a German on Team USA

Liberty: #52 at age 52 … or … Another battle in the heat and wind

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Liberty: #52 at age 52 … or … Another battle in the heat and wind

June 10, 2017 – Liberty Olympic Triathlon, Lake Rebecca Park Reserve, MN

Only five swimmers braved the temperatures at this year’s Memorial Day Swim.

A week ago (6/2), I was running a 5K race in Denver, CO while at the Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine. Denver being roughly 4000 feet higher than Bemidji, I was sucking air like crazy and my legs got heavy very quickly. However, racing conditions were perfect. The race started at 6 AM in perfect 54°F. Fast forward Lake Rebecca Park Reserve, MN on Saturday (6/10), and at 6 AM it was already 75°F. By the end of my race it had reached close to 90°F.

On Memorial day the water temperature in Lake Belle Taine in Nevis MN was 59°F, a week later the water temperature in Lake Movil near Bemidji MN was 68°F, and I bet on Saturday the lake temperature in Lake Rebecca was well in the 70s.

… what a difference a week makes!

But is was not only the temperature that was brutal, the wind was also whipping us around like crazy. Average wind speeds were 17-20 mph with gusts up to 30 mph.

,This year’s nail polish “Purple with Purpose”, it even matched the swim cap. (photo: Lisa Peterson)

My prep leading up to the race went pretty uneventful. Other then, that since graduating from Physical Therapy for my hip flexor tendinopathy, I did not yet have the chance to do any running related speed work, or that I did not yet have the chance to train in heat since there was no heat yet to speak off … Coach also decided to try a new race prep workout, so instead of my standard 2-3 mile run with accelerations, I did a 60 min bike with accelerations. But this was the time to play around with things like this. It was the first triathlon of the season, it was meant to get the rust off, to find my racing legs, to try new things, to see where I’m standing.

Swim > 31:12; 1:54 / 100 yds; 5th women; 1st age group

Garmin > 1:36 / 100 yds.

Some thought the waves in Lake Rebecca felt as bad as the waves shown in this video. I don’t quite think so, but they were pretty bad. Anytime I swim a 1:36 / 100 yds the race distance was either long or the conditions were pretty tough. I think Saturday both was the case. The kayak picture somewhat shows the waves we had to deal with. Two helpers in a canoe even capsized, probably as much from the waves as from the guys not knowing how to paddle in waves.

(photo: Sobottka Photography)

It didn’t help that the wind came from the south and the swim was pretty much a south-north course. It seems that I needed almost three minutes more heading south into the wind than coming back north with the wind. Swimming and breathing did not really cause any major problems, but once in the water I had a hard time locating the turn buoy and the sighting buoys were not of much help as the wind had blown them out of alignment. I felt like I was pushed all over the place. Save to say, it was an interesting experience. Sighting was easier coming back, as I did not have to look for turn buoys anymore, but could orient myself on the large trees along the shore line.

T1 > 1:04; 2nd women, 1st age group

T1 went really smooth. I really like my new helmet. And the orange color helped with spotting my bike already from a distance.

Bike > 1:08:44; 21.7 mph; 8th women; 1st age group

Garmin > 19.9 mph

Maybe I should have called this race report: #52 at age 52 🙂 (photo: Sobottka Photography)

Like the swim course, the bike course was mostly heading in south-north direction: heading south for about 9 miles, followed by a 5.5 mile loop, before heading north again. Good thing we were heading into the wind first and being pushed by the wind coming home. According to my Garmin data I was on average about 5 mph slower heading south compared to heading north (17.7 mph versus 22.7 mph). With the wind in my back I achieved speeds of up to 35 mph. However, I never dared to completely open up the speed gates in fear that a wind gust would take me out.  I had several close calls. At one point I was reaching for some nutrition when I caught a gust and I almost landed on the asphalt. I just barely could get my hand back on my handle bars to straighten myself out again. My heart jumped into my throat. Luckily nobody was close to me at that point because I swerved side to side by several feet and probably would have taken them out with me. But, in the end, you can never make up going with the wind what you lost going into the wind. (There is a very nice physical explanation for this, but I may save that for some other time :-)) A sail or parachute however would have been nice going with the wind 😉  Overall, I was pleased that I only needed about two minutes more for the bike course this year (fighting the wind) than last year.

T2 > 1:09; 9th women, 2nd age group

I took my time in T2. By the time I returned to transition, temps had climbed into the 80s. Based on last year’s experience, I knew this would be a tough run. Not only was it hot, but the course also looks deceptively easy. It has some long, drawn out climbs that over time can really zap you. So, in preparation for this battle in the heat, I had attached a cooling towel to my race number belt. I had soaked it with water before the race and now took the time to pour some additional cold water over it before heading out on the run.

Run > 54:23; 8:46 min/mi; 12th women, 2nd age group

Garmin > 8:41 min/mi

The run started out quite well. I could keep a pretty decent pace. But despite the cooling effect of the towel, I was longing for some ice to stick into my trisuit and under my hat. The organizers had thought ahead and added towels that athletes could grab out of buckets with ice water, but this did not work really well for me. I would have preferred paper cubs with ice cubes instead of the towels. And unfortunately, the ice in the buckets was still in the plastic bags, so I couldn’t just grab some.

I started slowing down after the turn around. My legs just did not want to turn over anymore, and having to run slightly uphill did not help. While I was able to hold the distance to the woman running ahead of me up until the turn around, she now started to pull away; and Gillian Auslander was able to easily catch up with me and pass me on her way to a great 3rd place overall finish.

(photo: Sobottka Photography)

Total > 2:36:39; 6th women; 1st age group (2nd including elite)

Garmin > 2:35:16

In the end I finished 6th overall and 1st in my age group (thanks to Julia Weisbecker for starting in the elite wave). It was not a day for a personal best, but the cob webs and rust are off, and the first triathlon of the season is under the belt. AND … my hip behaved! Now it is time to start working on my running speed again.

What’s coming up next?

On July 8, I’m scheduled to race the Timberman Olympic Triathlon in Grand Rapids, MN

Photo Gallery

(click on photo to enlarge)

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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