Monday, July 12, 2010

Lifetime Fitness Minneapolis Triathlon

I just got back home from Minneapolis, so I thought I better blog about my weekend while it's still fresh on my mind. What an amazing weekend it was! Ming and I left bright and early on Thursday morning after maybe 3 hours of sleep to head to Minneapolis. I was trying to finish my thesis revisions before Thursday, so because I was preoccupied with that, I was still packing my bike box til 1am Thursday morning (Thanks AJ for lending me your Biknd Helium).

Once we arrived in Minneapolis, our Best Western Dakota Ridge shuttle picked us up from the airport and brought us back to the hotel, which just so happened to be the host hotel for all of the Pro athletes racing on Saturday. In the U.S., they distinguish between Pros, Elites, and Age Groupers. Essentially, if you want to race Pro (and not get completely slaughtered) you will very likely be an Olympian, be an Olympic medallist, race on the BG World Cup Circuit, be an Ironman Champion, or all of the above. Needless to say, I raced as an Elite on the weekend! The second that Ming and I stepped foot into the hotel, we were greeted by the Manager, Matt, who was just so friendly and larger than life to begin with, and once he found out that we were "elite" athletes, that was it, he must have taken a solemn oath to treat us better than gold for the rest of our stay in Minneapolis, because that is exactly what he and his staff did!

Ming and I were chauffeured to the Lifetime Fitness (LF) soon after we arrived to go for a quick dip in the pool. I just have to say that going to the gym in the US is not quite the same as going to the gym in Canada. The LF in MN was ridicules! There were people constantly buffering the floors. There were on site masseuses available. There was a snack bar with protein bars and nutritional supplements for post workout. Get this-there were tanning beds in the change rooms! Americans make going to the gym an event that they have to look nice for-you've got to show some skin, and boy you better be tanned! That whole experience was hilarious and fun, but we didn't get the entire picture of how much Americans go all out and sensationalize everything until we got dropped off at the Mall of America after our swim. We were absolutely blown away! There is an amusement park in the middle of the mall, an Underwater Aquarium, a comedy club, and the list goes on...at that moment, I felt like I was a tourist at an all inclusive resort!

On Friday, we tried to stay down to earth and avoid the gym and malls. Our gracious host Matt was generous enough to personally drive us down to the Convention Centre in Minneapolis to pick up our race packets, attend the pre-race meeting, and enjoy the expo. Also on Friday morning, Matt introduced us to the Owner of the hotel, who also happened to be a fellow triathlete. We felt a bit ridiculous, because we were being introduced to everyone and being treated like celebrities...something that doesn't happen to the same extent here in Canada that's for sure. I did have the opportunity to meet my Blue Seventy sponsor in person at the expo, which was really great, because so far, Mike and I have only been in contact over email. In the afternoon, I went for a short ride close to the hotel followed by a short run just to test the equipment out and loosen up. We were taken to an organic and fresh pasta bar for our pre-race dinner, and it was amazing.

Race morning started with a 4am wake up call, since the Elite women were set to start at 7:09 am. Ming and I got to sit on the "Pro Athlete" school bus that took us to the race in the morning. We got to sit among the likes of Greg Bennett, Mary Beth Ellis, Mark Sharbot, etc on the way there in the morning, and with Craig Alexander on the way home after the race! The transition area was massive, since it had to accomodate something like 2500 athletes. After a quick bike warm up, I headed to the water just wearing my bathing suit, since it was going to be my second non-wetsuit race ever. I was certainly more prepared and unfazed by it this time around!

The swim started on the beach, so you had to run out to the water and just dive in once it was deep enough. The swim was just going to be one big 1500m clockwise loop. By now I've gotten used to the aggressive nature of swimming with a competitive field, so I just battled it out and stayed with the 7 time defending champion of this race for the whole duration of the swim. Three of us ladies stuck together more or less the whole way, and my time was 30s faster than two weeks ago at Coteau du lac, where I did my first non-wetsuit swim. Once I exited the water and was heading toward transition, the race announcer announced my name and gave everyone a list of my previous race results and seemed very excited that I was a Canadian athlete racing at this event. Even more exciting for me, was the fact that he declared that I may be "a contender" in this race! Cool! It was nice to hear someone call me "a contender"! Even all the volunteers in transition were calling me by first name when directing me towards the bike out exit.

I was very aggressive on the bike, because at that point in the race, I thought I might be in 2nd place behind the defending champion. I did not know that there were two other very fast women who were ahead of both Cathy and I after the swim. My goal going into the race was to go for a podium finish, so that I could qualify for the U.S Open and get subsidized for racing there. Anyway, the bike course was very bumpy the whole way, because the roads were cracked and riddled with pot holes. There were also quite a few technical turns that were sharp or hairpin in nature that forced you to ride very diligently. In the end, I was very happy with my bike split, which worked out to be 35.7km/hr-my fastest split yet for 40km in an Olympic tri (no drafting allowed). With such a great swim and bike under my belt, I apparently didn't quite leave enough in the tank for the 10km run that was left! My legs felt like lead and a bit crampy within the first mile, and I thought the feeling might work itself out with some time, but it was not to be. I hung on for the first 3 miles and was still on pace for a good time for myself, but the second 5km loop was just painful! One other Elite woman passed me on the run, so I ended up coming in 5th in the Elite women category. Not bad for my first race in the LF Triathlon Series, but still a little ways off from claiming 3rd place for a U.S Open qualifying spot.

This coming weekend I get a break from racing, so that means I start a really hard week of training starting tomorrow and ending next Wednesday in preparation for a draft legal race in Magog, Quebec. My next crack at the LF Triathlon Series will be August 28th at the Chicago Triathlon, but I am definitely planning to go back to Minneapolis next year. I highly recommend this race to all triathletes out there!

No comments:

Post a Comment