4 weeks until USAT Nationals & 13 weeks until Chicago Marathon

I knew with overlapping training cycles, that there would be weeks where the volumes of both were building. I knew it would be tough, but hoped that my body would respond well. This was definitely one of those weeks, but I felt really good all the way through. I had some solid workouts in all three areas and finished the week tired, but feeling strong.


  • Plan: Tempo Run w/3M @ 7:05 – 7:15 + 1:15 Steady State Ride
  • Actual: 7.9M @ 7:51 avg. + 20M @ 16.9 mph

I got up early with the intention of doing both the run and ride before my 9 a.m. meeting. My legs felt dead to start the tempo, but after a mile or so they woke up and felt great. During the tempo miles I felt like I was pushing, but when I asked my body for a little more, it was there: 7:14, 7:06, 7:01. 

I will pretend that I was really smart and didn’t leave for my ride after eating breakfast because I knew that the sky was going to open up and dump on us. In reality, I just didn’t feel like riding right away and I was already showered and laying back in bed when it started pouring. I ended up riding after my lunch time teleconference and apparently the showers in the morning scared all the people away because the path was eerily empty for a beautiful sunny afternoon. Riding “steady state” on the Lakefront is tricky because all of the hazards (i.e. ignorant people) but I tried to give as much effort as I am comfortable with and still feel safe.


  • Plan: Strength Routine + 1:00 Easy Run +2500 Swim
  • Actual: Strength + 7.1M @ 8:28 avg. + 2700 Swim (main set: 7×100 w/5″ RI, 8×100 VO2 Max w/1′ RI)

Woah, fall in July?! It was 57 when I left for the run at 7:30 a.m. No complaints here! Walter went with me for the first 5.5 then I dropped him off and finished up.

I worked the rest of the day then headed to the pool around 3:30. The sky was threatening rain all day so I had decided that going indoors was the best option. Was hoping for a little more pool magic like Sunday but this swim felt blah and hard.


  • Plan: OFF
  • Actual: OFF

Sleeping until 8 a.m. was glorious and this complete rest day felt long overdue.


  • Plan: Speed Workout: 2-3x1M @ 6:40 (or below) w/ 1:45 – 2:00 rest, & focus on negative split + 2700 Swim 1:20 Ride w/28′ Tempo
  • Actual: 8M @ 7:51 + 23M Ride @ 18.6 mph

This was by far the best mile repeat workout I have ever done. I warmed up and cooled down in the park behind the track (I love this option!) and made a pitstop in the grossest porta potty I have ever experienced. That part aside, it was a perfect day: cool with low humidity and I felt really, really good. Repeats: 6:34, 6:34, 6:32, all with the second 800 4-8 seconds faster than the first.


Mandatory track picture. I love this place.

I was originally planning to do this ride on Friday, but since I had to be in Peoria for a meeting Friday morning, I took my bike with me and rode Thursday evening. I try to take advantage of any chance to ride on country roads instead of the Lakefront Path. I cut out the tempo since I did a workout in the morning. I am reminded how much I truly love to ride when I am outside of the city.


Corn fields & country roads make for a good riding backdrop.


  • Plan: 45 min – 1:00 Easy Run + 1:20 Ride w/28′ Tempo 2700 Swim
  • Actual: 7.25M @ 8:19 avg. + 2450 Swim (main set: 5×300, 4×50 sprint)

Man, it was tough to get out of bed for this one. I had to get up at 5:15 to get the run done and be at my 8 a.m. meeting on time and despite 7 hours of sleep, it was rough. Once I finally dragged myself outside, it was so very worth it. Nice cool morning and my legs came alive right away.

I had meetings all morning, then lunch with the in-laws before heading back to Chicago. The drive took WAY longer than it should have because of traffic in in the city. Once I got home, I briefly considered skipping the swim since the last thing I really wanted to do was get back in the car and drive somewhere. But it was a beautiful day and I knew the outdoor swim would feel good after sitting in the car for 4 hours. It ended up being a great swim, but I had to cut it slightly short because the pool was closing.


  • Plan: Strength Routine + 2:00 Run 
  • Actual: 15M @ 8:12 avg.

I got up a little before 6 when Brad left to go to his golf tournament. I skipped strength because I knew it would be getting hotter by the minute and I just wanted to get started. Took Walter for 4, then finished up the rest. I focused on better pacing since I ran out of gas in the end last week. First 5: nothing faster than 8:20, Next 5: nothing faster than 8:10 and last 5: 7:50-8:10. It worked and I felt strong at the end.


