Race Report: YWCA Women's Triathlon, Minneapolis, MN

First - this race was amazing no matter what for the reason that I got to race it with three of my best friends in the world. They were AMAZING. Each lady made it through with a smile on her face, and I think a couple of them may even do another one or two down the road. We had a great time, and thanks to the amazing management of the race - I am guessing that the other 967 ladies racing had a great day too.

Here's the report:

Packet pickup: We picked up our packets on Saturday afternoon to ensure we could also make the last planned course talk for the day. We walked up with no problem at all and picked up our packets right away. There was some confusion about my refund for the USAT fee. I thought I got a refund, but evidently not. Oh well. The organizers also up sized everyone's shirts because they were women's fit. Most women's fit sizes run a bit small, so evidently they thought it would be fine to just automatically give everyone the size larger. When I originally registered, I figured that because it was an all women's race, they shirts would be small and put myself down for a medium (as I would normally get a small). So, when I got my bag - it had a large shirt - two sizes larger than I actually needed. I went back to switch it out, and it was like the Spanish Inquisition about the exchange. I finally convinced them to switch it, but it wasn't the easiest process. Turns out this was the worst thing that happened with the entire race - not too shabby.

We attended the course preview meeting, and that was extremely helpful. They gave us tips on a few spots where the road may be rough, where the one main hill was located, and what to beware of while out on the road. I'm glad we went, but I think all of the info may have freaked out some of the ladies in the room. In fact, I think some may have had their brains fried, as there were definitely lots of panicked faces and some very strange questions. More than half the folks who race this event are newbies, so it's to be expected - hence why a course preview is a great addition to the programming.

Race morning: We parked a couple blocks from the race site and headed over to set up our transition area. Everything went VERY smoothly. The final stats said 971 ladies raced on Sunday. The logistics were managed wonderfully. We found our racks quickly and were set up in no time. Grabbed our chips, got marked, then we just soaked up the amazing energy. For ladies who have never done an all women's race, I highly suggest doing one at some point. The camaraderie is wonderful - there's so much excitement and friendship around. It's just truly a wonderful feeling - a bit different to when you have boys in the mix. Hey, I love races with dudes too - this is just a different genre I think!

Pre race: There were 17 waves for the swim start. The pre race meeting at 7:40 started right on time and gave a full recap of the rules, any course updates, and they discussed how the staging of the swim would go. By 8am, the first wave was in the water- the interior of the 500m swim course was open to warm up, so I headed out and did a quick swim. I actually got to wear my wetsuit, too! The water temp was at 72 or something? I had trained in my wetsuit plenty but never had a chance to race with it - I was super excited to put it to work. As I wandered up to shore, my buddies Darrah and Laura pointed to the sky - our unicorn mascot balloon in transition had decided to join his brethren in the sky and float away. Goodbye, little unicorn!!! Alas, $9 maybe not so well spent :p The waves were set off every 3 minutes - the hour we had to wait went by very quickly. The last five waves were the buddy waves - you got to start with your friends! Very cool. Before we knew it, we were staged and up to the start.

The swim: I normally hang back and let the group go out in front of me, but because I had my wetsuit and our wave wasn't too huge (maybe 30 ladies?), I decided to go ahead and run out a bit and see where I landed. We had red swim caps, the wave in front of us had green, and the wave before had light blue (the last wave had bright pink). I knew that would give me a gauge on where I was. As we got into the water I ran out then did a couple dolphin dives. I realized that no one was in front of me and only one person beside me - so I just decided to hit the gas and go. For the first time EVER, I was in front of my wave on a swim start. I just started hauling. Thanks to the wetsuit, I barely had to kick - and when I did I practiced my hip kicking rather than my crappy knee kicking - made a HUGE difference. As I made it up to the first right turn, I realized that I was amongst all green caps and only saw one other red cap. SWEET. I kep plowing ahead and started seeing blue caps! Holy crap - I am kicking this swim's ass. Around the last buoy and just kept pushing - it felt amazing. Well, until I saw a dead fish floating about 6 inches from my hand. EWWWW. That actually got me to speed up. When all was said and done, I think I got myself a swim PR.

500m Swim: 9:54, 140/971 overall, 34/167 age group 30-34 (I am amazed at this!!!!)

T1: 3:00 (must have stopped for a pedi or something!)

