Chicago Triathlon 2021 Recap

August 30, 2021

August 30, 2021

Going into my second triathlon, I was feeling pretty confident in my training. On a day-to-day basis, I happily jump from one workout to the next, especially when there’s a social element involved. November Project followed by an open water swim? No problem. 7 mile bike ride to and from Find Your Fast track practice? Love it. So the length of the international distance triathlon didn’t start to feel daunting until the last few days leading up to the race, when I realized I might have underestimated the jump from the Sprint I did a couple years ago

While I didn’t follow a specific training plan, I still felt like I hit all the elements that are typically included (brick workouts, open water swims, long runs and rides). Now I know where I want to add to my training for next year. 

The Swim

.93 mi | 0:31:31

The group swim start was one of the aspects of the race I was most nervous about. And it did not disappoint. The horn blared and so began the flailing of arms and water splashing. I took in a large breath of water and really struggled to recover, quickly wondering if I was going to DNF within a few minutes of the start. While treading to keep my head above water, I tried to slow down my breath (with the calming encouragement of a nearby lifeguard). Hesitantly, I went back to my freestyle stroke, gradually feeling more comfortable again with my head underwater. Once I rounded the first buoy, the wind was with me and I felt like I could swim forever. That part was easily my favorite part of the race. 

What I’ll do differently: With the aquathlon at the last OWS clinic being stormed out, I really didn’t get any practice with group starts this year. So now that I feel comfortable with swimming the distance, I’ll be signing up for the aquathlon at every OWS clinic next year to get that practice in. 



In the first transition I was sure it was going to take me forever to get my wetsuit off. I don’t know if I finally used enough bodyglide or what happened, but the wetsuit slid right off. While many athletes around me left their wetsuit half on during the (ridiculously long) stretch between the swim exit and transition entrance, I felt too restricted and hot so I took mine off right away. Still, that T1 was long, coming in at 8:01. I treated this portion pretty casually so there’s definitely room for a bit of improvement and urgency next time. 

What I’ll do differently: my hair tie fell out while removing my swim cap so I was left with my hair down for the bike and most of the run (until someone graciously offered their extra). Next year I’ll be keeping an extra hair tie or two on my wrist as well. 

The Bike

25 mi | 1:29:49

This leg was one I was least worried about and didn’t have much trouble with. It just felt long and in the 90-degree heat and humidity I felt pretty drained by the bike finish, which didn’t set me up great for the run. 

What I’ll do differently: This winter I plan on doing more Peloton rides to work on speed. I’ll also train the full distance ride (or farther) more often leading up to the race.



All of T2 was spent trying to figure out how I was going to find the mental and physical energy to run a 10k. I took my time mostly walking my bike back to its rack and trying to regroup. 

What I’ll do differently: Hopefully with more training, I’ll have more energy to jog my bike all the way back to its rack and get going on the run faster. 

The Run

6.2 mi | 1:07:42

This is where things really fell apart. At this point, I assumed the previous legs were already slower than I wanted so I had thrown out any time expectations and was just going for finishing. In reality, I was pretty much right on my goal paces for the swim and bike, but I never saw a clock so I had no idea. I spent the first two miles of the run at a 9:41 min/mile average, which wasn’t too much slower than my other 10k training runs in the heat, but I couldn’t keep up the pace. So I dragged myself through the rest of the 6.2 miles in more of a run/walk format, spending plenty of time at each water station drinking water and gatorade and dumping water on my face. It was probably best I didn’t know my time at the start of the run because the heat exhaustion was real and I probably would’ve pushed myself too hard. 

What I’ll do differently: I already had plans to focus on more run training post-tri and this race confirmed it. Next year I definitely want to do longer training runs to make a 10k feel more manageable- maybe signing up for a fall half marathon. Other than that I don’t know if there’s much I could’ve done about the heat. You’d think the constant heat of this summer would’ve prepared me, but my body is just not a fan. 

Overall, I’m proud I was able to go out and finish the race. I’m already excited thinking about the next races and training goals from here!

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