Galena Triathlon!

This year the Galena Triathlon was another race I wanted to my race calendar.  It is just 2 hours from my house and one of my sorority sisters has a cute and quaint home there.  I have done Galena 7-8x and while it is super hilly and hard; I love it.  Many local athletes and friends of mine are out there – it is a the official Kick-Off to the triathlon season.

I drove out with Karen and Elizabeth.  I had invited Elizabeth later once I realized she was, in fact, going to race.  Poor Karen…she is used to me, but add in Elizabeth and we talk non stop about a TON of random things back and forth.  And, we bitch and moan about not being at race weight and then eat a LARGE Blizzard after the race and figure out why we “only” won on AG at this race.  I am sure Karen was DONE with us when we got home.

Galena has 2 different transitions, so we are all bused to the start of the race early in the AM.  Honestly, the bus ride was the best time ever.  Elizabeth, Jenny Garrison (who had just given birth 10 weeks ago and won her AG too – amazing) laughing like school girls on the bumpy and erratic drive to the lake!

I will say that I had fun.  It is like a mini- Chicago National Championships. Many are there fast and fit and ready to win.  I like the competitiveness of this race.  The only thing I do not like is that there is NO Elite wave.  There really should be – just purely from a safety standpoint.  And, of course, my wave is last because it always is.  So, not only did I go last but had to ride the course (which was open to traffic coming the OTHER WAY!!) with everyone riding 4-5 abreast on the road.  Made for a dangerous race!   But, that is racing and I just did my best not crash or plow into anyone.

I was first out of the water and first out of T2…I had not seen anyone in my AG all day.  And, that is the hard part…you “THINK” you are going hard and working because you are passing hundreds of people and are leading the AG, but it really is never fast enough in that kind of mix of waves!

Anyway, it was 90F and humid and I LOVE that weather but it went from 50F to 90F in typical format – 1 day – so that hurt badly.  I led out of T2 and heard footsteps…and thought, “WHO is that?”  Then, I see this gal as we are crawling up the first big hill and she passes me.  HOLY hell.  Well, isn’t that a kick in the ass?  I could not respond.  I was already maxed out and knew it was going to be a long run in that heat.  She put 20 meters on me right away.

I could see her and I did NOT let her go.  I carried a small flask of my EFS because this course only has 1-2 water stations (this is the first year it has ever been hot there) with just water.  In these temperatures, I needed more.  The run was 4.3 miles of rolling and hilly terrain.

Then, I saw her mistake.  She probably thought there were more aide stations – but I knew and warned everyone there was 1 for sure and maybe 2.  She blew thru it…and if she did take something she did not drink anything (poured it over her head)….I took and poured over my head and drank!  Well, around mile 2 I was gaining on her.  And, by mile 2.5 I was on her shoulder and had my legs back and was now running much stronger than she was.  She was melting in that heat!!

Then, came a place in the race where we go down into this little valley and out.  There was water at the top of this in and out.  She was dying for water and then I made the strategic decision to blow thru that water station and drink from my flask.  At this point, it was mile 3 + and I only had just over 1.5 miles left and fluid to drink.  I surged hard and knew that if I did not do it then, I would never catch her because after this aide station the race is downhill.  She did not respond!  I was so happy because not only did I win the AG, but I never gave up.  It is SO easy in races that are that hot and hilly (when we are not used to that terrain) to feel sorry for yourself and not really suffer….but I would have none of that.  While I want to have fun – I want to win just as bad.

And, nothing beats a head to head sufferfest while racing!  It is my favorite!

Yesterday I really had to do some soul searching.  I realize this may sound so lame to a lot of you who read this blog..but for some of you who really know me and know the dynamics of a race like this will understand where I am coming from.  I had told myself I wanted to have “FUN” this year…and I am!  But, what does that really mean?  I think I thought if I trained hard and did the work then I would show up and always be in the mix of things…and for the most part, that is true.  But, after the overall finish on Saturday I realized I cannot have it all.  

If I want to train and have fun then I MUST attach the end result to that attitude. You can’t have it all.

Gone are the days where I can piss around and show up and expect to win anything.  GONE GONE GONE!