All the drinks for my ice bath: Nuun, Protein Shake, Hot Apple Cider


  • Plan: 2:30 Ride + 2800 Open Water Swim 
  • Actual: 44.4M @ 17.7 mph + 2900 OWS @ 1:27/100 yd

I took Brad to the train at 5:15 for an early flight so I left to ride as soon as I got back. I love going that early on Sunday mornings because I beat traffic on the city roads and the whole ride is more peaceful. Every time I ride north on Sundays I am reminded how much I truly love being on my bike. The time flew by and my legs felt really good.

photo 1 (20)

The view from my saddle.

After the ride, I ate and changed then went down to Ohio Street Beach to swim. I usually bike there, but decided to drive since I had just ridden nearly 45 miles. I wasn’t sure what the parking situation would be (it’s $25 flat rate at Navy Pier) but I was able to park on the street for $4/hr and it was a short 3 min. walk over to the beach. I felt like a sloppy mess on the swim and when boats would come in and out I was bobbing around like crazy, but my average was surprisingly good (only 1 sec/100 yd slower than my race pace at Nationals last year). I’ll take it.

photo 2 (23)

Ohio Street Beach


  • Swim: 8100 yds
  • Bike: 87 miles
  • Run: 45 miles
  • Time: 13 hours 20 min. (<– maybe a little overkill for Olympic Distance training…)
Posted in triathlon, bike, weekly recap, training, walter, the lake, swimming, running, family, Travel, Chicago | 2 Comments

Chasing PR’s

There was a stretch of time a couple of years ago where I PR’d every time I raced. I was chipping away at older times in just about every distance, including varying triathlon distances. I was doing more focused speed work (running and on the bike) and putting in slightly more mileage. I also started to gain some confidence and set bigger goals. I don’t think I was doing anything special. I just think consistently breaking PR’s tends to happen as people start to get faster and a little more serious about training (especially if they don’t race frequently).

lungs 4 life 2

Finishing my first sub-21:00 5k in 2012.


And that all came to a very abrupt halt when I experienced the disaster that was the Eugene Marathon. I poured my heart into that training cycle and was pretty devastated in the outcome.


The final 200m in Eugene.

After the race someone (I think Jocelyn?) said to me, “I know you are disappointed, but when was the last time you didn’t PR?” I stopped and thought for a second and I truly couldn’t remember the last time I had raced and not PR’d.

And that was a pretty big wake-up call.

I was thrilled beyond belief when I got marathon redemption 5 weeks later in Bayshore, but that was the last time I PR’d in ANYTHING. In the last 14 months, I have had two good 5k races (in an untimed race and a short course), but no legitimate, official PR’s.


Hero’s 5k in Greenville that was actually 2.9 miles.

It’s not that every race has been a disappointment. In New York, on a training cycle that was interrupted by injury, I ran a smart race that I was very proud of. And two weeks ago, I rode my fastest bike split ever in a triathlon.

photo 5 (1)

NYC was also the most fun I have ever had running a marathon.

Those things are great but…I just really want to PR.

I realize that there comes a point in racing that it just doesn’t happen as frequently as it did before, but then what? I am not sure if I have hit a plateau that I will eventually come out of or if I have just kind of hit the threshold of my ability? Or maybe I just have had combination of infrequent racing and bad luck?

I do believe that I have a faster marathon time in me and I have had some great training gains over the last year, but it’s disappointing that a year has gone by and I am still shooting for the same goals.

I am not really sure what the point here is, but I have spent some time thinking about this lately and thought it could be an interesting discussion. For now, I think my solution is to just put my head down and keep training hard. I get a chance to try to break 2:20 in the Olympic distance triathlon in 3.5 weeks and then another crack at the marathon in October. In the meantime, I am curious to know everyone’s thoughts on this topic? Has anyone else experienced this? Any words of wisdom?


Posted in bike, Goals, injuries, Races, running, training, triathlon | 9 Comments

Swim/Bike & Run Balance

5 weeks until USAT Nationals & 14 weeks until Chicago Marathon

I had a small build week for running this week, but it was a cutback in volume for swimming and biking. I didn’t necessarily plan this, but it worked out well. There were definitely some running highs and lows, but by Sunday my legs felt great, even at the end of my first 40-mile week of the training cycle.


  • Plan: OFF
  • Actual: OFF

I thought about trying to get one last ride done in the hills and open roads in Virginia (vs. flat, city riding back home) but I felt like my body needed rest more than anything. I slept in until 7:30 (heaven after so many dark-o-clock wake-ups in a row!).


