A few weeks ago I made my way to Paradise Park in Chisago Lakes for the 7th season in a row. The Chisago Lakes Sprint was my first triathlon ever, way back in 2012, the summer after 9th grade. I come back every year not just because it’s the only race I’ve done every season, but because it’s a well organized event with a great course and the support of a small community (and it helps that I live 10 minutes away and bike the course like 10 times each year).
I got to the park just before 6:00 and picked up my packet, set up my transition spot, and met my friend from St. Thomas, Andrew, who was doing his first triathlon!!I showed him how a transition works, where to go, and then I did a bit of a warmup. After dawning my wetsuit, for the first wetsuit-legal swim in years here, I lined up for my first triathlon of the year! Yes, both shocking and exciting.
I asked Erin Ladendorf, who I was racked next to and met earlier in the morning, if I could sneak in front of her to start the swim in the front row. She’s a totally awesome person and was happy to do so. After the 10 second countdown, we were off! I started out strong but slipped back a few places after settling into a pace (lesson learned: swim more than 5 times before a race). The swim took 6:30, which was pretty slow, but I was out just behind the main pack of elite athletes.
T1 was a little slow, too, because of the fact that I had to take off my wetsuit.
After a flying mount I started the bike! Despite not riding a ton because of Grandma’s Marathon, I was feeling strong coming into the race. After exiting the tunnel and REALLY starting the bike, I found myself around a group of 4-5 other athletes. This part of the course is slightly downhill, and they were all pushing around 27-28 mph. I had to make up my mind… “Race my own race, or truly race and push with them?” I decided to hop onto the group, and the pace leveled off about 2 miles in. We were still going fast though; 26-27 on the flats, my computer reading a 25.1 mph average. After telling some guy who was riding in the middle of the road to get over, the group I was in pushed on. 2 quick notes: I only spoke up to the athlete because its dangerous to ride like that, and because it’s illegal to pass on the right in a USAT event. Secondly, we were riding together, but no, not drafting. I’ve found that the elite athletes in MN are pretty honest about keeping 3 bike lengths between eachother. The miles ticked by, and I was feeling good! I made a few accelerations but they were checked each time, so I decided to just ride it out instead of wasting energy. We came back into transition as a group of 4: me, Nicole Heininger, Moshe Peri, and some really tall guy I didn’t know. The bike was fast! Officially listed at 24.2, but my computer had me upwards of 25 mph.
I had a slow T2 and was last out of the athletes I came in around.
After looping around the park and hopping onto the roads, I passed Nicole and the tall dude and tried to chase Moshe. Mile 1 clocked in at 6:21, good for me. Nearing the turnaround I saw Matt Payne leading Kevin O’Connor by about a meter… That was going to be a good race! A bit later I saw Josh Blankenheim charging forward, then later I saw Moshe… “Ok, sitting in 5th!”. Mile 2 was 6:26. Mile 3 went by in 6:52. I made my way up the winding hill to the finish line, averaging 6:34/mile (it was 3.17 miles, not an exact 5k).
My total time was 1:22:39, which I think is my 2nd fastest clocking here in 7 starts, not bad for hardly swimming and biking this season! I chatted with Matt, Kevin, Josh, and Moshe, and Kevin invited me out on a cool down run with them. After getting back to the park I met my family, Claire, and her family. I waited around for awards, getting 2nd in my age group and 6th overall (Garett Welsch started in a later wave and finished in 4th).
It was a fun day, and I’m glad to be racing again! Next stop is the Superiorman Half Ironman at the end of August!