Blast From the Past

For those of you who weren't in my life or missed out on the story here is my post about last years Chicago Triathlon. I will try to post this year's version tonight or tomorrow.

Wednesday 09.01.04 [11:54 pm]

Here is the detailed version of my Chicago Story. I will add a short blog for those that are too tired to read it in its entirety later.

Saturday morning I woke up at 7:30 and headed down to the lobby with my wetsuit. We walked a little over a mile to a beach just south of the harbor and museums. We put on our wetsuits and did some drills and laps back and forth along the shore to get a feel for the open water and to get used to the temperature. The water was about 72 F that morning and that seemed awfully cold to me. It wasn’t bad once you were in for about two minutes. I swam for about 15 minutes then we all changed back into our street clothes and headed back to the hotel. I went out to breakfast with my family, C, and K. I got some delicious blueberry pancakes and a fruit plate. The fruit plate was so huge we ended up getting a take out box for it. We had to get back to the hotel by 11 to unpack our bikes so we headed back right after eating. On the way over there was a homeless man that looked like he had some burn scars on his face, a little boy walking in front of us went up and gave him high five. It was so sweet. I had my mom give him our leftovers from breakfast. It is too bad we don’t all have eyes like that little boy and just see people for what they are, people. No more and no less no matter what walk of life we are in. I swear we can learn so many lessons from children.

We got back to the hotel and went and got our bikes out of the van. We all met up in the lobby to put our pedals back on and pumped up our tires. While pumping my tires I tipped over my bike. Luckily I noticed while I was rolling the bike to the elevator that I had pulled my rear shifting wire out of place and it wasn’t shifting because there was no tension. Coach K fixed it in a jiffy!

My parents and hubby headed over to the field museum and I went out to bike the 10-k run course with A and her man. We just took it leisurely and rode out and back along the run course just to check it out. Afterwards A’s man held out water bottles as we rode by so we could practice catching them while riding since we would have to do that in the race.

I went up to the room and finished the signs I was making for everyone’s hotel doors. I gave those to T to put up when she was going around and then headed over to the museum. We had lunch when I got to the museum and it was delicious, as it should be for the outrageous prices. My husband and I just got two sandwiches and two drinks and it came to $18.00. After eating we went and checked out the Forbidden City exhibit. It was pretty neat. I really liked looking at the tapestry paintings and the clothes. We also checked out the gem room, mineral collection, and dinosaur exhibit. Right now they have the largest T-Rex fossil found so far there. Since I was a geology concentration in college I thought that was all pretty cool.

After that we headed back to the hotel and got ready for the pasta party. At the pasta party we found out how much everyone raised. I can’t remember the total for all 222 Team in Training participants but it was really significant. For our 9 Northern Ohio participants alone we raised over $38,000! We also heard a speech from a mother who had lost her child in the battle against Leukemia. Her daughter was actually one of the first honorees in the Team in Training program for the Chicago Marathon. Unfortunately she lost her battle but her parents have stayed involved and hopefully all the money raised will make it so that no one else has to lose their child. It was a very emotional but also inspirational evening.

After the pasta party coach K went over all of the details we had to know for the race the next morning and sent us on our way. I stopped by C and K’s room to let them use my tape to attach their Gu packets to their bikes. Then I went up to my room and got everything ready for the morning. It was only 9:30 so I played cards with my family and watched some of the Olympics before heading to bed around 11.

I woke up at 4:30am to a call from A wanting to know if I had something. For the life of me I can’t remember what now. Everyone had teased me the night before about how I would be out at the transition zone at 3am waiting for the race to start so I had decided not to wake up until 4:45. (Transition opened at 4:30) So I got out of bed and took a quick shower to warm up my muscles. Put on my tri shorts and top, grabbed my bike and backpack, and headed downstairs. We rode our bikes over to transition and luckily Coach K had told us we could get in on the north end because the entrance on the south end was backed up about a half mile. We got right into transition and set up our stuff at our racks. The transition area was about 50 times the size of the transitions zones that I have seen at the local races I have done. My rack was right in the middle of the whole transition zone. Luckily I was right by a tree so I had a good focal point to remember where my bike was. It was so windy that my bike was rocking back and forth on the rack. I had to stick my race number, socks, and top underneath my shoes and helmet so that they would (hopefully) not fly away. I couldn’t find A so I walked the transition zone from the bike in to my area and from the swim in to my area. Then I went and got my body marked. I found A just before they shut transition at 6. There were still people about half a mile away walking their bikes toward the transition zone at 6. I have no idea if they let them in or not.

