Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Backyard Fun: Lake In The Hills Triathlon

Don't you just love those races where you can roll out of bed and literally ride your bike across the street to transition? Oh.. you don't have one of those? Well.. I DO. 

The Lake In The Hills Triathlon is quite possibly my favorite triathlon of the year for a variety of reasons:
  • It's the cheapest triathlon entry I've ever seen.
  • The finish line is less than a quarter mile from my house. 
  • It's a SMALL local event.
  • It's the only race of the year I can count on seeing (and racing against) almost all my local triathlon friends and it truly gives a "backyard triathlon" feel. 
This race is a touch longer than a sprint. {15.5 miles on the bike compared to the normal 12.4, and a 4 mile run compared to the normal 3.1} But it's anything but easy. There are some significant hills on both the bike and the run that can leave you panting like a dog the entire race if you're not careful. 

Coming off of Leon's Triathlon and the Grand Rapids Half Iron only a week before, my body was anything but rested. Ideally, a weekend of relaxed mileage might have been a better idea. But I just can't help myself. The thought of waking up on Sunday and stepping out my front door for a long ride and watching the race fly by my house made me sad. And, it was another chance to race next to my brother.

By 5:01am, the Strugglebus {Todd, Russ and Shane} and Brittany started to make their way to my house and used my street as their parking lot. The transition set up for this race is also a little funky. There are separate transitions for T1 and T2. So parking is kind of 0 fun if you don't live within a quarter mile from T2 like myself. Just before 5:30am we hopped on our bikes and road the treacherous quarter mile to T2 so we could drop off our run gear and get body marked. From there, we hopped back on our bikes and road to the lake and T1 to set up our bikes and prep for the water. 

The "no girls allowed" pre-race photo

As we were setting up our bikes I begin to hear the familiar voices. First, the loudest and deepest voice, Lance Lane. I look up and he's standing with the 2 quietest, Bill Gagne and Terry McKenna. Today, these 3 musketeers were having some fun as a relay team. Our conversations in transition were all triathlon based along with some healthy competitive banter. It wasn't long before I turned my head and Stephen Lynch had joined our circle. These guys all might have kids that are practically my age, but man do they offer some excitement and laughs in the triathlon community. {When I say they have kids my age, I actually graduated high school with Terry's son.} Not to mention, they are all pretty great athletes. Any day I've ever spent logging miles with these guys, I always find myself chasing the pack. 

With each passing minute the familiar faces kept coming. Jon Crane! I happened to run into him the weekend prior on the Grand Rapids run course. At the time he was practically bent in half and having a rough day in all 3 disciplines. Today, he looked like he was ready to roll. Julio Zuleta! Another Strugglebus member who recently had a new baby boy. His life revolved around 3am feedings and diaper changes making him unavailable for a lot of group training over the winter. He worked out on the babies schedule. The John's! Mielnikowski and Ogden. John Mielnikowski also competed in IMTX for his first Ironman and was ready to rock again today. 

Pretty soon we were all lined up (self seeded) for the start. Two athletes entered the water at a time, 3 seconds apart. What was the lineup? Of the Strugglebus members, Todd and I entered the water first {as Russ calls us, the whipper snappers}. Right behind us, Russ and Mark {alpha and omega}. Then, Shane and Julio {the sherpas}. 

The Swim: {1/2 mile}

I laughed as the William Tell Overture played over the sound system when we entered the water. Since the swim is only a half mile, I wanted to really test myself! My usual swim on this course is about 15 minutes and some change. My goal today: 14 minutes. Almost instantly I started to choke as I took in a mouthful of water when Todd and I dove in. You rookie, what the hell is wrong with you? The first turn came pretty quick and thank God it did. The sun was deadly and once you made the turn it disappeared. Just before the final turn I noticed a guy in front of me wearing Zoot wetsuit that had yellow lettering on the sleeves. Mark. He was probably 2-3 strong strokes ahead of me. I did the best I could to make the pass but his gorilla arms are just to long compared my stubs. I stood up to exit the water and saw him 15 feet ahead of me ripping off his swim cap. I was only pissed that he had beaten me out of the water for a split second because I quickly realized I had just swam the half mile in 13 minutes. 

