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Aurora BayCare High Cliff Triathlon - Triathlon1/2 Ironman

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Sherwood, Wisconsin
United States
67F / 19C
Total Time = 7h 12m 1s
Overall Rank = 140/158
Age Group = 35-39
Age Group Rank = 16/17
Pre-race routine:

My partner and I got to Wisconsin Saturday afternoon, grabbed my packet and decided to test the water and do some rides. We both went to the swim start to see how far you can walk, and it seemed like almost 0.2 was walkable. I got a chance to practice the bubbles for the beginning of the swim, and realized I could do a bit of a breaststroke just to have my face get used to the water and blow some bubbles. Eventually, every following stroke allowed me for more bubbles and I was able to very comfortable switch to freestyle. We then went to the swim end to see at what point the water was shallow enough to walk. Approx. 100 meters before the exit, right by the huge balloon. So I will have to aim for the balloon at the end of the swim!
The course was triangle, and when I looked at the buoys, they seemed pretty close, thus, the distance did not feel intimidating.

We jumped on the bikes to experience the hill. Bike course starts with a pretty steep hill. I read plenty of horrifying reviews about that climb, but it turned out to be nothing bad. Maybe I am just used to much worse hills of Wisconsin, this one did not impress me at all. So I felt good.

For a dinner we decided to make our usual meal we have always had during active trips, before extreme workout days: fish, greens, rice. Not too spicy. Followed the same strategy for breakfast: bun with avocado and egg, banana, and Polish pastry "kremowka." I stayed away from coffee, to make sure I wouldn't poop. Got my salt tablets, gatorade, and hot tea. And was ready to go.
Event warmup:

This is apparently our tradition to barely make it to the race, but I managed. Organized the transition, and went to the lake. I was wearing long pants and fleece to make sure I would not loose any warm. I decided not to warm up in the lake. Since almost 0.2 is a walking, I would get enough warm-up there, plus some breaststroke, and this should work. I was the only one without wetsuit, and kept my fleece as long as I could. I did some arms movement and stretch calves. Then I got emotional and cried into my partner's arm. I was about to complete an Ironman......
  • 1h 07m 58s
  • 1931 meters
  • 03m 31s / 100 meters

