Chain of lakes is a wonderful local Tri that a couple buddies of mine have been doing for a while. Features a pool swim because of its early date, a really smooth and fast bike, and a fun and short run! All of this made it the perfect opportunity to get out and make sure everything can go fast and is set for Chattanooga. I did this race last year for the first time and ended up winning and putting up great splits without doing a lot over the winter so I was excited to get started and see how much I have improved.
The day before I went to swim practice and had a great swim. This worried me because it’s usually really hard to put two good swims together back-to-back. Because of this I wanted to get to the race a little early and make sure I warmed up in the pool and loosened everything up. Set the alarms for 5:45am and headed to bed.
Woke up at 5:45 and just sat there for a solid 10 minutes before getting out of bed. Realizing I had a bit of a drive I quickly loaded the car and set off to Alex. I arrived just before 8 and started to unpack, brought everything to transition, and set up. A few people stopped me to talk about the bike which I am always happy to talk about. it was pretty easy to spot my bike on the racks which i LOVE :D
After getting all set up next to Corey and Blake I went to check in. This was my first time ever racing with the number 1. It was a really cool feeling but also caused some nervousness about how I will race. After a quick jog, Corey and I went for a spin to make sure everything was set. I made a quick derailleur adjustment while riding and the bike was set so we headed into the pool. We were all in the second heat so we jumped in quick to do a few hundred before the first heat went. The new tri kit I had on felt a little like a parachute which worried me. I was already lacking some swim speed and didn’t need that. But no time to try and fix that because the first heat was getting in. Now it was time to hurry up and wait. The first heat went off and eventually they called us to go get our lane assignments which I ended up being in a lane with Corey in the second fastest lane. We lined up as the last of heat one got out and jumped into our lanes, I noticed the kit was hugging my body much better and was much happier with how it fit. After talking with the other two in my lane, Corey was planning to go at least 1:20/100yd, the next guy was looking to go 1:23/100 so that meant I was the slowest of the 3 in our lane being as I was expecting 1:25/100 on a good day, so I got to the back. The clock hit the top and off we went! Corey separated a couple body lengths as we reached a hundred into the 600yd swim. Being taller and a powerful runner, my flip turns tend to be stronger than most others around me and 150 in I accidentally pushed into the swimmer in front of me and hit his toes which was the signal that we had in case someone wanted to go around. He stopped at the next wall and I felt horrible thinking that he would have to pass me again in a few short laps. I swam strong, thinking about the 1000 things Ryan and Alexa have told me to do while I swim, each lap feeling a little stronger than the last. I started to open a gap on the swimmer behind me and gain ever so slightly on Corey. A couple more laps and I realized I only had 100 to go! I picked up the pace a little bit and saw the orange sign the counters were holding which meant I finally get to leave the pool and hit the road. I made it to the other side and pressed my watch button to switch to T1 and end the swim. When I looked down I saw the time “7:49” and stopped at the edge of the pool for a second and tried to remember if I got lapped because I thought there was no way I just swam that! But I knew I didn’t get lapped so off to the bike I went!
T1 took FOREVER. I washed my feet, put on socks and my new helmet, got the shoes on, and sluggishly got out of transition. After hopping on the bike there was nothing sluggish about what I intended on doing from that point forward. I got to aero and felt strong, kept a relatively high cadence and put my head down. I sneaked a peek at my Garmin on the bike and it read “6mph”. It has been doing this for a couple rides now and i was becoming really aggravated that it was not registering my speed correctly (I hoped). Hit mile 4 and looked up to see I was on Corey’s rear wheel, so I ended up passing him and exchanged a couple supportive words before putting the head back down into the wind. Gulped down a gu at the half way point then went back to putting the head back down, we were with the wind now and I felt like I was moving great even though I had no idea of my pace, I suspected it to be 24-25 average through the course. Ended up reaching T2 feeling good about my power I just put out but had no idea where I was for time so I set off to run the best run leg I could since I knew the course record of 55:12 was going to be hard to reach.
Coming out of transition the run felt goofy and really slow. I made it about a half mile before looking at my watch and realizing I was averaging just over 5-minute miles. At a half mile we turned onto a path and my legs completely released the tension and I hit my stride. From there it was one foot in front of the other for a couple miles, all at a consistent and smooth pace and cadence. After seeing the school, I kicked it into overdrive and sprinted into the finish. Crossed the line and felt very good about what I threw down today. I had no idea of my time or speeds for anything except the run which I knew I held around 5:15 for most of it.
After Corey and Blake finished I talked with a reporter and got my slip with my times on it. I was absolutely shocked. I swam 8:10 including the run into transition (still don’t believe it) which was way faster than expected, Biked 29:46 which came out to 26.4 MPH (also way faster than expected) and laid down some 5:12s on the run! All three disciplines were far better than expected which makes me so much more excited for Chattanooga in just a couple weeks! Ended with a total time of 54:11 which I didn’t dream of going that fast, but shows I am a lot stronger than I thought I was. On the 16th we head out on our RV trip to Tennessee for me to compete in Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga! Can’t wait to go see what I am capable of for a real 70.3.
Thank you to my family for coming out to watch the race and support me. i couldn't do any of this without all of you, and thank to you all that came out to cheer and race in the chain of lakes tri! It was a great event again this year and a perfect confidence boost I needed going into Chattanooga, and a great set-up for the upcoming season.
Also, a huge shout out to all my awesome sponsors. As always, never could do this without you!