THE BIKE: {15.5 miles}

I chased Mark out of transition and was about 5 seconds behind him. IMMEDIATELY exiting transition you have to climb a pretty decent hill. I remembered to set my bike gears before the race so I wouldn't crawl up the hill with 0 momentum coming out of the water. As I chugged up the first hill I noticed Ian and Lindsey out of the corner of my eye. My posse made it! I made it to the top of the hill and Mark had already gained enough speed that there was no way I'd catch him. I was hoping to maybe sneak up next to him within the first mile and then let him go. But, I'd have to wait until I found him on the run. 

We weaved our way out of the lake area and crossed Randall Road. Less than a quarter mile up the road stood Mom and Dad at the end of our street! Like I said, we practically live on the course. Just after I passed them, I noticed a guy behind me about to make a pass. This guy was.... 1. Older. 2. Riding a 1980's Trek road bike that looked to be made of steel that he put aero bars on. 3. Wearing hiking shoes. 4. Wearing a helmet that resembled an over sized packing peanut, pretty much just white foam. 5. Was FLYING. I could not believe it. I was holding a steady 20mph on a gradual incline and this guy passed me like I wasn't moving. Me and this guy were not over. 

I made my way through the next couple miles and continued the cat and mouse game with this fellow. Soon I started to see the cyclists on the way back to transition. First, Bill Gagne, cyclist for the 3 musketeer relay team. Then, Stephen Lynch shortly behind Bill. And then, my starting buddy, Todd. He had made some solid ground, clearly leaving me in the dust. The hills kept coming and so did the competition! I saw Mark was ahead of me by maybe only a minute or 2 at most. Meanwhile, my old-man-Trek buddy wasn't letting me relax. It wasn't until mile 12 that I made my final pass and didn't see him the rest of the day. 

You can almost see our house in the picture..

...but not this one.

Just before transition I saw my family again and this time with Jess, her dad, and dog Onyx! The whole crew made it out! I was a little worried my bike legs wouldn't be alive due to back to back race weekends plus a long ride the day prior. But I surprised myself and ended up finishing the bike in 45 minutes with a 20.3mph average. Now I just needed them to get me through 4 miles on foot!

The Run: {4 miles}

Transition 2 took less than 60 seconds and I was on my way. I saw Brittany's mom and dad as I turned into the neighborhoods. And then I took a look at what was ahead. There were only a few athletes ahead of me but it didn't take long for me to make my way past them. Within the first mile of the run I heard simultaneous foot steps behind me. In unison. I was about to get passed by 2 GIRLS, age 13 and 17. But they looked far younger. I was convinced I had just been passed by 2 pre-teens and considered asking them if they were old enough to be left home alone. As they passed me they yelled, "Go Sammy's!" It took me a second, but I realized I was wearing the Sammy's kit I had received when I raced Leon's. How do these little girls know me? They really didn't, but they were so sweet that they acted like they did. They were holding a pretty solid pace and I tried to match them, but their long legs (they obviously hit a growth spurt that I never did) were always a few strides ahead of me. Thankfully I was able to keep them in my site until the end. 

It didn't take long for the turn around athletes to make their way to me. First, Lance Lane, the runner leg of the 3 musketeer relay team. Then, Stephen Lynch, movin' at a brisk pace. Immediately behind him, Todd. Todd cheered me on but there was no way I could respond. All oxygen was being used at the moment. I made my way up the big hill to the turn around and I see Laura Crane (Jon Crane's wife) on the corner cheering, camera in hand. My lungs were on fire and I still had a half mile climb up the big hill before it was smooth sailing. As I'm 3/4 the way up the hill I spotted Jon Crane and Mark immediately behind him. "Mark, here comes the assassin!" Jon yelled. I was able to muster a smirk but that was about it. 

