Monday, August 30, 2010

Chicago Triathlon

Last Sunday was the Chicago Triathlon. The Chicago Triathlon is the biggest triathlon in the world in terms of numbers of participants- over 6,000 athletes compete in this work-out extravaganza. To the right is a picture of a small portion of the "transition area". This is where the triathletes change out of their wetsuits onto their bikes, and then off their bikes and into their running gear. It is HUGE!

There are two distance options: Sprint and International.

Sprint Distance:

0.75K swim
22K bike
5K run

International (aka Olympic) Distance:

1.5K swim
40K bike
10K run

All 3 parts of the race start right outside our window. In past years I've watched a bit w/ my high-powered, motion-control binoculars before leaving for work, but this time since I was on nightfloat (working 7pm to 7am), I was able to drag my bleary eyed self down there to see some of the race in person. The picture to the right shows the the beginning of the run- our building is the skinny one in the middle.

It was really important to me to watch the race in person this year because Adam and I are hoping to do the International length race together next year. (Well, probably not exactly together, because he will swimming briskly while I'll be doing a combo of doggie-paddling, back-stroking, and praying to the swimming gods that I don't drown, but still, we'll be together in spirit.)

There are a few reasons why I want to start doing triathlons:

1) I'm worried that Adam's joints won't put up with distance running forever, so we need other exercise options.

2) The idea of swimming a long way terrifies me and I know, beyond a doubt, that there is no way I could swim 1.5K today. So, completing the swimming portion of a triathlon would be an accomplishment I would be very, very proud of. Probably on the level of completing my first marathon, though to be honest, I think I have way more fear of swimming than I ever did of running 26.2 miles. Just looking at the picture to the left of the swim start raises my blood pressure a little!

3) I think triathletes and soccer players are the most all-around in-shape athletes. I'd like to be all-around in-shape. (The camera man to the right is trying to get a close-up of that guy's pecs.)

4) I've pretty much decided that any race that starts within a 5 minute walk of my front door, I should probably participate in, otherwise I just seem lazy. To the left is a picture of my building at the swim start. See all the white swim caps clumped together? Those are triathletes waiting for the gun to start the swim.

5) Let's face it, I want to do an Ironman someday. I hear when you cross the finish line after this 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 marathon (yes, the only thing harder than running a marathon, is running a marathon AFTER a swim and a bike), they declare you an Ironman and I think it would be way cool to hear them announce "Val Nelson, you are an Ironman!" I would walk around feeling pretty tough for a while after that. Okay, probably I'd be limping around feeling like crap for a while after that but on the inside I'd feel tough;)

So, the triathlon. I'll be relying pretty heavily on the kindness of my husband, aka my new swim coach, to get me ready for the swim portion. Currently I can get from one side of the pool to the other, I can tread water, I can float on my back as long as I need to to avoid drowning, but I can't put my head under water and do the side breathing thing which is what I'll need to learn. Oh, boy, I have a lot to learn before next August!

Watching the triathlon today was super motivational. Thinking about all the work these triathletes have put into training, seeing how in shape many of them are (a testament to the ridiculous diet of most Americans is that fact that the majority of the folks I saw still had an extra 10 + lbs on board!), thinking about when many of these people made the exact decision I made today--> to commit to participating in their first triathlon.

And the spectators! I think I've proclaimed my absolute love of spectators (and especially my spectators!) before. The Chicago Triathlon is both spectator friendly and a huge spectator challenge all at once. For example, you can literally walk next to your triathlete as they swim along Monroe Harbor- great chance to spectate!......if you can find them amongst all the matching swim caps (you can a feel for the 'Where's Waldo' swimmer situation in the pic to the right)......You can easily watch your triathlete come out of the water after the swim and cheer them on along the transition- great chance to spectate!......but then you yourself have to sprint past the transition to the bike start if you want to see them off.....You can easily watch your triathlete during the run- great chance to spectate!......but then you will probably need to do some light jogging to beat your triathlete to the finish line. To the right you can see some random spectators jogging to see their favorite triathlete!

Any takers?

Just 364 days and I will (hopefully!) be that triathlete......

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