Aquabiking Superiorman 41.5
Superiorman 41.5, Duluth, MN, August 30, 2015
This was my first time racing Superiorman. Going into this race, I knew that I would have to walk the transitions and that I would have to quite after the bike leg. After developing acute Achilles tendinitis during the National Championships in Milwaukee on August 8, I was not yet cleared to run. In essence, I was competing in my first Aquabike 😊.
I drove to Duluth on Saturday, and did all the standard pre-race stuff: race packet pick up, athlete meeting, placing bike into transition (having the transition area inside the DECC arena is kind of unique), scouting the bike course, … I found that the course is not as flat as it is billed to be, and I addition, the first and last five plus miles of the bike course turned out to be quite technical with lots of twists and turns. It should make for an interesting ride!
The transition area opened bright and early at 4:30 AM on Sunday morning. Despite the fact that I did not have a big transition set up, despite the fact that I could not really warm up,and despite the fact that’s this was more a TT training than a race for me, I was there shortly after 4:30, and I was as nervous as before a regular race. However, I also had fun chatting with race announcer Jerry MacNeil, fellow Headwaters Tri members, Matt Backmann, David Lewis, Rich Johnson, and Shane Bowe, who were all registered for the long course, and fellow short course racers, Lisa Lendway, Diane Hankee, and Jess Rossing. I would try to work hard during my two legs of the race to stay close to these women! But I had to disappoint Kourtney Haag, no I was not racing the long course, she could not draft off me during the swim 😦
Jumping off the Vista Fleet boat as the start to the swim, was kind of interesting. My wave was the last one to go, so we were sitting on the boat in our wetsuits (getting warm) for quite a while. Even though the water in the area we were swimming was supposed to be about 65 degrees, I knew it would feel quite invigorating on initial contact. To ease the shock, I poured the rest of the water I had taken on board with me into the wetsuit around my neck. I think it helped. Overall, this was one of the tougher swims for this year so far. Even though I was the forth or fifth fastest swimmer overall for the 41.5 distance ( second fastest woman), I still only averaged 1:30/100 yd, relatively slow for me.
Once I reached the exit ramp everything slowed down because I could not run. It just does not feel right to walk the transition. You work so hard to get ahead of as many athletes as possible and then you slow down and allow everybody to catch up with you or even pass you. First Jessica Rossing came flying by and then Diane Hankee.
As I was walking out of T1, Jerry MacNeil was nice enough to explain, why this woman with this fast bike seemed to take the transition so leisurely. Once I was on my bike, I was back in my element. The first part of the bike course with all its twists and turns went OK, but once I was on the Hwy 61 Expressway going North, I was flying. I was averaging 26-27 mph. I knew, there is no way I can hold an average speed that high, the course was either going slightly downhill or I had tail wind; either way I would have to pay for it at some time. And, boy, was the wind blowing in my face and the way south along Scenic Hwy 61. Somewhere along the Expressway, I passes Jessica Rossing again. I estimated that I now was probably in third place with Lisa Lendway and Diane Hankee still ahead of me. Catching up with either one of them would have been a miracle; both are way stronger cyclists than I am. So I concentrated on the task ahead of me, pushing hard to get in a really good time trial training ride. Out on the course I played the passing game with a male athlete – he passed me, I passed him, he passed me, I passed him … Playing games like this always puts you in danger of drafting, but I am pretty sure that neither of us violated the drafting rules at any time. I ended up slightly ahead of him as we approach T2. I did not realize how close to the last turn the dismount line was (that was a failure on my side to properly scout the course), so coming around the last turn, I only had time to slip out of my left shoe, I had to clip out of my right pedal to be able to dismount in time – no big deal at this point because I was not able to run anyhow. As I was walking my bike to the transition area, the male athlete with whom I had played cat and mouse earlier, came running by giving me a shout out: “You are one heck of a rider!” I just had enough time to yell, thank you, after him.
Once my bike was racked, the race was pretty much done for me. I still slipped on my running shoes and left through the run out, after all I had to return my timing chip and I wanted to make sure I could get my splits. Jerry MacNeil standing at the run out and commenting about the athletes as they left the transition for the run, looked at me quizzically and ask “Are you attempting it?” I just shook my head and answered, “Nope, I’m not going to risk it.” However, I have to admit, as I approached from the DECC into the sunny morning, I felt so good, that for a split second I was tempted to walk the 5.8 miles. I was standing next to Jerry chatting with him, when Jessica Rossing approached from the DECC, with her typical smile on her face, starting to tackle the run. Wow, I had been in a really strong third place after the bike, now I really wanted to know my splits.
Other than returning my chip and getting my splits, there was nothing else to do for me but to get something to eat and to cheer on my fellow racers and friends. This was even more fun once I had taken a shower and had stored all my racing equipment in my car.
Diane Hankee ended up winning the Superior Man 41.5 women’s race (she actually won it out right, on this day, she was the fasted athlete on this course). Lisa Lenday came in second, and Jessica Rossing third. All my friends on the 70.3 distance had great races, Kourtney Haag won the women’s race, David Lewis was second in his age group and was 6th overall, and Matt Backman, Rich Johnson, and Shane Bowe had great races. But most importantly, we all had FUN!!!
My results: Considering that I walked the transitions my rankings are not that bad 😊.
Some interesting observations:
- Had I been able to run, it would have been a very interesting race for the last podium spot between Jessica and me. I would have loved that race.
- Walking the 5.8 mi run section with a 20 min/mi pace, would have still given me the top spot in my age group.