a German on Team USA

Timberman … Like A Snowman In The Heat


Timberman … Like A Snowman In The Heat

July, 14, 2018 – Timberman Olympic Triathlon, Grand Rapids, MN
1 mi / 25 mi / 6 mi

Yep, that’s pretty much how it is. Some of my non-athlete friends are always amazed that I’m still nervous before races. They seem to think that as a veteran triathlete, I should be used to it by now. But that’s not how this works. If you have expectations for yourself, your anxiety and arousal will increase. Some anxiety and arousal is good, it allows you to focus on the task at hand. Too much arousal and it will backfire.

The weather forecast predicting high temps and humidity added to my nerves. High humidity has not been my friend in recent years. I tried to hydrate well with electrolyte drinks during the days leading up to the race. I even took in extra sodium to retain the fluids, but still there is only so much you can drink before your stomach starts gurgling and the bathroom is constantly calling.

When I left my house at 4:15 a.m. for the 1.5 hour drive, it was already quite warm; warm temps also greeted me when I arrived at the race site on Sugar Lake. And the sweating caused by the warm up run gave me a good idea about what was to come.

Swim > 21:32; 1:13 / 100 yds; 5th female; 1st age group

Garmin > 1:24 / 100 yds

On the other hand, there was hardly any breeze to speak of, and the lake lay nice and calm in front of us. Miraculously the race official also had found a spot with a water temp low enough to allow for a wetsuit legal swim. All of this was promising a fast swim.

And with a 1:24 pace, according to my Garmin watch, it was indeed fast for me. It possibly would have been even faster had my goggles not fogged up causing problems to distinguish between the yellow sighting buoys and the yellow shirts of the lifeguards in their kayaks. It caused me to get off course twice as shown by GPS data.

I could not find many pictures of me racing, so I decided to show you pictures of three women who show what it is all about: Having fun, and finding your happy pace. I do not know them, but they are obviously having fun.

T1 > 1:05; 2nd female; 1st age group

I had some problems opening the wetsuit zipper on my way to my transition spot, but transition was long enough, that it did not seem to slow me down. After all this year’s T1 time was slightly faster than last year’s.

It is pretty standard that I make up the three minutes head start that coach Neil King has on me during the swim. It is also pretty standard that I have the slightly faster transition and start the bike leg ahead of Neil. And we played the same game this year, with the one exception that this year I came out of the water slightly ahead of him instead of slightly behind him. Yep, my swimming is going rather well this year.

Bike > 1:15:07; 20.1 mph; 6th female; 1st age group

Alfredo Martel

Garmin > 20.1 mph

It is pretty standard that coach and I play tag in T1 at Timberman. It is also pretty standard that he catches up with me during the bike leg, that we play back and forth for a while, before he finally can pull away from me. His winters spent in the mountains around Sedona, AZ tend to pay off on Timberman’s hilly bike course. So, I fully expected the same thing to happen this time around. Only, Neil did not come, he never caught up with me. Instead I went back and forth with this guy, Alfredo Martel, on the left who happened to be my age. I tended to pull ahead on the uphills, he tended to pull ahead on the downhills. If I would be mean, I would say, it was gravity helping him on the downhills and me on the uphills 😛 .

Overall, I was satisfied with my bike leg. I had a very similar time to last year. My biking had been gone well this year so far, so I had hoped for a slightly faster pace than last year, but it was not to be. Maybe the warm temps and humidity contributed to me slowing down more than I would have liked in the second loop, after all, I ended up using all the fluids I had with me on the bike which is somewhat unusual for me. My lower back also started cramping up towards the end and I had to stretch it out a few times. This also might have slowed me down. I’m not sure what caused the lower back discomfort – The heat? My cycling technique or position? – but I should look into that.

And here are my athletes again having fun on the bike! They look like they really found their happy pace! To the best of my knowledge, they are Kathy and Karen Kooda, from Grand Rapids, MN and St. Paul, MN, respectively.

T2 > 0:57; 4th female; 1st age group

I took it a little bit slower through T2 than in previous years. Just to catch my breath and to water down my running hat and a cooling towel. I already had soaked them with water prior to the start, and now I just added some more. I wrapped the towel around my neck on the way out of transition. Did it help in the end? I’m not sure, I have no comparison. But I don’t think it hurt my performance.

Run > 50:37; 8:26 min/mi; 8th female; 1st age group

Garmin > 8:25 min/mi

And then came the run. The first mile went rather well. And then it just made Peng! (I stole that expression from Anne Haug, a German Pro-Triathlete) The dew point had climbed to somewhere around 70°F, and no matter how much I was sweating, I just could not cool down properly. I felt like I was melting like a snowman in the heat. Even walking through the water stations and pouring the ice-cold water on me only gave me temporary relief. I was just fighting my way to the turn-around and back; and I envied the youngsters who passed me and seemed to have a much easier time dealing with the conditions.

The first thing I did after crossing the finish line was sticking my head in a plastic barrel filled with ice water for cooling down the water for the athletes. This felt sooo good. I twice went under the garden hose shower at the finish line, it felt heavenly.

My run time was quite a bit slower than last year, but my overall placement among the women was better. So, either the faster runners did not show up this year, or everybody was slowing down like I did. I go with the latter, it indicates that I was not alone in my suffering.

And of course, here are Kathy and Karen again, sporting their new Timberman hats and with their most important supporter who was waiting for them close to the finish line. They both did the Super Sprint Triathlon.

Overall > 2:29:20 > 6th female; 1st age group

I ended up winning my age group and finishing 6th out of 53 women completing the Timberman international distance.

My summary of my performance would be: Great swim, good bike, terrible run. I can attribute some of my struggles with the run to the high humidity, but I’m having trouble with my run for too long now. I really want to Solve The Run Riddle.

Here is another interesting picture (right), I found on Timberman Shutterfly site. I might be wrong, but it looks to me like this athlete is competing with an insulin pump. All the power to her!

Thanks again to all the Timberman organizers and volunteers – Did you know that they have about one volunteer for every two athletes? Timberman definitely is a gem of a triathlon and I love everything about it – well, almost, maybe not the stretch of the run on the dirt road 😉

Thanks again, and I will see you again next year.

What’s coming up next?

On August 5, 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

5 thoughts on “Timberman … Like A Snowman In The Heat

  1. Thanks so much for featuring me and Karen in your blog and the wonderful words you have written about Timberman. Karen has been a long time volunteer at registration on Friday night. My husband and I have been part of the committee for 21 years, with 9 years as race directors. The photos you added were taken by our daughter and her friend on race day. Timberman is a family event for the Kooda family! Hope the rest of your race season is great!

  2. You are right about the insulin pump, that is me!!

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