We walked over and watched the first heat of swimmers start at 6:15. Then we went back to the hotel to go to the bathroom so we weren’t just sitting in the cold. We got back over to the swim start around 7:15 and watched B start his race. He looked really great on the swim. I staked out a bathroom and waited in line. I got back in time to find my family and Coaches K and M. We watched A start her swim. We were cheering her on and she looks up and yells, “There’s a lot of people in here!” I got some last minute tips from Coach K and then went to put on my wetsuit. I had forgotten to bring warm up pants so I was wearing my cotton Victoria’s Secret striped PJ pants before the race. Coach K got me to ask Coach M if she would wear them for good luck. You should have seen her face! I put on body glide and everyone helped me get the shoulders of my wetsuit on nice and snug then I headed over to the start line and got in line with my wave (36). My wave had females from age groups 20-24 and from 15-19. We also had males age group 55-59. I made sure to stay to the right and in front so that I could start by the rope and in the front. There was another Team in Training participant in my heat. She was 16 and had raised over $4000! Absolutely amazing!

About 4 minutes before our start we hopped in the water. I got over to the rope and adjusted my goggles and got ready. When they announced that there were 30 seconds to the start I started my watch. The horn went off and I started swimming. My left goggle leaked the whole swim but surprisingly it didn’t really bother me. What bothered me a little more was all the people! It was absolutely crazy! And according to coach M I had a pretty clear course the whole way. I ran into quite a few people. I would look up and it would appear that I had a clear course then someone would come at me from some crazy direction! It was nuts. I managed to get into a groove and headed south along the rope. As I was swimming I could see my mom following me along the course so I gave a wave and kept going. At about 300 yards the course turns and you head back north. At this point I gave up on swimming next to the rope because people from previous heats were clinging to the rope for dear life! So I moved a little closer to the boats in the harbor and tried to steer clear of all other swimmers. As I got towards the end of the swim I started looking for the stairs and headed left towards them. I looked for a good place to get up (they had volunteers helping you out of the water because it wasn’t on a beach and someone could really hurt themselves on that first stair) and reached for the first free hand I saw. As I came out I glanced at my watch and saw that I had completed the swim in 26 minutes! I was so ecstatic! I could have stopped the race right there and been content. The swim portion of the race was all for coach K because he really helped me become a faster swimmer and I can’t thank him enough (not to mention for the great program he made that helped me to become a competitive triathlete).

I think the worst part of the race was the run from the swim to the transition zone. Not only did it suck because they tacked that time onto your swim, but it was on cement and it was about a 500 yard run. I have tough feet, but I wanted to walk so badly! The only thing that kept me going was the high fives from the kids along the course and the volunteers cheering “Go Team!” I sucked it up and kept running even though it hurt.

Once I got into transition it was much better because it was all grass. I looked for my row and headed to my bike. My hands were still pretty cold when I got to my bike but I managed to get my socks on and then my shoes. I had put these quick lace things on my shoes but the right shoe came untied at the end so I ended up having to tie that one anyways. I threw on my TNT top and snapped on my helmet. My bike fell as I took it off the rack but I recovered it quickly and headed out to the bike course.

I mounted my bike and headed up the on ramp to Lake Shore Drive. As I was getting onto Lake Shore Drive another TNT participant passed me and shouted “Go Team”. At that point I decided I was going to try and cheer on all the TNT participants I saw on the bike course. I figured cheering wasn’t going to slow my legs down anyways and that would help me get through the toughest part of the race. It worked! I had a fabulous bike ride. The course was relatively flat but mile 1-6 and 13-20 were pretty tough because the wind was really bad. Luckily coach K had told me before the race that I shouldn’t push it into the wind and should get into a lower gear and keep a high cadence. While I was out on the course I saw A, C, L, and L2! It was really cool being able to cheer each other on! The course was right on Lake Shore Drive. They had shut down the inside two lanes in both directions. This course is a little odd because you have to ride on the left and pass on the right. I didn’t have to worry about that too often, but I did pass some mountain bikes! I actually passed someone on a road bike too! I was with her the whole bike ride but I really pushed it on the last stretch of 6 miles and lost her after the water bottle exchange. My quads were a little sore coming into the last 6-mile stretch so I ended up taking my second gel before the water bottle exchange. I had planned on taking it right before the run. I decided I needed it early though. (I hadn’t eaten as much as I had planned on eating that morning so I knew I might need some extra fuel)

I came into transition feeling pretty good, found my bike rack, put my bike back on the rack, took off my helmet, put on my race number belt, and my sunglasses (I had forgotten to put them on for the bike ride). As I was running out of transition I dropped the glasses but decided it was worth it to stop and grab them. The end of the bike leg and start of the run course were packed with spectators. I had my name on my shirt so there were lots of people cheering me on as well as cheering “Go Team!” It was really awesome! The first mile of the run was on grass, which was fine by me. I saw my parents and David and waved. Then I got focused and started getting serious. I knew coming off the bike that I would have to have a good run in order to break 3 hours. I focused on keeping my arms down, shoulders back, and head up. At the mile mark I glanced at my watch and I was going around 7 minute miles. I grabbed a Gu from the Gu stop and tore it open…Chocolate. Not what I was expecting but I forced it down anyways. I managed to grab a water and got most of it down, and not on the front of my shirt. I managed to get water or Gatorade at every mile marker except for mile 3. In retrospect I probably should have gotten water at all of the stops because that last Gu did not get absorbed into my system quickly and upset my stomach a little. Not enough to slow me down though, luckily.

