Tag Archives: Triathlon

09082019 – Square Lake Tri

Square Lake Triathlon… I competed in it a few years ago and was a little nervous to be coming back, mostly because of the swim I guess. My swim training wasn’t consistent nor very intense and I hadn’t swam the distance yet. I also didn’t do a lot of open water swimming and on top of all that, the swim was a self-seeded time trial start.  I know how to self-seed in a age group mass start (the back) but in a time trial start with a new swimmer entering the water every 3-5 seconds this seemed a little harder to figure out.

Race morning was cool with a chance of rain that actually held off until most athletes finished. Had it rained during the race, it would have precipitated during every one of my races this year! Because of the weather I gave the family a pass on spectating and drove over early on Sunday morning arriving in the dusky morning light, checking in and getting set up in transition. I was surprised at how many people were showing up relatively close to the actual start time.  Getting there when transition opened might have been a little overkill, but I got what I thought was a good spot in the transition area. And that helped with the nerves, but then I stood around for about an hour, going to the bathroom and doing some stretching before the pre-race meeting and lining up.  About 200 people participated in the event.  I self-seeded into the front half-ish of the mid-pack. That felt like a good place to be and I probably could have gone out earlier.

The swim was two left turns for 1/2 mile in the water.  My watch showed 1,300 yards so hopefully I didn’t swim an extra 500 trying to swim in straight lines! There were 3 buoys per side, but the middle one kept moving around and we were told not to sight off it. Kind of a waste.  With the self-seeding I was passing people the whole time and getting passed by people too, so really no idea where I was at in relation to anyone in my age group. I didn’t have any trouble with the swim, I just stuck to one sided breathing and kept in the rhythm as much as possible.  I almost missed the last buoy and corrected myself, though I think some people missed it and didn’t care.  I finished the swim in 19:12 for 49th place.

T1 was 2:32.  I wore my wetsuit which is a full body one.  The water temp wasn’t bad, but the air temp was in the lower 50′.  I packed a vest and arm sleeves to wear as I wasn’t sure how it would feel.  If it was 52 and rain the vest would have been important.  I opted for just the arm sleeves and they took a little bit to get onto my wet arms!  Though they would be valuable for the bike!

Leaving transition on the bike (and run) you go up a steep hill and a little hill while leaving the parking lot. I should have spent some more time looking at the map, the course was different than last time I rode and the pavement markings were for the old course.  They didn’t put any mile markers down as it had rained over night.  My bike computer still isn’t working and I only felt my watch buzz at the 5 mile mark.  The course was about 18 miles with a fair amount of hills.  My watch said 18.5 miles with 250 feet of elevation change.  The steep hill at the start and one other short steep one in the middle section of the course were the only steep ones of not, but both were quick.  Otherwise it was a rolling course. For the first 5 miles it was a fair amount of getting passed and passing others.  After that there wasn’t much traffic, but one guy and I went back and forth a few times before I finally dropped him. Of course many of the people passing me were riding aerobikes.  Most of the course had wide shoulders with wind coming from every direction! I felt good on the bike and was pushing pretty hard on the hills. I took a gel around mile 10 on the bike and overall was feeling good.  I got passed by some older people in the last 5 miles on their aerobikes (I got some of them back in the run!). The course is a lollipop.  I finished the bike in 1:04:24 for 70th place.  The steep downhill on wet pavement into transition wasn’t ideal, but it was fine.

T2 was 1:30 and this included a quick potty break.  My bladder was super full and it was important to get it out.