I made the turn around, relaxed on the downhill, and finally let loose. I could see Mark. I could also see Russ making his way up the hill. And shortly behind him, Shane and Julio. Finally, I made my way back to Laura and she yelled, "Mark is literally 100 feet in front of you!" Yea, I see him. I dunno what my legs have left though. At that point I had less than a mile to go and the gap was closing between Mark and I, but not enough. My only saving grace was that he had no idea I was behind him and that he might relax a little. Unfortunately he was looking pretty strong and my mini surges weren't doing the trick. Maybe 200 yards before the finish line he turns his head to check behind him and spots me. "Oh shit!" he yells. Damn it, I'm done. His daddy long legs took off and left me in the dust. I did the best I could but he was long gone. The trail opened up and spectators emerged. I heard my name from all over the field - Ian, Lindsey, Jess, Todd and his wife Lindsay. 4 miles complete in 30 minutes flat. I crossed the line exactly 16 seconds behind Mark with a total finish time of 1:32:39. A 9 minute course PR from last year. 

Mark takes the cake this weekend in 1:32:23

Everything burns. I prefer longer races.

Post race was spent mingling and laughing with the group. Now a days it's hard for us to get together. Families, varying schedules, and lives take precedence. That's why I love this race. No matter what, it brings us together. 

The 'bus!' (Todd snagged a 3rd place age group finish!)

RyBread Racing athletes had a SOLID showing!

Mark walked away with a 3rd place age group finish, and I finished 1st in my age group (8th overall). We walked home with our hardware and dreamed of a shower and some shut eye. But of course, we had more miles to log. We laced up our running shoes and took off. 

I'll let him think he's cool for now.

The 3 Musketeers Relay Team wins!

Stephen snags 2nd in his age group! (what's he looking at?)

Mark's first triathlon podium finish!

It's been a pretty crazy 3 weeks. My body was able to heal only 3 weeks after Ironman Texas and then carry me across 3 separate race finish lines, back to back to back, setting a PR in each of them. So for now, you won't be hearing from me for a while. I'm going to log some serious miles. Spend some more time with my better half now that I'm not racing every weekend. Go visit some family and watch one of my favorite cousins get married on top of a gorgeous mountain in Colorado. But don't worry, Lake Placid is right around the corner. I'll be ready ;)


Thursday, June 16, 2016

Grand Rapids Half Iron: Sibling Rivalry

My brother has had a pretty rough go with his training for IMLP (Ironman Lake Placid) coming up in just over a month. He works 11-12 hours a day, 5 days a week, and most Saturday's for about 4+ hours. He's always exhausted when he gets home and can easily be talked out of any workout he has to do. But with less than 6 months until race day, he does it anyways. I knew he was going to want a couple races under his belt before IMLP, specifically a half Ironman. It's a good way to measure where your training is at and how much work you have to do before the big day. Since IMLP is in mid July, the number of half Ironman races beforehand are limited. But the Grand Rapids Half Ironman was on June 12th, exactly 6 weeks out from IMLP. Winner. 
"You mean my first triathlon of the year is gonna be a half Ironman?" - Mark
"Yea, so what. You want your first triathlon of the year to be Lake Placid? Mine was Texas" - Megan

Mark and I were invited to stay with Jacqui and Ryan's teammate, Alex, at his families lake house the night before the race. Unfortunately my lucky charm, Rob, couldn't make this trip. We arrived late afternoon and had just enough time to unload the car before it was time to hop on the boat for a small cruise around the lake. We dumped Ryan, Alex, and his wife Dani in the water so they could get in some strokes while Mark, Jacqui, and I cruised with the rest of Alex's family. After our little outing, we headed back to make dinner while the boys played with the bikes in the basement and got everything prepped for race day. There were some science experiments going on in that basement and they were way over my head. So I hung out with the ladies in the kitchen.

Beautiful Sunset on the lake

It was a pretty short night. We were up later than we should have been and our alarms were set for an awful time. My alarm started with 2. And don't forget, we were in Michigan, Eastern time. So in reality, our bodies were waking up at 1:45am on Sunday morning. Woof. It was about an hour drive from Alex's lake house to the race site and our goal was to be on the road at 4am. The cars were packed with bikes, athletes, and spectators by 4:01am and we were officially on the road. Once we got there, Alex's wife, mother, and aunt dropped us off at transition and then grabbed our keys to go park the cars. (These people were absolutely amazing. I mean, I had JUST met them and they housed me, fed me, and were now valeting my car.) 

