Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Race Report: 2011 Tri The Illini

On October 2nd I participated in the 4th Annual Tri The Illini.  An event hosted by the Fighting Illini Triathlon Club which is also the official triathlon club of the University of Illinois.  This would be my last triathlon race of the 2011 season.  This race, and my previous race, where strategically put on my calendar.  I wanted to qualify for the 2012 age group national championship race and wanted to do it early enough so I could plan my 2012 race schedule better.  Since I already qualified with my last race I was excited about doing this event for fun and gain momentum for the 2012 season.

I was thrilled to have my family there cheering me on.  It's always nice to hear familiar voices in the heat of battle.  My parents, my in laws, and my wife and kids made it.  Triathlon is not the best spectator sport and can be kind of boring to watch in person because you can't see your triathlete all the time.  So to have the fam there for support was great.

The goal for every race to finish in the top 3 of my age group.  Prior to the race I looked to see who was racing in my age group and knew I would have to have a good race to place in my AG.  I finished 3rd out of 26 in my age group, 18th out of all 347 age group athletes, and 38th out of the 442 total participants.  The race had 3 divisions that consisted of age groupers, collegiate, and relay.  I was pleased with my result despite losing second place in AG by only 12 seconds.  On the other hand a top10% finish in my age group qualified me for nationals.  So I guess I am doubly qualified for nationals.

Here is a summary of my times:

Swim 300M - 0:07:53
T1                - 0:01:08
Bike 14.5 mi - 0:41:45 (20.8mpg avg)
T2                - 0:00:54
Run 5k         - 0:20:44 (6:41/mi)
Total             1:12:23

My pre race routine was the same as it is for every race.  The only exception for this race was with the temperatures in the 30's that morning it forced me to do more warm up in the pool rather than my normal run warm up.


The swim took place in the 50M ARC pool at the U of I. 

Everyone was lined up by your race number which was based on your estimated swim time when you registered.  Participants were sent off every 5 seconds.  Based on my previous race with a similar start of every 5 seconds I was curious to see how the congestion would be in the pool.  As I watched there was some congestion but it wasn't as bad as my last race.  The race director and volunteers were pretty adamant about going off based on your race number.  This was good.  My last race your number was also based on your estimated swim time.  However, at that race they said you could self seed yourself.  There a lot of people, that were slow swimmers, that moved themselves up because they just wanted to get started sooner which caused a lot of congestion.

Overall good swim.  My watch recorded a swim of 6:45 for the 300M which was expected.  The official swim time includes the long run out of the ARC, up a flight of stairs, and some more running to the adjacent parking lot where transition was located to where the timing mat was located.

Out of the pool and running of of the building.  Holly cow, it's freaking cold outside.  Soaking wet and about 37 degrees out.  Whewww.  Just keep moving, just keep moving.


Coming out of the indoor pool then along the
outdoor pool deck then up the flight of stairs.
 Besides the shock of being wet with temps in the 30's, T1 was uneventful.  Everything went smoothly.  I had laid out a long sleeve cycling jersey and cycling gloves just in case I wanted them.  I made a game time decision to not use that stuff in an effort to save time.

Mounted bike good and got up to speed quickly heading south with a tailwind.


The bike route takes you south of campus and back.  The first half of the 14.5 miles was with a tailwind.  The tailwind and the sun helped me dry out quickly.  By mile 2 I was completely dry and averaging around 25mph with the tailwind. 

After the turnaround at mile 7.25 the trip back to campus would be with a head wind.  I think I averaged around 18-20mph or so on the way back.  Lost some time on the last 7.25 miles which resulted in my overall mph average being below my anticipated 22mph average.

The course was generally flat. There were a couple of decent hills just before the turnaround.  All pot holes and bumps in the road were clearly marked and the volunteers did a great job in letting us know of the hazards.  All intersections were manned my police and volunteers.

I lost a little time on some of the turns when there were other competitors that took them reaallllly slow which caused me to lose a lot of momentum.

I never got passed and I did a lot passing.  Swimming is my weakness so it's always fun to fly by those efficient swimmers on the bike course.    

Again, pretty uneventful.  This is the second race going with no socks and it worked to perfection again. 


The 5k run took you through the U of I campus.  It was a really enjoyable, relaxing, and scenic run.  There were a lot of turns but they were clearly marked and every turn had a volunteer pointing where to go.

I was looking forward to this run.  Mainly because I wanted to find out if my triathlon run in my last event was a fluke or if I have really improved.  I had the same approach this race where I would do a ladder pace.  Start out at a comfortable pace to get my legs back and then increase pace with each mile.  It usually takes me about a mile to get my run legs back after biking.

I started off way to fast the first 300 yards.  I was pacing about a 6:05 pace so I backed it down to a 6:50/mi pace, then mile 2 was a 6:45 pace, the 3rd mile was at 6:31, and the final 0.1 mile was just a sprint to the finish. 

This strategy worked again.  I averaged a 6:41/mi pace for the 5k run.  I beat my run from my last triathlon!!!  I think I have finally found a strategy that works for these triathlon runs.  My brick training is paying off.  A new triathlon run PR.


This was a great event, I highly recommend it, and will likely do it again next year. 

The race was well organized and had tons of volunteers.  The volunteers were very helpful and encouraging.  I tried to thank each one of them during my run because without them the race doesn't happen.  Great job volunteers!! 

Race results were posted in a timely manner and the awards ceremony was done shortly after the last participant had finished. 

Post race food was good.

Race swag consisted of the usual coupons & advertisement from sponsors, nutritional samples, and a very nice event tech t-shirt.  The first 400 participants also received tri tats (temporary race # tattoos) which was a nice touch.

Good swim venue, good bike route, and a great run route through campus.  Great event!

I've got some time off now to think about which races I want to do next year.  I really like the sprint triathlons, but I think it's time for a new challenge, so probably some olympic distance races and maybe even an Ironman 70.3 next year. 

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