Tag Archives: bike

Race Recap: 2017 Northwoods Triathlon

23 Aug

Back in January, I signed up for the Northwoods Triathlon in Nevis, MN, on August 12 this year. I had good intentions of following a training plan — I downloaded Hal Higdon’s, made some edits in an Excel spreadsheet, printed it out, and hung it up. But then life happened and I didn’t do a single workout from that plan.

Instead, I winged it. I swam, biked, and ran about once a week each, working up to peak distances of swimming 600 yards, biking 18 miles, and running 4.5 miles. I did a few brick workouts, where I’d run half a mile to a mile after biking, and one Saturday, I did a mini tri where I swam laps at the Y, biked half an hour on the stationary bike, and then ran 4.5 miles.

So even though I didn’t follow a training plan, and didn’t train a whole ton, by race day I felt like I had definitely trained enough to do the triathlon. Whether or not I would beat my 2015 time of 1:39:05 was another matter. (The differences between my times are in parentheses below with my 2017 times.)


Travis and I got up on race day around 6 AM to make it to the transition area by about 6:45. The race started at 8, and I still had to pick up my packet (but that’s the glorious thing about small races: packet pickup is a breeze!). I made a bagel with cream cheese and ate half (I ate the other half about 30 minutes before the race started), a cup of coffee (which I would later regret), and we headed out.

I easily found a spot near the Bike Out to rack my bike and set up my gear while Travis chatted with a friend from high school (Travis grew up in Nevis). After my stuff was all set up, I went to pick up my packet and get bodymarked. Once that was done, all I had left to do was use the bathroom and wait. Travis left around 7 to go pick up his parents and the girls. I used the portapotty twice and ran a few hundred feet in my flipflops for my warmup. My approach to this race was very laidback, can you tell?IMG_4989IMG_5007SWIM

I got in the water about 10 minutes before the race started. The air was about 60 degrees, and the water was about 73, so it felt pretty good! My wave was the 5th to go (pink caps). When we were on deck and waiting for the countdown, I put my face in the water and tried spitting in my goggles so that they wouldn’t fog up (which they do every single time I swim, but thankfully they didn’t this time!). Finally it was time to go!

I started out a little too fast with the people around me, so I had a hard time catching my breath for the first 150 meters or so (of 400). I was also trapped in a group of swimmers until about the first buoy, so it was hard to find my stride. And I was swimming on the inside lane (closest to the buoys) so both times around the buoys, I had to doggie paddle because all the swimmers who had been in the middle or outside took the corner sharp and cut me off. Needless to say, it wasn’t my best swim and I was relieved when it was over.

I stood up when the water was about thigh-deep and walked/jogged up the hill to the transition area.

OFFICIAL SWIM TIME: 12:05 (+1:12)


Once I arrived at my stuff, I toweled off as best as I could, rinsed my feet off, and put on my socks, shoes, race belt, helmet and sunglasses.

I had set up my stuff on the wrong side of my bike so when I took my bike off the rack, I was on the right side of it, instead of the left side. So I had to get on the other side, and while doing so, it almost fell over. I was so flustered from that, that I almost mounted my bike right in the transition area instead of walking it to the Bike Out. Oy. You’d think I’d never done one of these things before.90C721D1-D8F1-4D3F-9475-0817C677AAADOFFICIAL T1 TIME: 3:15 (+0:32)


The bike portion would’ve gone really well except that starting at Mile 5, I had to pee really bad. It was horribly uncomfortable. There were no portapotties out on the 14-mile course, so I could either hold it or hop off into the woods. I seriously contemplated going in the woods, and even now, I think that’s probably what I should’ve done, but I just feel weird about that. So in the end, I held it for the whole bike, which really slowed my speed down between miles 8 and 12. Ugh, it was brutal. I probably drank too much coffee too little time before the race. What is this, amateur hour?

Otherwise, I felt like I handled all the rolling hills decently well. My legs actually felt great (or maybe I just didn’t notice them being tired because of how bad I had to use the bathroom).

OFFICIAL BIKE TIME: 54:22 (15.7 mph) (+1:58)


Immediately when I got into the transition area, I leaned my bike against the portapotties and used one. Better.

