Chisago was one of the few repeat races on my calendar this year so I was excited to see how my race would compare to last year. Heading into the race I set my “goal” (expected result range) a little higher than Lauren Goss’s professional course record. When I mapped out the course though, it was more like a 21.4 mile bike verses 22 miles. If this was truly the case I knew if I had a good race I could be within that mark.
Race morning weather was ideal: a little on the cool side, great for drinking some nice hot coffee. Dad (Stopwatch Greg) and I arrived fairly early per usual so I could grab my packet, get body marked and setup in transition the way I like with plenty of time to spare and time for my body to wake up.
The half-iron folks were heading out at 7 but the sprint triathletes hung out until the first half-iron swimmers got to shore. Gear West teammate David Thompson was first out of the water with a small pack not too far behind.
Finally it was our turn to start. The swim was very short (400 meters) so I knew people were going to be aggressive from the get go. We sprinted into the water and I was able to be clear of swimmers next to me right away. Unfortunately, we swam right through what had to be the weediest part of the lake. I was pulling weeds most of the way and at one point a weed even caught on my ear and I had to yank it off mid recovery stroke. This was quite ironic because Gear West teammate Claire Bootsma, was joking how wearing my ears outside my cap was probably not very hydro-dynamic, jinxed?
Approximately 350 strokes later I was already darting onto shore working my way out of my wetsuit. Running up the steep hill to transition I slowed to a crawl. Finally, over the top I sprinted across the transition area to my spot. I’ve gotten a lot better at getting my wetsuit off but both feet got stuck, more body glide next time.
I split my watch right out of transition, which I often miss, but I wanted an accurate idea of my total time on the bike. I knew I needed a strong bike split if I wanted a shot at sub 1:19. I quick slipped into my shoes just in time for the sharp right hand turn onto the bike trail. It was nice because there were quite a few half iron folks out on the bike already so I could use them for motivation to keep the intensity up on the bike. I knew I had to cover each mile in about 2:30 or less so each time I hit a mile marker I was glancing down at my speedometer to see what my time was. I knew I’d be a little behind my goal pace at first but I started to think I was a little too far back. It was fairly windy and even started to mist on us so I was hoping this wouldn’t damper my speed too much. Around mile 8 Gear West teammate Dan Hedgecock sped by me. I was waiting for this moment because I knew he’d be going more pedal to the metal than the half iron riders, so I had to keep him in my sights as long as I could. While riding behind him I did take a moment to compare our cadence; all I can say is Dan has a much higher cadence than I do, note to self as something to work on in the future.
Eventually I lost sight of Dan but soon enough I was speeding into T2. I knew I had to be leaving T2 in 59 minutes or less to have a good shot at that sub 1:19. Before slipping my shoes off I glanced at my race time and I knew I was in pretty good position.
I was in and out of T2 fairly quickly and off on the run, which is always the most challenging part of the day for me. Thankfully the first part of the run is a nice little down hill which helped set a good pace from the get go. Unfortunately, soon after that, you run through some gravel, up a slight hill that feels like it slows you to molasses and then through the grass, finally reaching some solid ground to get back on pace. I was feeling pretty good still at this point but I never want to burn all the gas right away, so I settled in at what felt like a strong pace. When I hit mile 1 I didn’t bother to look at my watch as I felt I was pacing pretty well and I didn’t see Dan headed back my way yet (it was an out and back run). I skipped the water stop at the half way mark, as I was still feeling good and only had a little over a mile to go. Turning back to the main drag, Kyle Serreyn was headed to the turn around putting him approximately two blocks behind me. I had just checked my watch to see that I was still in good shape on time, since my body wasn’t completely rejecting me this was great motivation for me to push the pace on the way home and go outside my comfort zone.
The end of the run back into the park is probably the hardest part of the day. You enter the park running through grass and gravel, winding up and down . The whole time you can hear Jerry MacNeil announcing your arrival, but you still have to loop around the restroom, run up a hill and take a sharp right turn before the sprint to the finish line.
My final time was 1:17:15, 6:23 under the amateur course record and 1:45 under Lauren Goss’s course record. I was definitely very pleased with the result. Throughout the race I felt strong and was able to execute my race strategy as I wanted to. A run split closer to what I raced at Lake Minnetonka would have been ideal but with about 7 more miles of biking (fairly close to an Olympic distance bike), I’m happy with just 6 seconds slower per mile. Check out the results.
Post race Dad, Mom, my Aunt and sister walked just up the street to visit with our family friend at her cabin (she had also raced the sprint). Conveniently located right on the run course, plenty of friends that raced filled the front yard to cheer on the athletes still racing. You may or may not have been offered a freezy or a beer from her husband while you ran by. The stars aligned for one racer that was sporting a shirt that said, “This guy needs a beer,” perfection.
Congrats to the over 1000 athletes that raced the sprint and half at Chisago, it was a great day for racing, tons of CR’s, PR’s and age group records broken, good work!
As a final note, my coworker, Heidi, saw a photo of me sporting my Black CEP 2.0 Run Compression Socks at Trinona and said I looked like a grandpa . She insisted on giving me more trendy compression socks, to save me from embarrassment, shown below. Do I really look less elderly? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.