Perpetual motion

Can't stop learning…

The south side of chicago is the baddest part of town

One thing that my coach has impressed upon me is that there is no such thing as a good bike ride followed by a bad run. Meaning that if you have a bad run, you probably tried to go too fast on the bike. I did that in NY.

I had signed up for Chicago a while ago, without really thinking about the logistics of actually, you know, getting there. Flights are easy, but getting goldilocks there would not be as easy. But in my neverending desire to get better acquainted with my bike and to become more self-sufficient in maintaining her, I decided I would fly and pack disassemble goldilocks so that she could fly as well (it seems really weird to refer to a bike as a person, but well, it’s a very meaningful relationship she and I have). In doing so, I performed some maintenance on the rear derailleur (the part of the bike that sets which cog you are in). I hadn’t been able to shift into the smallest and largest cogs in the derailleur, meaning out of the 18 or 20 speeds (gears) I should have, I really only had 14 or 16. The rear derailleur is attached to the aero bars by a long cable, and as you move the gear levers, the cable stretches and cause the derailleur to shift the chain into an easier cog. The night I packed Goldilocks up, I adjusted the derailleur to make sure I could hit all the cogs.

PreRace –
Met Stinkyhelmet (Jim from Endurance Nation) in the very confusing transition area. Transition was organized (if you could call it that) so similar waves where horizontal (e.g. 20 was in line with 21, but then 22 was behind 21 and 23 was behind 22. yeah, that weird). We chatted for a bit, and then I went to find my friend Sarah who was doing this as her first tri (she’s a marathoner, and despite beating her goal for the race, she violated the golden rule – there is no such thing as a good bike followed by a bad run). Anyhow, we had 2 hours to waste around the swim course as transition closed at 5:45AM and my wave didn’t leave until 7:49. Of course, at about 6:15 I realize I still have my garmin on, but since I can’t go back into transition, I just shove it into my jersey pocket and hope for the best. Funny story, while using the toilet pre-race, there’s a huge roar and applause. Of course, it was ostensibly for the sprint elites starting on the run course, but I like to beliveve that it was really for me .

Swim –
Situated myself second row inside line. Not because I think I’m faster than many people, but because there were a lot of novices and first-timers and I didn’t want to get kicked in the head. The swim course was an out and back and beyond (swim out from the start, and then pass the start on your way to swim out) and incredibly narrow (maybe 15-20m wide on the out and back portion). Anyhow, I didn’t swim all that straight, got kicked a few times but remembered it’s about being smooth through the water (but I definitely need to work on my sighting). Getting out of the water, you have nearly a quater of a mile to run to transition. That’s right, 1/4 mile with a wetsuit half on. Fun times. Especially after my right inside quad (vastus medialus perhaps) cramped up on me. It still hurts like hell right now, but I didn’t really notice it hurting my performance during the race.
Swim time (including the 1/4 mile run): 27:41

T1 –
Had a bit of an issue getting out of the bottom portion of my wetsuit, but once there it was pretty easy peasy. Got beaten out of transition by a few guys who came in behind me, but whatever.
T1 time: 3:17

Bike –
Remember all the talk about the rear derailleur and the shifting mechanisms and everything? The shift levers are held in place by a locking mechanism, otherwise they default to the smallest (and hardest) cog.

I was about 5 minutes into the ride when the locking mechanism for the rear shift lever on my aero bars popped out. I panicked, stopped my bike and went back to try and pick up the pieces in hopes I could put them back in, not knowing whether my day was finished or not. I couldn’t find the pieces, but I though, I didn’t fly all the way to Chicago to quit 10 mins into the bike. So I hop back on, and start riding, thinking that even if the gearing is stuck in the 11 tooth, I can still switch between little chain ring and big chain ring for the few flyovers. Turns out I could shift the rear gears too, I just had to hold the lever in place. Pain in , but hey, it’s better than blowing your day in the hard gear. If anything, it focused me more on shifting, as my right hand was ALWAYS on the shifter. Spin up the flyovers, hammer down the backside.

Anyhow, a very flat, very fast course. Two laps with a squirrely turnaround (almost missed it) and merge (almost crashed here). In general, and I’d say this was my overall impression of the day, was that except for lifeguards and water stations, the course was painfully understaffed/undervolunteered. Transition in the morning was a mess (it took me a good 15 minutes to find Jim, despite the fact that his wave was only five in front of mine) and there didn’t seem to be a volunteer anywhere to ask. As for the bike turnaround, it was one of those things where I felt that there was very little in the way of advance warning, but that could be me being daft). Spent most of my time in the right lane (the passing lane) as most of the riders were not fast. Didn’t really hit my wattage targets, but after burning too many matches in NYC, I didn’t want to really screw myself up for the run.
Official time: 1:09:27
Me calculating the time: 1:06ish

T2 – Uneventful if a bit slow (but slow is smooth and smooth is fast).
t2 Time – 2:11

Run –
I had been setting my race pace at around 7:35-7:45. I started out first mile at 7:24, which actually felt like I was running easy. So I decided it was a good perceived effort, and just kept with it. I wouldn’t do this in an ironman perhaps, but I was feeling really good. I had been having great runs recently, so I decided that I’d let myself go for it today. Ended up running an average of 7:29 min/miles with a 1.25 miles at a 7:12 min/mile pace. I felt great – spot on with the two gus on the run (1 at the start, 1 at the turnaround). Spent a lot of time in the middle passing back and forth with an active.com athlete. Ended up dropping him for good at the last water station (~mile 5). Anyhow, looking at the golden rule, sure I may have left some time out there on the bike (I really really wanted to break 2:20 overall), but I was so pumped after the run that I’m glad I left those matches unburned.

Interesting note on the run:
Passed a guy on the run who commented on my m-dot tattoo. I told him I got it this year. He replied that he was going for his in two weeks (IMWI I guess). Don’t know why he was racing two weeks out from an iron-distance race, but I hope he was at least taking it slow.

Official time: 46:16 (7:24 min/mile)
Garmin time (6.25 miles included .05mi of t2): 46:43 (7:29min/mile)

Official race time: 2:28:522

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