Then I racked my bike, took off my sunglasses and helmet, put on my hat, grabbed a Gu, and headed out on the run.

OFFICIAL T2 TIME: 2:24 (+1:16)


I used the same strategy during this run as I did in 2015–just settle into a comfortable pace and don’t worry about how fast or slow I’m running. So I did just that, though finding a “comfortable pace” was a little harder this time than last time. The run portion was when I could really tell that I hadn’t trained as much for this race as I have for other races.

I ate my Gu right before the water station near the turnaround, got cups of water both times through, and walked while I drank them. Otherwise, I ran the whole distance, albeit slowly. By Mile 2, my legs were really starting to feel tired, but I muscled through. Finally, the finish line was in sight! I gave high-fives to Emma and Annabelle, and crossed the finish line.

OFFICIAL RUN TIME: 35:54 (11:35/mile) (+3:56)

OFFICIAL RACE TIME: 1:47:57 (+8:52)IMG_5005So I didn’t even come close to my 2015 time, but all things considered, I think this race went as well as I could realistically expect. I knew going into it that I hadn’t trained as well as past races, so I just focused on enjoying myself and gaining the feeling of accomplishment that I had completed another sprint triathlon.

We hung around after the race for the kids’ races. Emma ran in the 3- and 4-year-old race. She got hung up behind a few kids that collided and fell over, so she didn’t win, but she had fun, which is all that matters!IMG_5006 She got a rainbow-colored ribbon for participating and a coupon for a freezee pop from the grocery store/cafe in town, but the line to redeem the coupon was super long, so we were going to buy Emma something else, but she had seen rainbow ice cream in the cafe where the line was, so we ended up leaving without anything, carrying Emma kicking and screaming. She fell asleep on the ride back to Travis’ parents’ house, so I think being tired had something to do with her meltdown.

And that’s that!

Training Recap: 2/13 – 2/19

20 Feb

Following suit of the past several weeks, this week’s training was a little on the meager side. But now that marathon training has really started, I am no longer allowed to blow off workouts. It’ll actually work out well because Travis has to work on his Master’s report and study for the Professional Engineer exam every night and weekend, and I can be devoted to my training.

This is a pretty boring report:

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: 2 mile tempo run (19:57; 9:58/mile); physical therapy exercises

Wednesday: 5.14 miles on bike trainer (20:00)

Thursday: Rest

Friday: Rest

Saturday: Snowman Stampede 5 Mile

Sunday: Rest



I spent the majority of my day off today driving to and from my local bike store, Wheat Ridge Cyclery. I ended the triathlon season last year vowing to not ride my tri bike again until I got it fitted because it was just painful to ride. As it turned out, my friend D has done a lot of research on the angles and measurements for a correct bike fit and last Saturday, I took my bike over to her house and she helped me adjust my bike as well as we could without buying new parts. We came to the conclusion that 1) I needed a new stem that would bring my handlebars up and back and 2) I might need a new seat.

I was hopeful that my bike would be comfortable to ride without sinking more money into it but during my quick bike ride on Wednesday night, I only made it 20 minutes before I couldn’t take it anymore. I needed a new seat.

So during my first trip to the bike store, I bought the Specialized Windie XC Sport (143 mm) for $65.

The sales guy recommended it because it had a long nose, which is good for tri bikes where you’re sitting farther forward on your seat than you do on a cruiser, and the cutout, which helps alleviate pressure on the pelvic bone. It also has minimal foam padding, which the sales guy said is optimal for longer rides – lots of padding will make your butt go numb after 2-3 hours on the bike. That is completely counter to logic in my opinion but I took his word for it.

I took it home and tried it out but while I didn’t have any pelvic pain, the seat made my sit bones hurt. I figured it was because the seat was too narrow and of course, this seat has been discontinued so no one has the wider size.

Back to square one. On my second trip to the store, I grabbed the Specialized Ariel Comp Recreational XC (155 mm) for $90. It still has the cutout but has more padding, which I thought might help with the sit bone pain.

It didn’t. And it brought back the pelvic pain.

I decided to see if a new stem would help. Even with moving each seat as far forward as it would go, I still felt too far from the handlebars. So I went back to the store (it sounds ridiculous, but the store was only about 7 minutes away).