  • Plan: 1:00 Progression Run + 1925 Swim
  • Actual: 7.45M @ 8:05 + 1820 Swim (main set: 6×100 w/5″ RI, 7×80 VO2 Max w/45″ RI)

I flew home from Virginia on Tuesday morning but wanted to get my run in before I left. This would be my last run on hills and unfortunately the heat and humidity showed back up again too. The instructions were to pick it up to a “natural uptempo” during the last 15 – 20 minutes. It ended up being a nearly ideal progression for the whole run: 8:35, 8:29, 8:25, 8:20, 8:14 (.75), 7:39, 7:30, 7:14 (0.70).

I slept from take-off to landing (yes!) then went home, dropped my stuff and went to the 20 yd indoor pool at my gym. I don’t like swimming there, but it’s better than no swim at all, which was my only other option with meetings all afternoon and a hair cut appt. in the evening.


  • Plan: Strength Routine + 1:00 Easy Run + 1:15 Easy Ride
  • Actual: Strength + 7.15M @ 8:23 + 20.2M @ 16.1 mph

Thanks to my body still thinking I am in Virginia, I was wide awake at 6:15. I putzed around the house a bit, then finally did my strength stuff and ran around 7:20. It was warm and humid but after running on hills for a week, the flat Lakefront felt easy! After the run I stretched and changed then did some work before heading out to ride just before lunch. All was going well until I got to my turnaround point and hit a dip in the path and got a flat. Thankfully it was the front tire (no greasy hands!) and minus struggling with my stupid CO2, it was pretty easy. I got it changed in ~10 min and headed home.

lakefront path

Beautiful day on the path. Ironically I took this pic before the turnaround and this is nearly the exact spot I realized I had a flat on the way back!


  • Plan: Tempo Run w/2M @ 7:05-7:15 + 2100 Swim
  • Actual: 6.9M @ 7:56 + 2100 Swim (main set: 6×200, 2×50 sprint)

I think I went into this run a little dehydrated. I felt fine at the start, but my legs never really woke up and I got really thirsty and sluggish toward the end. I gave myself a few pep talks during the tempo miles and was thankful it was only two: 7:08, 7:06.

Lunch time swim at my favorite outdoor pool.



  • Plan: 1:05 Easy Ride
  • Actual: 18M @ 16.8 mph

It is amazing how much better riding on the Lakefront is when I do it at 6:30 a.m. I miss the open (smooth) roads in Virginia, but this really wasn’t that bad.


  • Plan: Strength Routine + 1:45 Run + 2400 Swim
  • Actual: Strength + 13M @ 8:10

The first 4 miles of this run felt terrible. I was light headed and had zero energy (despite getting a ton of sleep, eating a banana and drinking water & juice pre-run). When I brought Walter back to drop him off after those first 4 miles, I ate half a picky bar and drank half a bottle of Nuun before heading back out. That helped tremendously, but as I headed out, the rain started. It had been really humid during the first part of the run and now it was just a complete downpour. But for some reason the harder it rained, the better I felt. It was much cooler and I couldn’t have been more wet if I jumped in the lake. It pretty much poured like that for the remaining 9 miles. I felt great until the last mile or so, when I paid for the 8:00-8:05 pace I was running during the worst of the rain. I struggled hard in the last few minutes and then was completely wiped out when  I was done. Two naps and many hours of couch time later I knew a swim wasn’t happening.


  • Plan: Brick: 1:30 Ride + 30-45 min Easy Run
  • Actual: Brick: 27M @ 17.2 mph + 5.5M @ 8:11 + 2600 Swim (main set: 1800 straight swim)

After being totally wiped out Saturday and then staying out well past midnight, I thought this workout would be a complete bust. But I woke up on my own at 6:30 feeling great. ate breakfast and rode out by 7. The ride up Sheridan road was lovely (it always is on Sundays!) and running off the bike felt fantastic. I felt like I could have run forever. Endorphins for days.

After the brick, I ate breakfast, changed and headed to the pool for a swim. On my way to the gym, I was kicking myself for not going to the lake for an open water swim. It was a beautiful day with low wind which would have been perfect, but once I got there, I ended up having the best swim I have had in a long time. I haven’t had that “effortlessly gliding through the water” feeling in the pool in probably 2 years. And it felt AMAZING for it to be back. I hope that means I am having a little breakthrough with swimming for the season.


