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Maple Grove Triathlon Race Report (Sprint)

Maple Grove, MN 
Event #131 
Triathlon #25

August 20, 2021

I’m not sure why, but this event never excites me. Maybe it’s the blah course, or that the weather has been dreary every single time I have participated. It usually marks the end of triathlon season for me and I pivot to running only events when this race is over. Maybe I’m burnt out on triathlon by this point, or sad to see triathlon ending for another season.

No matter the reason, I approached the race with indifference. My training was inconsistent and I was going thru the motions to complete, not compete. I showed up early, got my transition spot set up, and waited for my wave to start. For a local race, this event is huge. But it felt smaller then before. There were some empty racks. Not all intersections on the bike had volunteers, only one vendor at the expo, only chips and water at the finish line, no photographers on course, no bracelets, insufficient security for transition, and they ran out of finishers medals. Much of this is pandemic related and having to skip last season. Many local races are gone for good (including my favorite event…Lifetime Minneapolis), so I am grateful that this one is still here.

The heat wave that has been gripping our region ended overnight (mid 90’s at the expo, high 60’s at the starting line), so that was awesome…but it was windy, dreary and overcast.

My race was uneventful and uninspired. I got my new anxiety on the swim again (don’t know why this is happening at every race now, but it is making triathlon far less enjoyable) and I got lost (blind as a bat…even with goggles with refraction). Lifeguard had to put me back on course. Not sure how much time I wasted. T1 went ok. The bike had wind and a few hills. Roads were open to traffic. Sometimes we had a lane coned off, sometimes we’re were on the shoulder with cars whizzing by our ears. Bike course was only 11 miles so it didn’t last long. T2 was more organized then T1 and the run was slow (my knees are always screaming at me these days). As noted earlier, no finish line medal, photos and minimal food. Hung out until transition reopened. Nobody was checking bib numbers vs bike numbers on the way out.

Overall, I didn’t have a fun day. I’m not sure if it’s the race or me. With the year off racing due to the pandemic, I have not found the same enthusiasm that I used to have. Everything hurts (especially my knees) and I have had to deal with a lot of stress and responsibility with the pandemic. Whatever the reason, my heart isn’t in triathlon (or running) anymore. Perhaps Triathlon #25 will be my last. The only thing left this year is the Boston Marathon (virtual). I have a lot of reservations about virtual events, but I could not say no to getting a Boston Unicorn medal. I might be walking most of it, but that is another can of worms for another blog post. But after that, I have nothing planned. I might just put my name in the lottery again for the Twin Cities 10 Mile next fall. Time will tell…

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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…

 

PRE-RACE:

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.

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THE SWIM:

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.

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Swim Split – 19:04 (2:32 min/100m)

 

T1:

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 BIKE:

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.

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Bike Split – 34:44 (19.01 mph)

 

T2:

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

T2 Split – 2:18

 

THE RUN:

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…

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Run Split – 26:19 (8:30 min/mile)

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Finish Time – 1:26:42

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

 

POST RACE:

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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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

Final – 1:28:08
200/527

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…

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