We drove up to Wisconsin, attended the expo, got me bodymarked (my first bodymarking!) got my event shirt,
Much different from the day before. There were big floating pallets on either side of the alley that the swimmers were (supposed) to swim. There were also kayaks. So, if you got tired, you could just swim over to one of the pallets or to the kayaks and hold on for a minute, and then go on. But there were A LOT of ladies in that lake.
When it was time to go down to the shore, all of us chatty ladies shuffled down to the start. And that's when we got our last pep talk before we started. (See photo of us during said pep talk)
Note, too, the "noodles" that they have on the beach there. Those are for the "swim angels" -- ladies that swim along with you with a noodle that you can hold and rest if you want. It's a very sweet idea that makes the race accessible and less stressful for new swimmers. Great concept, very female friendly. If you wanted an angel, you could ask -- or they would find you if you were crying, or hyperventilating... ;)
Then they counted us down, and off we went. I started out pretty strong, and then, suddenly, I panicked. About 50 feet into the thing, I lost it a little. So I flipped over to rest on my back, and all I could see was what seemed like hundreds of yellow caps coming at me. Whaaaaa! I took a few deep breaths, flipped back over, and started swimming for broke. I couldn't see well - the sun was coming up on the same side that I like to breath, and I didn't have mirrored goggles at the time. So, I just went like crazy -- and I totally zig-zagged. (If you go too far off course, they come and get you... so it wasn't that bad, really...) But once I had hit my groove, I really hit my groove, and I felt good and relaxed. I noticed that I was passing folks in other colored swim-caps, and I thought that was good... there was a bit of a bottleneck at the end, but I fared well, even though the sand at the end was deep, and your feet sunk pretty far down after so many other waves had loosened up the ground:
I had finished the swim in 15:13. NOT BAD! I had hardly any problems ripping off my wetsuit, but it was a bit of a mess getting from A to B in that transition. I'm happy with my transition time of 3:04.
On to the bike! I started out feeling pretty good -- getting up those hills wasn't so bad, and I wanted to get done as fast as I could... I knew there would be a wind coming and it would get stronger as the day went on, so I wanted to get going. I blazed down that nice long downhill, and hit 25mph at one point, which got me a little scared. :) It seemed like another woman and I were just trading places -- so we started chatting, and encouraging one another. I was passing ladies left and right, and trying to keep up with my new friend. Once we hit the part of the course that was pretty bad road and some gravel, the wind hit straight on, and everyone got quiet. The wind was probably around 15mph, and when a gust hit, everyone slowed considerably. But the most amazing thing about this race was the support from other competitors -- lots of "you go, chica," and "looking really strong" -- both from folks you passed and from those passing. Finally, I was coming around to the last two inclines back into transition, and let me tell you how hard those were -- the wind coming straight on, and going up those inclines with no real training on hills... Everyone was having a hard time, and I was no exception. I just ground it out...
I was happy to get into transition -- my heart rate was through the roof, so even though I knew I could just run off, I dawdled a little to get it down.
The great news? I averaged 18.3 for the bike! Nice-- total time, 42:31. Transition: 2:03. Also not bad, considering.
Next, the run. This, I figured, was my "easy" event. Ummm... I hadn't ever run that hard after cycling that hard (I'd done a few bricks, but nothing like that...). So, a few minutes after starting, I had to pull over to the side to get my breath again... I was unbelievably thirsty (because I can't drink on the bike well, and hadn't taken my water bottle from transition) and then I got a side-stitch around mile 2.5, and had to walk for a bit. In any event, it's a good run course -- just all the way around the little lake, with a bit extra, and then you come in by the recplex. There's not much shade, and I was annoyed that there was only one water stop, but that's plenty for someone who hydrates well on the bike. Also, there's lots of room for spectators to cheer you on, and it's darn accessible to them.
Back to the run: after my crudilicious performance on the running path, and what I could tell was NOT going to be a PR on the run, I figured I'd miss my goal by a lot. I also couldn't really go any faster than I was going -- my side-stitch was pretty bad, and, well... the hard efforts were catching up. So I was really happy to see the finish line, and to see My Sugar at the finish line, and to get some water at the finish line.
Then, I checked my watch: I had run the run in 28:43.
Final results: Overall rank: 417/3655, 63/370 (age group); Swim 599/3655; Bike 543/3655; Run 756/3655.
I then started adding things up, and realized that I had missed by goal by only 1:36. That's right! (And that's using the official time) I had finished my first sprint tri in 1:31:36. I was very happy. Very happy! (Followed, of course, by kicking myself for not running faster... blah blah blah)
SJV and I hung around for a while, enjoying the day -- it was gorgeous, and then we had to figure out logistics for how to get home. That's really the only down-side to this race. We had to get on a bus, to go get the car, to get the car as close as possible to the race, so that I could ride my bike to the car... Doing all of that took longer than the race itself! Still, it was very well organized -- with that much of a logistical challenge, it would have been far worse if it wasn't well organized.
Sheesh, I'm long winded. :) So there's my first post-hoc race report about Danskin Chicago. I highly recommend it for first-timers, and for other ladies that want an easy-going race. Very supportive, very fun. But it's probably not a place to get a PR -- there are a lot of ladies that don't really understand the rules yet, so sometimes you just can't go that fast. Still, I did pretty well with my time, and I liked the course.
Thanks for listening, and have a great weekend everyone!