Monday, June 25, 2007

Big Foot Triathlon

Sunday I tried a new race close to home, the Big Foot Triathlon which benefits the Northwestern Hospital Children's Oncology Group. This race was run by Running Away from Chicago and they did a great job. I really enjoyed the race and hope to race there again. I haven't done an Olympic distance race in over three years and was a little concerned on how to pace it. Since this was a 'training race' for me Saturday was my usual grind of long ride, long swim. I also elected to stay at home and drive up to the race (about 1 hr away) which ment a 3:30 AM wake-up call. The ride went smoothly with a short pit stop just over the boarder. I arrived at 5:05 AM and was one of the first 20 into transition. I love arriving early. I was set up quickly then biked, ran and stretched before a lot of people were in the transition area. I even got a nice long swim warm-up which is a real luxury. The water felt great and was clear.

I saw some familiar faces Jan, Kim, Christine, Kimber (Team Polar), Laura, Jeff, John (x3), and others which really put me at ease. Fast or slow at least I have a lot of folks I like racing around me. Pre-swim start I was talking Kim "off the ledge" a bit. She was anxious about the race as this was her second Olympic distance race and in her first she was forced off the road by a male racer. (What the hell is that about?!)

Swim: The swim was a dog leg left out and back. I swam straight at the emergency boats to take the most direct line and soon was the first in my wave to the far buoy. Notice I didn't say fastest. The fastest guy in my wave probably swam over two miles as he zig zaged the entire course going from my far left to my far right. Once headed back we were going back against a bit of a current as I could see the sea weed on the bottom pointing back toward me. Crazy swim guy was all over me a few times and I decided to bridge up to the women's wave in front of me. Somehow the results show me as 9th out of the water but when I was at the bike rack all the bikes were there. (Hmmm) Bike: This bike was a good challenge. Hills in all the wrong places, false flats and the wind seemed to be against us most of the way but I still rode well. My goal was to try to catch my friend Kim which I did about half way into the bike. She was riding well I thought. In 2006 the fastest bike was 1:02 and my goal was to be around 1:10 (my 40k split for a 1/2 IM) I was 1: 11 slowed by some Sunday AM car traffic and four riders in front of me as it wouldn't have been safe to pass them when I approached T2. A few bikes were in the rack so I was racing well.

I never saw a draft marshall on the course but I did see three guys in my age group team time trialing and breaking every USAT rule known to man. Let's see...1) drafting (most of the way) 2) illegal pass (3 x) 3) blocking 4) crossing the center line (4 x). I won't mention any names or numbers but I could see #209 and tattoo guy (00ps!) doing this the entire race as I was about 200 meters back and really getting mad. Where the hell are the marshalls? The "threat" of penalties no longer do it race directors...you gotta have the guts to hand out the penalties and DQ people when required.

Run: This run is all trail and the Thursday night SE Wisconsin rains really soaked the route. Cross country spikes would have been appropriate. It was all grass/mud with a few short and nasty hills to keep you honest. I passed a really big group right out of the gate and felt I was running strong. (Picture below) The Olympic folks were to do two laps but there was no timing mat to ensure this occured. My first 5k was done in 26 minutes and given the condition of much of the trail I was ok with that. The funniest part of the race was on my second lap. A really strong female runner (28 by the age on her calf) caught me and passed me until a cicada came out and landed in her hair. Her hands started waving around and she shreiked! I almost started laughing because here was this really strong runner kicking ass and taking names...brought to a stand still because of a 2" long bug. She recovered and I saw her again later. I finished the run in 57 minutes which is 3 minutes faster than my official run time chasing the cicada girl the entire way in - the chick had a kick!

So officially I was 28th of 78 in my age group and 103 of 407 Overall, but I'm left wondering how many of those guys raced the same distance I did. Some numbers just don't jive. I am very happy about the way I raced and that I had fun. I did a lot right today in my racing and I had a great time so I'm not upset about the course, any potential cheating or whatever my time and place were. I did the entire distance and those who didn't will have to square with that some day. Hopefully...some day soon.

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