  • Swim: 6565 yds
  • Bike: 65 miles
  • Run: 40 miles
  • Time: 11 hours 10 min.
Posted in bike, Chicago, family, running, swimming, the lake, training, Travel, triathlon, walter, weekly recap | Leave a comment

Easy Miles

6 weeks until USAT Nationals & 15 weeks until Chicago Marathon

After Sunday’s race, nearly all of the running and riding miles last week were of the “easy” variety. Since my yardage in the pool has been so low lately, I did push the swims a bit. I figured I could handle a little more intensity on the swims and still get the recovery I needed.


  • Plan: OFF
  • Actual: OFF

My abs were really sore where I had the cramp during the run the day before and I felt generally tired. This complete rest day was needed.


  • Plan: Strength Routine + 50 min – 1:00 Easy Run + 2400 Swim
  • Actual: Strength + 7.2M @ 8:23 + 2300 Swim (Main set: 7×100 w/5″ RI, 7×100 VO2 Max w/30″ RI)

I did my strength workout and then headed out around 7 a.m. I felt really sluggish to start the run, but once I got going it turned out to be a really good shake-out from the weekend. Walter went for the first 4 miles and then I dropped him off since it was so hot and humid. I finished sweaty and happy.

I finally had the chance to go to the outdoor pool at Holstein Park! It is a 50 yd pool and wasn’t very crowded at all. I LOVE swimming in long course, outdoor pools. They have lap swimming in the mornings and 12-1 on weekdays, but I got there around 12:15 so I had to get out before finishing my cool down. No big deal…I was happy to finish the rest of the workout just in time!


It is 8 lanes across, but they only had lane ropes in every other lane. Plenty of space for everyone though!


  • Plan: 1:00 Easy Run + 1:15 Easy Ride
  • Actual: 6.4M @ 8:16 + 20.2M Ride @ 16.1 mph + 0.8M @ 8:18 

Three cheers for a random cool, low humidity morning! I was running a little late to get back before my 8 a.m. meeting so Walter and I finished the first part of the run in about 53 min and I tacked on the remainder of the run after the bike to make it a (very) short brick. I rode at lunch hoping to beat the majority of the Lakefront Beach crowds and it was pretty successful. It was still a little crowded but nothing like last Friday’s debacle.

The last thing I wanted to do was run after the ride (hello…it was LUNCHTIME) but it was a quick {less than a} mile. It’s probably not a bad idea to get more of these short bricks in so my legs get used to transitioning to the run.


  • Plan: Strength Routine + 1:00 Easy Run + 2500 Swim
  • Actual: Strength + 7.2M @ 8:21 + 2500 Swim (main set: 7×200, 2×50 sprint)

Walter threw up a few times Wednesday night so I ran solo. I hated not being able to take him since it was another cool day, but he needed to rest. I wanted to be out running by 6:20 so I could get back and to the pool before the morning lap swim was over. I felt a little sluggish for most of the run, but the swim in the bright morning sun and cool water felt really nice.

That afternoon we flew to Virginia to spend the long weekend weekend at The Greenbriar and the lake.


  • Plan: 1:30 Easy Ride
  • Actual: 20M @ 16.4 mph

First chance to get out on my new bike! I got a Felt Z6, similar to the bike that got stolen to keep in Virginia since we have been spending so much time there. The riding is relentlessly hilly, but having a road bike makes it much more manageable than my tri bike. I cut this ride a little short because I had to squeeze it in early before we left to go to The Greenbriar.

I spent the rest of the day with this view. Those two cuties are my little water baby nieces.



  • Plan: 1:30 Run w/Fast Finish + 2700 Swim
  • Actual: 11.1M @ 8:06 + 2200 Swim (main set: 1500 straight swim)

The hotel had trail maps for hiking that I thought would be my best option for running. Unfortunately after about 2.5 miles the hiking trails were not runnable at all. I hiked up a bit hoping it would flatten out, but eventually had to take a steep road back down. Once I came down, I found that the road circling the hotel was a nice rolling loop with minimal traffic and I was able to add on the rest of the miles with out an and back into town. It was in the low 50′s and I felt great for a majority of this run, but during the last 1/2 mile of the fast finish, I hit a wall. I didn’t eat or drink anything before or during the run and when I came to a hill going back into the hotel, my body was done. The fast finish miles were 7:42, 7:34, 7:45, but I had to stop and rest with 2:30 left in the 3rd mile before finishing.

My second dumb move was to shower quickly then head to the pool right away. Still without eating. The hotel has a beautiful 30 m indoor pool, but the water was WARM (like 80 degrees) and there was no way I could finish the whole swim. My head was hurting and I was starting to feel really blech. I finally called it when I got to 1500 for the straight swim and cooled down before FINALLY getting some food with Brad’s family.