Started walking through the water with all other participants and splashed some of it on my arms and face. It felt fairly warm. At some point I moved to the side so I can practice my breaststroke and not kick anyone. This was the best advice ever: to get the face in the water and blow the bubbles. My face's immediate reaction was "get out of the water", but eventually I was breaststroking with very long, easy and nice exhales. Did some walks in between, and eventually started to swim. I wanted to make sure all other swimmers start ahead of me. I would be at the very end anyway, and did not want them to disturb my peace and comfort. I started swimming and it felt sooo good! Sighting was great, I was able to very easily see buoys in front of me, and I very quickly reached out to all of them. Next wave approached, so I slowed down, to make sure I don't get out of the rhythm when other swimmers pass me. Few of them touched my ankle, but immediately moved to the side, and I was very thankful for their great maneuvering skills. I liked them passing on both sides, as they assured me I was going the right direction. Finally, they were all gone, and I was the lonely swimmer enjoying the course. I got to the turn with a happy face. Felt good and strong. I had a mantra strategy to count to 1,000. I knew I was able to swim for 1,000+ which was supposed to help me if I had a crisis (you're only at 437, you know you can do it for much longer). But somewhere around 550 I stopped counting, because I felt very relaxed and I was just thinking about nothing. I was truly enjoying the swim. Around buoy #6 I felt a stream of very cold water. But I kept going. Getting to #7 was taking so long... Some waves started to appear, high enough I was not able to see kayaks when I turned to breath. I was very proud of myself for remaining so calm and relaxed. Higher waves meant I had to turn a bit more for the breath, and follow the wave's rhythm. I still couldn't get to #7. It seemed as if it was not moving... Come on... Come on.... Finally made it. I felt so cold I heard my teeth shivering while exhaling. At some point I felt a stream of very warm water... It felt so good I wanted to thank the swimmers before me for peeing.... Then I got scared that feeling warm in cold water is the first sign of hypothermia... Gosh... what to do...? Maybe if I swim faster I will warm up my body... But that was not a good idea, as I worried I would exhaust my energy quicker. Maybe I should kick more? Also bad idea, as I did not want to make any adjustments to my stroke on a race day. I decided to just keep swimming the way I swam, and see what happens. And if something happens, there were plenty of kayaks around me. I was able to remain relaxed and just focused on the buoys ahead of me: there is only #8, and then turn at #9, and then it will be easy-breezy. Made the turn very well, and I saw the beach, when suddenly something happened with the water, and it became so messy I had to stop completely to just see what was going on. The water was splashing all over the place, almost as if Poseidon had a dance party... splash splash all over me, from all sides. I tried to swim through it, but no success. Few more people around me faced the same mess, and trying to figure out what to do, which did not help any of us (we were basically making more splashes to each other...). There were more kayaks around us, as they probably wondered what kind of a party we were having, and they gave us even more waves and splashes. I saw a motorboat riding nearby, and I knew it would create just another crazy wave. I asked for the kayak to rest. My watch showed 53 minutes, which impressed me (I was planning to finish swim in minimum one hour, and I was almost there with 53). Ok, I had to strategize. Mentally I felt awesome. Physically I felt fantastic. I was almost there. I had two buoys to the ball, and from the ball I can walk/run. Two buoys.... Definitely this is not a place to resign, because I felt too good. But there was no way to do freestyle. Every time I turn, no matter how high, I was attached by splashes. I let the kayak go, and tried one more time... and one more time... Ok, it's time to implement plan B. I have a very strong breaststroke. And I love breaststroke. And there are no swimmers behind me, so I wouldn't kick anyone. I started with BR, but the splashes were attacking me from the front. Also, my arms felt tired. So I decided to have a very, very long and smooth recovery phase, and then make "the jump" as high as possible. Then long recovery, and high jump. I was jumping over those splashes like a killer whale! In your face, splashes!!! Oh my, I got so much speed I could not believe... I spotted Kuba, my partner, at the shore. It was not difficult, because there were almost no people at the beach (I believe I only had few swimmers somewhere behind me). It gave me more adrenaline and power kick, and in no time I was by the ball. As soon as it was shallow enough to run, I started running through the water. I was planning to pee at that run, but my body pretended as if there was no such thing as full bladder... I took of the googles and cap, adjusted my pony tail for the bike, and off to the shore!
What would you do differently?:

I need more experience in the water with extreme conditions. I swam in the lake before, I swam with the waves, but I need to swim more in the water with those crazy splashes (I do not know if those have a name). I am not sure if wetsuit would've helped me. Maybe i would've been faster and got out of the water before condition changed. At the same time, I would not be able to swim breaststroke with wetsuit.
I realize my form is not perfect, I have also been training for a little over a month (and not swimming for almost two years), thus, I was not expecting anything spectacular.
Overall, I have to say, I was very, very proud of myself for remaining so relaxed during the whole time. No panic, no anxiety attack. Whatever thoughts I had at any point, I was able to rationalize them. It was a long swim, but I was mentally prepared for a long swim, so it was mentally helpful. I felt safe during the whole time, and very comfortable, which I consider a nice success.
Transition 1
  • 04m 8s

Kuba was waiting for me at the swim exit. We had a little celebration as it was a happy moment for me, and then I started telling him how messy it got, how crazy it was, and how difficult the last 0.2 was. Kuba, the only one calm and rational there, reminded me that I still have a race to complete, and maybe I should get ready for the bike... Ooopss... I was so excited after the swim I completely forgot I was racing..... So I run uphill to T1, and Kuba run with me. It was a brutal run - climb almost. It was pretty windy and I started to feel extremely cold. I was shaking and decided I would wear a t-short for the bike. Since it's a small and local race, the organizers had no problem with Kuba entering T1 with me. I know I kept talking to him, but all I remember is blah blah blah..... coming out of my mouth. I got the helmet, gloves, socks and shoes on, and ready to go. Said bye to K, and off to the bike course.
What would you do differently?:

Well, I would run from swim to transition haha and not stop to give a full detailed swim report to my partner ;) Other than that little moment, transition went well, all as planned.
  • 3h 29m 18s
  • 56 miles
  • 16.05 mile/hr

Bike started with a hill, but given my latest experience with hills it was nothing bad. It also served as a good way to start biking in a slow pace. To be honest, after getting out of the swim I had some sort of aftermath shock for almost 30 minutes, and don't remember much, and I definitely don't remember any struggle. The ride uphill served as a moment to reflect and put my thoughts together. I was on the flat surface with no time. The rest of the course was very flat, almost no turns.
I was still shaking from cold for another 20 minutes. I knew I had to eat and drink, but I did not feel like eating. My body refused any meals/fluids. I also had a hard time bringing my breath to normal. I was breathing like some sort of moose during mating season...
Once I was in a normal mode, I had my nutrition (Cliff bars) and drinks. I eat/drink every 10 minutes.
All was smooth until I turned South and rode against extremely strong headwind. It was the most awful wind I have ever experienced. I was barely moving. Riding on the easiest gear, putting max of effort, to be as fast as 10 mph....
I didn't get a chance to pee in T1 (I didn't even think about it), and now I had this extreme urge to get my bladder empty, I was almost at the point to toss my bike and pee in the bushes. But I either didn't have any bushes around, or had bikers coming from the opposite directions. I am pretty sure they wouldn't mind, but I decided to wait for a better place and moment. There were porta p at the water station (I completely forgot about water station!), and it made me soooo happy!
After that little break I was fighting the wind again. I was sooo mad at that wind! First half of the ride you are supposed to ride easy, and then push in the second half... I was giving more than max power just to move, I was concerned if I would even have any energy left for the second half!. I would probably be faster if I was simply walking the bike.. I was so pissed I yelled "KURWAAAAAA" which is a very bad word in Polish, and I think I scared all nearby cows.... I was mad. How come you spin your legs like crazy and get no movement....
Finally, after 20 miles of riding in a peanut butter, I turned back and rode with some tailwind. Some, because the wind decided to blow only occasionally now. Still, better than having it in my face.
All that anger I developed during the first 20 miles was used toward max power on the reminder of the course. I could not believe I was that fast! Some miles I was riding over 25 mph... And it felt so easy! My strategy was to ride with an effort level that felt comfortable. As soon as I felt like I pushed, I would either change the gear, or slow down. I have had so many people telling me it is very easy to get carried away on the bike, you will regret it on the run. I kept that in mind, and controlled my temper. It felt good.
At the very end it came to me I would be finishing at 3 hours 30 minutes, which was almost 30 minutes less than I expected. I pushed a bit harder to make sure it happens.

What would you do differently?:

Overall it was a great course. Flat, only few turns. Views are green grass of Wisconsin on each side, which is calming and relaxing. Despite the awful wind, I had a nice ride. I cannot control the weather, and while I was pissed at the winds, I reminded myself that the forecast was calling for lightening (which would've cancelled the race), and that didn't happen, and that there was not much sun, which was helpful, and that I completed the damn swim, so I should shut up and stop complaining.
I felt very well - physically and mentally.
Oh, I should've mentioned at one point I was trying to have my gummi bears, and it caused my phone to fell off on the street... I had to stop, run to catch the phone, and then noticed my chain fell off. I struggled with putting it on (mainly because I wanted to do it fast). Note for the future: make sure your phone is in the pocket that you don't use, and not with gummi bears....
At some point I also got really hot, so I stopped to take the shirt of. I am not sure if this is something I should address for the future races. The weather was unpredictable.
Transition 2
  • 01m 58s

Nothing spectacular happened here. I changed the shoes, grabbed bib belt, sip some gatorade, and walk out.
What would you do differently?:

I should've put some sunscreen on.... The sky was covered with clouds, so I didn't bother. Now my back is red :)
  • 2h 28m 37s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 11m 20s  min/mile