Once I hit the three-mile mark I realized that I could run 10-minute miles and still break three hours and I sighed an inward sigh of relief. This race was so awesome because you were never alone on the run. I have no idea how many people I passed but that is exactly what I did the whole 6 miles is pass people. It was really neat. The only woman that passed me was in a wheelchair. She was absolutely amazing just for doing the race so I don’t mind at all! I also didn’t get passed by many men, which made me feel really good. I even passed someone whose shirt read "Evere been smoked by a fatty?" I believe he was in the Clydesdale divison. What is funny is that the past couple road races I ran before training for this I usually did get "smoked by fatties" as well as those people pushing their kids in the buggy's! Not this race though

Closing on the finish

The last two miles were a little harder because they were towards the wind but I still managed to keep around 8 minute miles. As I closed in on the finish I saw my parents on the right and blew them a kiss and I saw that my coaches were right across from them on the left. They were all cheering me on but I had no idea how far the finish was so I just kept my pace until I saw the finish line. Once I saw the finish line I kicked it in hard and I admit I did one of those goofy raise your hands in the air triumph poses as I crossed the finish line.

Words cannot describe how amazing it felt to finish that race. I was beaming from ear to ear. They put a medal over my neck and I wandered aimlessly into the crowd of people who had just finished the race. I heard someone say great job Team and turned to see one of the guys that I had seen out on the bike course and on the run. I congratulated him as well and told him I needed a hug. Then I heard my husband yelling and I ran over to him and we hugged and kissed over the fence. I told him how amazing it was and that I wanted to do another one! We talked while we waited for my parents to catch up to him. I gave my mom a big hug and asked her how I looked on the run. We talked some more and then I went to find some fluids and to sign in at the Team in Training Tent. On the way I found C and K and we all caught up on how each of us did. I went over to the TNT tent and checked in and got a banana and some water. Then we headed out to where Coach K and M were to cheer on the rest of the team. Everyone on our team finished the triathlon! They all did such an amazing job! All the fundraising and training had paid off big time!

After everyone had finished A and I went back to transition to get our stuff. It was quite a hike from the finish line to transition but eventually we got there. My parents and David and I went to find something to eat. There was a grill by the Buckingham Fountain so I ordered a Portabella Sandwich. It was so delicious!!! We had a nice lunch then we headed back to the hotel. We took a short nap and then got ready for the TNT party.

Apparently triathletes are not much for dancing because the DJ could only get a few of us out on the floor. We had to go pack our bikes half way through the party but we came back and I got out on the dance floor. I got some other people to do the “Casper Slide” with me. After that it was pretty much just me dancing though. A little later a mother who had done the triathlon this morning got her girls out on the floor with her. They were twins and they must have been about 3 years old. At first she was just dancing with her one daughter. She didn’t have any hair so she had probably just gone through Chemo. I just stood next to my husband and watched this beautiful girl dance in her mother’s arms. She was just smiling and swinging her head back. You could tell her mom was her heroine and it was so touching to watch. I got very teary eyed and had to get myself under control. I attempted to go dance with them but the little girl was shy. She hid behind her mother when I said hello. So I told her mother how beautiful her daughter was and headed back to my corner of the dance floor. I danced the night away in my corner while the mom and her two adorable twins danced in theirs. I even managed to get my hubby to dance a few tunes with me! I hope that this little girl beats this disease! And I hope that the money that I helped to raise makes a difference and that we find a cure and soon! I would do this all over again even though the fundraising was difficult just to see that little girl dancing with her mother again. That is really what this whole thing is about, saving lives.

Dancing at the TNT Victory Party

After the party ended I went out with B, T, and Coach K and M to have a celebratory drink, and some more food! It was a great evening and I went back to the hotel and crashed until 9am the next morning. I am just now getting caught back up with everything. Today I received a check in the mail that put me over my $3800 minimum fundraising goal!!! It really is amazing what you can do when you work hard! Thank you so much to all my donors and supporters! I really could not have done this without your support and help! I managed to reach both my fundraising goal and my time goal in the triathlon! My finish time was 2:54:23! I will probably keep this blog going as a work out log so it won’t get exciting anytime soon but you can always check in to see how my training is going and what my latest endeavor is. For those of you that made it through this entry I am very impressed! Sorry it was so long.

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