Well, I finally got off my ass and did the Chicago Triathlon.
Every year when the media televised their reports on the Chicago Triathlon, I would tell myself that I will do that one day. It’s been 12 years since my first triathlon and 11 years of saying next year. This past spring, I had enough of my appearance, my weight, and my lifestyle. This was the year I was going to get back into shape. As this summer progressed and the weight kept dropping, I felt ballsy enough to sign up for the Chicago Olympic distance Triathlon. What the heck, why not. Here’s how it went…
The weekend started with the Multisport Expo. You are required to attend this in order to pick up your race packet, get your participant wristband and of course the beer garden wristband for immediately after the race, since you won’t have your ID with you. After Checking into the Hilton, the official hotel and host of the Expo, I headed downstairs to get my packet. Since I registered as a Clydesdale (over 200lbs) I had to weigh in as well. I was aiming at the 250+ category thinking that anything close to a 3 hour finish would get me in the top 3 and a trophy. I weighed in at 252 so all was good. Thanks to Lou Malnati’s for that huge bowl of pasta and all the water!
I had shipped my bike to the Village Cycle for storage and transport to the Expo so all I had to do was pick it up and take it to my room. What a convenient service and my bike was ready to go. I have to admit, after walking around the expo all day getting free samples of this and free samples of that, not to mention the trips up to the room and back, my legs were exhausted!!
I called it a night around 9ish hoping to get about 7 hours of sleep. I slept great until something woke me up around 1:30 and I couldn’t fall back asleep. I tossed and turned until my 4am wake up call. Transition opened in 15 minutes and I had everything packed and ready to go the night before. The walk to transition was a little more than a mile. It seemed longer. By the time I had walked to transition, back to the hotel to get a little more rest, checked out, walked to the swim start line, it had felt like I ran a triathlon already.
Arriving at the swim start you noticed one thing, the wind. With the remnants of Hurricane Irene up the east coast, we were getting some of the wind from her outer bands. Winds were 15-20mph sustained out of the Northeast with gusts to 35. The wind was stirring up the harbor pretty good. It was quite choppy and the current along the harbor wall was cruising along. The first 375 meters of the swim would be with it, but the remaining 1125 would be straight into it. This would not be the fun easy swim I anticipated.
I lined up with my wave, wave 31, the big guys. The Clydesdales. The announcer poked some fun our way and someone told him to come down here and say it…good laughs to lighten the nerves just before entering the water. We all jumped in and before you knew it the horn sounded and we were off. The swim was great heading south for those first 375 meters but as soon as I hit that turnaround point, my goggles fogged up and I sucked in water on my first 2 breathing attempts. I decided to hang on to a life boat to regroup. After a minute or so I started back up. The swim actually wasn’t to bad after that with the exception of the strong current. I stopped at another 3 or 4 lifeboats along the way to the swim finish to catch my breath. When I stopped at one boat, the two lifeguards were singing “Row, Row, Row my boat” It actually made me laugh and thank them for the humor along the way. The next boat I stopped at I questioned the young lady why there was no one singing and she looked at me like I was crazy. I finally finished the swim in a disappointing 56 minutes.
Onto the bike after what seemed like a really short run to transition which was in fact a very long 450 meters or so. My T1 time was shockingly fast but I knew where I was going and how I was getting there. Everything was clearly marked and I had checked out the routes earlier in the morning.
The bike was pretty grueling going north into that headwind but I felt the bike is my strongest of the three disciplines and I kept up a pretty good pace. It seemed like I was passing a ton of people and only got passed a few times. After the turnaround at Foster we headed south and I swear my speed doubled. I was easily going 30mph+ heading south. Now this was fun. Passing other cyclists who were on the left and passing motorists stuck in Lake Shore Drive traffic on the right with the cities skyline straight ahead. What an awesome view and experience! The Olympic distance triathletes had to do two laps. Turning back northbound on LSD was painful. That wind hit you hard and you knew this wasn’t going to be easy but we kept on hammering away. I finished the bike with a time of 1 hour and 14 minutes which was good for 600 and something overall.
The run started off great..my first two miles were under 15 minutes. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I looked at my watch. I spotted my brother at about mile two. He took a couple photos and I was off. Shortly after that my left knee had some pretty extreme pain. I’m not sure if I twisted it when I turned and talked to my brother or what, but it hurt. It was basically run/walk from that point on and my run time suffered big time. I finished the run in a very disappointing 1 hour and 12 minutes.
Total time: 3 hours 29 minutes
Not what I wanted, but definitely not that bad either. overall it was around 2,300 out of 3,300 finishers
The challenges of this years race at least provided a couple goals for next years:
1. Destroy my swim time from this year and
2. Get my run time under an hour.
Thanks for reading about my experience at the Chicago Triathlon…I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to doing it again next year!