Once inside transition we immediately began to unpack our bags and set everything up. It didn't take long for Mark to freak out. 
"Sister - I forgot all my bike nutrition in the car!"
Just to put this into perspective for you all, bike nutrition might be most important in a race like this. Coming out of the water your body needs calories ASAP. And continuing the calorie intake throughout the bike is critical to making it to the run in any sort of good condition. And Mark had left that bottle in the car. The car that Alex's family was parking for us in an undisclosed location. I'd freak out too if I were him. Thankfully his family was still with the car and was able to obtain the bottle in enough time and get it to Mark. I had already decided that if the bottle didn't make it in time to transition closing I was going to give him my nutrition bottle (even though it probably wouldn't be enough calorie-wise, but better than nothing) and I'd take real food on the bike and make it work. Thank God plan B was unnecessary.

Please note the green shirt hanging from the tree - Alex engineered this idea to help us find our bike racks ASAP out of the water

Pre-Race Jitters!

Ready to race!

We made our way to the water and said goodbye to Mark, Ryan, and Alex since they started 10 minutes before the women. Jacqui and I hung out with one of her other teammates, Lauren, and waited our turn to enter the water. Those 10 minutes between the men's start and the women's start had my stomach in knots. I love to race. Absolutely love the thrill, the adrenaline, all that comes with it. But when I know my brother is out on the course too, my nerves skyrocket. I want nothing more than for him to do well, but my slightly overly OCD mind has me thinking all the not so good stuff. You see, I've seen some pretty gnarly accidents in the triathlon world. And when Mark and I share the course together and I pass an ambulance on the side of the road as they take away an athlete, my heart literally drops to my stomach. "Omg, is that Mark? No it's not. Good. What if that happened to him somewhere else on the course? Megan calm down, he's fine. BUT YOU DON'T KNOW THAT FOR SURE!" Call me overprotective, his second mother, whatever you want. But I can't help it. He's the only brother I have. So when I had 10 minutes to wait for my start after the boys took off, I knew exactly why my body was so anxious. 


I'm all about an uneventful swim. And that's exactly what this was. Super smooth water. Kinda like swimming on glass. Not an overly crowded wave start. The entire swim seemed to go by so quick for me. I made it to the turn around and then it hit me. I was blinded by the light. The sun was out for blood today. So I did the best I could to swim close to the buoys and not follow the blinded swimmers. I got to the swim exit and glanced at my watch - 38 minutes. Not where I wanted to be in the swim, but it was still under 40 so I'm good with it. I look up as I'm running out of the water and the first person I see in front of me: Jacqui. We made our way to transition and it wasn't until we were in transition and I could tell she was looking for our bike rack that I said something. "Keep going Jac, a few more rows!" 

"Oh hiiiiii!" - Jacqui as she tries to run to her bike with her head on a swivel.

We made it to our bikes and almost simultaneously pulled down out wetsuits to our ankles and grabbed our bikes. I noted that Mark's bike was gone, meaning he had hit the road already. I knew he was (slightly) worried that I'd pass him up on the swim, but I was confident with a 10 minute lead that he'd be long gone by the time I exited the water. I watched Jacqui take off about 10 seconds before me and it was time for some fun. 

BIKE:{56 miles}

This bike course is mostly flat. There is a small 5 mile stretch where the hills roll a little, but other than that, it's smooth sailing. It's also 28 miles out and 28 miles back on the same road. So essentially, you are doing the same 28 miles twice. The Half Iron athletes also share the beginning of the bike course with the Sprint and Olympic athletes, meaning their turn arounds happens in the middle of our course. Dangerous? Perhaps. 

