Tag Archives: Lifetime triathlon

Race Report: Lifetime Maple Grove Sprint Triathlon

August 27, 2016
Maple Grove, MN
Triathlon #18
Event #103

Triathlon season always flies by. This is already the final event of the season. It will be at least eight months before serious triathlon training begins again, and 10 months before my next tri.

Today, I have unfinished business. I left Waconia with mixed emotions. On one hand, I got a 1st place finish in my age group. On the other hand, I had a disastrous swim which has resulted is a severe loss of confidence in my Open Water abilities. I will need to do a lot more open water training before next season. But, I desperately needed a good swim to boost my confidence heading into the off-season. Another bad swim will haunt me for months. The rest of the race is just for fun. It will be a much bigger and more competitive race, and there would be no chance at a podium finish today. That’s just fine. I have already punched my ticket to Nationals. This is just a fun victory lap…



The weather was unsettled. We knew it would still be cooler than seasonal, but warmer then Waconia. What we didn’t know was if it would rain. The weather report changed daily. Sometimes it would be scattered showers, other reports would predict severe thunderstorms. The morning of the race, it looked like it would be overcast with possible passing sprinkles. Prepare for anything I guess.

Water would be wetsuit legal (and it was…71F). I got their really early since I didn’t get my packet the day before (many didn’t) and parking was a 10 minute walk. The pre-dawn weather was perfect. It was cool, but dry and comfortable. Once I got my packet and got my gear organized, I threw on the wetsuit and headed to the lake. I had a lot of time for a warm up swim…international distance swimmers were going first, and I had over an hour to wait. The lake was perfectly calm. There was barely a ripple and no current. I jumped in and swam slow and relaxed in the shallows then in deeper water. I would then flip on my back and just float there and take it all in. I was perfectly relaxed and at peace. This would be a different swim then last weekend. As the start time drew closer (time trial start by age group…2 swimmers every three seconds), I headed over to the staging area.



I was in one of the first sprint waves and headed off early. I tried not to push too hard. I just wanted a nice relaxed swim. I wasn’t sighting as often as I should, but my plan was to just find my stroke and settle into a rhythm as much as possible. It worked. Despite a bit of zig-zagging around the course and occasional contact with another swimmer (it was much more crowded than Waconia), I was stunned at how fast the turn buoys came up. By the time I came out of the water, I was certain that the course was short. It wasn’t. My Garmin showed 0.5 miles. Right there, my mission for the day was accomplished. The rest of the race was just for fun.



Swim Split – 19:04 (2:32 min/100m)



Long run to transition. I always have a hard time getting my wetsuit off. My gear was in big ziplock bags to keep it dry from the rain, so transition was not optimally efficient. Once again, I had one of the slowest T1 times in my AG.

T1 Split – 4:20.



The rain had started  falling by the time I rolled out of T1. As soon as we hit the road, I started reeling people in. Of course, other riders were blowing past me as well. The course may be kind of boring, but it was very dynamic and busy. I glanced at my bike computer. I was typically over 20 mph (except in the turns where I slowed way down…road was very wet…lots of road spray…and I am just not a technically skilled or aggressive cyclist…especially on slick roads). The course was under 12 miles, and both of my 5 mile split times were just above 15 minutes…very pleased with that. Around mile 10, the rain started to come down hard. It felt like sleet and each drop stung a little. The rain persisted the rest of the ride to T2.


Bike Split – 34:44 (19.01 mph)



More efficient. Finally a middle of the pack transition time!