So, while I worked through my thoughts yesterday and poor Elizabeth and Jerome had to listen to my ramblings (thank you!) I realized that I need to pull my head out of my A$$ and get after it.  So, I changed my mind.  I was taking the year “low key” because the house is on the market and I was FRIED last year after training and racing IM AZ on my injury…..BUT the house is not selling and my Achilles is GOOD…so what the HECK AM I DOING?

I want to race and do well.  I am in good shape, just need some fine tuning and a kick in the butt on some structure.  So, here I go.  Funny how you think you want one thing…but clearly, you want another.  The good news is that we are allowed to change our minds!  And, we are allowed to take risks and as long as our expectations and END results are in line with our training and commitment then it all works out nicely.

I thought I could just “have fun”….but I realize I do not roll that way. At all.


  1. Congrats on your win Jen!! And glad you figured out what you want to do this year. I had to laugh…I’m an “all or nothing” person like you so I understand your conundrum!! Can’t wait to see what you have in store!! :-)

  2. Hi Jen, we inherited my mother-in-law’s house (and mortgage!) last year. After 260 days on the market without even a lowball offer (which we would have been desperate enough to have accepted), we suddenly got a good fair one out of the blue. It’s amazing how quickly it can turn around, and how quickly you forget the long frustrating time before that point. Hope it works out for you soon :)

  3. Congrats Jen. I am in the opposite funk I think right now. I don’t want to do crap, and I have no goals, but as long as we are content in who we are.

    Sorry about the house. I don’t know Chicago area that well, but I gathered it was a tough market there. best wishes. :)

  4. I thought the EXACT same thing sunday as a girl in my AG passed me in the 1st run. I quit Tri for a few minutes, there then in JHC fashion got over my bad self and decided to suck it up and race.
    Yes, it never gets easier does it and just bc we may want to take it easy at a race, the others in our AG dont always get the memo!
    Congrats on a hot race, i suspect you would have rather had pissing rain and 50:)

  5. Congrats on the AG win and working hard for it, Jen! I think it’s so fun to finally get out there and RACE after waiting all winter, we realize how much more we want before it’s gone again. I’m sort of regretting that there are only 4 tris on my schedule for the year!

  6. I remember one time a couple years ago a gal in my age group (after I race where I’d just beaten her) commented to me about how she “just does these races for fun…” I responded, “ME TOO! I find it incredibly FUN to train super hard and have all that pay off with a good race performance!” 😉 What fun is it to go out and race but not be fit enough to put together a performance you’re happy with? That’s not fun.


  7. So funny! Yah, I wondered about that “have fun” strategy. It seemed a bit ODD!
    And so true, thankfully, we can change our minds!

  8. Having fun does not necessarily means slacking, I guess. Training hard and pushing yourself can also be fun, if you like it. And it seems that you do:)

    I have been thinking about you lately. You have mentioned multiple times how your arms are always tired from swimming and honestly, I could not relate to that. Until now. After 2-3 months when I was not really able to swim I have rumped up my swimming volume in the last 3 weeks and my arms are always sooo tired. Whenever I feel the tiredness I think to myself: “yes! I am like a bad ass Jen Harrison now!” :)

  9. of course you can’t chill this year! it is not in your nature!!!! it is definitely in your nature to be gracious to yourself and other athletes when racing, but LOL I know you are going to start picking up the intensity! ha ha!!!!! I don’t roll that way either with “having fun.” We wouldn’t be doing this if it wasn’t fun, but I think being competitive and working hard is more fun. :) I have decided I have less fun when I don’t kick my own ass. Congrats on the day. Can’t wait to hear what you do next :)

  10. JH!!!! FUN has different meanings for ALL of us and YOUR FUN is working hard, racing hard and WINNING! DUH :) You are intense and take things seriously, that is why you’re SO COOL AND FUN!!! Glad you figured out you can’t lollygag along and be okay with that.

  11. You crack me up. Anyone who has met you for 5 minutes knows you can’t have “fun” at a race just by showing up and going through the motions. Have “fun” this year!

  12. I don’t think Karen will ever talk to us again. You had a good race. I was impressed by your AG win but more impressed that you could see the gel I dropped in the sand.

