So last weekend I completed the Lifetime Fitness Triathlon in Minneapolis, MN.  If you’re new to “racing” or just “participating” in a half marathon, triathlon, or even a 5k, you’ll find that the running community encourages Race Reports – RRs for short – to let people share, inspire, or just plain brag about what they did.

I’ve only written one race report before – in full.  It was for the Wendy’s Triathlon  in 2004, and I was cleaning recently when I found it.  “A ha!” I thought.  “This is why people keep journals!”  It was funny, and full of details I’d forgotten – or would surely forget in another 10 years, by which point they’d be funny again. 

But since then, I’ve not really done much Race Reporting.  Here, then, is my version of a Race Report.  Settle in with a big cup of coffee – this could take awhile….

Saturday Morning

Wake-Up Call: 4:30 a.m.

Sleep: approximately 4 hours, thirty minutes.

Get up.  No, really, get up.  Grab the key.  Go back downstairs to your room, where all the race stuff is. No, wait. Shower here.  Then go downstairs.  (Because you just HAD to be moved to the other side of the hotel last night at MIDNIGHT, didn’t you, because of that noise from the block party down the street. How is it that you’re 28 floors up in a Marriott and you can’t sleep through a block party?  Your earplugs SUCK, lady.)

Shower, wash hair.  Ooh! Nice hotel robe!  Hm.  Bare feet.  Oh well. Back down the elevator, to your real room.  Strip.  Body glide. Sunscreen.  Deodorant. Sportsbra. Flip Flops. Danskin shorts.  Throw on that long-sleeved shirt. No – take the short sleeved one instead.  That pink Nike one that says “ATHLETE” in big letters.  Maybe they’ll let you in the gates then.  Is that bad form?  Should you have to brag that you’re an ATHLETE?  Oh shut up and put your contacts in.  OW OW OW  OW  OW.  Contacts HURT.  Cry a little. Think about something sad.  Like how totally tired you are.  Okay, try again.  Better. 

Where’s Val?  Oh, seems to be okay.  Alright.  Backpack (fully packed – NO – DON’T check it – you packed it last night, leave it alone!).  Grab your phone, directions to the place.  Call the front desk, tell them you’re coming down for the bikes. CRAP. How did it get to be 5:05 already?  Fill up the water bottles.  And the Gatorade.  Grab that extra bottle for washing your feet in Transition.  Fill it now, you won’t have a chance later.  Where’s the Feed Bag? Peanut butter, plain bagels, check, check.  CRAP.  We’re not going to be out of here by 5:15.  Be patient. Let’s go.

Lobby. Bikes got moved across the room last night.  Here’s hoping they’re in one piece.  Over the river and through the woods, damn this is a long way to the garage.  Val’s bike on the back rack. My bike.  Okay, let’s go.  

Easy getting there.  Why are people backed up?  Just go park, you people!  Park. Bikes off.  Ride down the hill to the site.  Transition – there’s Lisa and her husband Joe, all set up.  Go get set up.  Huh. “Your stuff has to be on the side where your bike tires touch down” says the mini girl in front of you, conveniently located at the end of the race.  Wha? “Is that a new USAT rule?”  She’s bluffing, wants more space. Whatever.  I move down the rack, like 5 bikes.  Oh, cute guy approaching on the other side, and she’s got room for him now?  Bite me, lady. It’s early, and I haven’t had a Diet Coke yet. 

Time to get out of Transition.  Explain to Lisa and Val that they have to take wetsuits with  them, but not WEAR them at 6:30 for their 8:30 start.  Joe seems to have hit the nail on the head.  A lot of these people are…well…assholes.  A lot of them are nice, but some?  So gear and space and checklist obsessed.  Just let it go, it’s only a race…

Okay, you can’t leave Transition yet.  Scope out the Swim In. Shit, that’s like 200 yards away from my bike!  Okay, it is what it is.  Ah, but the bike is really close to Bike Out – and Run Out.  Shit. Bike In is also on the opposite side.  Oh well.  Sharp left from the swim tunnel, all the way down the first alley, right at the trees, and the rack after the one with the blue chalk in front of it. 