T2 Split – 2:18



With a more aggressive and successful Bike Split then planned (1/2 mph better than Waconia), I was going to push as hard as I could for as long as I could on the run. It was a 5k…I could suffer for 30 minutes. I went out fast and I was just soaked (feet were sloshing around in my shoes). The ride was a little chilly, but the run was ideal. The rain had let up a little. The sun, heat and wind were non-factors. I have rarely run well this year, but I seem to find a hidden gear during my triathlons (which is definitely absent during my run only events). The first mile hurt…a lot. By mile 1.25, I kept hearing someone right behind me. She was using me as a pacer…and I was doing what I could to drop her. A quarter mile later, and we had joined forces. We were both forcing the other to go a little faster than we wanted to go. We also distracted each other from the inner hell we were in. She had just done the Nationals so I got a little bit of info from her. By 2.5 miles she had hinted that she would not be able to keep up this pace, so I started to pull away. Not too much farther, and the finish was in sight. Many around me started mad sprints for the finish. I tried to copy them but I had nothing left in the tank. I cruised into the finish at an even pace having left it all in the course. I have no idea what I am doing in this pic…


Run Split – 26:19 (8:30 min/mile)


Finish Time – 1:26:42

Age Group Place – 12/31
Gender Place – 147/275
Overall Place – 214/503



I am more pleased with my performance today then any other triathlon this season. I exceeded expectations in all disciplines. I recorded faster speeds in all disciplines then Waconia (7 minutes faster on the swim, 1/2 mph faster on the bike, and 30 seconds/mile faster on the run). I got my pic taken and headed for post race food. This was the best spread of the season. A local BBQ restaurant was catering-build your own pulled pork sandwiches with choice of sauces. I went back for seconds. Unfortunately, the rain was coming down hard. I was already soaked and the wind had kicked up a notch. I got cold…fast. With these larger races, I cannot access my gear in transition until all racers are done with T2. I had to wait about 1 hour….in the rain. By the time I got in there, all of my plastic bags of gear (which I had not securely sealed in the heat of the race) were filled with water. It was 2 bags of drenched yuck. It was a long trek back to the car to warm up and dry out.



And, so ended triathlon 2016. Overall, a fun season (except for the Waconia swim). I had a 1st place finish last week (along with qualifying for Nationals) and a stronger race this weekend. I already have the 2017 schedule tentatively planned. In the mean time, I will focus on the run again and the final races of the year – The Twin Cities Loony Challenge (1 mile, 5k, 10k, and 10 mile) at the Twin Cities Marathon Weekend in early October.

Leave a comment

Filed under Race Reports

Race Report: Lifetime Sprint Triathlon-Minneapolis

July 9th, 2016
Minneapolis, MN
Triathlon #16
Event #101

Triathlon season in the Upper Midwest is short. Very very short. It is mostly a July/August thing. I have competed in June and September, but lake temps can be very cold. So, we have about 10 months of nothing, then there are two months of triathlons being hosted in practically every lake in the state.

Even though I train every spring for it, it is always a shock when I turn the calendar to July and triathlon season is here. It is also a shock when it disappears just as suddenly on Labor Day.

When I was running the Red White & Boom HM this Monday, I knew that my first tri of the year was coming 5 days later and my mind kept returning to that race. I had to dig out my USAT card and my wetsuit and all of my other gear. So many more details for a triathlon then a run…

Fortunately, Lifetime Minneapolis is one of my favorite triathlons. It’s big, it’s urban, it’s scenic, and it’s well organized. It is also a highlight of my season. As a bonus, the weather looked to be perfect!

Race morning was breathtaking…

image image image image

The venue is stunning. The weather usually cooperates, but never quite like this. Sunrise was a moment to treasure. After I put my phone away, I saw some other athletes heading towards transition is a dense layer of fog just as first light was upon them.

I took it all in, and I could remember why I fell in love with this sport in the first place.

Despite to amazing urban park venue, the courses has a few challenges. The bike course is rough. The course has a few tight u-turns and steep (but short) downhills on uneven cobblestone with potholes in one section…on a road bike. Fortunately, the bike course is always closed to vehicular traffic making it much safer. It takes us for a stretch on the West Bank on the Mississippi River, over a bridge, and back down the East Bank of the Mississippi. The roads are narrow, but closed to traffic and wide enough for one way bike traffic. Overall, it works out great…

…but not this year.