The run went up the same steep hill and turned left out of the parking lot (the bike had turned right).  I was feeling my harder bike pace, ok and lack of brick workouts as we did some rolling hills.  My first mile was 8:41 which was slower than I would have liked, but I was running a steady pace and passing other runners.  I’d say overall in the run only 3-4 people passed me.  We turned around at the 1.5 mile mark/aid station. I grabbed a quick drink of water and emptied the cup on the back of my head. I should have taken the arm warmers off as I was a little warm and slipped them half way down my arms. Mid-50’s for a run is ideal temps!  Mile 2 was 8:11.  Glad to see the pace dropping!  I ended up taking my arm sleeves off and running with them in my hands.  I kept moving and trying to speed up as I went. The nice thing about an out and back is that you know what to expect!  Push this uphill… I kept trying to pick up the pace and did mile 3 in 7:33. Yea, maybe I left a little in the tank! I finished in 24:49 officially which was 51st place.

I’m surprised that I placed higher in the swimming than the running! That’s crazy to me.  It is hard to compare to my last race at Square Lake because so much was different.  Overall, I felt happy with my day!

My total time was 1:52:56 which was good enough for 49th place!  And 6th out of 16 in my age group.  I will take it!

06092019 – Cuyuna Off Road Tri

After several hot days, it was nice to wake up to a cool morning for the race! The cooler temps and threat of rain made for good race conditions, although the wind on the lake wasn’t ideal! I was a little nervous as we unloaded the kayak and found a great parking spot! Arriving early and getting a good parking spot is a good idea for this race, especially if family is spectating. They were able to go back and relax and warm-up in the van in between transitions.

The setting is so perfect! Below you can see some of the boats lined up on shore waiting to start. I didn’t actually even know how the race would start. Would we all run down to our kayaks and get them into the water? Fortunately, we started in the kayaks floating on the water!  I did a few paddles and then got back into line with everyone else and waited. I wasn’t the only one in a flat water kayak and there were even a few SUP’s in our “competitive” first wave. The second wave was teams or relays and the third was “recreational.”

A 3 mile out and back kayak was a long way and seems out of proportion to the rest of the race, but it was an out and back paddle in Huntington Lake.  At the start I felt like my boat might submerge in the slight chop from the other boats! Not a good feeling to start the hardest leg with. I quickly got sifted out the back of the pack and was in next to last place for almost the whole paddle.  I did manage to catch up to another person as we got to the turn around boat. The hope of the wind helping push me back to the finish wasn’t really there. I felt no noticeable difference, though my watch split times were a few seconds faster!  Shortly after the half way point is when the first canoe team went by me!  I was 3rd from last in my wave and got passed by a bunch of people in the second wave before I finally finished. I felt like I was paddling hard the whole way too!  Volunteers were helping take the boats, life jackets, and paddles up out of the water so I took them all off and started running up the hill to the transition area.  My 3 mile paddle was 45:26 (124/154 overall).

I was wearing sandals so I slipped out of them and into my socks and bike shoes. I grabbed my bike and headed out. A seat would have been helpful!  T1 was 1:43.  I picked a spot close to the paddle in/bike out part of transition as it was a long run up from the water.  Once at of T1 I took some water and headed down the road towards the trails. I was actually surprised at how tired my legs already felt. I didn’t realize how much I was using them to sit in the kayak! I have never actually raced a mountain bike before, but have obviously been passed and passed people while riding. It was interesting trying to do that while also maintaining some type of speed.  Most people were pretty respectful and communicative about passing.  The first section had a lot of passing.  One time I actually stopped and it took awhile before I could get back on. Lesson learned!  The trail layout was good! The bulk of the race was on Easy trails, but we did a few good climbs on the Intermediate trails. I have ridden all of the trails we did at some point, but man the 3 climbs really sorted out the pack.  One of the smaller climbs ended with a little loop on top and a lady wearing purple accidentally cut the course and ended back in front of me. This was annoying because I had just passed her and would now have to pass her again! Once we hit that first major climb on Mucker Mountain it was a long time before anyone passed me again. The second climb was up Hopper Hill and the final one was Roly Poly (but cutting up the service road). I realized it was going to be hard to take any nutrition or water while on the bike so I grabbed drinks whenever I could on a service road and the took the nutrition when we had a short stint on a grassy road that was still hard to do one handed! I probably could have gotten by without any nutrition, but I knew I was going to be out there for awhile.  The didn’t have miles marked, but there were a few spots where there was a sign that said how many miles were left. It was definitely deceiving because we passed the mile to go sign and then went up Roly Poly! The trails and scenery are so pretty, but I didn’t really get to enjoy the scenery! I felt like I was moving along at a pretty good clip for me throughout the race. I finished the 8 mile bike in 58:09 (93/155).

