When: 06/09/2019 – 6:30 am
Where: Batavia, Illinois
Distance: Sprint: 400 yards (~.25 miles) Swim, 16.1 Mile Bike, 4.1 Mile Run
Results: 1:24:47 – 27th overall, 1/16 M55-59 Age Group
This race is one of my favorite sprints triathlons to race. It’s a race that is well executed, has a beautiful locale in the Western suburbs of Chicago, and it has the right balance of distances that play into my strengths as a triathlete.
I skipped this race the morning of the race last year due to a nasty storm that rolled through the area. I was even heading there in my car when I convinced myself that it was for sure going to be canceled. I came home and later found out that they eventually waited out the storm and held it anyway. I was mad at myself for bailing, so this year I was for sure going to race come rain or shine.
I really overloaded my weekend leading up to the race. I bought a used boat on Friday and was dealing with that new purchase (Fun!). On Saturday, my Ironman training plan called for a 3.5-hour ride followed by a 30-minute run that I did with two of my Gunner teammates Dave and Jeff (Fun!). And if that wasn’t enough, I went with my wife and friend John to see Cheap Trick in concert and stood the whole time (Fun!)! I was definitely setting myself up for a rough race on Sunday morning, especially after standing at the concert, getting to bed late, and having to get up at 4 am to drive to Batavia. I spent the concert thinking about what I will need to do to convince myself to get up at that early and go race a triathlon. I set the alarm and told myself to see how I feel in the morning.
RACE DAY MORNING
The alarm went off and I jumped out of bed. I felt great and was actually excited about racing. I checked the radar and could see that there was a chance for some rain, but not an orange and red blob on the radar screen like last year, just a friendly green blob. Green means GO! I got dressed, grabbed a scone that my daughter had baked and a cup of coffee and I was off.
I know how to drive to Batavia, done it many times. But I set my GPS for the location I usually park just so I didn’t have to worry about it. What did I do? I completely missed the exit ramp for I-88 westbound to Aurora! I had to drive an additional couple of miles up to Butterfield Road and turn around. I’m so dumb. I think I was distracted by a radio program that was talking about “This Day in History” and it was pretty interesting. Anyway, I realized my mistake soon enough and there was no harm, no foul.
I found a spot to park, unloaded my bike and made my way to transition to get body marked, which I will always contend is the dumbest thing ever. I will be wearing a number 60 written on my shoulder and my age on my left calf in Sharpie for the rest of the week. Maybe I will try some of my daughter or wife’s make up remover wipes.
I was pleased to find that my bike would be racked in the second row of bikes, really close to Swim Out. I like to rack next to the legs of the bike rack, it keeps another bike from being too close on that side and gives me some extra space to throw my transition bag down, because I am still bringing too much junk.
After setting up the bike and my stuff I took a bathroom break and headed to the swimming hole to check out the water. We were told that the water temp was 70 degrees, and it felt slightly cold to me. I don’t usually wear a wetsuit for this race because it is short and the water last time was about 74 degrees. I decided that after dipping my toes into the water I would wear the wetsuit. I put it on, all by myself for a change, and swam a couple easy laps as a warm up. I always try to warm up for the swim to get used to the water and to remind myself of the pace I want to keep.
The swim is two loops in a smallish park district swimming hole, which was a former small quarry of sorts from what I can gather. The bottom is all sand, and on the backside of the loop, I found my hands hitting bottom. In the past, most people will just start walking this part of the swim and I have done that too. I try not to run it because it raises my heart rate too high. I made a mental note that I would probably walk it and then I got in line for the time trial start.
Time: 6:15 – 1:25min/100 yds. – 3rd place AG
PRE-SWIM STRATEGY: Start easy, don’t go too fast, relax
SWIM REALITY: GUNNED IT AS HARD AS I COULD!
The race asks you for your predicted time when you sign up and I usually put 8 minutes because I typically swim at about 2 min/100 yds. When I seeded myself in line I saw a sign for 6 minutes and just joined in. I knew I would be wearing a wetsuit and might be a little faster, but I wanted to get the swim over with quick and get out on the bike course before it got too crowded.
The race started promptly at 6:30 am right after the National Anthem, and we slowly started getting fed into the water at about five-second intervals. I was pretty calm and relaxed before getting in, but as soon as my face hit the water after about ten strides I was GUNNING it hard. Why do I do this?! It’s like doing an interval in the pool without the benefit of a break afterward! Anyway, I did rein myself in a little bit, caught a little bit of my breath when I walked a small portion and then calmed myself for the second loop. I must admit, I was expecting a lot of swim traffic, seeing that it’s a two-looper and that there are roughly 30-40 swimmers in the water at one time. I didn’t have much contact at all. A few tickles on my feet, but pretty much contact-free. I got up on my feet on the shallow part a little sooner or else I would have swam into a bunch of walking swimmers ahead of me and started unzipping my wetsuit and made my way out to T1.
I’m glad I seeded myself where I did, and I was a little surprised to see that 6:15 finish. But I was wearing that wetsuit and it definitely did make me quicker. The swim finish put me 3rd overall in my age group. The two triathletes faster than me were 45 and 30 seconds quicker. Not too shabby of a swim for myself.
T1 – SWIM TO BIKE
TIME: 1:38 – 3rd place AG
PRE-T1 STRATEGY: Don’t waste time, be methodical, get out quick
T1 REALITY: GET PUZZLED AS TO HOW THE WATCH I HAVE OWNED FOR TWO YEARS ACTUALLY WORKS, WASTE TIME DRYING OFF FEET TO PUT ON SOCKS ON MY TENDER FEET, GET ANXIOUS ABOUT HOW MUCH TIME I WAS WASTING!