This year, the needed bridge to cross the river was being repaired. So, they sent us up and back on the narrow east bank road…and we got some of the tightest sections of the course twice…with oncoming bike traffic…and a lot less room to maneuver.

It was nobody’s fault…just the way it had to play out this year…and the old course should return next year.

As you can tell, I got there early (again). Water temp 75F (wetsuit legal, but not really needed). I opted for the sleeveless. I got my transition station set up then had a couple hours to kill. I went to the practice swim area repeatedly to cool off (my first open water and first wetsuit swims of the year). All the international racers went first, and finally, it was my turn.


The Swim (750m or 0.47 miles):

Swim was a time trial start…two racers every 3 seconds. Simple course, green water, calm conditions, not much contact. I continued to do my single speed in the water that I always do at these events. 26/40 place in my AG. Not much more to say.

Swim Split – 18:05



I really need to get a little bit faster at these. 37/40 place.

T1 Split – 5:33

The Bike (15 miles):

Pretty much said all I needed to say. Seemed slow at times due to the bottlenecks and added technical elements. I am not an aggressive cyclists if the roads are technical and crowded. Given those limitations, I am pleased with my average speed. AG 30/40.

Bike Split – 51:34 (17.45 mph)



Same as T1. Still 37/40.

T2 Split: 3:05

The Run (5k or 3.1 miles):

This was one flat lap around the lake we swam in (plus an out and back on the bridge crossing the lake). Aid stations were at every mile. We needed them. The heat (about 80F and sunny) felt awesome on the bike, and not so great on the run. I had been running very slow all year and I was determined to go faster then my typical 11-12 minute/mile pace. I succeeded. Best run I have had in over a year. AG 16/40.

Run Split – 27:32 (8:53/mile)


The Finish:

Nothing spectacular, but I was not really competing with anyone but myself, and I am pleased with those splits. Unfortunately, the transitions killed me. Because of those, my overall finish place was worse then any of my 3 disciplines.

Finish Time – 1:45:47 (336/642 overall, 224/359 males, 31/40 AG).



Post Race:

This race is known for some good hot real food after the race. Since a chicken company was the principle sponsor, I expected some of that after the race. Nope. We got a snack box like they hand out at Disney after a race. Kindof a letdown. The medal was great! It was the events 15th anniversary and the medal reflected that (and…it was a bottle opener again!) The rest of the swag was good too. The shirt was well designed and we got a poster too…too bad there aren’t pros at this event anymore to autograph them.

Overall, great event. Loved returning to triathlon, and looking forward to two more triathlons next month before the season come to a sudden end…

Leave a comment

Filed under Race Reports

Race Report: Lifetime Maple Grove Sprint Triathlon

August 22, 2015
Maple Grove, MN
Triathlon #15
Event #82

I was passing an aid station 1 mile into the run when it hit me. Swimming season was over. Cycling season was over. And, in a couple of more miles, triathlon season would be over as well.

It seemed kind of anticlimactic…

In 2012, I capped my first triathlon season by earning my first Ironman branded medal (Ironman Steelhead 70.3).

In 2013, after two more 70.3, I successfully complete the insanely hilly Ironman Muskoka 70.3, giving me the confidence to register for Ironman Wisconsin one week later (yes, the climactic ending to that season was sitting in front of a computer screen frantically hitting the refresh button).

In 2014, I ended the year by crossing the line in Madison and hearing Mike Riley announce that I was an Ironman.

This year, I ran 4 sprints and finished the year doing a local sprint.

Is it anticlimactic? Maybe.

