a German on Team USA

Getting the Tri-Feel Back

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Getting the Tri-Feel Back

June 14, 2015 – Capitol City Sprint Triathlon, St. Paul, MN

How to get prepared for your first triathlon of the season?
  • IMG_0157 (2)Paint your toe nails in “Winning Streak” purple > Note, the name of the color is more important than the color itself.
  • Prepare your race binder > BTW, it’s black this year, not white!
  • Print your gear checklist, and pack your bags > I am OCD when it comes to this point; always have been, probably always will be.  There is nothing worse than realizing you forgot an important piece of equipment.
  • Do a final transition practice, then head to Minneapolis two days before the race to spend time with great friends > the friends will help you take your mind off the race and calm your nerves that inevitably will show up before any race but even more so before the first race of the season.
  • Talk one of your friends into running an easy 3 miles with some accelerations with you the day before the race, preferably in the morning > this will prime your muscles for the race the next day and avoid feeling sluggish for the race.
  • Tag along as your friends go shopping > you might find something for yourself and you know it’s just plain fun to hang with them.
  • IMG_0155 (2)Pick up your race packet, double check that it contains everything it needs to contain – swim cap, bib number, bike number, helmet number, timing chip, …
  • Eat your preferred pre-race food > pasta for me, preferably Noodles & Co – you know the menu and the portions are just right.
  • Get organized and prep your equipment for the next day > attach numbers, prep water bottles, …
  • Plan and write out the time frame for the next morning > BTW, did I mention that I am OCD about this stuff 🙂
  • Put your legs up and go to bed early.
 OK, now that I am ready for the first tri of the season, how did it go?

Helping Lisa with her timing chip.

Helping Lisa with her timing chip.

I arrived at the race site right as it opened.  I went to body-marking and proceeded to find a convenient spot in the transition area.  Shortly after, Lisa arrived and set up right next to me.  It was a pretty routine race morning: setting up equipment, figuring out flow of transitions, warming up …

Aren't does timing chips cool anklets?

Aren’t does timing chips cool anklets?

It was the first time that I used disposable timing chips.  I am not necessarily a friend of disposable stuff, but I can see how they make things so much easier for the timing company and the race directors.  They also felt really comfortable, they initially felt a little loose at the beginning of the swim but that was soon forgotten.  And, hey, you can sport the chip on your ankle for the rest of the day (or longer) as a token that you raced, just like your body markings 😉

The Swim
Hey, this buoy is moving ...

Hey, this buoy is moving …

With just over 130 participants the race was pretty small, so we started in two waves: First all male participants and about three minutes later all female participant.  As the women were waiting for the start, some around me said that one of the turn buoys is moving.  I was thinking, it always looks like they are moving.  Little did I know that they were right.  We were swimming counterclockwise and had to keep the turn buoys to our left, so I sighted just to the right of the buoy, but as I approached the first buoy it was suddenly right in front of my nose.  I thought my sighting was slightly off – I only had done two open water swims prior to the race – only after the race did I realize that this was probably due to the drifting buoy.  I just feel sorry for the slower swimmers, because the farther back you were the more the buoy had drifted and the longer was your swim.  I just hope it made Lisa realize that she actually can do a triathlon with a 1/2 mile swim, because she probably ended up swimming close to a 1/2 mile instead of the advertised 500 m.

Skeptical about the moving buoy ... Photo: Craig Peterson

Skeptical about the moving buoy …
Photo: Craig Peterson

Shortly after I exited the water, I heard Jerry MacNeil announce Kortney Haag leaving the water.  I smiled internally and thought, ah, she was drafting off me again, but I also knew that once on the bike I would not see her again until the finish line.  I later asked her about the drafting, and with a big grin on her face, she just nodded her head.  I think she also was relieved when I told her that we swam more the 500 m.  There is no way we average a 1:45 / 100 yds, that would be bathing and not racing.  To my best estimate,  we probably swam around 600 m instead.