Body marking, sitting around.  Eat some bagel with peanut butter (dipped. Hm. Knife would be nice.)  Look for swim gear check. Woops.  They don’t have a swim gear check here – only Gear West, which is not Gear Check, just an outfitter from the Minneapolis area.  Woops.

Walk over to the water. Hm.  The swim course changed.  Wonder why.  Oh, there’s Val’s fam – let’s move over there.  Meet the fam.  Val’s brother Ken heads off for the Olympic.  Then her brother Ed.  Then, oh  wow – oh my god, random stranger down – he’s siezing.  Get up, go find a marshall, get a medic – these people are calling for a medic, but there’s not one within 100 yards.  Run – the pros are coming in, you have to get to the Pro area before they get in.  Yell. “WE NEED A MEDIC OVER HERE WE HAVE A MAN DOWN!”.  Yep, heads are turning.  Put two hands in the air, so that Marshall can get on her walky and get someone.  There’s the sherriff/medic.  He’s grabbing his kit out of  the car. Hurry up, dude.  Shit. How’s he going to hop that fence?  He’s sighting – keep hands up.  Coming at me, they’re breaking apart the fencing, pulling up the fabric to let him under.  We run to the guy, in his bermuda shirt, spectator apparel, he’s not an athlete…he’s stopped siezing, there’s already some red shirts there.  Oh thank God he’s breathing.  The sherriff/EMT pulls some O2 out of nowhere.  Are the kids okay?  Val’s niece and nephew are there – are they scared by this?  Where’s the ambulance?  What? That golf cart is the ambulance?  Okay, he’s on a backboard, they’re loading him up.  He seems okay, but not really conscious.  Wow.

And those waves are still going off. 

Is it time to go yet?  Checking the watch.  Work out logistics with Joe, poor Joe, who will be my pack mule for the morning, carrying my extra sunscreen and peanut butter and keys and phone and that shirt I’m about to strip off. Thanks, Joe!  Checking the watch.  Okay, I’m going.  Yes, you’re going to have to take that shirt off now and just go down to the water in your sportsbra and shorts.  Just rip it off like a bandaid.  Shirt off.  See ya!  Down the sand bank, into the water to warm up.

Except – wow! It’s like bathwater!  Woo hoo!!!!!!  Swim, swim, swim all the way out.  Nice and steady.  Five minute warmup, please!  Huh.  This is okay.  Except now I don’t want to get out. It’s cold out there.  It’s warm in here.  What’s he saying?  Yo, dude with the bullhorn, what wave are we on?  (I like that bullhorn to the folks in the water, by the way, nice touch – let’s me know when to get out…).  Oh, that’s now.  Go, go go.  Oh, wait, they’re only on the 24 year old women.  Get back in.  Gab with the 40-45 year old women about how we love it when people swim over us.  I love the swim.  Get out again. C-c-c-c-cold.  Line up for the wave. What? Line up?  By number?  I’ve NEVER done this.  Interesting.  “SALLIE!” I hear.  Who is that?  OH! There’s Sarah, and Becky!!  Wave, smiling, totally wishing I hadn’t seen them in this lovely state of semi-public nudity. Oh well!  They’re super nice to be here supprorting!!!  Is that a Zach or Sofia there?  (Damn those kids are cute!)

Okay, back to the line. It’s moving.  Tighten that strap – that chip is loose.  Nope, you didn’t quite get it.  Tighten it again.  Take a step.  Tighten it one more time.  Step. No, that’s TOO tight!  Loosen it.  These women behind me must love looking at my ass right now.  Hm.  Getting close.  Stepping up.  Three second intervals, that should be fine. 