I had a longer run from the Bike In to my transition spot for T2 and then run out was back by the Bike In so T2 was 1:26.  Then off I went for the run.  My family was able to see me at all the transitions so that was fun to get high fives!! The first section of running is a set of switchbacks and shortly after I started I heard the crowd gasp as a rider flipped off his bike trying to transition. The run was a great course. Running on mountain bike trails is interesting as they are designed with that in mind, not running. For the first half that wasn’t a big deal, but a fair number of switchbacks helped to see who was around. I noticed that the lady in purple wasn’t too far behind me. I decided I wasn’t going to let her pass me. I maintained a steady pace and kept moving up the hill and enjoyed the elevation changes. They did have a water stop so I grabbed  a quick drink at around the halfway point. The second half of the run had way more short pump track type features which are fairly annoying for running on. I kept pushing, but was definitely feeling the fatigue as my legs felt dead on some of those features. I got passed by a few people in this section and kept thinking it was the purple lady. There was the same deceiving sign, I don’t remember what distance it said, but it felt like forever! There is also a false exit from the dirt trails onto the paved one for a brief moment and then back into the dirt before finally exiting the dirt for real and heading into the finish. Once we made the turn towards the finish I tried to pick up the pace. I didn’t have a lot left and I don’t really think it went much faster, but I did pass a few people and didn’t get passed!! I finished the 3 mile run in 22:07 (7:23 pace and 41/154).  I was pretty happy with that!

This is a post race selfie!! It felt great to be done with the race! I’m pretty happy with 2:08. It is crazy to think that I spent so much time on the kayak!!

Overall it was a great event and I had a blast. It started raining after I finished but never really came down hard. I would be tempted to do it again, but really need to work on the paddling part if I’m going to.  I saw an advertisement for an off-road triathlon that does swimming, mountain bike, trail run and that might be more my thing.  We’ll see!

03172019 – Winter Triathlon

Officially 6k ski, 18k bike, and 5k run in 2:18:22. USAT Winter Triathlon National Championship

I got there early so that I could get all checked in and setup. I was expecting that they would close transition at some point, but it didn’t happen. So I got there early and got a good spot and had plenty of time to relax until the race briefing!

Ready to Go!

I had really struggled with making decisions about what to wear/bring and how to plan for nutrition etc. I also felt pretty nervous about the whole thing as I hadn’t trained as much as I wanted/needed to and just lacked confidence in my skiing abilities! I hadn’t actually biked that far yet either this year. The weather was pretty much perfect. It was in mid to high 20’s at the start of the race and the course was in pretty decent shape considering all the rain and melt we’ve experienced this week. I ended up making two last minute changes for my biking gear and that was a good decision! I was never really cold, but I would have been if I’d worn my running shoes and the gloves I wore for skiing.

I wore 3/4 length tights over a pair of tri shorts and Cirq knee length socks. Up top I wore a light Icebreakerz long sleeve under a Twin Six thermal bike jersey with the Loppet bib over top! I switched out my gloves and hat for each discipline so that I wouldn’t get too cold. For skiing I wore a pair of SealSkinz mid-weight gloves and my Loopet Loppet buff. For the bike I wore a nice pair of Dakine mittens and a ear band from the Twin Cities Marathon. For the run I just wore my Saucony Utili-mitt gloves – no hat!

