Elkhart Lake is where triathlon began for us last year. Nick and I returned this year because it is a great race – the course is nice, and we did not have travel too far from home.
I had a couple of goals for the race: Don’t freak out on the swim and beat last year’s time. I accomplished both!
With my last two races resulting in a DNF due to the swim, I was a little nervous getting in the open water again. I hadn’t swam outside of the pool since Austin 70.3 in November.
Race day, I was unusually relaxed. Nick and I were in the last swim wave, so we hung out all morning. I was a little nervous because I didn’t want to be the last sprint athlete our of the water. I knew I could finish the swim, even if I had to doggie paddle my way through it.
We lined up and waited for our wave to start. The gun went off and we were chatting with people in our age group. We saw the first of the athletes complete the swim, and not too much longer it was our turn.
Elkhart does a rolling swim start, so you line up by wave, give your bib number and are off. The next athlete is about three seconds behind you. It was my turn to enter the water. I ran into the water. As I was about to dive, out of the corner of my eye, I saw Nick pass me. (So much for beating him on the swim).
The water was cold. I knew I had to keep my breathing under control, and remain calm. Halfway to the first turn buoy I recognized where I had my little panic attack last year. I kept swimming. I was in a rhythm, breathing every other stroke (every third stroke was just too much). Although, I was sighting very often, I didn’t stop swimming.
Before long I was at the first turn buoy. Last year, I held on to a kayak hear to catch my breath. I kept going, no need for a kayak this year. My head was out of the water a little more than I wanted, but that’s what was keeping me comfortable, so that’s what I continued to do. I was sighting nearly every stroke.
I got to the second turn buoy in no time. I saw a girl struggling a little on the swim. I asked if she was okay, and she said yes, so I kept going. I was almost there. I got to the point where I could touch and swam some more. The water was getting cloudy/sandy, so I stood up. As I ran the rest of the way, I saw Nick exiting the water. I wasn’t too far behind him.
Swim Time – 9:05.1 (2:16/100m)
The transition this year was a little longer in that you had to run along the back of the transition areas to enter transition from the swim. I ran/walked to transition. Once at my bike, I hung my wetsuit, put on socks, shoes, sunglasses, helmet, grabbed my bike and was out.
T1 Time – 3:59.9
The bike course changed slightly the day before the race due to road construction. Instead of three left turns to turn around, you made a left turn then right turn, and then a u-turn and back down. No big deal. It was essentially the same course.
When setting up my bike that morning, I poured my Tailwind in my aerobottle without mixing it. I figured the jostling of the bike would stir it enough as I rode. Boy was I wrong. I drank all of the powder in the first few sips, and was left with slightly flavored water the remainder of the ride.
I started the bike off strong. My heart was beating fast. The good thing about starting in the last swim wave is that there are a ton of people before you to pass on the bike.
About mile 2 I got stuck behind a Tahoe who was stuck behind two athletes who were much slower than my pace. Without any way to pass, I had to stay behind the vehicle, until the course turned off and I was able to make my pass.
Next up were the two hairpin turns. I remember these scaring me last year, but I was ready for them. I slowed down, made the turn, then picked up speed again. I was passing people on hills, something I couldn’t seem to do in my first race.
I rode by the place where I stopped last year to help out the guy with the flat tire. No one was on the side of the road this year, thank goodness.
I was trying to keep steady uphills and let the downhills work for me. I was on the lookout for Nick, knowing he was ahead of me. About mile 6, I crossed Nick on the bike. He had already made it to the turnaround and was headed to transition.
I made it to the turnaround, careful not to fall, and continued on my way. I was still passing people, and only had a few people pass me the whole ride. Before long, I was nearing transition.
Bike Time – 47:15.2 (15.7 mph)
I dismounted my bike and began running in to T2. I very quickly regretted not leaving my shoes on the bike and running barefoot. But the pathway leading to transition was single file, so I had to run in my bike shoes.
I racked my bike, changed shoes, changed hats, put on my bib, and was out.
T2 Time – 2:54.0
I still hadn’t calmed myself down. My heart was still pounding. I knew this was going to be a difficult run. My pacing was off, I was running too fast. Before the 1 mile mark, I had to take a walk break. I needed to steady myself, run leisurely; but that wasn’t happening. When I was running, it was fast. This 5k was going to be bad.
Nick was ahead of me, but I wasn’t sure by how much. When I passed where the course loops back on itself and didn’t see Nick, I knew he was less than 20 minutes ahead of me. I continued my run/walk regimen, a little disappointed in myself for not being able to pace properly.
I made it to the water station and knew the big hill was up next. I made it up the hill, but no without walking. I wasn’t passing anyone, and really no one was passing me either. There were people out on the course, but I felt like I was running it alone. Finally, I was at the downhill, and let me legs just keep moving. I told myself I had to run it in, and I did.
Run Time – 33:12.9 (10:42 min/mile)
Total Race Time – 1:36:27.3
This year versus last year:
I was definitely more prepared for the race this year, both mentally and physically. A few days before the race I sent my coach my race predictions. I thought it might be fun to compare my times. Below are my 2015 Results, 2016 Predictions, and 2016 Results.
A total of 11 minutes 9.4 seconds improvement from last year!