I took off and found my sweet spot and immediately noticed the scenery. Whoever said farmlands and countryside isn't beautiful doesn't know what they're talking about. I absolutely enjoyed the entire course. I took in some calories and sunk into aero right away and was ready to cruise. Just before the Sprint distance turn around, I see 2 athletes in front of me. One was slowing down, clearly about to turn, while the other is heading straight. I can tell this from about probably 15 yards behind them. But somehow, the guy going straight paid 0 attention to the lady making a left hand turn and completely crashed right into her back wheel and they both bit the pavement. HARD. There were 2 police officers on the side of the road that immediately started to run towards them and I had to yell and put my hand up so they wouldn't cross the street. Otherwise, I would have taken them down too and we'd all be screwed. "So we're 6 miles into the bike and already I'm watching accidents and preventing them at the same time. I'm sure this is a good omen." 

After that, I constantly had my head on a swivel. There was a group of athletes that insisted on passing me and then IMMEDIATELY cutting me off every time. Of course I re-passed them every time. The 3rd time this happened was the last. I made sure to dig a little deeper and pull far enough ahead that I was out of their reach. 

Right about mile 22 I saw the lead cyclist pass me. (My mile 22, his mile 34). Guess what, it wasn't Ryan. Neither was the 2nd cyclist. Or the 3rd. I took notice of the time on my watch when the first cyclist passed me and when I saw Ryan approaching me in 4th place, I saw that he was behind about 2.5 minutes. Piece 'o cake. This ain't his first rodeo. Alex was immediately behind Ryan in 5th place. I had 0 worries for these guys. 

Only a few miles before I hit the mile 28 turn around I saw Jacqui pass me, looking pretty strong. I had been saying my prayers for her daily in hopes that her body would hold up for the run. Only time would tell. And RIGHT behind her was MARK! He saw me and gave me a little "HEY-O!" I didn't think I was at all nervous until I saw him. Because once I saw him, I felt a like a weight had been lifted. He's kickin' ass and takin' names. Now it's your turn. 

I made the turn around and hit some nice little head winds. I stayed low and let my legs take control. I was making more passes than I'm used to and by the time I hit the last 5 miles, I was pretty much riding alone. 2 hours and 52 minutes later (19.5mph avg), it was time to run!

Run:{13.1 miles}

I took off and one thing was for sure, my legs were definitely warmed up and ready to run. My first mile was way to fast and I knew it, clocking in at 7:45. Let your legs have fun for a mile and then it's time to settle in. Psych. Mile 2: 7:57. Mile 3: 7:49. So ummmm maybe this is gonna be a REALLY good day?

I was well on track to PR for the day, but until I hit the road on the run I never like to get my hopes up. You just never know how your legs will respond coming off the bike. But today it looked like I was well on my way. Just as I was approaching mile 1 I saw a motorcycle crawling on the other side of the road. Who is he ushering to the finish line!? The gap closed between myself and the motorcycle as I saw Ryan just behind. And he looked like he was hurting. But he had less than a mile to go and that W was his. Just another day at the office for that kid. Shortly after that the course turns left and you run through a long cul-de-sac. As I was about to make my way back onto the main road, I see Alex cruisin' along to the finish line. Yep, boys. Makin' me look all slow over here. 

I started to really find my groove after I saw Alex when all of a sudden I hear someone yell, "Go Megan!" Jacqui. On the other side of the street. Walking. On the sidewalk. 

"What are you doing??" - Me as I extend my arm and point at her walking.
"Oh, it's ok. I'm done."  
It was like deja vu. We had been in this exact position only 1 short month prior in Texas and it still hurt my heart knowing that this girl wasn't able to compete the way I know she can. I sent my love via a blown kiss and told her that I was almost positive Ryan had just snagged another win. 

I kept chugging along and it wasn't long before I saw Mark heading my way as he was rounding up his first loop. {His mile 4.25, my mile 2.75} He was moving faster than I've seen him ever move on the run. And he looked damn good too. Damn, you're gonna have to do some work if you want to catch him. Now you have to remember, he had a 10 minute head start on me. But passing him KNOWING he had a lead was just what this sibling rivalry ordered. 