  • Plan: 45 min Easy Run + 2:15 Ride
  • Actual: 5.3M @ 8:27 avg. + 33M Ride @ 15.5 mph

I was definitely feeling my little 1/2 mile down the steep hill from Saturday at the beginning of this run. I started really slow, but eventually everything loosened up and I enjoyed another really cool morning and a brilliant sunrise.

After the run I ate quickly (lesson learned) then headed out on the bike. I was actually cold for the first half hour of the ride and feeling a little unmotivated. It was beautiful out, but the hills felt like they just wouldn’t quit and I was kind of over it. The last 10 miles was much better and I was able to finally manage some decent splits (relative to the <15 mph splits from the first 10 miles). I was definitely ready to be done and completely relax for the rest of the day.


Pictures never do justice to how pretty the views are on this ride.


  • Swim: 7000 yds
  • Bike: 73 miles
  • Run: 38 miles
  • Time:11 hours 45 min.
Posted in bike, Chicago, family, running, swimming, the lake, training, Travel, triathlon, walter, weekly recap | 3 Comments

It Officially Begins

7 weeks until USAT Nationals & 16 weeks until Chicago Marathon

I took a break from recapping my weekly training after Boston because I was in recovery mode then switching into triathlon training and marathon base building. Now that Chicago training has “officially” started (my training didn’t really change that much from the previous 2-3  weeks), I am picking the recaps back up. I really like being able to look back at more than numbers on a log and see how I was feeling week to week. It is a great confidence booster prior to race day to be able to see the work that I put in over the 16 week cycle.

Meanwhile, I am also training for USAT Nationals, so my bike/swim workouts will also be sprinkled in the recaps.


  • Plan: Tempo Run w/2-3M @7:05-7:20 + 2400 Swim
  • Actual 7.8M @ 7:50 avg.

I was in Hamburg and stayed up until 2 a.m. watching the USA vs. Portugal game so I was really tired Monday morning. The run felt super sluggish to start, but my legs somehow found some speed once I got going. Tempo miles: 7:15, 7:10, 7:07. I did feel like I cheated a bit because I had to stop for ~2 min for an emergency bathroom break toward the end of the 2nd mile. According to Coach: It’s not cheating, it just happens…

After the run I packed up my stuff for my 5 hr train ride to Amsterdam. I was hoping to swim once I got there, but ended up not having time before meeting colleagues for dinner.


Not taken on this run, but this is the lake where I did the majority of my runs in Hamburg, including this tempo.


  • Plan: 1:00 Easy Run + 1:10 Ride w/9×1′ Sprints
  • Actual: 7.1M @ 8:28 avg.

Fortunately I didn’t have to be up as early in Amsterdam as I did the week before in Hamburg. I headed over to Vondelpark for an easy hour run around 6:30 a.m. The park smelled like burnt hot dogs, but other than that is a nice little sanctuary of nature in the midst of the city. My Hamburg hotel had a gym the week before but the one in Amsterdam didn’t so I scratched the ride…but likely wouldn’t have had time for it anyway since the day was pretty busy with work.

photo 2 (22)

In front of Reijks Museum. (From my walk to dinner Monday evening)


  • Plan: 1:30 Ride w/7×3′ Hard Effort + 2500 Swim
  • Actual: 2700 Swim (main set: 7×200, 4×25 sprint)

Again, no hotel gym meant no ride. But after a little research, I found a pool that was open to the public that I could use before work. I took the tram over to Het Marnix which is a really nice facility (despite co-ed bathrooms?!). They only had 3 lanes open for lap swim, so I hopped in the one that appeared to be the fastest (the others were marked “schnell” which I thought was some form of the word slow) and tried to find space in the group. It was stop and go with the others in the lane for a bit, but eventually the crowd thinned and I was able to get in a good workout.


  • Plan: Speedwork w/7-8×400 @ 1:35-40 + 2400 Swim
  • Actual: 7.1M @ 8:22 avg.

It was finally my travel day to go home! I got up early to get the workout in before my flight. I ran over to Vondelpark again which thankfully didn’t smell this time. The repeats felt a little choppy like I was surging and slowing and maybe my Garmin was jumping around a bit too. Either way, not a bad workout: 1:38, 1:38, 1:36, 1:37, 1:43 (watch off), 1:36, 1:38, 1:35. It felt good to move before getting on a plane for 9 hrs.

I thought maybe I would feel good enough to swim when I got home, but I was exhausted and pushed it off for later.

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Was happy to go home but a little sad to bid farewell to such a beautiful city.