Bike: DAMN IT. The bike is freaking killin me!!!! So, I had put on the bike bag I have from my hybrid in case I wanted to put tools in it. I decided the night before to ditch the bag and had started to take it off but got distracted and never finished taking it off. Yeah, can you see where this is going? I head out on the bike, and about 4 miles in I hear a woman yelling, "Lady on the gold bike! Your bag is touching your wheel!!" WHAT????? Shit. I can't manage to just pull the thing off while I'm riding, so I stop and fasten the damn thing on as fast as I can. Then I take back off - within a couple of minutes I can see the shadow of the bag and it is dangling AGAIN! GRRRRRR! So I have to stop again and fasten the damn thing down. I know I lost a couple minutes or more due to the loss in speed, stop and time to get back up to speed. Other than that, not much else to report on the bike. I just cruised as I could - very pretty closed course. Only one "hill" but several rollers along the way. My time should have been faster, but oh well. Only so much you can do with a 30 pound $150 road bike.

15.5 mile Bike time: 54:03, 398/971 overall, 70/164 age group (17.2mph avg)

T2: 2:09

Run: Dropped the bike off, and I was out pretty quickly. The run was nice and shaded around the lake - very flat. As always, I started off a bit too fast and wasn't able to maintain it. When I hit just past the mile 1 marker, I saw D coming past on the bike, so we gave each other a big wave! She looked great. I just kept running along - just got slower and slower as the distance went on. The spectators and volunteers were fantastic. Along the run I saw women of all shapes, sizes, colors, ages - some were walking, some were limping, some were jogging and a select few were running. My goal was to just NOT STOP. As I came into the finishers shoot, lots of people yelled "Go Michelle!" (yay names on bibs!) It was a great feeling. The race lets friends and family finish with you, and as I was coming in for the last 50m or so, I got cut off by a couple kids. I started to hang back to make sure they could get a good photo, but then a woman flew around my left side. I decided to follow suit and shot off myself. Sorry lady and your kids!! No worries though - you could tell the kids were super pumped, and the mom was amazed at what she had just completed. I have no problem losing 10 seconds to witness that.

5K Run time: 28:43, 278/971 overall, 56/164 age group (9:15 pace)

Final Time: 1:37:47, 282/971 overall, 57/164 age group

Overall, I am beyond pleased with my swim, bummed about my bike and just okay with my run. But it was a wonderfully run race, and I highly recommend it for any first timer or a veteran looking for a logistically flawless race in a beautiful setting. This also taught me that with a wetsuit, my swim is rock awesome. At least at 500 meters! ha! It also taught me that with some serious bike work and a more consistent pace with my run, I could actually start working my way up the age group rankings. I'm bummed I have no more races this year (too broke to register for anything else), but I'm looking forward to what I may be able to do in the years to come. I have come a long way in the past 12 months. I'm pretty rpoud of the fact I have been able to shave off so much time in the past year. It's been seriously amazing.

Post - race: Once I was done, I waited by the finish line for my friends to come in. Not too long after I finished, I saw D come through the chute with a huge smile on her face. Shortly after her, our friend Becky crossed the finish. And soon enough we saw Laura coming through with her bright pink and orange running skirt!!! And she was smiling. YAY! We had all done it. They had all completed their first tri, and I was so amazingly proud! And yes, I teared up a few times :-)

If you missed it, here's the article that was in the Star Tribune the day of the race. It was a great little piece about how we all met and what got us to race day. Overall, just an amazing, amazing day. Thank you YWCA of Minneapolis for a day we will never ever forget. I love you, ladies!

Pics coming soon, too :-)


Matty O said...

Great job!!! Sounds like you are much more comfortable with everything now!

Yeah double and triple check your gear :)

What a great story to go with your accomplishment! Glad everyone enjoyed the experience!!!

Keep up the great work and inspiration to your friends!

Big Daddy Diesel said...

Congrats on the race and the stellar swim!!

How cool to be in the article, but seriously, only one quote?

Did you set up "the picnic" in transition?

Anonymous said...

Nice job on the race! So frustrating about the bike thing but hey, you still did great despite the small delay!


Ms. Duffy said...

Way to blow everyone out of the water in the swim (see what I did there? ha ha!) Sounds like you all had an amazing day!

Matthew Smith said...

What a great race you just rocked. I was especially impressed with those 9:15's on the run. The bike bag would really piss me off, but it didn't stop you. Way to go! Congratulations!

Heather-O said...

Nice work! Sounds like a really fun day! I really want to do a women's only race now!

Colleen said...

Great job! There is something kind of magical about women's only races and the fact that you got to do this one with your friends... that's priceless!