I did my best to pick up the pace. It wasn't easy because just after I saw Mark, the hills started to come into play. And I had to pee. Like, really bad. Go ahead and stop in the porta potty if you want, but you're gonna lose time and he might pull ahead of you. I'll wait. Time to test out what my bladder muscles are really made of. As I was nearing the end of my first loop {mile 6.25} I saw Mark heading out for his 2nd loop {mile 7}. He still had a fresher look than I cared for, but that just meant he was getting stronger. Good for him. I had closed the gap a little, but still had some work to do if I was going to cross the finish line before him! And he wasn't going to make it easy on me. 

Every step I took I could feel my bladder SCREAMING. Just before mile 10 you hit an aid station followed by the turn around. Mark was leaving the aid station as I was approaching it. He didn't look so happy this time. The fatigue was starting to hit. Less than a quarter mile. I made the pass just after the aid station on one of the nasty hills and gave him a little love tap on the butt as I plowed past him. 

The last 3 miles I got my 2nd wind. I made sure to put some space between Mark and myself. I managed a 1:46:59 run split (8:10 avg) with an overall finish time of 5:23 - a 25 minute PR. I rushed back to the finish shoot to wait for Mark. I had no idea if he was right behind me or not. 7 minutes later, Mark crossed the finish line - with a total finish time of 5:40 - a 30 minute PR. I rushed to find Mark past the finish line and Ryan had already beaten me to him. My heart was so full. I couldn't be happier for Mark. He deserved every minute of that PR. He immediately ripped off his watch and asked me to go through his splits. It was obvious - he was pretty damn happy too. 

We met up with the rest of the group, grabbed our gear and headed out to the most anticipated part of the day - BREAKFAST! 

Mark's cinnamon roll fed the whole table

For every 10 minutes you PR, you are allowed a meal

He made me pay for breakfast. Ugh.

Being the "big" sister that I am, I paid the bill and we hit the road. Of course, I ushered him around all weekend (he didn't touch the steering wheel once). And in return, he made sure to keep me company on the ride home. 


It's ok though. I anticipated such an exciting ride home. Plus, now I get to make him drive home from Lake Placid ;)

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Leon's Triathlon: Team Style

Sometimes it's hard for me to to really wrap my head around how far I've come in the last few years. If I'm being honest, I still feel like a novice in this sport. So when Ryan approached me a few weeks ago and asked me to race on the EGO Sammy's triathlon team for Leon's Triathlon the following weekend, I honestly thought it was a joke. 

Me? You want ME? The girl that has never taken a proper swim lesson? The girl who needs her hand held when it comes to bike lingo/maintenance because she's that un-savvy with the bike? The girl that thinks biking without socks is weird and gross and will always take the time in T1 to put on socks? The girl that STILL chokes on water at run aid stations? You want HER to race on YOUR team? You gotta be kidding me.

We're talking about a team with a STACKED group of athletes. These people have been racing competitively for multiple years

...and this is my 3rd season in the triathlon world. Competing against myself. Cue panic attack.

I'm usually up for any and all opportunities for a last minute race if I can fit it into life, but this time I had a hard time saying yes right away. My stomach knotted up almost instantly and I felt my palms getting sweaty. If I said yes, the team would be relying on my performance, something I'm not 100% confident in myself yet. I'm still new. I'm still learning. What if I have one of my newbie swim moments and completely start choking on water mid-swim for no reason? What if my legs aren't recovered from Texas? And worse, my newest struggle: what if I oversleep?

I called my better half, Rob, and laid it all out for him. His response: "You'd be crazy not to." I've said it once and I'll say it again. This man has some confidence in me that I wish I could have in myself. It was settled. A few hours later, I was registered for Leon's Triathlon (Olympic distance) as a member of the EGO p/b Sammy's Bikes team. 

{Olympic Distance = .9mile swim, 25mile bike, 6.2mile run}

Rob and I spent Saturday night in Frankfort with my college roommate and her family. We woke up on Sunday (to multiple alarms) with a pretty easy drive to Hammond, Indiana. My brother had to work on Saturday but drove down on Sunday morning to watch the race. We all arrived about the same time and I made my way to set up transition. Transition was kind of a free for all. You had to set up your bike in a specific row, but not on a specific spot in that row. I spotted Ryan's bike and plopped mine a few spots next to his. While I was setting up transition my phone kept buzzing in my pocket. 

