I did great with the swim and bike and this is the last piece, and that I am one awesome triathlete.
One fun comment: I had a shirt "Team Bride" which I got for my best friend's wedding last year. I use it for triathlons because it is super easy to put it on quickly. I had so much cheers and congrats during the run it made my day (well, sort of - I would rather meet the potential Mr. Right than give an impression I was taken ;)
Just before the finish line there was an incline. I thought wtf!! Why do they always have to end the race with a stupid hill???? I see the finish line, it's few steps away and I am pushing freaking hard, I wanted it to end so badly!!! I saw my kids - did high-five, and then entered speed mode. Finally felt my legs doing some work ;) Surprisingly, just like arms in the swim, my legs did not feel tired on the run. It was more the cramps and the need for water. And the need to have the run be over....
What would you do differently?:

Figured out what caused the cramps.......
Well, not enough running before the race. I finished at the planned pace, so that's good. I could've smiled more to the camera haha When I cross the finish line you can tell I wanted to be done with it badly ;)
Post race
Warm down:

WATER!!!!!!!!!! Wet towel on my back. Beer. I had plenty of food from the athlete tent, but I gave everything to my family. I did not feel like eating. Except for watermelon. I've never had so much love for water melon as I had at that moment!!!

What limited your ability to perform faster:

With biking it was just sticking to the plan of enjoying the ride and not overwhelming my legs for the run. So it was more of strategic move than training mistake.
As for the run.... way too little running training.

Event comments:

The week before this race I was contemplating switching to Sprint. With only 2 occasions of actually swimming 1,500 in the pool I was not sure if I was ready. Plus, not enough brick training. But having the right attitude was very helpful. I kept in mind that I dedicated this race to a friend, I knew I would do it if I just took it easy, I had some confidence knowing I did plenty of training, even if it was not the best training ever - I still did. I think this race was like anti-anxiety therapy for me. Every single thing I worried about was overcome. I am so proud of myself with the decision making, with being able to calm myself down at the moments of panic, with staying humble and patient. It may seem silly, but I proved a lot to myself and it was a great boost to the confidence. I am very grateful my kids were part of this experience. What else can I say? It was a perfect day :)

Profile Album

Last updated: 2016-06-07 12:00 AM
00:41:20 | 1500 meters | 02m 46s / 100meters
Age Group: 127/159
Overall: 2314/2761
Performance: Good
Suit: swim suite
Course: About 350 south towards the museums, then back for over 1k.
Start type: Deep Water Plus: Waves
Water temp: 68F / 20C Current: Low
200M Perf. Average Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting:
Waves: Navigation: Good
Rounding: Below average
Time: 06:07
Performance: Good
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed: Good
01:23:49 | 25 miles | 17.90 mile/hr
Age Group: 82/159
Overall: 1884/2761
Performance: Good
Wind: Little
Course: North then South on Lake Shore Drive. Then underground in Lower Wacker, then Bussway.
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence:
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 02:24
Overall: Good
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike Good
Running with bike Good
Racking bike Average
Shoe and helmet removal Good
01:12:32 | 06.2 miles | 11m 42s  min/mile
Age Group: 114/159
Overall: 2161/2761
Performance: Average
Course: The typical Chicago downtown course: along the lake shore by the museums.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Yes
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

2016-08-30 2:10 PM

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Denver, Colorado
Subject: Chicago Triathlon - International Course

2016-08-30 2:10 PM
in reply to: #5197202

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Denver, Colorado
Subject: RE: Chicago Triathlon - International Course
Some more pics:





(future triathlete.jpg)


(my slaves.jpg)

beer.jpg (134KB - 19 downloads)
ZOsia.jpg (142KB - 18 downloads)
kids.jpg (143KB - 16 downloads)
5.jpg (1077KB - 22 downloads)
future triathlete.jpg (211KB - 17 downloads)
me.jpg (187KB - 19 downloads)
my slaves.jpg (125KB - 20 downloads)
2016-08-30 2:12 PM
in reply to: marysia83

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Denver, Colorado
Subject: RE: Chicago Triathlon - International Course
Transition: before and after:



t-before.jpg (90KB - 18 downloads)
t-after.jpg (240KB - 18 downloads)
2016-08-30 3:16 PM
in reply to: #5197202

Northern IL
Subject: RE: Chicago Triathlon - International Course

Great job Mary! Lot of good pictures in there too.

2016-08-31 12:50 PM
in reply to: brigby1

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Subject: RE: Chicago Triathlon - International Course

I can't stop smiling!  From your breakthroughs and triumphs on the swim and bike to finishing strong it sounds like you had a great race!  You kept your mind in the right place and apparently your body, too.  The pictures of you and your kids are so sweet.  Congratulations on your first Olympic distance!

2016-08-31 1:34 PM
in reply to: melbo55

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Subject: RE: Chicago Triathlon - International Course

Great job, Mary! You are so right about the attitude making all the difference. You finished your first olympic distance! 

thanks for sharing the photos - how great that your kids get to see you do this too! They have one awesome mama!

2016-08-31 10:57 PM
in reply to: juniperjen

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Western Australia
Subject: RE: Chicago Triathlon - International Course
Well done Mary. good on you for conquering the race and your mind.

Love the photos of you and your kids.
2016-09-01 10:19 AM
in reply to: StaceyK

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Raleigh, NC area
Subject: RE: Chicago Triathlon - International Course

Great job!  We are so proud of you!

2016-09-01 12:00 PM
in reply to: jmkizer

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Denver, Colorado
Subject: RE: Chicago Triathlon - International Course
I would not have done it without your support
I have to admit plenty of times I was thinking of several Manatees biking, running and swimming, and it made me feel better
2016-09-09 10:00 AM
in reply to: marysia83

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Falls Church, Virginia
Subject: RE: Chicago Triathlon - International Course
Mary - I completely missed that you did your first Oly! Congratulations!! So, so proud of you, especially for your swim.
2017-08-29 1:42 AM
in reply to: Atlantia

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, Kronobergs lan
Subject: RE: Chicago Triathlon - International Course
Well done! Sounds like you had fun most --of the time.

Tell me more about the numb toes and moving feet position. I always get numb toes.

2017-08-30 2:13 PM
in reply to: Rollergirl

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Simsbury, Connecticut
Subject: RE: Chicago Triathlon - International Course
Crazy how the swim was so crowded - but the bike course was not! Congrats on your first OLY - and sounded like a BIG one!
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