I raced in the ITU World Triathlon Chicago on Sunday, July 29th. I did the Olympic distance course. It was my third triathlon and second Olympic Distance. This was an amazing race as anyone who follows triathlon well knows. It host the Elite Paratriathlon, Elite Men and Women and Age Group Olympic and Sprint Distance races. An exciting and amazing opportunity for my favorite city, Chicago, to host this event and we look forward to hosting the ITU World Triathlon Grande Final in 2015! To say this was my favorite race is an understatement! It is up there with the Chicago Marathon 2013 as a top two! I truly was smiling every single mile and had such a blast!! That is what this is all about right? Having fun, being fit, and hanging out with likeminded friends!
The day before the race I got downtown early to check in my bike and meet up with Bob, my Ironman Grandpa. We were able to catch a bit of the Paratriathlon and just WOW. Inspired. So much. It was simply emotional watching them bike and run the course (I missed the swim). Standing there watching those phenomenal athletes and standing beside me was Bob in his 80s who was racing just made me teary eyed. I am in the presence of greatness here and felt truly humbled to see such incredible determination, passion and heart from so many that morning.
I interrupt my race recap to show pictures of the wedding I attended later that day and into the evening. I had a full plate that day which is part of the reason I think I had so much fun at the race…zero expectations after being on my feet all day in heels! My friend Natalie made the most beautiful bride. I took my bestest friend, Liz, and we literally had the best day ever. She was the most fun and hottest date at the wedding! Lucky meeeeee!!!! Love you my Lizard, muuuuuuah!
Race morning was extremely rainy and stormy. I had to be there to set up at 4:45 even though my wave didn’t go until 9:45. I was soaking wet as I set up my transition thinking this should be a VERY interesting day! I ran into Bob and gave him a big good luck hug and sent him off and I went back to get another hour of sleep, warm up, and eat breakfast. I got back in time to cheer Bob on during the run and watch him cross the finish line. This man is just amazing. He is my hero.
My brother came to send me off for the race. He held my stuff and calmed my nerves. I am so thankful for such a loving family. I truly have the best! Bob made it to say good luck minutes before I started! Both my guys were there to send me off in style! When we got in the chilly 66 degree water, I took my place in the back and promptly started joking around to get us all laughing and the nerves calmed down just a bit. It was a fun few minutes giggling with the girls in my wave. That is what I love about races…the interaction with such extraordinary people that have the courage to train and step up to that start line! They are ALL winners in my book! After we started, it took me about 5 minutes or so to really find my breath and groove. I am slow in the water but I found my little “back of the pack” and we pushed through together all the way to the end. I was SO happy to be done and felt like I won the race as I always do when I finish the swim. I ended at 40 minutes – 1500m. We had what felt like a 1/2 mile run to T1 which made transition times long and slow for everyone.
WOWZA! That sums it up. It was SO much fun I seriously teared up at one point! I was so grateful that I was in this moment, racing with such incredible individuals, and having so much fun NOTHING could slap that smile off my face! We rode through Lower Wacker where they filmed the Batman movies and I truly felt like I was flying! I had a fast bike time for me…1:09 – 40k. I was SO SO SO happy. But the happiest moment was when a girl told me that I had kept her going on the bike. That is what I live for in a race. All of us pushing each other to get closer to the finish. It meant the world to me!
The run was 3 loops and HOT! We were in the sun and it was mid-day. I wanted to pace myself in the 10s so I used my watch on this portion. I knew I would see Bob so I was super excited! I felt great during the run which I believe is a testament to my new bike nutrition plan. I kept the pace I wanted and smiled every mile! I loved seeing Bob and cracking jokes with him about donuts and such. I loved giving high fives to other runners! I loved cheering on my fellow athletes! I loved chatting with people and giving encouragement. I loved interacting with the crowd and thanking the strangers that cheered for me. I loved the quick interactions and thank you’s to the volunteers. They gave up their day to help ME and I wanted them to know how much I appreciated everything they did whether it was water, the cheering, or showing directions. I love the RUN! I finished STRONG and HAPPY with a 1:03 time…perfection!
Bob was right there to greet me with a BIG hug and water at the Finish Line. He is truly my angel. He is family to me. He gave me the gift of triathlon just months ago which has transformed my life, introduced me to some amazing new friends, and awoke a passion within I never knew exist. In December we were introduced the week my divorce was final and just weeks after his precious, beloved wife passed away. We have been through loss side by side as he taught me to swim my first lap, brought me to buy my triathlon bike, and ran the last grueling miles of my 50k this spring by my side. We gave each other hope in grief and love in our broken hearts. We either see or communicate every single day. He truly is my Ironman Grandpa. My hero. I had to get in a few yoga poses of COURSE at the end!!!! I met SO many amazing people at this race and ran into a lot of friends. Triathletes are a special breed. So kind and helpful. I just love their spirit! I feel thankful that I can call myself a TRIATHLETE!!!I met up with my girlfriend, Ketty, afterward and we rode up to Ohio Street Beach for a few pictures with our bikes! We both have our first 70.3 this year. We share the single mom bond and she is a huge source of inspiration in my life!My FAVORITE part (ok I have a lot of favorites but this takes the cake!) is showing my boys my medal. They loved it because it spins. Haha! My biggest fans and cheerleaders. I can’t wait to have them at my Half Ironman in just a few weeks. Seeing their faces will keep me strong! And recovery days usually go something like short swimming sessions, lots of yoga, and riding my cruiser bike around the neighborhood with my munchkins chasing me! Such an amazing weekend. I feel honored and blessed and proud to be a part of this community. I am so thankful beyond belief for all those that have helped me to discover this passion. Triathlon is truly the greatest gift I have ever been given!
Up next…Racine 70.3 Half Ironman!!!!! My parents, children, and best friends will all be there! I can’t freaking wait!!!!!!