I should have known the day before doing Chicago I was in new territory. At the pre-race expo, you have to walk through a long hallway to get from 1 section of the sprawling expo of every known triathlon gadget, gear, food type you could imagine, to the other. This expo is so big, you must use a long hallway to get from gigantic room full of tri stuff to another. Through this hallway they have hung poster boards from "covers" of prior Aug. issues of ChicagoAA and Windy City sports. Some of these "covers" go waaaaaay back. I won't even say how far back. But as I walked through there, I can remember doing this race back in the day when these issues were on the news stand!!! Yikes. I don't know how many times I've done Chicago Tri, but I have done it when the swim was at Ohio St. Beach, and Navy Pier was the transition area.!!!!! Also, when it was a Hawaii qualifier!
This was my big race of the year. It was big alright. Thousands showed up! Including a competitive field as tough as Nationals. I had no plans this year for anything huge. I just wanted to get fast and have fun along the way. I did accomplish both of these goals, but just wasn't able to put the fastness that I achieved this year out on the Chicago course. I'm not sure why, still can't fully pinpoint what was off, but I was just average on Sunday . That isn't going to cut it in a field that was stacked. There were girls racing I've never heard of who were probably infants in diapers when I was doing this race Ohio St. beach.
We stayed in the city Fri and Sat night before the race. Thanks to Adam's AUS client who is "down under" we had access to a condo that was directly across the street from where I lived my first year of PT school at Northwestern. It brought back a lot of memories of grad school, and my VERY early days of triathlon. Running and biking on the lakefront, living 1 block off Michigan Ave, completely broke and going to school. With us was Thomo! and his girlfriend Kel. Thomo was in town to race, but opted not to race due to a back strain he suffered at Timberman. It was fun having the Aussie pro's around to hang out and train with.
Race morning came and I rode my bike to the transtion in the dark passing all the party goers stumbling home. It was freezing cold, even with all my layers on. It was also pitch dark. I found my spot with wave 20 and got ready to start my day with 9000other triathletes. One reason I signed up for the elite wave was to go off in the front of all the thousands, also.....I'd also rather put myself up against the fastest and finish in the middle of the elite amateur div. vs. first of 40 yr olds! I was wave 20, I think there were something like 50 waves this year!
My swim: after a rough start of getting pummeled and punched like in an Ironman, I felt pretty good after the first turn. I got a good rhythm going and swam decent for me and my 1 -2 x a week of swim fitness. I could see Adam, Joe and Thomo on the side trying to get me to catch the feet in front of me! I did bridge a couple gaps to hang on to some feet for part of the way. I peeled off my wetsuit and sprinted fast to transition. It was really chilly, so I went faster to warm up After several minues of sprinting I finally get to my bike make a quick transition and was on my way. There were a lot of bikes already gone so I knew I had a lot of work to do.
The bike started off right into the wind blowing strong out of the north. It was cold and I tried to be patient to let my legs warm up, but between cold and wind I felt the burn. I don't' mind the wind. As a strong rider, I usually can use it to my advantage. I was riding strong and but couldn't wait to make that turn and have that tailwind. I saw a guy wipe out hard right in front of me. His front tire caught 1 of those seems and it flipped him. I almost stopped, but I saw him get up and go running after his bike across traffic so I knew he was at least alive! Once I made the turn I really tried to get it going. I knew I would start to feel better. I was riding strong at this point but only caught like 2 girls. This is the beauty of the depth of this field. I kept trying to take it to the next level but I couldn't really get it there. No one passed me on the bike, I was pretty much stuck right in the middle making very little headway.
The run; I came into T2 and took off running. My legs felt good, breathing good, and had a great start. I felt decent. Just passed mile 1 I felt a rock in my shoe. It became annoying, so I opted to stop and get it out, because I thought I'd run better with it out of there. I felt good and was running steady, but didn't feel the snap that I've had in some of my training runs. I kept trying to surge, but couldn't find that higher gear again. 1 girl passed me on the run, but after turning back north into the strong wind, I caught her again. It was very windy the last 2 miles, I felt strong not but had no zip.
I was once 4th OA at this race with a 2:22 That wasn't that long ago. This year I was like 25th with a 2:26! I guess triathlon has come a long way in just a couple years. Sometimes I wonder if I am foolish for being out there still. Adam so lovingly pointed out that I was like 15-20 yrs older than some of the field. But I don't FEEL that old (most of the time!)which is why I am still going at it, and I am still having fun so thats what counts. My only disappointment was that I wasn't able to put down the effort and ability in this race that I achieved this year for whatever reason. I had no time to dwell on it because I came home to an awesome first grader. He had homework. It involved writing and filling out questions all about him for his new classroom scrapbook. My day as a triathlete done. But, I wouldn't trade this for anything, not even for 1st or 4th OA at Chicago Tri.
And we achieved a milestone. Jack has his first loose tooth which is "the bomb" when you are 6!