Chisago Lakes Sprint Race Report

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!

 

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A Triathlete’s First Marathon

Almost exactly one month ago I raced in, and finished, my first marathon; the 42nd edition of  Grandma’s Marathon! Since its been a month, and since I’m low on time, I’ll just recap the major events that transpired on the second weekend in June.

Grandma’s is a Saturday race, so on Thursday morning my dad and I made the 1 hour and 45 minute drive to Duluth. We got checked into our room at UMD right away and were amongst the first to do so.  We stayed in Heaney Hall, which happened to be the same college apartment complex that Claire has lived in the last two years! After settling in a bit we went down to the DECC to pick up my packet. This is the same building in which the transitions of the Superiorman Triathlon used to be held.  After quickly walking through the expo, my dad and I drove up to Two Harbors. We ate lunch at the Blackstone (?) restaurant, and I enjoyed the world’s finest chicken pot pie. Then, on our way back to Duluth, we drove the race course. I made sure to find some markers that I could reference during the race. It was a beautiful afternoon with temperatures dipping into the high 50’s down around Lake Superior.  Then it was an uneventful night, resting up and setting up my race kit for Saturday.

On Friday my dad and I grabbed breakfast at Perkins, where I scarfed down 3 pancakes, 3 eggs, and 3 things of sausage.  Oh, and some hashbrowns.  The weather was looking pretty cold and rainy for race day so we made another trip to the expo so I could pick up some knee-high compression socks…. for a crazy $60. Then, as we were leaving, the sky turned really dark and it started to storm hard.  We made it back to our apartment at the University and waited around while Claire and my mom drove up from Forest Lake.  They got to Duluth safe, and during a slight break in the weather I did a final 1.25 mile warm up around campus.  Then it was off to dinner, where I had a salmon-ceaser salad and some flatbread pizza, and then it was bedtime around 8:00!

Race morning started around 3:00, when I woke up to eat a half of a bagel quick. Then I went back to bed until 5:30ish, when things got real.  I dawned my race outfit: My Boco trucker hat worn backwards, a light blue Nike no-sleeve running tank top, my black Nike Oregon Project shorts, my new black compression socks, and my amazing light blue Nike Vaporfly 4% shoes. These are seriously the best shoes ever made for distance running, the hype is well worth it.  I headed out the door and followed some athletes to where we were loading the bus.  I hopped on one and sat next to an older, quiet lady.  Race morning conditions were perfect: slightly chilly with clouds and fogginess by the lake, but no rain! After we got to the start line I did my best to keep moving, take in nutrition, and go to the bathroom as much as possible.  I also met up with my freshman year roommate, Jon Bergly, who was racing! We chatted a bit and went our separate ways.  After a final bathroom stop I made my way to the crowded starting area. It was a really long, self-seeded corral.  I started just before the 3:45 pace group, as my goal was to hold an 8:00 pace for the whole race.  I wanted to race smart, and be in control the whole time.

The start was kind of uneventful.  The beginners took off, and we walked forward as a humongous group until we crossed the start line. First marathon, underway!

Mile 1: 7:58.  This was a perfect start.  I chatted a bit with some guy wearing a tri-suit, and it felt SUPER easy and really boring.

Mile 2: 7:46. I took in 1 of my Gu’s at the 2 mile mark.

Mile 3: 7:45.  The last 2 miles were a bit faster than I wanted, but I felt great and settled in around some people that, as it would turn out, I was around for most of the race. Also, I got some water at the first aid station.  I made sure to take some, or I’d be paying later on.

Mile 4: 7:46. Consistent.

Mile 5: 7:47. More water at the aid station.

Mile 6: 7:48

Mile 7: 7:46. More water, another Gu.

Mile 8: 7:49.

Mile 9: 7:45. More water. When I say more water, I mean running through the aid station and getting 3-4 small sips from the cup before the water bounced out of the cup.  This whole time, I’ve been feeling great and the weather has been foggy and cool.  Perfect weather, with a slight tailwind if anything.

Mile 10: 7:38

Mile 11: 7:47. More water.

Mile 12: 7:45, another Gu.

Mile 13: 7:47, more water.

Mile 13.1: 1:41:47 for the first half!

Mile 14: 7:45

Mile 15: 7:47, more water.

Mile 16: 7:51

Mile 17: 7:55, another Gu and some water.

Mile 18: 8:13. Started to feel a little tired here so I slowed a bit, but still right around my goal pace. Had to start pushing a bit.

Mile 19: 8:22

Mile 20: 8:57.  Right about here is when I started to crash.  For the rest of the race I walked once or twice each mile, usually around aid stations.  This started the ever-so-slight uphill until mile 24. We entered Duluth at this point and every mile was supported until the finish. At some aid stations I’d grab a little fruit in addition to water.