As I ran out of the swim and crossed the timing mat I realized that I needed to hit the button on my watch signaling the change from swim to T1, but I couldn’t remember which button to press! I guessed and it was the correct one. Next up was getting the wetsuit off, which typically does not go quickly for me. But I was using my new XTERRA wetsuit and it’s a little bigger than my old Blue Seventy. I got it down to my ankles and just gave it a swift pull with my hands. Came off pretty easy.
For some reason, I don’t fly through transition. The race announcer was jokingly chiding many of the age group award runner ups who had lost positions to those ahead of them by one or two seconds that they should have spent less time in transition. I took that to heart. I need to stop messing around. The wetsuit is a major time sucker, and then I take the time to dry my feet, attempt to pull on socks over wet feet, and put on my cycling shoes, glasses, and helmet. I need to forget about socks, not wear a helmet and leave my shoes on the bike and just do a flying mount. Yeah, two of those three won’t happen, as no helmet gets you a disqualification, and flying mounts are not something 55-year-olds should be taking up. There’s a reason there are so many folks spectating at BIKE OUT, it’s to see crashes and the stupidity that goes on! I guess I could bike without socks like some uncivilized knuckle dragger.
I realize I give away some precious seconds to others in transitions, but I was slightly surprised to see that I was once again the 3rd fastest in my age group. They were 37 and 9 seconds faster than me.
Time: 46:46 – 4th place AG
PRE-BIKE STRATEGY: GUN IT AS HARD AS I CAN!
BIKE REALITY: GUNNED IT AS HARD AS I COULD!
I hopped on the bike and off I went. There are some plywood covered speed bumps that you have to navigate over right at the start that requires being a little cautious with, and then it’s a left turn and up a short, sharp hill. This hill surprises a lot of first-time racers at this course, but I had the right gearing and spun up easily. Then it’s flat and fast for the most part. There are some hills here and there but they are pretty short-lived, and the downhill portions more than make up for it.
There was a girl who was ahead of me wearing an ITU tri suit with her name on the back and I attempted to keep pace with her. That lasted maybe 3 or 4 miles and she started to pull away. Her calf showed she was 43 years old, which was certainly impressive to me. I hoped to catch her later on the run.
With that first hill climb, and the adrenaline of starting the bike I was maxed out on my heart rate and breathing pretty hard. It wasn’t long though until I settled into my comfort zone and was riding comfortably hard. I passed a ton of riders in the first half of the ride and had a few overtake me in the second half, but overall I think I did pretty well on this ride. I had misplaced my bike computer and so I was racing without really having my speed available at a quick glance. It was kind of a blessing riding by feel and not getting caught up in my pace. I was a little surprised to see at the end that my watch was showing about 19 mph average, but the official race results have me averaging 20.1 mph. I’ll take it!
The bike course is usually about 14.5 miles long, but due to construction, they added a detour that increased the course to 16.1 miles. I didn’t notice it at all really.
Coming back into transition there are some sharp turns at the end of some hills, so you have to have a little caution with that, but I gunned it on in any way.
I dropped to fourth place on the bike segment, with only about 70 seconds separating me from the first place age group bike finisher.
T2 – BIKE TO RUN
Time: 1:27 – 3rd place AG
PRE-T2 STRATEGY: Don’t waste time, be methodical, get out quick
T2 REALITY: Didn’t waste time, was methodical, tried to run on rubbery legs
Nothing surprising here, rack the bike, take the helmet and cycling shoes off, put on running shoes, grab the visor and race belt and put them on while exiting transition. The only thing I did that robbed time from me was I had a gel flask lying there and I took a quick squeeze from it and a swig of water to wash it down. There were only 18 seconds between the first place guy and me. Not too bad. I’m always quicker in T2, as long as I’m not messing around with socks.
Time: 28:41 – 2nd place AG
PRE-RUN STRATEGY: Try to hold 7-minute miles, pick off runners one at a time
RUN REALITY: Held 7-minute miles! But I got passed by as many as I passed myself
I left T2 and hit the trail and got myself up to a comfortably hard race pace. I checked the watch a couple of times and saw 6:55/7:05/7:10 pace looking back at me, which I was content with.
Not more than a half mile or so out on the run course there was a turtle on the side of the path taking stock of the parade that was passing him by. There’s been a lot of turtles this year for some reason. My first thought was to not get snapped, and then I thought how fast can a turtle be? I decided to press on as the hare, and stop thinking about the wildlife.
The turnaround on this out and back always seems farther away than it should, but it was about 1.5 miles out. After turning around and picking up my pace again I saw the girl that had pulled away from me on the bike course. By mile 2 I caught and passed her, just like I had hoped. I realized at this point that she was racing the duathlon and not the triathlon, so I wasn’t really competing against her. She was the overall female winner of the duathlon. But I had reeled her in just like I had hoped to do. ALWAYS BET ON THE RUNNER!
It was about 3 miles into the run when a guy sporting a 59 on his calf blew by me like I was standing still. He was either a duathlete or he had a really slow swim and/or bike. Since I was second overall in my age group for the run, I assume the guy ahead of me was this 59 year old. He did, in fact, have a pretty slow bike.
I started kicking around 3.5 miles and finished strong. The official results have me averaging 6:59 min/mile pace! Win!
After averaging 4th place or so on the different stages of the race, I moved up to the top spot in the age group after the run. ALWAYS BET ON THE RUNNER!
Here’s the link to the official results: Race Results