I raced this weekend! I didn’t mention this race in my post about upcoming races, because at the time it wasn’t on my radar. My coworker mentioned the Eureka Lake Triathlon to me several months ago, but at the time I didn’t plan to go down to Central Illinois for a sprint tri. When I found out that we were going to be there anyway for Brad’s cousin’s wedding, I decided to register.
At the time, I knew I would be flying back from Sweden the day before the race, but I really wanted to get a baseline for where my fitness is after 5 weeks training. Besides, I figured with jet lag, I would be up early anyway.
Then the week before the race, I got an email from the race director saying the race had to be switched from a triathlon to a duathlon because of high e. coli levels in the lake. I was really disappointed, and even debated skipping the race all together.
Most of the responses just confirmed what I already knew…that was that it would be good practice regardless and that I should go ahead and do it. I had already paid and it was only 15 min. from Brad’s parents’ house, so why not?
After waking up at 4 a.m. Sweden time Friday morning (9 p.m. CST Thursday night), I landed in Chicago 15 hours later at 12:30 p.m. I got some sleep on the plane and actually felt pretty good. I hurried home from the airport, unpacked, repacked and hit the road around 3:30. Thanks to Friday afternoon and Chicago Black Hawks parade traffic, the drive that should take 2.5 hours took nearly 4. I was tired, frustrated and really sick of traveling. Fortunately when I arrived, we had a quick dinner and relaxed and I was in bed by 9:30.
I felt refreshed and ready to go when my alarm went off at 5 a.m. Did the normal pre-race rituals and was out the door at 5:30. I easily found my way to the race site and was in the parking lot less than 20 min. later. I found my coworker and we walked over to transition and packet pick-up together. The race small and not USAT certified, so it was super laid back. It was chip timed, but no bibs, helmet or bike numbers. Everyone was super friendly and chatty which was good to pass the time since I had WAY more time than I needed.
It was weird setting up for only a duathlon, my transition area looked so empty! Finally about 15 min. before the pre-race meeting, I did a little over a mile warm-up run. Despite charging all night, my Garmin died just before the warm-up so I switched to my stop watch, which I figured would be better anyway.
I knew from my warm-up that the 1-mile run was short. I mentioned it to the race director as she was setting up, but someone else’s bike Garmin said it was correct, so she left it.
When the “gun” went off (i.e. the race director said “go”), everyone took off sprinting. I knew if any women took off fast I would be tempted to chase, but I told myself to just sit back. My plan was to give a hard, but relaxed effort. As I watched a fast girl shoot out with the guys, I reminded myself of the plan and just settled in. I felt confident and relaxed and used the up hills to pick people off one-by-one.
0.93 miles = 6:12; 6:38 min/mile; 2/11 female, 18/60 overall
T1: 40 sec., 1st female, 22nd overall
My first objective on the bike was to catch the fast girl from the run. I knew she had about 40 seconds on me, but I caught her pretty quickly, in about the first mile and a half. After that I focused on getting my heart rate settled down a bit. I suppose this is the difference between a du vs. a tri, because my heart rate felt like it was incredibly high after the run. The course was like a hooked lollipop, so the wind was brutal on the back portion of the stick and on the first section of the loop. I was fighting it hard and counting the miles until the turns. Once I got settled in, I kept reminding myself to continue to keep pushing and not get too comfortable, because I knew I would need a big cushion for the 5k if I wanted to hold the lead.
14.2 miles = 43:19, 20.5 mph, 1st female, 16th overall
T2: 35 seconds, 1st female, 15th overall
My legs felt super heavy off the bike, as they usually do. I reminded myself to be patient and to settle in to a comfortably hard pace. After about 1/2 a mile, my legs woke up and I kept my mind busy by trying to pass the two guys that were just ahead of me. I felt pretty decent and was REALLY happy to notice that my hamstring, glute and hip felt great. No tightness at all.
When I hit the halfway turn around, I saw that the fast girl was much closer behind me than I thought she would be. I mumbled something about her catching me and the guy next to me told me to stay positive and finish strong. That was just the encouragement that I needed. I refocused on pushing as hard as I could. I was hurting in a way that only a 5k can hurt.
Once I hit the final turn through the neighborhood, I had a pretty good view of everyone behind me. I could see that she was far enough back that she probably wouldn’t be able to catch me in the last .30 or so miles. I pushed up the final hill and when I entered the finish area, someone yelled “First girl!!” and everyone started cheering, which is always kind of fun.
2.62 miles = 18:32, 7:04 min/mile; 2nd female, 14th overall
Eureka Lake Duathlon: 1:09:26; 1st female, 13 overall
Being first female is fun, even if there were only 11 other women. Three cheers for small races 🙂 I think there were awards for the top three females, but unfortunately I had to rush off to family pictures after the race, so I didn’t get to stick around. I felt bad for that and think it is kind of rude, especially at small races.
The most important thing to me from this race was seeing that, despite only running 57 miles in all of June, I still have a little bit of speed (for me) somewhere in these legs. The distances were short and I am not sure if the “official” pace results are accurate, but if they are even close, I am happy. I also am happy with my bike time. I know I still have some work to do before Wisconsin, but I am feeling good with where my fitness level is now.
I am glad I went ahead and did the race. The duathlon isn’t something that I see myself choosing to do again, but it was a different kind of race and good practice for races later in the summer!