The sales guy brought me a “80” length (mm?) stem with a 17% (?) angle for $60. (I know nothing about bicycles.)

My old stem was a 100 and had no angle.

That actually helped a lot. The second seat I bought still didn’t feel good so I ended up putting my old seat back on, just to see. That ended up being the most comfortable combination of the day. And if I can avoid spending $90 on a new seat, I definitely will.

So I’ll get back on the bike every couple days over the next few weeks and see if this really is the solution. I really hope it is so that I can start riding my bike on my trainer without grimacing!

What, you don’t ride in jeans and slippers?

Feeling discouraged.

16 May

On Friday, I officially registered for the Boulder Sunrise Triathlon on June 4th. That means I have 3 weeks left and only 2 to really train (the last week will be a taper). I have to admit, I’m feeling kind of discouraged. Even though I’ve been diligent in training 4-5 days a week (missing only 1 workout a week), I am worlds away from where I was 2 years ago. I had expected that getting a real tri bike would make me faster on the bike, but no, I am just as slow or slower than I was on my mountain bike.

On Saturday, I finally bought a bike trainer so that I can ride my tri bike indoors. I tried it out last night for the first time – I decided to do my 15-mile ride while watching the season finale of Desperate Housewives (which was very good, BTW). I realized after I started that I should have done a little research or watched the training video before attempting a ride of that length on a contraption I barely know how to operate but there wasn’t time for that. So I just jumped on and hoped for the best.

It was brutal. I was ready to be done after just ½ mile. I had my bike gears set on the smallest big cog and the middle of the small ones but I was still only going 8.5 mph. I’m pretty sure an 8-year-old on a 1-speed bike can ride faster than that. After 3 miles of torture, I seriously contemplated throwing in the towel. But I really needed to ride 15 because the bike leg of the triathlon only 3 weeks away is 17 miles.

I remembered that the guy who sold the trainer to me said that you could change the resistance on the trainer itself, instead of on your bike. So I got off, grabbed the cable, and started clicking as I rode. That was definitely the main issue. I decreased the resistance to the point where I could shift my bike gears back to the middle big cog and the 3rd or 4th small one. For the rest of the ride, I was comfortably riding at an 11.5 mph pace (still pathetic but I cared about distance more than pace).

Then the issue became how uncomfortable and at times, painful, it was to sit on the bike seat for that long. After 8 long miles of constantly wanting to quit, I started alternating 5 minutes of riding in position with 5 minutes of sitting straight up to give myself a break. I’m not sure if I just need a different seat or if I just need to get used to it. I plan on riding at least 20 minutes every day to see if I can get more used to the seat. If not, I will have to go buy a new one because that is by far the most miserable part about riding the bike.

Regardless of all that, I finished the whole 15 miles in 1:28.

So you can probably see why I’m discouraged about the bike portion. I’m also discouraged about the swimming and running parts. While I am getting better at the swim, I’m still very slow (it takes me about 21:30 to swim 800 yards) and while I “come from a running background” into the sport of triathlon, I’m incredibly slow at that too (running 10:30-11:30 minutes miles on average).

I’ve always said that I do triathlons for fun and the personal challenge, not to win because I know how slow I am. God did not build me for speed. But I’m even slower than I had been! When I was training in 2009, I was biking at a 14 mph pace regularly (on a mountain bike), running 9:00-10:00 minute miles, and was swimming 200 yards in 4:30 instead of 5:00 or 5:15.

I know that a big part of why I was faster then was that I was doing weight training in addition to the cardio endurance sessions. But I’m hesitant to add that in because it made me so tired that I could barely function. I had no energy for anything beside working and sleeping. I stopped grocery shopping, stopped cooking dinner, stopped reading, writing, doing anything except what I needed to do to survive. I felt like my quality of life went down because I didn’t have the energy to do most of the stuff I enjoyed doing. But maybe if I just did 15 minutes a couple times a week…

Despite my discouragement, I’m not going down without a fight. I’m going to focus more on biking and trying to get used to the seat, doing more running intervals to increase my speed, and look into upper body weight workouts that will help me be a faster swimmer.

And come race day, my time will be what it is.