This past weekend was yet another whirlwind, but I was lucky enough to meet up with my Trakker teammie Michelle in Chicago. She was in from Colorado to race the Lifetime Fitness Chicago Tri, and I was en route to Madison for an interview. I filled in as her midwest tri sherpa, and was it ever a good time.
Although I quite enjoy the sunrises over Lake Superior and the quiet, rather than hustle-and-bustle, that the UP offers, I did really enjoy my time in the windy city. However, if I ever go there again, remind me not to bring my car. I got in a little later than I wanted to on Saturday night thanks to rush hour (on a Saturday, at 6pm) traffic. We headed to dinner around the block and got nestled into bed at a decent hour.
Michelle was racing elite, which meant she was one of the first waves to get going in the Olympic distance event. Fortunately, that meant she wasn’t taking off at 6am, before the sun even came up. Unfortunately, that meant she had to get to the race before the sprint tri started so that she could get her stuff set up in transition before it closed at 5:45am. She was able to get things in order, hopefully under minimal stress, although I wish I had brought along a bike pump for her. We found a good viewing spot on top of a grassy knoll and watched the sprint athletes race out on the swim and in on the run.
Eventually, it was time for her to head in herself, so I found a good spot in line with the swim exit and waited. I started to get excited. I can only imagine how Michelle felt…
After grabbing the most horrid gluten-free breakfast I could find near the race start (Fritos and Coke) I made my way back to the lakeshore to watch the tailend of the sprint group finish up.
One thing I was so in awe about at the Chicago triathlon was that there were so many athletes. At least 8,000 athletes. Not just elite athletes that can put it down in the swim-bike-run, but also pro athletes. Even though I have raced two Rev3s this year and have had my share of the pro-exposure, I am still in awe if ever I see a pro triathlete in my vicinity. But along with these crazy fast athletes came the beginner triathletes. Athletes who may have never swam more than three times before the race. Had no idea how to sight for buoys, swim front crawl, or keep their face in the water. But they were out there, givin’er, on Sunday morning. Sure, some of them got passed by the first (and second) elite waves of the Olympic, even though the elites had a significantly longer swim and started later. But they didn’t seem to care, they were out there having a good time, doing something they would have perhaps never done before if the Triathlon hadn’t come to their city.
Fordy Ford got out on her bike and I did’t get a good chance to see her until she came back in. She was rockin’ though, and she racked her bike up quickly and swapped out her shoes. Off she went, speedster out of T2.
The finish area was several blocks away from transition, and it worked out so that by the time I made it over there (crossing traffic, getting water, and going pee) the elites were already starting to come in. I guess a 10K doesn’t really take that long, so I found a spot on the grass and waited for the women to come in. I started counting blue bibs, and the lead woman came in with a huge lead. Before I knew it, I saw the Green Machine heading toward me.
After she crossed the finish, we meandered around the finish expo, which was great by the way. Eventually, we headed back to transition to get her bike, put it in my car, and head to awards. Although Michelle could get her splits after the race, she wasn’t sure where she had finished, although I was certain it was a top 20 finish and she was thinking it might have even been top ten. She ended up winning her age group and finishing 12th woman overall on the elite/AG side, with a time of 2:21:52. Not bad considering her swim was wetsuit-less (and everyone else had one on..), the bike was bumpy (but she still hammered out nearly 23mph) and the day was hot and humid.
Michelle did a good job of batting her eyes at the consierge and got a late checkout, so we made our way back there to shower and pack up, and then hit up Pizzeria Uno (the original!) on my way out of town. I did a good job of not appearing jealous of her deep dish original pizza, and gnawed on my greens.