Mmm… a week & a state later, and I’m sharing my memories from my first outdoor triathlon of the year. It was also the first triathlon weekend full of nonstop fun for 2013! I hope this weekend is similar!
Memorable quotes from Galena:
- where the antelope at?
- go aero in the car!
- Let’s visit the Mississippi River
- where did that hill come from?
- No bathing suits… naked time!*
So here’s how it went down. I ducked out of work early on Friday to ride up with fellow CTC’ers Xtina & Matt. They’re a cute husband & wife combo, and she’s a pocketful of fun! We had a fun-filled ride out to Galena, where we were shocked by the country-ness of it all. We picked up our packets, dropped our bikes off & then set out to drive the bike course.
Driving the bike course is a MUST in my mind for triathlon preparation. Especially in unfamiliar areas (this was my first time in Galena), but I expect we’ll drive the course up at Pleasant Prairie again this summer too.** This course preview was eye-opening & ear-popping. Get into your granny gears! We got a sense of where the hills were at, although we made one key mistake in our preview.
Heading out to the house that we rented through CTC for the weekend, we were amazed by the size and beauty! For any east coasters, it’s like a beach house, except set in the lush green hills of Galena, IL. Hot Tub & all!
Given the rush & lack of planning on getting out of Chicago, we headed to the grocery store to pick up needed food items for the weekend. Go Piggly Wiggly! I liked the Gluten Free section, as well as the jumbo-sized bottles of wine that they had. Cristina & I dug into the wine like old friends even though she’s more a new friend to me.
Back at the house, Friday night was making dinner (Matt), prepping Cristina’s shoes (me), and starting to plan the morning. Our other housemates trickled in, and the plans for race day morning firmed up.
Galena’s triathlon is a bit unique in its transition spaces, so we had a bit more coordination needed than at most other triathlons. I’ll probably do a full post on the unique multiple transition spaces at this race.
Galena was filled with tons of Chicagoans. I had a coworker/boss there, friends from my FFC Trimonster group, tons of CTC’ers, and other people I’ve seen around. Also a big Northwestern Kellogg contingent too. It was basically a bit of a party.
I hung a lot with my Trimonster training bud Meaghan, and we did a little wade out into the lake, chilled, then decided we needed to do a real warm up swim. So we did – got cold & got out. We watched the start of the race (observation of note: the crazy triathletes doing the shoeless start pedaling up the first hill immediately at bike out w just their feet – they’re not strapped into the bike shoes yet!)
I started toward the front, but I felt sluggish. I definitely wasn’t keeping pace with most of the other front swimmers, and didn’t feel like I was even pushing it. Finishing, I took my wetsuit off while still in the “swim” zone before T1. Overall I was 15 out of 43. Not too shabby.
T1: I try to keep track of this because I’m usually pretty crappy at these. 2:50 got me 14 out of 30.
Bike: Hilly Hilly Milli Vanilli. This course was HILLY. I averaged 15 mph according to my Garmin, and 14.7 mph officially. I wish I’d realized just how long that hill half way through was (a full mile & a half of incline). I definitely have opportunities to fuel better on the bike. Starting with not waiting til my stomach’s on empty and I’m going up maybe the longest hill EVER.
Toward the end there were some fun downhills. I liked the speed! An hour ten total, and 14/43 again.
T2: 2:32 and 16/43. Items forgotten: watch. water. socks (intentional).
Run: Even though the bike finished with a nice downhill of almost a mile, that meant I had to run back UP that hill. For a mile. Uphill. Lots of walking. I saw my friend Xtina further up and was happy to see her. While I wish her well, I wish she’d walked more earlier so I’d have been able to catch her sooner! It was hard to get into a run pace when you’re going uphill so much. I really didn’t get my groove until we had a downhill and my legs were forced to remember what running feels like.
I finally caught of to Xtina and found out that she’d challenged me & didn’t tell me: she wanted me to finish 5 minutes ahead of her. Boo– that’s not what I wanted to hear when I was thinking we should both walk to the finish together under the heat of this beating sun. But I went on. I met Matt a few minutes later and he conned me by reporting there was a water stop further ahead (lying by the fact that “just around the corner” was a half mile later!). The run was fun overall, even though the heat was brutal, because we were winding through Galena’s neighborhoods. I liked the people sitting out to cheer us on, and the Bongo Drum guy who ran with us for a bit!
More conning occurred close to teh finish line as everyone said “just over the little hill” but it turned out to be a bit further. I finally finished! And got the heck out of the sun. Run was finished in 48:14 for 4.3 miles, and 25/43 for the age group.
Post Race – at the course:
It took a while to cool down, but I finally did. Chilling under the CTC tent for as long as humanly possible, and then consuming as many carbs & protein as humanly possible. Here’s a group shot of the club:
Recovery: The whole weekend had a lot of fun in recovery. First there was chilling at the house and bonding with my housemates: Bob, Eric, Andrew, John, Matt & Xtina. Then a CTC After Party & BBQ. Sunday was a brunch (thanks Bob!) and a “ride.” Ride is in quotes as I wimped out when my legs remembered we were still in Galena. Xtina & I recovered in the hot tub with coffee kahluas instead. After we checked out of the house on Sunday, Matt Xtina & I went to visit the Mississippi River then headed home.
The race itself was HOT, but I had fun! I didn’t have too many expectations or goals for this race except to practice technique & hopefully transitions. I think I did very well on these, even though my transition times were still a little long!
The race itself had some of it’s own drawbacks (more water stops needed on the run, and weird transition setup), but there are some key “pro’s” to this race:
- Galena is a fun weekend vacation spot
- Hill Practice!
- Early season practice
Would I do this again? Yes – and only if I can do a whole weekend vacay thing like this one. I’d potentially set specific time goals for the race now that I have a better sense of exactly how hilly it is, and I’d want to push myself more on the run regardless of my cycle experience.
*Naked time did not really occur. No bathing suits meant hot tub in underwear & sports bras.
**Fun fact: Prepping for the Chicago triathlon last summer, I did a few intentional “drive-bys” particularly to see how tight the U-Turns on Lakeshore Drive might be. I focused on the Chicago & LSD light.