  13. There needs to be an elite wave. Too many elite folks racing. I had seven first time triathletes there that did well and had to keep explaining who they just went head to head with.

    Good to see a lot of names I know win! (you, ELF, Dave, David… damn fast all)

  14. Jen! Your definition of fun IS working hard and winning, that is what you do! Just because you are doing smaller, local races and keeping things low key this year doesn’t change your fundamental definition of fun. Winning is fun. Seeing hard work paying off is fun. So I hope you continue to have fun the rest of this season!

  15. Oh, I was talking about this to somene lately, the “have fun” thing without the results attached. Not gonna happen. A while back I was talking to Melinda Mann at masters. She holds several world records. I said “I maybe will get to the point where I can show up and just have fun”. She looked at me and shook her head and said “you realize that will never happen, right? You’re just wired that way (as is she obviously) , you’re going to be 80 with a walker and trying to beat the other 80 year olds, it NEVER GOES AWAY”.

  16. Ha! I think many are like you. Me right behind! Even last year just doing a few sprints, I’d say to myself, ” this is just for fun, who cares how you do, right?”

    ” right” I’d say to that little voice ( lying through my teeth) and when push came to shove I cared and flinched when I didn’t like what I saw on any given result sheet AND moped around if only for an hour. I was saying one thing but wanting another. Call it **hard wiring**
    Heck.. I even look at race results in my age group at races I’m not even TRAINED or SIGNED UP for and analyze who I could beat. Is there a pill for this?? Ha ha!

    In any case… sharpen up girl.. the season is WAY WAY young!!

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Races Races and Races

In keeping with my theme this year: “FUN”….I am having a great time..but I am finding myself wanting to go longer and do more.  I think part of the problem is that we are having the BEST weather ever.  You know, 60s and 70s and dry (unheard of here)…and sunny!  It just makes you want to train and not work.

I was out on my bike today and my ride was super short..and I thought, “that is all!”  I am so used to training for the Ironman that anything under 3 hours seems silly.  Of course now I am doing harder intervals and harder overall rides, but I am having fun on the bike…and that was the first thing I wanted to throw away after IM.

AND, the open water is basically open now.  Another sign summer is here.  I am dying to get into the water – I wanted to go last week but I could not get any takers (boo)!  And, I will not swim OW solo…you know, the water monsters will get me.

Now it is May 15th and I am starting to race a lot.  I am so happy to race all short stuff…I am racing Galena this weekend…one of my all time favorite races:  hilly and competitive!  I have done it like 7-8x but it is still one of my favs.  Then, I am doing a 10 mile run race over the Holiday weekend…then I am racing Leon’s…which is a VERY competitive OLY race in Indiana…I actually did the original ones (before Leon stopped doing the race – and re-started it) in the mid 90s.

Then, I am racing a little local Sprint the weekend of June 10th.  I usually race Eagleman 70.3 that weekend.  And, for those who have known me, know it is my all time favorite race.  But, we cannot go this year.  In my theme of “low key” it was not making the cut…and the final straw was it is Morgan’s dance recital that weekend.  So, no EM for me (sniff boo)….

Then, the last weekend in June I am doing another local sprint.  I am NOT sure who I think I am doing these Sprints.  Gasp….And, then a 1/2 Ironman in July up in Wisconsin.

Then, I am at a loss.  See, my fitness is actually very good for May because I am coming off the massive training I did last year and then I rested and now feel GREAT.  So, strike when the iron is hot is my motto!  And, as long as I have the desire to race, I gotta go with it.

The last race I have planned is my 1/2 Ironman in July…22nd weekend.  Well, that leaves August and the fall to do some more things.  My favorite distance is the 1/2 IM, so that is what I am thinking I should do…I do not want to do run races (not like a marathon or anything).  I have thrown around the idea of SC Nats or LC Nationals, but that takes away my “FUN” theme….and while I am fit enough to race there, not sure I want to…travel.

