Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Race Report: 2012 Tri The Illini

1st Place Age Group Award
On September 23, 2012 I participated in the 5th Annual Tri The Illini triathlon.  An event hosted by the Fighting Illini Triathlon Club which is also the official triathlon club of the University of Illinois.  It was fun to come back to this race having done it last year.  It is one of my favorite races because it is close to home, it is well organized, and the course is nice. 

Since I accomplished my goal of qualifying for the 2013 USA Triathlon Age Group National Championship race at last weekend’s race I had a slightly different mindset going into this race.  My main objectives were to place in my age group and try to run a sub 20 minute 5k off the bike.  I was also hoping for a strong bike with an average 23mph.  My week leading up to this race primarily consisted of run workouts, one swim workout, and no bike workouts.

Since this is basically a hometown race my family was able to come watch the race.  Triathlon is not the best spectator sport and can be boring to watch in person as you can't see your triathlete all the time.  My family doesn’t get to see a lot of my events due to early start times and travel.  I really appreciate my wife being there and dragging my kids out of bed so they could be there too.  Even my in-laws made it.

Here is a summary of my times:

Swim 300M - 0:05:42*
T1                    - 0:01:45
Bike 14.5 mi - 0:40:11 (21.6 mpg avg)
T2                    - 0:01:00
Run 5k           - 0:19:50 (6:24/mi)
Total                 1:08:28

Age Group 2/27 (awarded 1st)
Overall 6/363
*The official swim time was 6:28 but that includes the very long trek to the timing mat.  I stopped my watch just after exiting the pool.
It was a great race as I beat last year’s time by 4 minutes, ran a sub 20 minute 5k off the bike, and had an ok bike
Temperature at race start 39 degrees.


The 300 meter swim took place in the 50M ARC outdoor pool at the U of I.  The pool was heated.
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.  The race director and volunteers were pretty adamant about going off based on your race number.  This was good.  I never got passed and I did a lot of passing of others.  Apparently I need to fib more on my swim time at these time trial starts.  I passed one guy in the first 50 meters and he drafted me the rest of the way.  I know he was drafting because he was constantly touching my feet.  I tried to move over in the lane but he kept following.  I really wanted to slow down a bit in hopes that my kick would hit him where it hurts.  However, having unsportsmanlike conduct and letting someone else dictate my race are two things I try to avoid.
Once out of the pool you run up a flight of stairs and do some more running to the adjacent parking lot where transition was located and where the timing mat was located.


Besides the shock of being wet with temps in the 30's, T1 was uneventful.  Everything went smoothly.  Mounted bike good and got up to speed quickly heading south with a slight 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 over 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 23mph average.

The course was generally flat. There were a couple of decent hills just before the turnaround.  All large 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 by police and volunteers.

I got passed only once and I did a lot passing.  The guy that passed me was the one drafting me in the pool.

Again, pretty uneventful. 


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.

As I started the run I couldn’t feel my feet due to the cool temperatures and being wet on the bike.  After a half mile into the run I was able to a least feel my feet again. 
I really had no game plan for this run except that I wanted to run it as hard as I could.  I started fast and was able to keep a consistent pace throughout the run.  My triathlon bike has made a huge difference in my run.  My legs feel 10 times better coming off the tri bike than I experienced coming off my road bike.

I was able to pick off runners one by one which really kept me focused. I even blew by the dude drafting me in the pool.   Around mile 2.5 my mind was trying to shut my legs down, but I won that mental battle and increased my speed to the finish.

I was able to finally get under a 20 minute 5k run off the bike.  It felt really good to do that.  After a slightly disappointing bike I was thrilled to end the race with a strong run.   

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.  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 & advertisements from sponsors, nutritional samples, and a very nice event tech t-shirt.  The overall and age group
awards were a drinking glass with the event logo on it.  It’s a little different than other races where they handout medals.  I personally like the medals that are unique and actually have your place and age group on them. 

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

I’ve got one more triathlon and one more 5k planned for 2012. 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the post! I just finished my 3rd tri today, so I am just starting out and have 2 more this summer and was thinking about signing up for this race as well since I'm an alumna of U of I. I think you convinced me to sign up with this great summary and recommendation!