This was not only my first winter triathlon, but also my first ski race ever! Fortunately we were able to self-seed, so I pretty much started in the back. We had to double pole for the first 100m or so and by the time I got there the pack was getting spread out pretty quickly. I know the trails fairly well so I knew where I would struggle and what was coming! The Meadow loop went pretty much as I expected. The nice corduroy trail was pretty much gone by the time I went by, but the sugary snow wasn’t too bad for most of it. I fell three different times which was annoying as they were all places I haven’t fallen before! Two of them were in turns and the third was downhill. The first time was on the way down the Northern Finger. I just had trouble shifting weight and making the turn at the speed I was going and got too far off into the edge and I think a ski just caught. I didn’t realize it but my watch got paused, so I missed about 10 minutes of the ski. I felt pretty good going back up the Finger hill and flew down and around the LaSquandra loop. The uphill back to the Upper Stadium wasn’t too bad today! The second time I fell was on the big downhill right before Coach’s Corner and I haven’t fall there since early in the year. I think that I had trouble with the speed and the looser snow and my ski got caught in a little bit of a rut and caught an edge. That was pretty bad, I think I rolled! I checked and re-started my watch this time! A few more hills and I was moving! I fell right in from of my family! Same thing, taking a turn a little tight going a little too fast and I lost my balance. Ugh. Checked the watch and off I went into the transition area! The results said my ski was 29:46 which is definitely the fastest I’ve ever skied the full loop!

Transitioned to the bike. As I was leaving transition the leader came flying by after finishing his first bike loop. The bike was three loops of the bike course. Lots of hills. I think I had a good setting for PSI in the tires about 5-6lbs. I’m still trying to figure that out, but I flew by a guy who was running a lot lower PSI and he was struggling. That really makes a big difference. I didn’t fall at all! I decided based on the weather to switch my tires for studded tires. I probably didn’t need them after all but it was at least one less thing to be nervous about! The trail was almost all loose snow by that point on the main part of the trail. I didn’t need to walk up any of the hills for the first two laps and only one hill on the third lap. I was a little worried about burning out my quads early, but that didn’t seem to matter too much. The looser snow made it a little bit harder in a few places. Since the bike was 3 loops it was hard to know what lap the people passing you were on, but I just kept pedaling away! There wasn’t a lot of people on the course, but there were a few volunteers and medical team members cheering us on as we went through. The one hill I ended up walking up was on the last lap on the Twin Lakes Trail and it was a quick downhill into an uphill. I couldn’t shift gears down fast enough and there was someone behind me so I couldn’t zigzag at all in the loose snow. Oh well. I’ve not ridden this far yet this season on the snow with my new bike so I was quite happy with it and it was almost twice as fast as when I’d been riding. Official bike time was 1:16:24 averaging 8.8mph.

Finish Chute

I had hoped to not get passed again by the leader, as he was in transition when I started on a bike loop. Evidently that didn’t happen! I didn’t see him go by so it must have been while I was enjoying the two loops that were cut off the run loop! I high-fived the family as I set out on the run. I had one thick beard-cicle that kind of flopped around while I ran! This was the only time that it felt lonely out on the course. There were two guys in front of me and one behind me but after seeing them in the Meadow I never really saw them again until the finger. The course was deceiving because it would look like you were catching people while you were going downhill, but they’d be gone when you started on the uphill and slowed way down! After passing the run cutoff 4x’s it felt great to finally get to take it! And to cut out the hardest hill and a couple of short steep ones! I didn’t fall on the run at all!! The pictures definitely show me heel striking something I’ve been trying to work on. Honestly, though I haven’t been running much. I knew that the run would be ok though. My quads burned and climbing the hills wasn’t easy, but the hardest part was finding firm snow to run on. So much of it was loose that sometimes it felt more like running on sand! I saw someone on Jim’s hill that I might have been able to catch, but it wasn’t going to happen so I just finished my race! The run split was 27:35 8:55 pace.

See the extra thick long icicle?

My overall time was 2:18:22 which was good for 42/53 overall, 34/39 in the males and 5/5 in the 35-39 age group. The winner of course was in my age group! My ski and bike were both good enough for 41 overall, but my run was 33rd!! Obviously my strength!