T1 went quite well.  I came out of the transition area, jogged past the mount line, stepped on my shoe, and started to swing my free leg over the saddle, when the guy in front of me suddenly stopped in his forward motion, and I ran full speed into his elbow. I came to an abrupt stop, almost fell over, and barely could catch myself in the last moment.  Now I had to start all over again, it did not help that the road was going slightly up hill and my shoes were hanging up-side-down.  I am just glad that Kortney, who came out of the transition just behind me, did not run into us, too.

Photo: Craig Peterson

Photo: Craig Peterson

The Bike

The bike course is a very simple, closed, 2-loop, out-and-back course.  Other than the four 180-turns (two in each loop), you can just ride hard.  There is some bumpiness at the intersection of Wheelock Pkwy and E Shore Dr, and my bike and I got squirted with the stuff in my aero bottle quite a bit, but otherwise the ride is very smooth, specially along Phalen Blvd.  With some exceptions, the course looks pretty flat, and so I am always amazed about all the false flats in it.  I reached speeds of over 30 mph, but still only averaged 21.2 mph for the whole course.

Smoothly lifting my bike ... Photo: Craig Peterson

Smoothly lifting my bike …
Photo: Craig Peterson

I also did not forget the curb at the end of the ride before entering T2.  I nicely lifted my bike without loosing my stride, so that the back wheel would not bounce up and hit me in my back or worse I would drop the bike.


In and out in 38 seconds, I wiped my feet a little bit too long before slipping into my shoes and fiddled with my hat a little bit too much, but that’s about it.

The Run
Ein schöner Rücken kann auch entzücken ... Photo: Craig Peterson

Ein schöner Rücken kann auch entzücken …
Photo: Craig Peterson

The run was my weak spot last year, how would it start this year?

It is still early in the season, so my legs were not yet as crisp as they hopefully will be as we get closer to my A-races.  My taper for this race was also relatively short, so my legs were not as fresh as they hopefully will be with a longer A-race taper.  Coming out of T2 my legs were turning well, but I still did not feel like I was running very fast.  Unfortunately, I did not have another woman around me that could push or pull me.

I was expecting to run the same route as last year, using the more level outer bike trail around Lake Phalen, but instead we were directed to the more winding inner walking trail, which has way more ups and downs than the bike trail.  The uphills slowed me down quite a bit, but it was the steep downhills that really got to me.  They were at times so steep that I could not just let my legs go without fearing to fall on my face.

I ran a 22:29 time (7:14 min/mi pace).  It is not even close to my best, but better than I had ended 2014.  I take it.

Post Race
Professor and former student. Photo: Craig Peterson

Professor and former student.
Photo: Craig Peterson

I ended up 5th woman overall, and first Master’s woman.  As age group winner I received a nice hydrangea, it is rated for zones 4-9, so let’s see how long I will be able to keep it alive in zone 3 (borderline 2) Bemidji. 🙂   The second and third place winners received a Caribou gift certificate, as a Caribou Coffee fan, maybe I would have been better off with a gift certificate, too 😉

During the award ceremony Duane Millslagle came up to me, joking “What’s up in Bemidji?  Not training anymore?”
“I beat you today!”  His time was 22 seconds faster than mine.
“Well, it was my first tri this year and my legs were not yet as crisp as I would like them to be.  Also, a turn buoy drifted off and our swim was longer than for the men.”
“But you still had a 9 min swim …”
“… but I swim around 8 min for 500 m.”
I did the Math afterwards, sorry Spike, but with the same length swim, I would have beaten you handily 😛

Cleaning the street instead of taking a nap.

Cleaning the street instead of taking a nap.

How to wind down after the race?
  • Take a shower!
  • Eat something!
  • Talk your friend into an easy recovery ride > easy is the operative word here.
  • Take a nap if you are the napping kind of person > I am not, stopped doing that when I was two to the dismay of my parents; but hey, there is way too much interesting stuff going on on a farm, you might miss something.
  • Eat lots of Black Sheep pizza,  eat lots of Izzy’s ice cream > Life is Good!
Update – July 4, 2015

The hydrangea might have to survive the deer attacks first, before we can think about surviving the winter 😦

Author: seecktri

an Exercise Science professor at Bemidji State University who spends most of her time working, swimming, cycling, and running; a German on Team USA Triathlon who nevertheless cheers for Team Germany for anything sport

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