Earlier this year, when I had plans to cut back my racing, The Lifetime Fitness triathlon was NOT on the chopping block. As I mentioned before, this year would be the 9th edition of the race, and my 9th time racing. It the only race I’ve done every year, and I wanted to keep the string in tact. Originally my coach was reluctant to let me do it… He knows how much pressure can be placed on my for that race and with my focus on the long races, he thought it would freak me out…. In the past, I would get bent out of shape with all the pressure and expectations, but thankfully for many reasons it really does not faze me anymore.
With that said, I was not willing to do a real taper for this race, as this is prime Ironman training time. When a holiday long weekend rolls around, I need to maximize my training time. Sprint Race Sat morning -A tough 15 mile run on Sunday - 5 hours of climbing/30 min T run in Prescott WI on Monday. I was pretty smoked after those big days, so the remaining four days leading up to the race were all about maximizing recovery…. No shortage of ice baths, massage, High quality fuel , and rest. I did a few short workouts to keep the blood flowing, but that’s about it. I had NO idea what kind of legs would show up on race day, but regardless, I was SUPER excited. I just love that race.
It was a non-wetsuit swim for amateurs (hasn’t been that way in several years). Water was 81, so I’m so glad they did not find a ‘magic’ place in the lake to get a 78 reading- I would have roasted in my wetsuit. Instead I had my trusty blueseventy swimskin and I was ready to go. I love this swim start shot. I’m usually not this aggressive, but I guess I was excited! The elite Amateur women started with the elite masters (both men and women), so I was lined up next to the famous Spinervals founder Troy Jacobson. I had a good start, but it didn’t take long for several people to swim on by. I knew Tami would have a super fast swim, but I really had no idea what kind of swimmers the “out-of-towners” were. I knew I had to work hard, and just kept moving along. I didn’t find much of a draft out there, but ended up swimming next to Susan Willams and a girl from Ontario, Leanna Lee. We all excited the water together, but I was able to get out of T1 in front. I didn’t hear any updates on what was happening in front of me, but I assumed at minimum Tami was making her way around the bike course already. I think last year I passed her before hitting the Parkway, but I knew she was a much faster racer this year. My bike legs felt pretty good, but this race is all about being smart and being heads-up. These are urban city streets and with that comes nasty potholes (these roads are NOT bike roads- there are miles of bike trails along the side). If you’re not familiar with this course, it can bite you at any time. It’s pretty technical with a lot of corners and little climbs. It’s also just a tad long. This of course, has worked to my advantage over the years.
I passed Tami on the St Paul side of the Parkway shortly before crossing the Ford bridge, and I hammered hard to move ahead. Once I crossed over Cedar Ave (about 13 miles into the ride), KY told me that I was in second place. I had no clue who was up there, but I was in full pursuit mode. I ended up catching Abby on that short climb before crossing Lyndale. I was not feeling overly confident in my run legs, and having no clue what kind of runner she was, I just kept hammering knowing full well that I’d much rather work extra hard on the bike than endure a shoulder to shoulder 10K run. There’s no doubt my experience on this race course made ALL the difference this day as I was taking the corners aggressively and I knew exactly how to take the lines. I felt like I was having a smart and strong ride. I came into t2 in the lead, but I was very nervous for the girls coming behind me. It’s a two loop (around the lake) run course, and at about the 1 .25 mile mark there’s a ~500m out an back on the Cedar bridge. That’s always the moment of truth…. I could see Abby on that section, as she was looking much better than I was feeling. Someone rode up and told me that I had about a minute on her at that point. I was doing the math, and quickly realized that it was no gimme. At the pace I was running, and with extremely heavy legs, I was very nervous she’d be running me down. Then on the next loop on the same out and back section (~mile4.5) I noticed Tami had already passed Abby, and appeared to be running well. After not even seeing her on the first loop, her pace was obviously MUCH faster than mine. With less than 2 miles to go, I knew I had to dig. I was running very scared, and I was hurting. With about .5 miles to go, I looked back and I (thought I) saw Tami just 10 yds behind me. That was it…I thought it was over, but I did what I could to pick it up. When I came down the home stretch people kept telling me “You’ve got it” “nobody there” “you can cruise it on home.” I didn’t believe them and kept focusing on the finish line. Finally I arrived to the generous applause from the crowd and high praise from Jerry’s microphone. I was exhausted… I think Tami ended up finishing 30 seconds behind me.
I was greeted at the line by Kerry, Braham (Lifetime CEO) and many other friends. It was great to catch up with everyone. I enjoyed watching all the other finishers come across the line, but I quickly realized that something must have happened to Julie. She hadn’t crossed yet, and I was getting kind of nervous. Kerry then told me that she had crashed on the bike but is still running…. What a trouper- I saw her come down the finish chute with bandages all over her arms, scrapes all over her back and chin, and her first words...“I’m pretty sure my wrist is broken.” Well sure enough, she was right. Such a bummer- Here’s a little story on Minnesota tri news about the accident. I must add that the crash happened with about 20yds left (she was already out of her shoes) when a spectator decided to drag her family across the road right in front of Julie…. I get angry just thinking about it, but of course, Julie is in good spirits. We even celebrated Erik and Jen’s B-day the next day on the St Croix… She wasn’t about to miss the party boat!