ITU Chicago: A FAST day of racing
This past weekend the triathlon world, well short course world, traveled to Chicago for what was a spectacular weekend full of racing! The ITU, International Triathlon Union, is the governing body that puts on the draft legal racing that is used for the Olympics. The Elites, or pros, race in a series of races to gain points for themselves, and country, in order to qualify for the Olympics. These races are really cool because they are very spectator friendly. The race features many shorter loops that allow spectators to see the racers multiple times in each event. The Women’s Elite race and the Para race was on Saturday and I went to the Women’s race and watched Gwen Jorgensen smoke the field with a ridiculously fast run, she ran over a minute into the leaders during the run which is crazy fast!
Then on Sunday it was my turn to race! The cool thing with the ITU is they require completely closed streets. Now that is amazing because cars on the road with racers can always get a bit hairy but also because this course had 3 U Turns per lap if they were only to shut down a few lanes on the course it would’ve made for a dangerous course. They did a good job at spreading out the waves to attempt to keep the course open. But the problem with that was transition closed at 5:45 and I didn’t go off until 8:20, and I was a middle wave in the Olympic race. So I set up transition then anxiously and nervously sat in my car, at a Subway, then by the swim start until my wave went off.
And because of the time differences in the waves the race was against your age group and not so much overall. The first wave was basically finished with the race by the time I started so there is a big difference in the course from the first wave to the last so my priority was race my age group and wherever that fell overall was what it was.
Swim: 25:06 (1:32 min/100) 15th AG/108th Overall
The swim was a pretty straight forward swim. We swam north then turned and headed straight south to the exit then had a LONG run to transition. I should mention now that on Saturday night and Sunday morning it rained, and my transition area was right near a big ol mud pit! But back to the swim. I got a good start off the line but unfortunately I was not able to find a group to swim with. I am still working on being comfortable swimming with others without having mini freak outs so I am always nervous to jump in a draft and trust the leaders sighting as well as their pacing. I know I need to work on this because for an Ironman drafting saves valuable energy that can be used later in the day. But it was a comfortable swim and exited the water and ran through transition.
Bike: 55:34 (26.8 MPH, 242 Normalized Power) 8th AG/46th Overall
So I should preface this part by saying that the bike course was short. My Garmin had it at about 22.8 miles, 2 miles short, but it’s hard to say how short it was since about half the course was on Lower Wacker where I had no GPS signal. But adding another mile onto the time would see about right. This was a FAST course! Racing on Lower Wacker was really cool for the most part, there were some bad spots but nothing too terrible. It was a 4 loop course with 3 U Turns and 4 turns each lap so it made for a lot of slowing down, turning, then getting back up to speed. I wanted to push it but I also wanted to hold back a bit since I am still not back to full fitness after my bike accident.
During the ride I looked at my watts but mostly to keep myself from going too low. I was going off of feel and because Lower Wacker was dark with sunglasses on it was hard to see my computer so I just went by feel which was a nice change-up to having my eyes glued to the computer to keep me in check. Nothing special to say about the ride except it was fun and I ended up gaining 60 places overall and a few in my AG!
Run: 36:44 (5:55 min/mile) 4th AG/21st Overall
Well I wanted to get off my bike and run FAST. That worked for a bit but then I got a side stitch that didn’t want to go away! But I kept pushing as much as I could but never caught my stride that well. One big issue I had with this course was there were no mile markers for either the Olympic or Sprint race. Normally this isn’t a big deal but I had this course measured at 5.9 miles, .3 miles short, and many others had the same. So without mile markers my pacing was off, which isn’t terrible but it would’ve been nice to know my exact mile splits and to see where I really was on the run. The run course was 3.5 laps and the cool thing was we got to run past Buckingham Fountain 3 times before the final pass to the finish.
It was nice to have loops because it made for more fans but the course was also VERY narrow with runners going both ways at points which made it hard to pass. There was also no shade so it was a hot one, and brutal later in the day. Combine that with only having 2 aid stations and it made for a struggle of a run. But I am not going to play the blame game but I would have loved some ice or cold water more often during the run.
Saw my fantastic support crew featuring my mom, dad (who was racing the Sprint later), and my girlfriend, a lot during the run! It is always nice to see and hear familiar faces and voices to kind of snap me back into it and help me push a bit harder. I made a final push starting at the last half loop and ended up passing a group of 4 in my age group which was nice. I made sure to make the pass fast to let them know that I was feeling good, but I wasn’t, so they wouldn’t try to hang with me. Rounded the fountain for the final time and sprinted towards the finish! Another good race in the books. Obviously could’ve been better but I will take it!
Final: 2:03:07 (4th AG/21st Overall)
After the race I hung out with the family and talked to a fellow Snapple team member who I saw on the race course. It was cool to see so many other Snapple/DC Tri Club racers out there on course! After that we got some food then headed to the swim start to watch my dad race! It was getting super hot and all the walking we did gave me a new found respect for spectators!
As usual I want to thank my mom and dad and girlfriend for coming out to see me. It was also cool because I met a few social media friends as well. And thanks to Xterra wetsuits for helping my swim well, Felt Bikes for the fast bike, Rudy Project for the helmet and glasses, HED wheels for making my faster and more aerodynamic, and Louis Garneau for making the amazing Snapple Tri Team race kit that kept me nice and comfortable during the race! It was also my first sock less race in my Saucony Type A6 race shoes and they performed very well. Those shoes make you feel like you’re flying out on the run!
Now time to rest up, get back to training then head out to San Francisco this week for some down time and my cousin’s wedding!