"Come to the Sammy's tent by the water!"

"You guys coming over?"

Jacqui. She knows I have to get ready for the race, why is she so persistent I come to the tent right now? I told her to give me a few minutes while I set up transition. 

"But we need to get you suited up!"

I was doing good keeping my nerves under control until I read that text. Yep, there goes my blood pressure. So now when I fall off my bike everyone is going to know I'm racing on the Sammy's team. Great. I made my way over and was expecting to have Jacqui hand me her kit for the day since she couldn't race. Instead, I was greeted by Sammy and the team while they handed me a brand new team race kit and told me it was mine to keep. WHAT. I'm pretty sure I thanked them half a dozen times before it registered that I needed to actually go change into it.

Shortly thereafter, the opening ceremonies started honoring our U.S. Military. (Did I mention that this race has SO many U.S. flags set up throughout the race course and all over the transition area. Such a cool site.) 

Beautiful day for a race!

I listened from afar while I put my wetsuit on and tried to relax. Right before I jumped off the of dock and into the water Rob snuck one last kiss and asked how soon he should expect to see me out of the water. "Probably around 28 minutes...maybe?" 

Just a little bit of sun


All of the teams started in the 1st wave. We were a small group, no more than 20 of us (if that). So to say that I had plenty of space in the swim would be an understatement. In fact, most of the swim I was SO alone that I had to rely on my wonderful siting abilities to make sure I followed the buoys properly. On top of that, the wind was alive and made the water a little choppy, testing my "try and swim the shortest distance" skills. This will for sure be one of my worst swims. I'm swimming into the wind and probably far from straight. While on the back stretch of the course I noticed there were a few helicopters flying over head (and pretty low) when I would breath. What the heck is going on? I hope everything is ok. I reached the swim exit and the first thing I saw was the numbers 2 and 6 on my watch. I had made it out of the water in 26 minutes. HOW.DID.THAT.HAPPEN.

 Coming out of the water and feeling great!

Transition 1:
Transition was a short run from the water and I was ready to ride. I bent down to grab my helmet and when I stood up and looked straight ahead I had a camera man in my face. Oh shit, I forgot. Every year, Leon's is broadcasted about a month after the race. And right now, I was this camera mans transition subject. Now is not the time to look like you don't know what you're doing. This also explains the helicopters I saw during the swim.

Fast forward about 30 seconds. As I'm running out of transition with my bike, I notice the ground is very uneven and covered with a carpet to help make the grass-to-road transition easier. If only. While on the carpet my back tire hit a bump/carpet folding/something and essentially broke free of my hands and went straight into the ground. My bike computer went flying in the air. My nutrition bottle started to roll down the hill. YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME! Just like that time I almost overslept for an Ironman, my language was less than stellar. I grabbed my bike computer and threw it to the side knowing that Ryan's dad was standing there with his jaw to the ground watching my race fall apart. I chased my water bottle down and then made my way to the mounting line. I clipped in and instantly my foot dropped with no effort. My chain. Of course my chain fell off. I could see Sammy out of the corner of my eye watching me fumble to get my chain back on track. This is exactly what I didn't want to happen. But somehow my shaky fingers managed to get my chain in place and ready to ride.

 Trying to pick up some speed right after my transition mishap


Unlike an Ironman or even a half Ironman, there's no time to really get settled on the bike during an Olympic race. You only have 25 miles so you can't waste the first 3 getting comfortable. Ready or not it's time to ride.
And now that my ability to track any sort of speed was lost, I had to ride based on feel. I had my watch if I wanted to know what my average speed was, but I could never know how fast I was going any given moment. And once again, the wind was anything but forgiving. Looking back, not having my computer might have been the best thing for my bike that day. The winds were never unbearable, but it definitely caused me to work a lot harder at times. If I knew how fast/slow I was going during those moments, it might have messed with my head a little. 