So, that is what is running through my mind these weeks.  I am training like I am doing Nationals….I am training like I normally do.  In fact, I was on the track yesterday and FINALLY after 6 weeks of speed work I am seeing some times that I should be doing on the track.  BEST workout ever.  HONEST and hard. Most athletes run too easy and too much on the track.  Get on the roads for that stuff.  The track is for hard running and pace work.  Every time I go to the track, I am nauseous with fear and anticipation.  And, I know what I can do on the track pretty clearly.  And, yesterday was a great breakthrough for me coming off this damn achilles injury from last fall.

Anyway, now I am rambling…but all I have to figure out is what I should do after July 22nd.  And, NO IM please…remember, I said NO already to Hawaii…and I don’t regret that decision at all.

Oh and irony of this?  We took an easy year b/c we put our house up on the market and wanted to start to build our new house?  WELL our house is not going anywhere…we have had NO bites in 10 weeks.  It is a horribly tough market out there …and while I knew it would be TOUGH, I had no idea this rough….so there is NO building anything until this house sells.

I am open to your racing thoughts – throw them out!!


  1. um come to boston and do some sprints with me?! :) it is all about fun in 2012 – i find it really funny when i see a 2 hour bike workout and i complain it’s so long 😉 missed you jenny h!

  2. I have no racing thoughts for you, boohoo, I know! I’m trying to figure out what I want to do after this marathon and I think it will all come down to how well it goes for me in 3.5 weeks. Glad to see you’re sticking to the FUN program! xoxox

  3. I will see you at Galena this weekend (spectating) and race with you at the Naperville sprint. YAY! Good times ahead.

  4. I am fat. :) No words of wisdom from me as usual… booo. Probably good you have questions going forward, because I do too. :( Everything about life is hard, but we only want to share how easy everything is for us…. ummmm nothing…

    Luv Ya JPH!! :) xo

  5. I really liked rev3 cedar point, logistically so easy for racers and family. and your kids could ride some of the best roller coasters in the world while you race!

  6. Pigman in Iowa ( brutal awesome course) but its in Iowa, or Rev 3 in The Dells?
    Those are in August.

  7. Rev3 WI Dells, lake Geneva Tri, Illini HIM, Steelhead, Chicago Tri

    • Thanks, but I would NEVER do Lake Geneva. I have been there and it is a mess, as long as Frank Dobbs is in charge, I will never do it…NOT safe. I have done GI before and that is an option, love it. NO to Steelhead, did it last year and no swim, ick. Rev3 Dells is a thought…Chicago Tri…done it 100000x so not really up on that one right now.

  8. Maybe we should all do Pigman in August….if Stacie lets us stay with her Mom….I’m still debating what to do in August too…or just call it a season after Door County!

  9. Just throwing them out there … I have only done GI, others just threw out based on calendar :), but good I know, thanks

  10. Vegas BABY!…….no IM! I had people in ST Croix asking me if I was going to take my kona if I got it and I said NO Way! :)

  11. I have no race recommendations…let me know of some and maybe I can come visit! I just love seeing you hit the sprints!!! :)

  12. It sounds like you are having lots of FUN to me! And that’s what it’s all about really. Our housing market just picked up all of a sudden – really fast – so maybe yours will follow!

  13. My mom’s house is always open…she would LOVE it! I could probably be persuaded. I mean…you have to work on your weaknesses right?!? I could work on my HOT race issues there for sure! :)


  14. I could be persuaded to do pigman :) I vote that one!

  15. I dont know much in terms of midwest races, am more familiar with the East coast. Vermont is beautiful in August. And it is the home of the best ice cream ever. My vote is for Nationals in Aug. you are already doing the hard work, might as well reap the rewards. Or if you want hills, the Savageman triathlon festival in Western MD is a beautiful race in Sep.

  16. Not being a local, I obviously have no recommendations for you. Just wanted to comment that 1) that’s a lot of racing to kick off the summer – rock on! and 2) I’m jealous of your abundant race choices. GOOD LUCK and HAVE FUN!

  17. Come visit the New Yorkers and do Toughman with me on Sept. 9th! Challenging and beautiful course plus you can bring your family for a weekend of NYC fun! :) And bring Liz too! :)

  18. I have no racing suggestions but I DID enjoy the update, house included. That bites… but fear not, this is the start of the busy time, no? Everyone looking to try and get settled before school starts again? Keep the faith!

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