This past Sunday, I competed in my second Chicago Triathlon event. The race was on the same course as last year; however, the race “feel” was a bit different. Last year we had a wetsuit swim in the 66 degree water, this year non-wetsuit swim in the 73 degree water (and did lake water feel refreshing!!). Last year I was warming up in long sleeves in the 65 degree air temp, this year I was not doing much warming up besides swimming, as the air temp reached 92 degrees! Over the years, I have learned to try and conserve as much as possible before the race on hot days and that means little warm-up on the bike and run. The crowd and race atmosphere was still the same and I loved having a large crowd there to cheer on the pros.
With tougher conditions expected, I truly feel preparations for the race begin right from the moment you wake. I made sure to hydrate and eat a hearty breakfast with the noon start time. I slept in until 8:15AM (nice!) and had a PURE bar to get my body going along with water. At 9:00 AM, I ate a peanut butter and banana bagel with 20 oz of EFS lemon flavor drink. Prior to the race, I drank another bottle of EFS drink and made sure to have my aero bottle and an additional First Endurance water bottle filled. During the bike ride, I drank both bottles and this helped me stay hydrated to the race finish. Before I left for the race, I made sure to wear my Bite Tech mouthpiece so I would not forget it in my transition bag before the start!
One of my favorite parts of the race is the swim in beautiful Lake Michigan. The swim is unique in that the competitors swim the length of the boat harbor and spectators can walk along the pier and follow us as we complete the 1500meter swim. The swim reminds me of my swimming days, because I can breathe to my left and see my family and husband cheering me on and actually hear people cheering while we are swimming! The swim was a deep water start and I wore my TYR Sayonara over my race suit. I was very pleased with my swim as I was able to swim with Sara McLarty and Hailey Peirsol for the first half of the swim and lost about 20 seconds to Hailey and 30 seconds to Sara by the end of the long swim. The challenge before even getting to our bikes however is an 800 meter run to get to our bikes! Last year I opted on not putting on shoes, but the year I made sure to spend the extra ten seconds to put shoes on before the run. The ten seconds I lost putting on shoes, I gained by running ten seconds faster and my feet were much happier the remainder of the race! I quickly got out of my shoes, stripped off my Sayonara, and put on my Rudy glasses and Wingspan TT Helmet.
The first part of the bike on my Fuji D-6 and Zipp Zed-Tech 808 Front and Sub-9 rear Disc was tough. I enjoyed having Sara McLarty out in front to work and try and catch up with her. Sara was riding very strong and I did not take over the lead until the half-way mark of the bike course. The bike was warm and windy (but I guess it is always windy in Chicago). The bike course is very straightforward and non-technical, so it is a grinder (glad I had my mouthpiece!) The first part is a false flat uphill and the second part is a false flat downhill section (two loops) and we had a head wind for the downhill section…so we did not have a break. My muscles were screaming at me most of the ride, but I wanted to ride strong today so I kept pushing on through.
Exiting the bike, my legs felt heavy. I quickly put on my Saucony Fastwitch flats and headed out of the 800meter transition area. I crossed the first mile marker and had a feeling the run was going to be a long, hot 10k. The first three miles was mostly a slight downhill, however, we had a headwind the entire way so it felt as if we were running uphill! I was very glad to cross that finish line and break the tape. So many factors can happen during a triathlon, you never know what obstacles are going to come your way. I was very happy and appreciative to walk away with a back to back win!