Is that a bad thing? I don’t think so…

I completed five 70.3’s and one full IM in the past three years. The training was intense and the races rewarding but brutal. After Ironman Wisconsin, I was burnt out. I had also grown a lot as a person and an athlete. Looking back, there was a clear trajectory to those three seasons. I feel that I have achieved what I needed from the longer events. I resolved some inner demons and insecurities. I  accept that I am a triathlete and that I am part of a community of other athletes. But I no longer feel that everything needs to be Epic. I don’t feel that I have to keep doing things bigger and wilder. I have achieved my goal. I also feel that I have closed the chapter and turned the page. I no longer feel the desire to run more Ironman events.

I am learning to just enjoy the sport again.

The training is more fun and flexible. I can ride or run when I wish. I can skip a workout if I want. I can still be prepared and compete. I can enjoy the interaction with other athletes and push myself to my limit, but without all the stress.

I am at peace.

Anticlimactic? Nah…

The race itself was good. Water temps dropped overnight to 71.4 F. It was cool enough to convince me to put on the sleeveless wetsuit. The winds were fierce and that did make for a significant current. Fortunately, there were no waves to speak of. It was a time trial start and we went off two by two every three seconds or so. Not much else to say. There was some contact, but minimal. I found my stroke and just plodded along until I hit the beach.


Swim Split – 18:14 (2:15/100 meters)
221/527 overall

The bike was short (11 miles) with some rollers. The winds were crazy with some strong gusts. I can’t think of the last time that I had to work so hard to control my bike. We had a nice stretch of tailwinds, but the headwinds slowed me to a crawl and the cross winds threatened to knock me off of my bike if I was not careful. My bike skills are getting stronger. I am far from elite and bike handling still sucks (I get passed on every turn), but I can mount an attack on most hills (thank you Wisconsin!) and my voice gets hoarse from yelling “on your left” every few seconds (of course, many that I was passing were doing the Olympic course and were pacing themselves more conservatively).


Bike Split – 35:45 (18.47 mph)
173/527 overall

The run is a 5k around the lake (mostly in residential neighborhoods). I tried to push myself and to reel in as many as I could. But I was getting passed as often as I was passing others. I am finding that my triathlon strategy tends to be attack on the bike and hold on as long as I can on the run.


Run Split – 26:36 (8:34/mile)
220/527 overall

Final – 1:28:08

My transition remains my Achilles heel. It slows me down and I give back much of what I fought for. I will need to work on this next year.

But, for now, triathlon season is over. I will rack the bike (although I may get a chance for one or two more rides before the weather ends cycling season for good) and the wetsuit will be stored.

The final running push is upon me. No events in September, but October will bring a 1 mile, 5k, 10k, half marathon, and THREE full marathons before I can hit the off season. Triathlon may have ended pretty low key, but the running season promises to go out with a bang…


Filed under Race Reports

Race Report: Lifetime Minneapolis Triathlon (Sprint)

July 11, 2015
Minneapolis, MN
Triathlon #12
Event #77

To say that I was undertrained for this event would be an understatement. Ironman Wisconsin severely burnt me out on triathlon at the end of last season. I needed a break, and the northern winter was happy to accomidate. In an effort to keep myself off the couch, I focused my energy of the one discipline that I could easily carry me into fall and winter…running. The plan was mostly successful. I ran three marathons and a 50k since Madison. My swimming and cycling languished. I got into the pool on occasion and made a few painful rides on the bike trainer. But I really did no “training” until after my 50k…one month ago.

Here are my swimming and cycling stats since Madison (over 10 months ago):

Bike Trainer: 7 sessions
Cycling: 3 times (all in the past month)
Pool Swimming: 11 times (5 times since June, before that…January)
Open Water Swimming: Not Once…

Yep. That is over ten months of training. At least I was running consistently.

To complicate my return to triathlon training, a few open water issues have recently emerged.

The first is Swimmers Itch. For those who are unfamiliar with it, swimmers itch is caused by a parasite that lives in shallow open water. It burrows under the skin and causes an allergic reaction…resulting in a very itchy rash. It pops up yearly as water tempuratures climb. When it shows up in a lake, it generally gets posted. This has been the worst year for swimmers itch in a long time. This killed any motivation of jumping into a local watering hole.