  • Plan: Strength Routine + 45 min Easy Run + 1:10 Easy Ride
  • Actual: Strength + 5.5M @ 8:19 avg. + 17M @ 14.7 mph

It was relatively cool Friday morning with a really wet fog over the city. I did my strength stuff then took Walter with me for a nice, easy run. I felt good the whole time and had to really watch my pace to make sure I kept it within “easy” range.

Once the fog burned off, the beaches came alive and I knew that it would be a mess trying to ride Friday afternoon. After not having been on a bike in nearly two weeks though, I figured it was worth it to get a few miles in. No amount of mental prep ever prepares me for the stupidity on the Lakefront Path on a summer afternoon. People pay zero attention and it can be a dangerous venture to try to ride clipped in. I took it SUPER slow and tried not to get frustrated. In the end I am glad I went, but it was a good reminder that early morning rides are the only option from now on.


  • Plan: Shake-out Ride + 2400 Swim + Beer Run
  • Actual: 5.8M Ride @ 14.7 mph + 2400 Swim (main set: 7×100 w/5″ rest, 7×100 VO2 Max w/45″ rest) + ~3M @ ~9:30 avg.

Maybe not the best prep for race day?




  • Swim: 6770 yds
  • Bike: 47 miles
  • Run: 37 miles
  • Time: 9 hours 50 min.


Posted in bike, Chicago, friends, Races, running, Strength Training, swimming, training, walter, weekly recap, work travel | 3 Comments

Chicago ITU Triathlon

I knew going into this race that it probably wouldn’t be my best race ever. I spent the majority of the 2 weeks prior in Europe for work and my workouts were limited. I had access to a stationary bike the first week, but did zero rides the second week and I only managed one swim the whole trip. But despite all of that, I knew that the race would be a good indicator of my fitness level to see where I am at with no taper and less than stellar preparation.


Paddle Boarding in Hamburg counts as a bike workout, right?

I did have 2 goals for the race: First, I wanted to improve my transition times from last August and second, I wanted to run well. I have had some really great speed workouts lately and I thought there was even a chance I could PR the 10k. I *knew* the bike would be slow because of the many u-turns and tight spaces, but I was okay with that. I planned to be conservative and not take any risks that could cause an accident.

How did I do? Well I completely surprised myself…but not in the “OMG I accidentally PR’d” kind of way.

Race Eve

I woke up around 7, happy to finally sleep until a reasonable time (hello jetlag) instead of being up at 4 a.m., and headed out right away for my shake-out ride to bike check-in. I rode about 6 miles, got my packet and dropped my bike in transition. When I got home, I went straight to the pool and did a full swim workout (2400 yards). Since I wasn’t tapering anyway, I really wanted to log some more time in pool after missing so many workouts. After the swim, it was time for a very important event.

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The Beer Run Crew.

We ran about 3 miles total at a very slow pace, but it was HOT. I only drank 2 beers, but finished the run by sharing a massive plate of pork covered fries with Jenny, Manny and CT. Maybe not the best pre-race meal?

After I left the crew, I headed over to Belmont Harbor to meet Brad where he was hanging with a group of his high school friends on a boat. We played a hilarious game of Cards Against Humanity, but were home in bed by 9:30.


I debated back and forth for days on what I should do on race morning. Transition closed at 5:45, but my race start wasn’t until 9:45. Ultimately I decided to get up at 4 and drive down to set up transition then go home and get some more sleep. This worked out perfectly. I was back in bed by 5:15 and slept for 2 hours before having a leisurely breakfast at home then taking the L downtown to the start. I had plenty of time and even got to chat with my Nuun friends for a bit before heading to the swim staging area.

Right before the start I ran into my friend Katy who had several friends racing in my age group.


The Swim

The race director gave us a few minutes before the start to get in the water and swim around to get acclimated. The lake was 66*, which was shocking at first, but even in my sleeveless wetsuit was fine after a few minutes. After treading water and chatting nervously for a few minutes, the countdown started and we were off.

We swam north for about 400 meters (my guess) before turning back south all the way to the finish. I got out front with the lead group right away and tried to grab some feet to draft. Unfortunately the fast feet sped off quickly and no one settled in around me. I was squarely in 5th place within 200 meters of the start, with no one even close to me for the rest of the swim. I tried to control my effort and get into a smooth rhythm, but I just never really found it. Similar to Nationals last year, I was breathing way too often and felt sloppy. There were a few short periods where I settled into a strong, controlled pull, but as soon as it was there, it was gone again.