My watch showed that I skied 2.58 miles in 22:25 (plus 10 minutes for and about a 1 mile when it was accidentally off, this also included transition). Biked 11.12 miles in 1:18 and ran 2.85 miles in 28 minutes.

This was a fun race!! I think as I continue to improve in my skiing it would get easier! The winner skied the loop in almost half my time!

Race Review: Square Lake Triathlon – Short Course

I am a triathlete!


I finished my first swim, bike, and run event ever.  A half mile swim, 16.5 mile bike, and 5 mile run were served up on a pretty near perfect weather day on Saturday.  Square Lake Short Course got started with a day in the mid-50’s as I drove to the race and it warmed up as the day went on.  The water was smooth and a perfect temperature and there was no wind on the course to affect bike or running times.  The only obstacle – having been sick all week.

As I thought about my goals for the race during the last month I had decided on two:

  1. Finish – always a good goal for any first time event especially one like a triathlon or marathon.
  2. Break 2 hours – I figured about 15-20 minute swim, about an hour bike, and 45 minute run (all seemed reasonable) would give me a good chance of getting under two hours.


Square Lake Swag

Image by crossn81 via Flickr

I was feeling confident in my training and then on Tuesday I started getting that flu/aching feeling in my back.  I took Wednesday and the morning of Thursday off work and was feeling pretty good.  By the end of a full work day on Friday I was feeling worse.  I wrote to some friends on Facebook that I was 95% sure I wasn’t going to race.   I set my alarm for 5am Saturday hoping and praying for that 5%.  After hitting snooze once (who really wants to get up at 5am) I decided that I would pack my gear and see how I felt.  I wasn’t feeling perfect but I decided to go for it and see what would happen.  I walked into the race with no expectations, just hoping to finish.

I picked up my number, shirt, and swim cap; got my race number markings and setup my transition area.  And waited.  I finally decided it was time to get ready, figured out the borrowed wetsuit.  I had planned on trying it out once during my last swim, but getting sick didn’t allow for that.  I had to ask for help in zipping it, because the zipper started at the top.  Once on it was very snug.  After the final instructions, we watched the elite wave go off.  Wait for 3 more minutes.

Square Lake Tri

I positioned myself at the back of the wave, my calves barely wet (knee deep was where most people were).  After he shouted go I waded and then jumped in.  What a weird feeling wearing a swim cap and wet suit.  I’ve never actually worn either!  I had some problems with my goggles sealing on my face.  But did finally get them settled on properly.  I wasn’t pushing super hard, I knew the swim would be the hardest and most punishing for my sick body.  I felt almost like I was floating through the water (not quite like a torpedo).  Some guy went back and forth in front of me a few times which was annoying and I slowly made my way to the first turn.  The course was pretty much a square.   I don’t think I swam the most direct route possible, but did a fairly good job of sighting.   The short top part and then turning to shore.  My friend Mike and warned me that the sun would make it hard to sight on the way back to shore, but to keep using the buoy to sight instead of the beach.  At some point some guy tried to swim over top of me, probably from the wave behind.  I started seeing swim caps from the wave before and the wave behind me.  As I started being able to see the floor of the lake again a guy from the wave behind me started passing on my left (my breathing side) so I watched to see when he would stand up and did about the same thing.  Jogged out of the water, hit the mat (about 16:45 on my watch), and started taking my wet suit off.

I had planned on using my Ironman timex to at least roughly get my splits throughout the morning.  But it appears I didn’t actually hit the “split” button until the end of my bike leg.  So that was a little frustrating to realize afterwards.

I hadn’t planned on super quick transitions so I took my time climbing the steps to the transition area.  Switched into my bike gear and headed out!

I didn’t use my Garmin, but created course maps using Dailymile.  The race distances seemed pretty accurate.