I walked out of the transition, and kept walking for a bit. I had no intentions to start with hard core running. I took the time to turn on my phone, and open the chips. We had to walk the same hill that bikers, and my strategy was to walk up that hill, and not run it. This was a good exercise to get the legs adjust from bike to run. Suddenly, Kuba showed up next to me on his bike. He rode for few miles of the course with me. The trail was open to the public, so we had runners, hikers, and bikers along. Everyone was aware of the racers, which made it a great experience. And gave Kuba a way to be next to me for the first part.
The course is on a trail, but it was nothing difficult. Again, probably given my trail running experience. I read reviews that mentioned roots, rocks, and all other crazy obstacles, and I barely saw those. Maybe they changed the course, I don't know. The path was pretty wide, nice to run, pretty shaded. I love running through the forest, so it was a very nice experience for me.
For the second loop Kuba joined me as a runner, and we run the last 6 miles together. We even crossed the finish line together, which was fun.

What would you do differently?:

I had a very good experience. Again, I kept the pace conservative, as I did not want to injure myself. At the end of the run I started to feel I had feet. Nothing painful, just a little uncomfortable. I cannot think of anything I would change. Well, maybe the sunscreen.
Post race
Warm down:

I was unable to eat anything rich, but craved for the watermelon, and had few. Took a walk to transition, pack our stuff, and walked to the car. Had a beer and decided that we smell really bad, thus, it would be a good idea to swim a bit in a lake. And we did that. Well, it was not swimming, as the water felt brutally cold. I walk a bit in it, then covered myself for few moments, and it made my body feel great. We chilled out on a grass, had few reflections on the training and racing, and went home.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

I did not expect anything spectacular given less than two months of training. I planned to finish in 8 hours, and I made it in 7, so that's great.
I felt absolutely fantastic - physically and mentally - which I call a success despite the slow finish time.

Event comments:

I have had a great time! I love small local races, and this one was great for the beginners. Lots of water/aid stations, just enough volunteers, especially during the swim.

Last updated: 2019-04-29 12:00 AM
01:07:58 | 1931 meters | 03m 31s / 100meters
Age Group: 0/17
Overall: 0/158
Performance: Good
Suit: swimming suit
Course: Triangle
Start type: Run Plus: Waves
Water temp: 67F / 19C Current: Medium
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting:
Waves: Good Navigation: Good
Rounding: Good
Time: 04:08
Performance: Good
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed: Good
03:29:18 | 56 miles | 16.05 mile/hr
Age Group: 0/17
Overall: 0/158
Performance: Good
Wind: Headwind
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence:
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 01:58
Overall: Good
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike Good
Running with bike Good
Racking bike Good
Shoe and helmet removal Good
02:28:37 | 13.1 miles | 11m 20s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/17
Overall: 0/158
Performance: Good
Course: Trail run, two loops.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
Physical exertion [1-5] 5
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

2019-06-24 4:33 PM

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Denver, Colorado
Subject: Aurora BayCare High Cliff Triathlon

2019-06-24 4:37 PM
in reply to: #5260232

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Denver, Colorado
Subject: RE: Aurora BayCare High Cliff Triathlon
I forgot about the pictures!

(happy finisher.jpg)

(out of the swim.jpg)

(getting ready for the bike.jpg)

(after the race.jpg)

(walking swim start.jpg)

happy finisher.jpg (512KB - 2 downloads)
out of the swim.jpg (272KB - 2 downloads)
getting ready for the bike.jpg (461KB - 1 downloads)
after the race.jpg (793KB - 2 downloads)
walking swim start.jpg (173KB - 1 downloads)
2019-06-24 4:39 PM
in reply to: marysia83

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Denver, Colorado
Subject: RE: Aurora BayCare High Cliff Triathlon
THANK YOU to all Manatees for all your advice, tips, and support! It would not be a successful race without your input and feedback!
2019-06-27 1:33 PM
in reply to: marysia83

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Raleigh, NC area
Subject: RE: Aurora BayCare High Cliff Triathlon
2019-06-27 7:55 PM
in reply to: marysia83

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Subject: RE: Aurora BayCare High Cliff Triathlon

 You had fun and beat your time goal - that's great, congratulations!!

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