Some days the orange buoys come to you faster than you think they should and some days you pull and pull and they never seem to get closer. Today was definitely the latter

1500 m: 25:53, 1:35/100 yd (5/80 AG)

Bike to Swim

The volunteers were great in pulling me up the slippery ramp from the swim, but then I was on my own for a long run (400+ m) into transition. My bike was right inside the swim-in and I was thankful for the quick rest to get my gear on. It had rained in the morning so it took some finagling to get all of the trash bags off that I used to cover everything, but I felt like I moved pretty quickly. Once I got my bike, I had another 0.16 mile run (according to Garmin) to get to bike-out.

T1: 4:17 (goal #1: fail…but let’s blame that on 0.3+ mi of running!)

The Bike

When I first hopped on the bike, I struggled for almost a half mile to get my feet clipped in (thanks to new cleats). Once I got settled, I focused on pushing as heavy a gear as I could but still holding 90ish rpm. This is a good way for me to stay focused and on top of my effort in races and not think too much about how far I have been/have left.


Going into Lower Wacker (think a VERY long tunnel or underpass) was dark and a little strange on the first loop, but by the time I hit it the second time, I felt more confident and knew where the majority of the rough patches in the road were. I would pull my sunglasses down for a few minutes going in, then slide them back up once my eyes adjusted. My Garmin lost signal immediately after hitting the Lower Wacker portion so I never knew my pace. It wasn’t until the start of the 4th loop that I did some math and realized how well I was riding. I tried not to get too far ahead of myself and told myself to focus on the final lap so nothing stupid happened.


Halfway in aero?

Overall, I was shocked at how open the roads were throughout the bike. I never felt crowded and even the turns weren’t too much of a cluster. As much anxiety as I had about the u-turns on the course, I have to admit, it wasn’t THAT bad. I took them relatively slow (hence sitting up in all the pictures), but then tried to push hard to pick back up on the other side. I am really, really happy with the outcome of the bike.


Focused on making it through the turn.

From the pics it appears that I was never riding in aero, but the camera men were all set-up at the u-turn on Congress or on the turns into and out of it. In fact, I felt like I stayed in aero more this race than I ever have since it was so flat!

24.8 miles: 1:04:06, 23.3 mph (11/80 AG)

Bike to Run

Once we dismounted, we had to run all the way around transition to enter on the far end. Running in bike shoes isn’t the greatest, but I think I prefer that to being barefoot. Despite another long run with the bike, I feel pretty good about this transition. I felt like I was quick to get my shoes changed and move on.

T2: 2:54 (This includes another 0.3 miles of running through transition!)

The Run

I felt really good in the first half mile of the run. It usually takes me that long to get my legs underneath me and feel “normal” running, but I felt strong right away. Unfortunately, the feeling didn’t last long.

My plan was to hold a 7:00 pace for the first half and then see how I felt. Toward the end of the first mile, my pace was already slipping to 7:20 and by the 2nd mile, I had an incredibly sharp cramp in my side. Breathing through it didn’t help at all and I considered just walking it out. But I knew that walking was a dangerous luxury and eventually pinching it and massaging it worked. By the halfway point it was gone, but my pace had dropped well above 8:00 and I think I kind of gave in mentally.


Look Mom! No collapsed hip! (even late in the race too)

Miles 1 & 2: 7:26, 8:07

I did pick things up a little in the 3rd mile (Mile 3: 7:51) but by the time I finished the 2nd loop and started on the 3rd (and final) loop, I was deep into the pain cave. The sun felt like it was baking me and I was SO THIRSTY. I was grabbing two cups of water at the two stops on each loop: one to drink and one to dump on my head, but toward the end, I drank them both and still felt thirsty. I got a boost everytime I got some water in me and that makes me wish I had carried a bottle, which I normally wouldn’t even consider for a 10k.


Will it ever end?

Miles 4 & 5: 8:10, 8:11

In the last 400 m, my stomach started cramping and I headed straight for a porta-potty immediately after crossing the finish line.


Mile 6: 8:06

There is no doubt that I was dehydrated and it caused some GI distress. I am just very thankful that it didn’t come on until the very end so it didn’t make the run even worse.

10k: 47:47; 7:42 avg.* (14/80 Age Group)

*My Garmin (and others) had the run course a little short. Mine showed 6.0, but two others I talked to both had 6.09. According to my Garmin, avg. pace was 7:58.

Overall ITU Chicago Olympic Distance Time: 1:24:54 (9th Place Age Group)


SO happy to be done!