The second concern is much rarer, but potentially deadly. A parasitic amoeba (which has almost never been reported this far north) had infected and killed three otherwise healthy people after swimming. It enters thru the nose and gets into the brain causing swelling and encephalitis. With 10,000+ lakes in MN…most of which are popular with swimmers, the odds are very low. But this has also kept me out of the water.

OWS (open water swims) are also a logistical issue for me. I don’t swim alone, and I don’t have a swim buddy. So, my OWS tend to be at congested beaches with lifeguards present. This is not ideal. But OWS are so much different then pool swimming that they are essential for triathletes.

Well, not this triathlete, not this year.

Suffice to say, I was undertrained. My goal was to make todays event a useful training session for the rest of the season. I also just wanted to enjoy myself. Ironman was wonderful, but I needed a break, and that break needed to end…or I would not return to the sport.

Good thing I only signed up for the sprint (short course)!

I drove to Lake Nokomis the day before the race for the mandatory packet pick-up. These usually annoy me, but I understand the need at triathlons and at larger marathons. It helped me get back into the swing of triathlon. The triathlon rituals are different then running. There are a lot more moving parts. I got my bib and timing chip. I also got my race shirt (60% cotton…I don’t understand this), a truckers hat (for being one of the first 100 registrants) and a bonus tech shirt for participating in two of the three triathlons in this series. I love bonus swag! I then listened to the pre-race course talk. There is always a lot of useful info at these…road conditions, tight turns, aid station locations, rule summary, etc. Water tempurature was 75.8F. Cutoff for wetsuits is 78F…so it would likely be wetsuit legal (but not mandatory). Bikes could be dropped off, but not required (I elected to wait until race morning).

Finally, I checked out the expo. There was one item I wanted…a nose clip. Given the reports of life threatening parasitic encephalitis, this seemed like a reasonable precaution for $5. Never wore one before, and trying something new on race morning is never a good idea, but this seemed like a reasonable exception to the rule.

I returned to Lake Nokomis on race morning with all my gear (which I rechecked at least 5 times…I was out of practice). I got there insanely early. I arrived at 4:30 am. My wave would start at 8:16 am. Part of this timing is out of necessity. We are given a couple of hours or so to get our transition spot “race ready”. Transition “closes” at 6:30 am (15 minutes before the race starts). After that time, only racers transitioning from swim to bike, or bike to run, are allowed in. Transition opens at 4:45am. Parking would be a problem if I didn’t get there right when it opened.

Setting up transition for a sprint is much easier than an Ironman (or any longer distance event). Official water temp was announced as 76.0F. I elected to go without a wetsuit. There was a small area on the lake for warmup swims. I hop in…it was very pleasant without a suit. I put on the nose clip and take a few test strokes. I feel like I can’t breath. I am on the verge of a panic attack. I take it off and try again…no problems.mI try the clip a few more times…no change. I simply don’t have time to get used to this. I weight out the risk of encephalitis vs the risk of drowning if I panic. It’s a no-brainer…I put the clip away.

The weather starts out beautiful-sunny with no wind at all. While waiting for my wave to start, the clouds and the wind start to roll in. The lake was perfectly calm. Now, it was a little choppy. Nothing I can’t handle, but calm waters would have been nice.