Mile 21: 10:11.  Yep, hurting.

Mile 22: 10:13. Last Gu.

Mile 23: 10:45. Included a steep-ish, but short, part of a hill.  It was all downhill from here.

Mile 24: 10:10.

Mile 25: 10:53.  I pulled off to go to the bathroom in a port-o-potty then got right back to it.

Mile 26: 10:07.  Entered canal park and ran around by the lakefront. Didn’t have anything left for a kick.

Mile 26.2: Finished!!! On the home stretch I got a pat on the back, and was passed, by the guy from mile 1 in the tri suit.  I also saw Claire cheering right along the side of the boxed-off route.

After the race it was sooo difficult to walk.  I got in line for a massage, puked a few times, got a really nice massage, limped back to meet my family, and we made the drive home.

Here are a few final notes:

  • Miles 1 – 18 felt GREAT.  My longest run in preparation was only 13.1 miles, so I was really happy with how far I made it still feeling fresh.
  • This is a perfect running course, and there were perfect conditions.
  • The Nike Vaporfly 4% are amazing shoes.  So much cushion and spring.  I’m going to wear them during any half ironman triathlons I do.
  • There were a ton of spectators and volunteers along the course, for nearly the whole way!
  • Marathons are surprisingly fun.

That’s about all I got, in regards to the marathon.  Since then I’ve been getting back into triathlon shape, ever so slowly.  Originally I posted about doing 6 races, but I wasn’t in shape for the Heart of the Lakes Tri.  I’ll be doing the Chisago Lakes SPRINT, not half, next weekend, then I’ll skip racing until the end of August again to prepare for the Superiorman Half Ironman, which I’m feeling pretty good about.  See you at Paradise Park on Sunday the 29th!

Grandma’s Marathon Pre-Race Report

Hey internet, it’s been a while! With my FIRST marathon only 130 hours away, I guess now is a good time to speak a few words about my training and expectations.

Training has actually been going fine. I haven’t been swimming or biking AT ALL, just running in preparation for Saturday’s 26.2 miles. I probably don’t have as many miles under my belt as I should, and I probably haven’t been as consistent as I should have, but my running has been feeling good, I’ve been injury free, and I have a couple of key workouts to fall back on. One was an hour run where I got in 8.27 miles (7:16 pace).   That brisk pace (for that long of  a run) was just one of those days where you don’t feel the road beneath you, and I still had gas in the tank at the end.  Another was a 13.1 mile training run.  I tried to take it easy, and I made it in 1:43:46 (7:55 pace).  Best of all, my lungs and legs were feeling good at the end, despite knee and hip pain. After a few months of training going well, this week is just some easy tapering-off  for the race!

Here’s my predictions, goals, expectations, and thoughts in no particular order or logical progression regarding the marathon this Saturday:

  • If EVERYTHING goes the best it can, I want to break 3:30. This would require an 8:00/mile average.  EVERYTHING needs to fall into place.
  • 26.2 miles is a long way to run.
  • It’ll be a great atmosphere to race in.  The course runs from Two Harbors to Duluth along the Highway 61 scenic route, which is my favorite road on the planet.  The whole course is gorgeous, and the whole North Shore of Lake Superior has a special vibe that nowhere else can match. Also, there are 17,000 athletes racing between the half and the full marathon!! With so many people and so many spectators, its bound to be a great time.
  • Mile 1-5 goal: Be bored.  I need to be patient and not go out at a 7:15 pace for a few miles.  There’s no banking time in a race this long.
  • Mile 5-20 goal: Be smart.  I need to race smart, taking in the right nutrition and pacing myself well, if I am to have a chance at surviving the race.
  • Mile 20-26.2: Be tough.  This is when the race really starts. As we enter the city of Duluth, I’m hoping to be able to grit my teeth and drop the hammer and mentally get myself to the finish line.
  • 26.2 miles is a long way to run.
  • I’m excited to be able to race in my ne Nike Vaporfly 4%, the shoes that were using in the BreakingTwo project by Nike.  I wore them for the first time yesterday, and man, the hype is justified.  Those are some fast, cushioned, springy shoes.
  • 26.2 miles is a long way to run.
  • I hope my mom, dad, and Claire have a good time, since they’ll only get to watch me for like a minute as I finish!
  • I think the weather is looking rainy for Saturday.  This may change, but I’d be very welcoming to cold, and even a bit rainy, weather.

Well, I’ll be back with a race report sometime next weekend.  Wish me luck, and feel free to comment with any advice!