Overall I am pretty happy with the race. I am ELATED about my bike time (and still not convinced the course wasn’t short?!), but I definitely have some work to do on the swim and running off the bike. Admittedly I have only done 1 brick workout leading up to this race, so I am not sure why I expected so much more on the run. I do have a feeling that the side cramp and feeling out of gas on the run was probably also related to poor pre-race prep and general fatigue from travel, etc. I haven’t felt that bad on a run off of the bike since my first Olympic Distance Race in 2011 and I really, really hope that I can pull off a better performance in 6 weeks at Nationals.

My expectations for the race itself were definitely exceeded. The communications leading up and the people that were on-site seemed to be lacking in information, but I am pretty impressed that the organizers pulled off a seemingly successful event on the first time in what was a surely a limited geographic area granted by the city.


Posted in bike, Chicago, Food, friends, Goals, Race reports, Races, running, swimming, training, triathlon, work travel | 10 Comments

Friday Fun X

Somewhere in the midst of post-Boston, triathlon training, state hopping and enjoying summer, I have forgotten all about my Friday Fun posts. But I am back…because, well, life is good. And I want to share.

  1. Weekend Fun. Last weekend Brad and I flew back to Chicago for a quick trip (although I ended up staying longer). We would have been gone for over a month if we didn’t make the trip back and I really missed being home. We went to two Cubs games, had day drinks with friends and brunch with some of my favorite runner girls. It was a perfect weekend.

    Friday afternoon. Sun shining. Cubs Baseball = Heaven.


    Beautiful friends.

  2. Triathlon Training. I talked a little about this here, but I am loving the swim, bike, running that is happening right now. Especially swimming. The last few years I found myself not loving the pool and being burnt out on Master’s, but this year I have looked forward to doing swim workouts on my own. I get lost in my thoughts and the rhythm of pull, pull, breath and the time flies.
  3. Summer. Summer in Chicago. ‘Nough said. I love this place.
  4. The Lake. And as much as I love the City, I almost equally love being at the lake. Nature fills my soul in a way that I never realized until it wasn’t right out my front door. I have really enjoyed the bikes where the view gets better with every turn and the runs where the only noise I hear is the distant sound of a boat on the lake. And the sunsets…well, I’ll let that one speak for itself. photo 2 (21)Now, if only I could clone myself and be in both places at once…
  5. Birthdays. Brad’s birthday is tomorrow and his dad’s is Monday (with Father’s Day sandwiched in between). We will have a fun weekend relaxing at the lake with his family and enjoying time with our nieces and nephew. I love birthdays and am excited to give Brad his gifts…which I don’t think he will be too disappointed in ;)
  6. My Boys. The only downside of the trip back to Chicago was that the pups had to stay in Virginia. They were at camp over the long weekend and with Brad’s parents’ for a few nights. As menacing as those little rugrats can be sometimes, I sure do miss their snuggles and the constant laughter when I am away from them.


    My two + Sofie (left) and Carter (right) soaking in some rays. I watched all 4 of them for most of the time I was in Virginia.

  7. Car-less. After Brad switched jobs and no longer had a company car, we went from having two cars down to one. This wasn’t a big deal considering you really don’t need a car to get around in Chicago. But we drove to Virginia in May (with the dogs and my bike) so our car was there while we were back in Chicago. Not having a car forced us to rely on walking and public transportation and I kind of loved it. Sure, it is much less convenient when I want to drive to the pool instead of a 30+ min bus/walk, but last weekend we found ourselves enjoying our public transit commutes instead of hopping in the car. After seeing a movie Sunday night, our typical 5-7 min drive was replaced by a lovely, long walk home filled with great conversation about the movie. I hope even when we have the car back in the city we will take advantage of the summer weather and continue to leave the car at home.
  8. Travel. In addition to the state-hopping that I have been doing in the last month, I will be adding some international travel to the mix. On Monday I am headed to Hamburg, Germany then on to Amsterdam the following Monday. It is a business trip so there won’t be a ton of free time, but I do have a full weekend in Hamburg. I have mentioned several times that Hamburg is one of my favorite places ever to run so I am very much looking forward to getting some miles in. But I also am SUPER excited to see our friends, Heather and Mike, who just moved to Hamburg this spring. I can’t wait to see their new place, meet their new friends and catch up on life.
    Heather and Mike

    Heather & Mike after they got engaged on our trip to Italy

    I am off to finish up my Friday work day…then ready to enjoy Virginia and birthday celebrations!

Posted in Chicago, Ernie, Food, Friday Fun, friends, life, Races, running, the boys, training, Travel, walter, work travel, Yoga | 3 Comments