GO.  Run, it’ shallow.  High step into the water.  Few more steps.  SHIT, who is that behind me already?  Slow down, people!  Face in the water.  Stroke, get into a rhythm.  Find a bouy.  Get inside that woman in front of you.  Just stay on the inside line.  Bouys on the right.  Stay tight.  Crap, who’s that on my left?  Okay, breathe, just get some strokes in.  Good, stick with that rhythm.  Nice.  Ow, that hurt. “Sorry!” yells the woman next to you.  Just keep swimming.  But isn’t that nice that people apologize in Minnesota?  Turn bouy coming up.  Cut it close.  Dude, you are two waves behind me.  You can get in line for cutting that bouy…sorry.  Okay, why can’t I stay next to this line?  8 strokes, and I keep going left.  ARGH.  Get in the line.  One bouy at a time.  ARGH.  There must be a current here.  Keep working it, stay calm.  Turn bouy.  Line it up.  Site on the shore.  Good clean line.  Huh.  No guards around, and he’s clinging to that bouy.  “Are you okay?” He looks alright, but if you can’t even float, that’s not so good.  “Yeah, I’m fine” he says back.  Okay, keep moving.  Sight, stroke.  Nice and steady.  Okay, you’re getting close.  Swim as long as you can.  Upright!  Oh, god there are ALL those people, lining both sides of that chute!  You’ve GOT to get a better swim top.  Breathe.  Take off the cap. Start jogging up the sandy hill.  Oh, who are you kidding. Just walk.  Okay, faster.  Look up.  You’re doing a good thing, look up.  “Way to go!” they’re saying.  Yes, you know they mean you.  Just smile and keep going.  “SALLIE!” look up.  There’s Myrna and Sarah – and Becky? Jen? The kids?  They’re right by the exit – oh, so good to see them!!!  You can run now! You’re at the top! Go! STOP.  Crossing the Pro’s run path.  Marshall holds you back.  Oh please, it’s not like those two seconds mattered (for me).  Okay, RUN! 

Well, maybe, walk.  Walk, walk, walk the long trek to the bike.  Pat down hair, throw on shirt, socks.  CRAP.  I love these Nike socks, but they’re too tight to just “slip on” in Transition.  Should have worn the Balagas.  UGH.  Take a drink.  Put that Clif Shot in the pocket.  Bike shoes on, helmet on, sunglasses on.  GO GO GO. 

Out of Transition, on the bike, two women in front of me on their bike before the Mount point got stopped. Amateurs 🙂 Okay, get the legs moving, put on the bike gloves, get going.  Hey, pretty.  Hm.  I remember this road.  CRAP. Pothole.  Hm. Another one.  Cobblestones?  Oof.  That hurt.  Wow, I’m going to be lucky not to flat.  Keep going.  Why is this so hard?  Oh, it’s got to be uphill partly.  But gradual?  Damn, my right butt cheek hurts.  What is that?  A Hammy?  that’s pulling up on the pedal. Gotta be uphill at least a little bit. 

What is with these hills?  Wow, volunteers are good.  “Thank you” you keep shouting at them.  “Thanks for coming out” because they ARE good volunteers – they’re almost ALL cheering, even though they don’t have to.  Very cool.  I love this race.  Damn hills.  I love this race.  Damn hills.  Why didn’t I replace the battery on my bike computer?   I haven’t made the turn yet to go over the Mississippi River, so I know I’m not at 6 miles yet, but come ON.  Am I that slow???

Hey, turn time – Oh. My. God.  This is just amazing.  What is it about water?  The river is gorgeous.  HEY.  Keep up that cadence. Get up that hill.  Woo hoo! Downhill!!!!  Right hand turn….hey, think that the next 4 miles will be downhill???

Ha! No such luck.  Guy and a girl up ahead.  Both off their bikes.  They’re walking…uphill.  “You okay?” “Yeah, just old” says the guy.  “That’s okay, I’m fat, but we’re still out here!”  They laugh.  You gotta come up with another line.  Maybe “I’m slow” is nicer to say. 

Man, these houses in Minneapolis are gorgeous.  I could live here – beautiful victorians next to the lakes?  What’s not to love?  Curving again….heading back to transition.  Gotta be getting close.  Power down those flats.  Hm.  Woops.  I still have to go up THAT?  Oh, crap, I have another mile at least.  Woops.  Climb.  Power down.  Turn Left.  Left again, down that road.  Don’t slow down.  Oh, they want me to slow down?  There’s Sarah and Jen and Myrna and Becky and the kids!  And there’s Joe!  He looks confused to see me.  Hm.

Go, off the bike.  Run!  Wait! Take off your bike shoes, you can’t run 200 yards in those!  Okay, now run!  Or walk.  Get to the rack.  Run shoes. CES visor. Fuel belt. GO.

