I began 2015 with the goal to run a 5k on January 1; The Commitment Day 5k. I completed that first race, my first race after I decided to be healthy and active. I began triathlon with an Indoor Triathlon 3 days after the Commitment Day 5k. It was the last event in the Commitment Day weekend where individuals commit to a year of healthy living. A friend of mine who has completed several Half Ironman Triathlons and was going to be training for Ironman Wisconsin 2015 told me that I could do a triathlon. I was skeptical, but wanted to challenge myself to see what I was capable of and I would only know if I tried. The Indoor Triathlon was a 60-minute event consisting of a 10 minute swim, a 10 minute transition to bike, a 30 minute bike in the spin studio, a 5 minute transition to run, and a 20 minute run. In each of the three events during the indoor triathlon you are awarded points for distance obtained in the allotted time whether you make one lap in swimming or one mile; the same goes for the bike and the run. Admittedly so in the triathlon world, the term is ‘hooked’ and after that first event, even though it was a small event that was held indoors as the snow fell outside, I was hooked because of the exhilaration I felt from completing not one, not two, but three sports in a row with only breaks to change from clothing/shoes from one event to the next.
After the indoor triathlon I was very intrigued, but I also learned that the swim lessons I took as a kid didn’t prepare me to swim competitively, and even though I knew how to bike, competitive cycling was an entirely different monster of its own. A few weeks later I signed up for the Esprit de She Triathlon in Naperville which would take place in June. That event was going to consist of a half mile swim, a 13.3 mile bike ride, and a 3.1 mile run and it was an all-women event. In my signing up for the Esprit de She Triathlon my boyfriend was jealous of me and wanted to join in, so we signed up for the Chicago Triathlon 8 months prior to the scheduled date. Please note at that time I had only done a 60-minute indoor triathlon and my boyfriend had not done any. We jumped in head first!
April of 2015 brought upon a second Indoor Triathlon and my only goal was to get further in each event than I had three months prior. Not only did I succeed in furthering each event distance, I also biked the most miles in 30 minutes out of all of the female competitors! I continued training for my first Sprint Distance triathlon and the day was upon me. I successfully completed the Esprit de She Triathlon and learned lessons along the way of areas to improve upon. My goal was to complete the event in 2 hours or less, and I finished with a time of 2 hours and 22 seconds. I felt such a sense of accomplishment for having completed a rather daunting event that a year prior I knew nothing about.
I spent the next two months training rigorously for the Chicago Triathlon tackling things such as adjusting my bike position to make myself more aerodynamic, which in turn would make me faster. As well I had to tackle swimming in Open Water and that brought the challenge of learning how to put a wetsuit on, which is more difficult than you might imagine! As well with Open Water Swimming comes the challenge of swimming in packs of people with waves crashing against your face and unlike in a pool you do not have lane lines to follow in order to swim a straight distance, so I had to learn to sight in addition to swimming in open water!
Finally after what was literally eight months of training and waiting, it was time for The Transamerica Chicago Triathlon. When I registered for the event in January I had no idea at the time the magnitude and size of this event. In fact, there were over 7,000 competitors representing 47 states from the United States and 17 countries from around the world! The Chicago Triathlon is considered the largest triathlon event in the world. The day prior to the Transamerica Chicago Triathlon competitors must attend the Expo and pick up their race packets with their race numbers, get their race bands and numbers marked. As well they are given the opportunity to rack their bike the day prior in transition.
I registered for the Sprint Distance which consisted of a half mile swim in Monroe Harbor. After exiting the 62 degree water competitors then ran ¼ mile to the transition area which held their bicycles, cycling gear like helmets and shoes, as well as their running gear that would be needed later. Once myself and other competitors were in transition we quickly tore off our wetsuits, not all competitors wore them and those who did not are far more brave than I am! The next portion of triathlon is the bike leg which was a 15.2 mile ride on Lake Shore Drive. The Chicago Triathlon took up the left two lanes of the road, while the right two lanes were open to traffic. The Chicago Triathlon is unique in the sense that in all other competitions cyclists ‘ride right’ and ‘pass left’, however for the Chicago Triathlon you ‘ride left’ and pass right’ due to the flow of traffic. The ride was North on Lake Shore Drive to the end with a turnaround at Hollywood and then back. Once competitors complete the bike portion they run back into transition and re-rack their bike and remove their helmet, and get ready for the run portion. It is essential to have your transition area thought out logically in order of what items you will use first because you are timed from your first event through final event, and this time includes time spent in transition. The 3.1 mile run ended the Sprint Distance event and completed the 18.8 total miles of the Thirty-Third Transamerica Chicago Triathlon.
My boyfriend and I spent most of our time training together on our swim and bike, we run at different paces and on the bike he’s always consistently faster than I am. All of the bike training with him paid off because I actually finished the ride almost 2 minutes faster than him, and I averaged 17.20 mph! In the end he finished his first Sprint Distance Triathlon in a time of 1:58:21 and I finished in 1:58:22. Literally … one second divided us.
I started the year 2015 with the goal to complete a 5k, a race that would cover 3.1 miles. I had no idea that after that one race I wanted to complete I would follow with six more 5k’s, two indoor triathlons, two half marathons, two Sprint Distance triathlons, and have one more planned race; The Chicago Half Marathon. The original 3.1 miles I planned on completing has turned into over 640 miles of training and racing in the first 8 months of this year. I fit my training in before I begin my day at MAN Marketing with 6am swims and workouts, and I end my day attending a Boot Camp class or with runs or rides after work. I’ve also been known to go get a quick ½ mile swim in on my lunch break and fit in long distance training on the weekends. Since we are located in the Midwest the triathlon season is coming to an end, which is strange for me to acknowledge since a year ago at this time I had no idea of that. As well if all goes as planned in my mind, a year from now I will have an even longer racing resume under my belt.