This weekend I headed over to Galena, IL (on the border of Iowa) to race the Galena Triathlon for the …I am trying to recall…I don’t know, 10th time? I love this race. We jokingly call it the Chicago World Championships because the competition is actually pretty deep and everyone is chomping at the bit to get racing after our long and arduous winter.
I felt relaxed, fit and ready to race. I am in a good place right now with my fitness because I am healthy, happy and doing Eagleman in less than 3 weeks, so this was a tune up and I was anxious to see how my fitness was coming along. As I prep for my 1/2 IM, there are always some key workouts that I can do or “feelings” that I have in my workouts when things are on target.
Galena is hilly. Not only hilly, but for us flatlanders, massively hilly. It is short with a 800meter swim, 17.7 mile bike and 4.5 mile run. Historically, I have complained (and not quietly) about the wave starts – there is NO Elite wave here and last year I was in the last wave. THIS year, I won the jackpot and was in the 2nd to last wave in the combined 35-44 year olds. Honestly, I was so happy to hear this. I had the opportunity to race head to head with Jenny Garrison and Elizabeth – THANK goodness. I had athletes to chase and I was very happy about that.
Elizabeth was talking smack all week. Typical Elizabeth style. I knew she was going to figure out a way to draft off me that ENTIRE swim, that witch. AND, let it be noted, she did a helluva job accomplishing that task! (smart girl).
Stacie, Karen, Elizabeth and I headed to Galena on Friday afternoon and stayed at my sorority sister’s house we always stay at. We love it – it is near the race finish and in the middle of nowhere quiet! Our trip was uneventful – which is the way we like it.
I changed up my race warm up for this race. I wanted to experiment with warm ups and decided to swim the swim course nice and easy for my warm up. The water was AWESOME. 65F degrees. I like really COLD water, so this was not that bad at all, but perfect to race in.
My wave was at 9:36am. We lined up and I grabbed Elizabeth and told her to get up front and start right next to me –> I knew she was going to draft off me, and that is OK but she is a good starter in OW, so I was trying to pull these girls into the start corral with me.
Gun went off and I got a great start. In fact, almost a false start, but after all my swim meets, I am used to going to so hard, so I did just that and I soon found myself leading the AG. THE WHOLE time I am thinking, “Where is Jenny G that slacker!” I could feel finger tips once in awhile and I knew Elizabeth was on my heels. I was actually just cruising along – after swimming the 1650 at State and Nationals, this felt like a breeze! I was working but totally solid and just felt amazing – fast, long and smooth – just what we want! (The swim warm up was perfect). I exited the water 1st and then little Elizabeth next to me — I said, “Nice swim!” and she just grunted at me. (She is crabby, eh?).
Out of T 1 is Jenny, Elizabeth and then me. The hill out of T1 is aggressive and then the climbs start. I have ONE job this entire ride. Do not lose sight of Elizabeth. She stood, I stood. She hammered, I hammered. I was about 15-20″ behind her the entire ride. She pulled a little ahead of me on the last 1 -2 mile climb and she was leaving her bike as I rolled into T2.
I worked so hard on my bike. AND this year the course was a little more open to descend safer -THANK goodness. I just worked on the left side of the road and just put my head down and suffered. I was on top of the pedals and was just feeling AWESOME again. I felt so good. AND I was having fun! I did not want the bike to end…because the run is way harder than the bike.
My transitions sucked, but they were still in the top 2-4 overall in the race (women), but I need to do some more work on them! I was out of T2 and onto the run. The first 1 1/2 miles were just up up up. I mean, grit your teeth and run hills. It was hot (80s) and I was so glad I had my little hand held drink thing…I needed the electrolytes! I could see Elizabeth putting room on me and I was just working and working and working – we all were!
Up and down and up and down. I felt really good though. I felt hot but otherwise, really good. I finished the race and ended up 1st AG by 9 minutes – I never saw anyone from my AG or Masters out there, so I was again so thankful I was in the 35-44 AG to keep me honest!
I just had so much fun! It was great to see all my friends and athletes there. I know many had a tough race with the hills and heat/humidity, but now everything else will feel easy this season. Everyone did so great and I was just loving racing my friends and some of the younger girls that keep things honest and fresh.
The race day would not be complete without a stop at Dairy Queen for a HUGE blizzard —> Chocolate ice cream, peanut butter, chocolate covered pretzels + PB cups. Elizabeth, Stacie, Karen and I were in HEAVEN.
Next up: Eagleman 70.3, my all time favorite race. Excited!