I didn’t do any fancy mount or dismount for the bike, I just wanted to make sure I got on and off! I did blow a nice snot rocket full of snot and lake water shortly after starting the ride.  I felt surprisingly good on the bike as we went up and down the hills.  I shifted gears a lot and caught people on the uphills, some would pass me back on the downhills.  The course was pretty straightforward.  It was fun to watch the faster people go past and check out their bikes and also to see how the rode as they got into groups and rode several wide.  Most of the ride was on county back roads, but the section along MN-95 was awesome.  Newer pavement means faster riding! Except for the big hill at about mile 14.   The scenery could have been beautiful, but was mostly unexciting (its been a little dry) and you couldn’t see the St. Croix River through the trees.  At a couple of points volunteers were stationed to specifically tell us to slow down.  One was a big hill with turns at the bottom and the second was a smaller hill that ended with some turns going under a train trestle.

I stayed hydrated drinking most of 2 bottles (water and Nuun-filled water).  And I took one gu while on the bike.  I probably didn’t need that much nutrition/hydration but I wanted to stay on top of things since I was still sick.  I was quite pleased with how I felt overall.  The road from 95 back to the transition area was a beat up old road with lots of cracks, dips, and crevices.  It made for a little more work coming back.

My “split” for this part of the race was under an hour.  My watch says 1:15 for the combined swim, T1, and bike legs.  (as of this moment results haven’t been posted).  The only time besides coming out of the water that I looked at my watch was for  mile splits during the run.  I did use my bike computer, but that just showed speed and distance.

The run was going to be interesting. I took a pull of water from my bottle before throwing back on my transition towel and jogged to the exit. Crossed the line – grabbed a cup of water and left the park onto the roads.  The first mile was on a paved road before turning off onto a gravel road.  It was gravel for a little bit and then was pavement the rest of the way.  There were water stations setup near miles 1, 2, and 3 and mile markers setup for those miles as well.  Mile marker 4 seemed to be missing.  The run had a couple of hills, nothing super hard but enough to make you change your stride and focus on the hill.

I wasn’t 100% sure that I’d be able to finish the run.  I started out slow letting the blood move around and the muscles to get used to the idea of running again.  I also had some weird pains in my side and back that hung around for most of the run.  I came through the first mile at 8:43 and felt really comfortable.  I took water at every aid station, took a sip and threw the rest on my head to cool off – it wasn’t super hot, but warm enough.  At the second aid station, the kids were filling the cups all the way to the top.  This made it a little messy, but you can’t complain about cool water splashing around!  I came through mile 2 at 8:26.  I still felt pretty comfortable and started thinking about trying to average 8:30 pace for the run.  There was one hill on  a nice shaded part that hurt a little more and slowed my third mile down to 8:41.  From here we turned back onto the main road.  It wasn’t really shaded but I didn’t feel super hot or like I was baking.  At about mile 4 I caught up to my friend Mike.

I caught up to him and said “good job Mike.”  He looked at me for a second and said, “Damn you caught me.”  I apologized and continued running.  Some where in here a lady’s Garmin beeped the 4 mile mark though it wasn’t marked.  My watch said 8:43 or something like that!  I don’t really remember picking up the pace but steadily continuing towards the finish.  Mike passed me back and we kind of ran together-ish for the rest of the race.  As we turned back into the transition area we had a little hill to go up and then downhill to the finish.  I passed Mike on the up-hill and opened up the legs for the down-hill finish.  The last 50-75 yards were fairly steep and I was gaining on a guy so I kicked it down another notch and passed the guy with like 10 yards to go.  I heard my name announced, heard the finish line beep, and I was a triathlete.

TransitionI saw 2:01:19 when I crossed the finish line and thought, crap so close to the 2 hour goal.  Then I looked at my watch 1:58:21.  Oh yea, 3 minute difference from the clock for the wave start.  Awesome!! That made me feel even better!

I ended Saturday still feeling under the weather, but being a triathlete makes it ok!  My support crew was also sick so there aren’t any pictures of me from the race.  Just the few I snapped before hand (and my transition area afterwards).  I’ll see about the race photos!  Nadia even had a cute “triathlete” shirt that she was ready to wear.

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