The 2 loop course offered multiple out-and-back sections with plenty of opportunities to see all the spectators. I saw (and heard) Rob and Mark each time I passed through but I heard my name from all sides of the course. It was such a cool feeling knowing that the Sammy's team was cheering for me. Today, I was one of them. I truly had no idea how I was doing but I never really worried about it because I felt like I had a world of supporters. The more I heard my name the faster I wanted to go. But I never knew how fast I was going! Catch 22 ;) I saw Ryan early on the bike during my first out-and-back section. He had a couple of motorcycles in front of him as he held the lead. This kid never ceases to amaze me. Immediately following him was Alex, another Sammy's teammate. And shortly behind him, Chris. Like I said, this team has some major talent. I continued to see the Sammy's team throughout the entire ride because of all the out-and-back turn arounds.

 Just havin' a little fun ;)

Around halfway I made my way around a turn and I heard a buzzing to my left. A drone. I tried to regain the speed I had lost on the turn and the buzzing got louder. The drone was right next to my face and picking up speed along side me. Who's in charge of this thing? 

I approached transition and made sure to take my time and note the uneven ground as I entered. I glanced at my watch and saw 1 hour 11 minutes for 23.5 miles, a 19.7mph average. I'll take it. 

Transition 2: 

Uneventful. Thank God. 


I exited transition and saw Rob just past the first aid station. How'd I get so lucky? This guy literally
chases me all over the country while I race. All while hanging out the behind the camera lens to try and get the best shot. "Have a good run, Meg! Love you!" He shouted as I ran by

 My favorite part of the day!

The run course goes all the way around Wolf Lake. I noticed right away that my pace was a teensy bit faster than it should have been. I got a little excited and made myself slow down so that I wouldn't embarrass myself and flop during a 6 mile run. Thankfully, when I made it to the 2nd aid station and I grabbed a cup of water and proceeded to choke on it, there was no one around me. (As far as I know?) Once I settled into a good pace my goal was to keep all miles under 8 minutes. I really had no idea how fast my legs would move coming off of a 23 mile bike, so I wasn't sure if a sub 8 minute goal was reasonable? With the exception of mile 5 when my lungs were burning (8:05) all miles were well under 8. I approached the finish area and couldn't be happier. My lungs and legs were burning pretty bad the last few miles. 49:00 minutes even and my run was over. 

Official time: 2:31:32. Good enough for a solid PR, 2nd in my age group, and 1st place for the the EGO Sammy's team. Successful day.

Reuniting with Rob and Mark, my stomach was in knots. It took me a while to get my senses back to normal. I hung with Jacqui and was reliving some of the race and the whole time I was wondering if I was going to end up with my head in a garbage can. NO THANKYOU. Ryan made his way over to me, (he was just finishing a quick interview, NBD) arms folded. The first thing that came to mind: "But I was able to fix my bike! That's good!" He laughed at me and shook his head at the same time. Apparently we have some transition work to do?

 Winner and Newbie

All in all, I couldn't be more thankful for the chance to race with the EGO Sammy's team. I'm honored that they thought to ask me, the girl who needs to learn how to run next to her bike. I can't thank them enough for treating me like one of their own. For the first time in 3 years since I dipped my toes into this sport, I felt like all of my hard work meant something. Someone other than myself was counting on my performance and I'm positive that that small reminder drove me to the finish line faster

 Sammy's Men took the 1-2-3 sweep!

W for the team!

My biggest fan :)

My BFG brother, Mark, had to take off shortly after the finish because he had his own agenda to take care of that afternoon. He's about to embark on his first Ironman in 6 short weeks in Lake Placid, New York. His bike was calling his name. As I pulled in the driveway I saw him in the garage, putting his helmet on and about ready to take off. I made him pull out his phone because we missed out on our post-race celebration together. 

 "little" brother "big" sister

My "little" brother is turning into quite the gentleman. Always there to support his "big" sister, no matter the cost. And I can not WAIT to be by his side as he tackles his first 140.6. Not a day goes by that I don't know how lucky I am to have the support system that I do. And I'm ready to pay it back.