Race Report: Sugar River Triathlon

Race metrics:
Water temp: 79º
Air temp: 74º
Wind: 7mph
Weight: 135 lb.
Resting HR: 53
Heart rate max: 185
Wave start time: 7:35am
Gearing: 39/53 front, 11-28 cassette
Tire pressure: 90psi front, 95 back

Sugar River Triathlon in Belleville was the fifth race in the 2015 Wisconsin Tri Series. After falling short in the beginning of the season, I’ve started to hit my stride with two races left on the schedule.

I had a six-week break between my last race and this event, so I was able to get in a solid block of training for this. Previously, I’d been racing every two weeks so it was sort of: race, recover, train four days, taper, race, repeat.

Only managed about three hours of sleep the night before the race. Sometimes those nerves just happens, so I tried to stay relaxed and not burn too much hyper energy before the race because that wouldn’t do me any good! Breakfast was the usual: coffee, half a banana, a bowl of steel cut oatmeal with blueberries, and half a bottle of beet juice.

While inflating my front tire the end of the valve stem snapped off. The tube was holding air, but I didn’t want to race on a tire that was questionable. I reserved my spot in transition and walked over to the Trek neutral support tent with my bike. Less than five minutes later, the mechanic had a new valve stem on my tube (I didn’t have a spare with me) and I was back in business. In the eighteen tri’s I’d done prior to this one, I had never needed to use the service-but am incredibly glad they help at these races. Absolute lifesavers.

Twenty minutes before the race start I took a SaltStick capsule and one GU gel. It was going to be a very hot day and I started sweating the second I put on my sleeveless wetsuit. Since the swim course entrance is narrow, swimmers were not allowed to warm up once the first wave started at 7:30am. Consequently, I missed my swim warm up altogether. Instead, I did a few push ups to at least get some muscles firing in my upper body before the fast pace of the swim start.

As usual, I lined up in the second row behind the serious fishes. Got into a rhythm but lost my pair of feet (to follow) about 3/4 of the way through the swim course. That’s when the race sort of kicked in for me, and it was time to do work. Exited the swim course on a ramp and passed one guy on the run back to my bike. On the fly, I decided to strip my wetsuit using one of the transition barricades for balance. Leaned on the gate with one hand and poof, wetsuit came right off. Will try this method again.

Right away on the bike course my sunnies fogged up. I pulled them down so I could see as I made my turns and they cleared up momentarily. My heart rate monitor wasn’t reading correctly (it said 30bpm) so I had no choice but to pace off of feel. I was absolutely dripping with sweat on the bike and I’m glad I was more or less acclimated to the heat. My indoor bike work is done at about 84ºF so I’m used to hydrating properly in training and racing. I regret not removing the vent cover on my Garneau P-09 helmet which would have given me much more ventilation.

Photo: Focal Flame

Photo: Focal Flame

I could feel my right calf starting to cramp prior to one of the big hills on Exeter Crossing Road so I really had to regulate how much effort I was putting out (i.e. soft pedal). I got out of the saddle and went very light up an incline for a while and it didn’t get worse. I’d overbiked hills in the past and once cramping becomes a real issue, it’s almost impossible for me to race at adequate speeds. On the bike I drank a bottle of diluted Gatorade and ended up with a 21 mph bike split over 15.5 miles.

Got out of my cycling shoes with plenty of time before the dismount line and transition two (T2) would be quick and smooth as always. Onto the run course I just focused on leg turnover and good posture. I finally got my heartrate monitor working and it said I was at 162bpm starting the run. Perfect. I’d build from there. There were two athletes within sight ahead of me and I passed them about halfway through the run.

Final push at the finish chute. Photo: Focal Flame

I picked up the effort at mile two marker because I wanted to finish strong. I PR’ed on this run course in 2014 with a 20:02 over 5k and I knew it took quite an effort for that one.


Won my age group and earned a new shiny thing.

Gave it everything I had on the run course and was 14th to cross the line. Since the race has wave starts, this number would change throughout the day and after all results were in I’d be first in my division and 17th overall. My goal was to make top ten overall, but to state the obvious-that would have required a faster time on the day.

Results printout

Results printout

Thanks to all the volunteers that helped at the race, Race Day Events for the great series, the race sponsors, Focal Flame Photography, Trek Store neutral support, and my dad and Jane for cheering me on. Next stop Devil’s Challenge Triathlon in two weeks!