The big story this morning was the weather. The forecast called for "October-like weather" with a high in the 60's... YIKES! This summer in Chicago has been very cold, and I'm not sure why. But this was outrageous.
Thankfully the sun broke out before I got into the water, and the water temp was actually a totally bearable 63.5 farenheight. I had to wait for 2 hours in the cold first, though, but the sun finally rose and the clouds faded and we had a full sunny day. It was warm in the sun and cold in the shade. I was in wave #23, which started at 7:44 AM and turned out a respectable but equal time to last year, essentially. I thought I was going to do much better on the Swim--I was going in VERY confident that my training had prepared me for a 20 minute swim--but due to the fact that I've been pushing off the wall a lot more in the pool, my expectations were off a bit. And it turns out that only elites and professionals get 20-minute swim times. I really never hit my stride on the swim unfortunately, I caught it on the last third of Wildflower this year, but never could really get a hold on it at Chicago. I was extraordinarily frustrated that I kept swimming ontop of people at this race and bumping in to people, people get into your way... it's an unmitigated disaster because this triathlon is getting so huge.
Biking wise I felt strong, and I felt that if I have a lot more potential, if I had a regular training schedule. I started to get a hold of the oft-conceptualized constant power output that the human-bike system is supposed to create, which is why you upshift and downshift going over hills. I definitely hit a great stride here. I biked only two minutes faster than last year but we had a NASTY 15+mph headwind from the north, which really altered the field's performance this year. The continental race tires I bought the week before the race SANG the whole way and I will definitely race on racing tires from now on. The Specialized Allez may be seeing its triathlon days numbered here. I think it was responsible for my immediate cramping on the run. As soon as there is money I will get a Triathlon bike, if I am to stay in the sport. Money may not be good for a while, however.
Suprisingly, for only having trained 6 times on the run this summer, I turned out a decent run time. I was pretty scared because of my knee problems from last year (A note about my knee problems. I was essentially UNable to run after Steelhead Triathlon last year, and walked most of Chicago Triathlon (a month later) because of that and because of major shoe malfunctions. I started foam rolling my legs this summer at the urging of my Girlfriend and Chiropractor and I beleive that was majorly helpful in me being able to run 6 miles cold-turkey.) Really made me feel that a half marathon was possible before the season ends this year, however I probably won't attempt it. I stopped every mile to check my pulse, which was around 120bpm, so I was taking it mighty easy, just to avoid injury on this unprepared run. I really suprised myself that never once on the run did my knee problems materialize. Even with patiently expecting the moment when my legs would flare up and that terrible twisting iliotibial band pain that I had on a few of my training runs... it never happened. I did attempt to stop and stretch my legs on the run and my hamstrings and calves IMMEDIATELY went to full-insane-tilt cramp mode, and I backed off immediately and prayed for freedom and it went away--no mores stretching on the run. I iced my hammies at the end of the race at the medical tent.
Finally, it was really nice to see some of my friends supporting me along the course. Thanks Anna, Mary Megan and Joe! Sorry I was the only one that could drink the beer.
Overall, considering my lack of training all summer... I was very impressed where I can go on my next race.