a German on Team USA

What a glorious day for racing … What a great race!

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What a glorious day for racing … What a great race!

July 8, 2017 Timberman Olympic Triathlon, Grand Rapids, MN
1 mi / 25 mi / 6 mi

Sugar Lake Lodge at Siseebakwet Lake, race site for the Timberman Triathlon (photo: Sugar Lake Lodge)

This was the third time racing Timberman for me, and with every year I seem to love this race more: great venue, great course, great organization, great volunteers, great people, great company … and on Saturday also great weather!

During my run warm up, I had just completed some skips, one of the volunteers looked at me and said, “Your name is Kepp…, Kipp…, Kippsomething …”
“Yep, it’s Kippenhan.”
“I knew it! I knew it’s you! … I had your Biomechanics class almost 20 years ago … I’m Trisha, I played Volleyball for BSU … I still have the binder with your class materials … Look at you, doing triathlon …”
Yes, I seem to run into former students everywhere. But, it’s a good sign that they still recognize me and even better that they still want to talk with me 😉 . It is also a sign that I have been at Bemidji State already for a long, long time.

Swim > 22:48; 1:17 / 100 yds; 4th female; 1st age group

Garmin > 1:28 / 100 yds

I love the camaraderie and banter we have among us triathletes. Before the start of the race, Andrea Myers (who ended up winning the Masters title) and I were teasing Christina Roberts (who ended up winning the race) that it is obviously clear that she will leave the water as the first woman but the real question is if she can catch up to Andrea’s husband Scott whose wave would start the swim three minutes ahead of us. Christina just responded dryly “That’s the plan.”

Shortly before our wave was supposed to be sent off, a duck family decided to cross the starting lane. Everybody was cheering them on hoping that they would make it across in time. And what do you know, they cleared the lane just a few seconds before the horn went off.

Because of the long shallow beach, I was dolphining as long as it was reasonably possible, and for about 100 maybe even 150 yards, I was actually ahead of Christina Roberts, Yeah! But when she eventually came blasting by, I unfortunately could not get a hold of her feet 🙂 or catch a good draft. She was just too fast.

T1 > 1:07; 2nd female; 1st age group

I came out of the water on the heels of coach Neil King, meaning I had made up the three minutes head start he had on me. Just as our ways were separating towards our individual transition spots, I tapped him on the shoulder, “You are IT!” Transition was quick and smooth.

Bike > 1:14:49; 20.1 mph; 7th female; 1st age group

Garmin > 20.2 mph

Neil and I did not only enter T1 at the same time, we also left it at the same time. I was just a little quicker jumping on my bike, and off I went, leaving the Sugar Lake Lodge grounds ahead of him. For the next, oh, about 4 miles I was waiting for Neil to blast by me. Finally, around mile 4.5 he past me stating the obvious :-), “you are already three minutes ahead of me.” “But not for long …” I responded, however, we ended up playing back and forth for at least another 5 miles. In the end he past me just one more time than I could pass him. I think it should have been a nice picture, Neil and I going back and forth on the race course: same bike, same Headwaters Tri uniform, same helmet down to the bright orange color. And because of this bright orange color, I could see that for most of the course Neil stayed within sight and that this year I seemed to be able to hold my own against him.

I ended up beating last year’s bike time by one minute. Interestingly the gains came from the flat sections and the fast downhill sections. Maybe the great new black top on some of these streets contributed, in any case, I loved them.

T2 > 0:47; 3rd female; 1st age group

“Oh, coming in hot!” one volunteer commented as I hopped off my bike at the dismount line. And compared to the tail end of the sprint athletes, I certainly came in fast and furious, but totally under control. Swinging the free leg over the saddle, hopping off the still moving bike, and continuing to run without missing a beat; it pays to practice the transitions.

And what do you know, if there would be a price for transitions, I would have tied with Christina Roberts for second, only Andrea Myers was slightly faster 🙂 .

Run > 47:27; 7:54 min/mi; 8th female; 1st age group

Garmin > 8:00 min/mi

Finally, the leg that I had been dreading the most, the run. What would my legs be able to do?

Well, they performed better than during the last triathlon. But I still slowed down more than I would have liked to on the inclines and on the 2-mile dirt road section between miles 2 and 4.

As I approached the 3-mile turn around, Neil King came running towards me; and he did not hesitate the throw down the gauntlet. “Catch me!” was all he said. I did not hesitate to pick up the gauntlet where he left it, that is after I had walked through the turn around water station to fill up my tank.

I did not seem to make too much inroad on him on the remaining 1-mile dirt section, but once I was back on the black top things seemed to fall into place. My running started feeling smooth and strong and tall. I did not necessarily get faster, but I did not slow down and it just felt good. It was then that I noticeably closed the gap to Neil and finally past him.

Podium of the F5054 age group: Susan Nygaard (3rd), Christel Kippenhan (1st), Lori Green (2nd)

Overall > 2:27:00; 5th female; 2nd Master; 1st age group

Overall, I was pleased with my race. I was slower than last year, so no new age group record this year. However, the swim was longer this year, and I do not yet have my running form back, but I’m getting stronger.

After the triathlon, the Headwaters Tri group had a nice, relaxing lunch at Otis’ Grill right at the race site. Like I said before, I just love the camaraderie and banter and support we have among the triathletes not only within our Headwaters Tri club but within the Minnesota triathlon scene in general. And having triathlons as well organized and in such great locations as the Timberman Triathlon definitely supports that atmosphere. We are not only loving what we are doing but also where we are doing it.

Thanks again to the Timberman organization team, I’m planning on seeing you again next year.

What’s coming up next?

On August 6, I will be racing the Brewhouse Sprint Triathlon in Duluth, MN.

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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