Some IMPORTANT Updates

Over the past month or two I had been posting training updates every 6 days or so, and its been a longer while since my last post! I don’t want to write on-an-on, so here are some bullet points highlighting what I’ve been up to…

  • I took the MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test) on Saturday, March 24. So, my training block leading up to that date was mostly skipped or significantly shortened. That Saturday also started my spring break, and I only ran once or twice over break because I was exhausted from all of my preparations for the MCAT, and because I traveled a bit (Bayfield, Wisconsin once and Duluth twice).
  • SO, I plan to get back on track with my training sometime this week.
  • HERE IS THE IMPORTANT UPDATE: My prior race schedule involved Grandma’s marathon, the Chisago Lakes Half Ironman, the Superiorman Half Ironman, and the TC Marathon. Well, triathlon attendance in Minnesota has been dropping over the past few  years and I want to do my part to help the tri community a bit. So, instead of doing just two triathlons, I’ll be doing 6 this summer, while still keeping my long-distance goals. I’ll do the Heart of Lakes triathlon, Chisago Lakes Half Ironman, North Mankato Triathlon, Superiorman Half Ironman, Square Lake Sprint, and a 70.3 somewhere on the east coast Oh, and no TC Marathon. I’m already sick of running so much and I want to ride my bike. Hopefully adding a couple of races (while giving some training time after Grandma’s Marathon) will help the tri community. I love this sport and the triathlon lifestyle, so mixing up a few things is the least I can do.

Training Update: Block 8

Well this 6-day training block was a little rough for me.  On Tuesday I woke up feeling cold and achy, and as I sat in class I started feeling sick to my stomach. So, I laid in bed all Tuesday and skipped my workout.  I felt a little better on Wednesday, but I didn’t want to do a speed workout the day after I was sick, so I skipped that workout too.  Because I took the two days off, I shortened my long run yesterday so I could just get my legs moving again and to get back on track for Block 9. Here’s the recap:

Day 1: Off (as usual).

Day 2: Base run. 4 miles @7:30/mile on the treadmill.

Day 3: Threshold run. 2 miles @ 6:23/mile on the treadmill.

Day 4: Skipped, sick.

Day 5: Skipped, sick.

Day 6: Long run. Shortened to 5 miles @7:45/mile on the treadmill.

Today is Day 1 (off-day) for block 9, and I hope to be back on track with running starting tomorrow!

Training Update: Block 7

I finished my 7th 6-day training block this past Friday, and it all went well. Here’s the usual recap:

Day 1: Off

Day 2: Base run. 3 miles on the treadmill, 7:30/mile average.

Day 3: Threshold run. 2 Miles on the treadmill, 6:23/mile average.

Day 4: Base run. 3 miles on the treadmill, 7:30/mile average.

Day 5: Interval run. 2k, and I had to be on the treadmill because a sports team had the field house, so I did 5 x 0.25 miles @ 5:00/mile pace.  I haven’t ran this fast in a while and it was tough! I hit the pace for all of the intervals (1:15/0.25 miles) and I took a minute break between each.

Day 6: Long run. 6.5 miles OUTSIDE along east river road, I ran from St. Thomas to the U of M and back.  First outdoor run of the spring, and it was pretty tough because the river road is a little hillier than you’d expect.  I averaged 8:08/mile, a little slow but that’s no problem.

So, I racked up 15.75 miles during this block, which is more than I’ve done during most weeks of triathlon training in the past haha.

Big news: Block 8 starts me increasing my base distance! So for blocks 1-7 my base distance was 3 miles, and for blocks 8-14 they’ll be 4 miles, keeping the same pace of course.  As for my speed workout distance, blocks 1-5 were 1.5miles/kilometers, and blocks 6-10 are/were 2miles/kilometers.  Seeing a pattern? So my distance is increasing slightly and I will continue to do so, following the pattern I just mentioned.  The biggest news: My running is feeling more natural and I’m injury free! Cant wait to start running outside more often!

Training Update: Block 6

First and foremost, I’ve stopped doing the core and lifting sessions that previous blocks have had.  Just not enough time in the day when you’re studying and average of 180 pages each day for the Medical College Admissions Test on top of 4 classes. So, This block has no lifting or core, but after my test on the 24th I’ll start to incorporate them again. Most importantly though, I’m still on track with running (following the same patterns as other blocks). This week I increased my “speed” session distances.  Here is what block 6 looked like:

Day 1: Off

Day 2: Base run. 2 miles at 7:30/mile.  Was running out of time between classes so I did 2 instead of 3.

Day 3: Threshold run. 2 miles at 6:23/mile.

Day 4: Base run. 3 miles at 7:30/mile.

Day 5: Interval workout.  I did 2k total on the track. I did 2×400, 2×300, 2×200, 2×100. The first of each set was at 5:20/mile pace, or :20/100meter pace, and the next interval of each distance was just “faster”. I did: 1:20, 1:15… :59, :55… :38, :34… :19, :15.  Went well.

Day 6: Long run. 6 miles, averaging 7:45/mile.  First 3 were at 7:48 pace and next 3 were at 6:42 pace.  Felt good!