Racine 70.3 Race Report
Lake Michigan was actually a pretty enjoyable swim even with the 60.6 degree water temp that was announced race morning. My heart rate didn’t spike, which it typically does in water under 65. A short warm up and an easy pace to start is all I can think of to attribute my success.
At the top of the hill before PJ and I descended to the beach to start the swim, a gentleman named Ralph approached me with a question about how I was going to tow the raft. I said, “I’ll tell you if you carry the raft down for me?” I was glad that he accepted the deal since I didn’t know how I was going to take both PJ and the raft down the hill! Ralph not only carried the raft but he stayed with PJ while I swam a short out and back for my warm up.
After my warm up I parked PJ and the raft at the waters edge next to a tandem team from My Team Triumph of Wisconsin and met Andrew. Andrew was about six foot four and two hundred and forty pounds by my estimation and was his athlete’s guide for the day. I didn’t catch his athlete’s name but he was supported by several volunteers. One of the volunteers asked if had someone swimming next to PJ to monitor him. Suddenly I felt like the “bad parent” who let’s their child play unattended at a playground or a junior high party where there are no adults in attendance. I told her that the rafts we use are very stable and that we make sure that our athletes don’t have either the capacity or urge to escape the raft. I then made a point to avoid any possible shameful stare from her.
The two tandem teams and the two para triathletes all started with the pro women who quickly distanced themselves from us on the swim. Because of the rolling waves on the lake swim I periodically checked on PJ by lifting my head up higher than normal when breathing to my left side. I’d catch a glimpse of his head and feel the tug of the raft so I knew all was okay. I wondered if Team Triumph was anywhere near us. I could see the kayakers clapping for us as we passed by them and heard some words of encouragement. We were alone for most of the 1.2 mile swim which was nice not having to maneuver around bodies. The buoys were easy to sight.
Coming out of the water and to the beach I did not have anyone to help with transition as PJ’s mother, Cindy, has a. Um knee is unable to walk comfortably for long periods. Another kind stranger at the swim exit offered to carry the raft for me after I placed PJ in his jogging stroller. My hands were full pushing PJ up the sandy beach so I was very grateful for her offer.
As we headed out on the bike course through a residential neighborhood a police officer at one of the intersections said to me, “Sir! Sir! You have to get off the bike course there is a race in progress!” I smiled at her and said, “We’re one of the racers.” She apologized profusely and I thought how easily it would be to assume, as she did, that we were not one of the triathletes racing. When we came back by her 54 miles later she again said how sorry she was for yelling at me I teased her and said, “You owe me a beer!” She said, Yes! Yes I do!” Later, on the run, we passed by her again four more times and the teasing continued…Me: “Hey! Don’t forget that beer!” Her: “Let’s make it two beers!” “Me: “I’m ready for those beers!” Her: “Put it on my tab!” Me: “Where’s your tab?” Her: No answer. She stood me up and I had to buy my own pint that night.
PJ giggled some on the bike course and was entertaining himself by throwing his plastic water bottle out of the trailer. I stopped one time to retrieve it and then from there on out I wasn’t going to put up with his shenanigans. He also reached into the side pouches of the trailer and chucked my CO2 cartridge which I didn’t stop to retrieve. Good thing I didn’t get a flat!
The run was flat except for two short hills and just as on the bike we received lots of positive attention. We saw our new friend, Ralph, on the run who looked kinda tired. Andrew appeared to be settling in for a nice 13.1 mile walk with his athlete. I remember seeing a girl on the bike that when she passed us I noticed some pretty artistic tattoos on her shoulders and arms. We came up to her on the run and I told her that was some pretty nice ink she had. I’m not a fan of tattoos for myself but it never hurts to compliment something that someone works hard for and was tasteful. She told me, “Thank you! My name is Alyssa.” I found out they were six years in the making and she was from Chicago. I commented how much that must have hurt over that period of time and she said, “Not as much as this half Ironman!” This was only her second time riding 56 miles on her bike…ever. We passed by an overlook with a view of Lake Michigan and I told her I was going to jump back in after the race. She said she wanted to jump in now. As we ran through an aid station she must have stopped to refuel as I grabbed what I needed on the run. I wished we could have kept up the conversation as it was making the time go by quicker.
When we finished, Cindy took PJ while I walked out to the beach and waded back into the nice 60 degree water up to my belly button. It felt soooo good! From there I went to the public shower to rinse off the lake water and linger under the cool shower water.
I’ve really enjoyed the past two triathlons that I’ve done out of state. The first in Philadelphia, near my home town, and this one in Racine, Wisconsin. What made these both so enjoyable were the cultures and the people that I was able to interact with. Midwesterners are very friendly. In Wisconsin I saw a lot of farmland but couldn’t identify the different varieties of cheese they were growing! 😉