Oh my god, does my right foot hurt.  Where the HELL did that come from?  Stupid, idiotic, dumb plantar fasciitis.  Where have you been for three weeks?  Seriously?  There is no way I’m running this interval.  Keep running.  RUN.  Re-set the watch from 4-2 intervals.  Try a 2-1.  Keep your speed up.  Let your legs loosen up.  Cadence.  You can do this.  Chin UP!  Okay, let’s do this interval. 

“Nice job.”  “Keep it up.”  “Way to go!” They’re all saying it as they pass you.  They must think you’re new.  Little do they know you’re NOT!  Just slow.  Who cares?  It’s nice of them!  And this is why you like this sport.  Okay, this interval is working.  Nice pace.  Hey, look at that, Mile 1 ahead of your target pace!  Keep going…okay, this is an out and back portion.  Is that Lisa coming at you on the out?  Hands up!!!  SHOUT IT OUT SISTAH!  Lisa looks fabulous in her first race – happy and good, and easy!  “I could have finished the bike much faster but I was busy gawking at the houses!” she says as she passes you…SO CUTE!  Okay, pick it up, make her chase you a little (as if.)  Hand’s up – there’s Val, not far behind her!  High fives all around, she looks AWESOME!  Who’s that guy coming at you?  I don’t know him, do I?  He’s heading for me.  “I don’t know who you are, but you just made me start running again” he says.  AWWWW.  He’s big like me!!!  Look at that!  Was it my glorious chest?  My waving to Val?  The fact that I’m a Big Girl?  I don’t care!!! 

Okay, settle down.  You’re not picking him up on the course.  But he’s with Team In Training. I bet I could find out who he is.  STOP RACE STALKING.  Okay, there’s footsteps.  Hey, it’s Lisa!  Damn, she’s fast.  She’s doing awesome. Sooooo good.  And she likes the sport – yay! Another convert!  Okay, get her moving – she needs to finish strong!  More footsteps….Mile 2.  There’s Val!  Oh yeah, a camera….how nice is she? She’s going to walk an interval with me….so sweet…okay, shoo her off, too.  See you at the finish!  Okay, coming around the bend…there’s the gang again, and Sarah is RUNNING at me with the kids.  Zach on one arm, Sofia on the other, Myrna, Becky and Jen all laughing as the kids plow towards me with Sarah yelling “We’re going to run with Sallie!”  How cute is THAT!!! Smile!!!  Grab Sofia’s hand, and start jogging.  “Sofia’s faster than I am!” you yell.  Well, she is.  Is there an Under Four division?  She’s strong!  Okay, say goodbye, and head off, smiling.  I have amazing friends.  I have amazing friends. I have amazing friends. 

Cross the bridge, hear the finish line.  Volunteers saying “it’s just around the corner!”  See that line…start to kick..bit early, but now you can go.  There’s Lisa, cheering!  Go, go, GO!!!  Yep, still have a lot left in the tank.  Could have gone faster.  Oh well.  Chin up – finish strong!  Through the line, and smile for those cameras!  (But keep the arms down!)

And then it’s done!  Val’s mom is in the premiere seating watching us come in, and she’s smiling and waving…I see Joe at the finish, and all the friends and fam are around.  Grab a cold wet towel, some water, some grub, and reunite with the gang.

What a great day.  Talk about lucky.  When do we do this again?


Triathlon Results – Short Course
Finish Time: 2:21:45.8
Category Place: 70 out of 71 Women 35 to 39 finishers
Overall Place: 962 out of 996 Short Course finishers
Gender Overall Plc: 486 out of 510 Female finishers
Triathlon Splits
Swim  .4 mile
Time: 19:46.1
Pace: 3:04 /100m
Category Place: 56
Overall Place: 803
Gender Overall Plc: 401
Transition #1
Time: 5:53.7
Category Place: 64
Overall Place: 907
Gender Overall Plc: 458
Bike  15 miles
Time: 1:03:00.0
Pace: 14.3MPH
Category Place: 64
Overall Place: 898
Gender Overall Plc: 436
Transition #2
Time: 3:32.9
Category Place: 62
Overall Place: 889
Gender Overall Plc: 444
Run  3 mile
Time: 49:32.9
Pace: 16:31/M
Category Place: 71
Overall Place: 989
Gender Overall Plc: 505

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