I watch the elite start the long course, then all of the long-course age-groupers. Then there is a break in the action as they reset the course to the sprint. The first wave of sprint age-groupers started at around 8am. The other waves started lining up behind them. It was go time…

The Swim:
Our age group gets to the front. It is a time trial start. Two racers start every three seconds. I cross the mat and I am on my way. The goal of this race is to enjoy myself and to use it as a training day. As such, I don’t try to push myself too much in the water. Good thing. About a hundred yards out, I start getting a little anxious. This is normal when I haven’t been in the lake for awhile. There are no lines, nothing to grab on to, the waters are murky, and you make contact with other swimmers. Just knowing that you can’t touch the bottom and that there is nothing to grab hold of is a little intimidating. Getting jostled in my first lake swim in 10 months didn’t help. I could feel my right calf tightening up. I strained it a week or so ago. The wrong move and it sets up a charley house. I never even thought about this until now…and the thought of having a charley horse mid-swim wasn’t a welcome one. I forced myself to relax and to just find my stroke. I got into a groove and the tension melted away. I wasn’t pushing myself and I was ok with that today. I was passing some, and others were flying by me. For the most part, I barely noticed. I just went from one buoy to the next, trying to let my mind go blank. A couple of turns and I was sighting the “Swim Exit” arch. A few more minutes, and I was out of the water.

Swim Split (750 m) – 19:05
Age Group Rank – 25/44
Overall Rank – 388/648

I still wasn’t moving fast. I rarely do in transition. But I didn’t want to be the slowest one there either. I was close…

T1 Split – 5:52
Age Group Rank – 38/44
Overall Rank – 586/648

The Bike:
I get to the mount line and I get on the bike. I do this cautiously (out of practice clipping in). A couple of quick turns and I am on the first straightaway. Someone passes me… but I am passing quite a few. I glance down at my speedometer, and I am easily going 21 mph. I pass a few more people. I start feeing competative and start to hammer the bike. The course is COMPLETELY closed to vehicular traffic, but can get bumpy and narrow at times. It is mostly flat, but the short hills can kill your speed, as can the sharp and narrow turns. But, whenever I can, I push hard. My Garmin chimes at every 5 mile split while cycling. I almost never see a split time of 16:xx. This year, an 18:xx is the best I could do (most splits have been in the 22:xx minute range). So, I am thrilled to see a 16:10 pop up for my first 5 mile split. I keep pushing as hard as I can. My initial “training day” mentality was gone. I was determined to push it the rest of the way. I was rarely passed by anyone, but I was passing others quite frequently. Getting a hoarse voice from yelling “On Your Left” a lot is a good problem to have! My next two 5 mile splits were both 15:xx minutes! I was ecstatic!

Bike Split – 48:55 (18.4 mph)
Age Group Rank – 16/44
Overall Rank – 204/648

Still can’t move fast in transition…

T2 Split – 3:08
Age Group Rank – 34/44
Overall Rank – 486/648

The Run:
I knew that I aced the bike, and I was determined to carry this forward onto the run. The weather was getting a little warmer and I hit the aid station coming out of transition (first of the day). I drank the Gatorade and wore the water. I then found someone that was running faster then I wanted to move, and used them as a pacer. I was pleased to find that my legs were not Jello coming off the bike. The run course should have been straightforward…it was one lap around the lake with one “out and back” to make up the rest of the 5k distance. Only problem…nobody was directing traffic. I would estimate that about half of the runners that I saw missed the out and back. Everyone hitting that intersection had no idea where to go and many cut the course (by about a half mile). I ran the full distance. Many didn’t. I don’t think that anything was done to address the issue…although it is the race organizers that are to blame for this mess. I finished my run knowing that the results were tainted. Despite this, I was pleased with my effort and result.

Run Split – 26:28 (8:32/mile)
Age Group Rank – 19/44
Overall Rank – 227/644

Overall Result – 1:43:27
Age Group Rank – 23/44
Overall Rank – 287/648

Final Thoughts:
I had fun today. It is a beautiful course (it’s my favorite triathlon course) and my third time at this event. I have gained confidence and I have rediscovered my passion for triathlon. I also did much better then I expected given the state of my training. I never would have thought that the bike would be my strongest discipline in an event. This gives me a boost of confidence going into the heart of my triathlon season next month (3 triathlons and one duathlon in 16 days-all events are sprints).


Filed under Race Reports