ITU Chicago Triathlon – June 29th

Chicago is set to host the 2015 International Triathlon Union World Championship.  With that in mind this year everyone was invited to race the event and try out the course in advance.  ITU had the pro women race on Saturday afternoon which I got to watch.  Sunday morning the amateurs started at 6:00 A.M.  My wave, Men’s 55-59 started at 7:00 A.M.  I knew in advance the competition would be close to a national championship event so I didn't think too much about where I might finish.

The swim, bike and run course are all pretty spectacular.  The swim started in Lake Michigan adjacent to the Buckingham Fountain along Grant Park.  Swim about ¼ mile north, then around a turn buoy and back south to the finish.  Water is very clear and a bit on the cold side at 65 degrees.  As scenery goes it was top notch.  Sail boats to the left, Chicago skyline to the right.  The last ½ mile I happened to notice someone walking along the park at the same speed I was swimming.  I didn't think much about it at first until I was seeing them the whole way my exact swim pace.  Swim course as a little longer than advertised and very few maker buoys, but who cares, it was fun.  At the swim exit they had a ramp and soon as I was out it was Ethan Page cheering for me.  He picked me out of the crowd in the water and was following along.  How cool is that!

You have just shy of ½ mile run out of the water and under the overpass to get to transition.  Crazy run in a wetsuit half peeled down and bare feet on concrete.  Transition to the bike went fairly quickly and I was out on the bike course.  Here we had 4 loops of a 10k bike course.  The most interesting part is in the tunnels which covered almost half the course.  Feel like you’re on the Tron Lightcycle grid going through here.  It’s fast, it’s fun and also features a hairpin turn half way through.  Good chance to slam the brakes at the last second see how fast and tight you can turn and then jump out of the saddle and accelerate.  The course outside the tunnels featured two more hairpin turns.  To be honest I wish we had more courses like this, pretty exciting to race on.

I had a little excitement at the bike finish.  They had a ramp up to transition which I thought was the dismount, but I was wrong.  They had a small red line on the road where you were supposed to stop.  When I passed it a course marshal yelled at me to stop.  I locked up the brakes and the rear disc wheel came off the ground two feet in the air.  Just about dumped it, but I saved it, jumped off and started running.  Made for a really crowd pleaser J

The run was 3 laps from transition, around the Buckingham Fountain and back.  Then another ½ lap and you finish beside the fountain.  It was flat, kind of hot, but with a big crowd cheering you on.  First lap near the fountain I got passed by my friend Ron Gierut.  He also happens to be the number 1 in my age group in the nation.  Turns out he was chasing the number 1 guy from Canada and caught him with 100 meters to go.  He took it in a drag race to the finish.  Wish I could have witnessed that. 

Felt decent until the last ½ lap where I felt in no uncertain terms like complete trash.  My run this year is just awful.  Somehow, someway I need to totally refocus on this.  Got to see Ethan a number of times on the course and he was there to take pictures at the finish.  Had a nice cool down walk with him before he headed back to pick up his girlfriend Carli and watch the men’s pro race.  Ended up 22 out of 67 in my age group, not good.  Maybe just the motivation I need to kick it into gear though.  Must admit thought I totally had a great experience.  
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