Gary Jackson: Fire When Ready Pottery
A Chicago potter’s somewhat slanted view of clay & play
Categories: bike, special events, workout

Today was the Chicago Triathlon sponsored by Lifetime Fitness.
And once again I was playing downtown with over 7,000 other triathletes!
International Olympic Distance… SWIM .93 miles, BIKE 24.8 miles, RUN 6.2 miles.

Unfortunately, I can’t carry my camera or phone with me during the swim,
and don’t want to stop during the bike, so I had to “borrow” a few images
off Google Images to help tell the story. And some of the professional photos the race photographers caught of e along the way!

So the day starts very early in the morning. The transition area opens at 4:00am and closes at 5:45am. So all 7,300 triathletes need to get in there and rack their bikes and organize their gear for the day.

I was in Wave 17… starting the race at 7:16am.

Eventually the waves begin entering the Lake. With approximately a hundred people per wave, and another wave taking off every four minutes, it goes pretty fast and before you now it… it’s time for Wave 17!!!

So you line up with your Wave… in color-coded swim caps…

Then you all climb into the lake to tread water for a couple minutes until the Starting Gun.

And then before you know it, you’re out in the thick of things… people swimming all over the place… People swimming around you, over you, kicking you, scraping you… none of which is fun, but you kinda get used to it after a few triathlons. So you do your best to make it to the finish… which is WAY down by the Chicago Yacht Club. That small gray building way at the far end of the photo!!!

And then you finally get out of the water… with the biggest sigh of relief…

Then you need to  jog back to the Transition Area on a long red carpet. You finally get back and now you need to locate your bike & gear amongst the whole sea of seven thousand!!! Good thing to remember your wave number, and to leave yourself a colored marker to help find your bike.

You think that’s bad?…. try viewing the Transition Area from above to see how huge it is…

So you take off your wetsuit and change into your biking gear. Shoes on. Helmet on and you’re ready to head out. So it’s a quick loop north on Lake Shore Drive, turn around at Hollywood, and back down again. Then it’s a quick trip around the city underground on Lower Wacker Drive, followed by the Busway down to McCormick Place and back. Let me just say… biking Lower Wacker Drive is SO MUCH FUN!!!

I was pretty pleased with my bike ride. It all seemed to go well… pretty fast, pretty consistent. Turns out that my biking average speed for the full course was 21.2 miles per hour. Not too shabby.

Then it’s back to the Transition Area where you change out of bikign gear and into running gear. Helmet off. Change of shoes. Chug down some Gatorade… and you’re off on the run. Along the way you see a lot of signs encouraging the runners. Some are better then others… and some, well… are sadly oh so true. And yes…. I’M SMILING!!!

Such focus… one foot in front of the other…

After a 10K run through Museum Campus down to t31st Street Beach and back, you finally make it back to the Finish Line in Grant Park. Always a welcome sight.

You get greeted by well-wishers, announcers and a full fleet if volunteers passing out water, Gatorade, snacks and the ever-coveted Chicago Triathlon Medal.

Tracy was a few waves behind me, so I was waiting at the Finish Line when she came across to get her medal.

Always a fun time hanging out at the Finish Line… especially when you run into a “new best friend” that Tracy made during her run by encouraging him and keeping him going during the run.

While hanging out at the Finish Line, they offer a full meal, free beer (if you’re into that kind of thing which I’m not), and some vendors giving away treats too. Like these yummy frozen yogurt protein bars… Tracy chose the Chocolate Mint Chip mostly because of the fun quote on the packaging… as she knows she’s been “Hangry” before! I chose to try the S’mores flavor… AND the Salted Caramel one… and then finished off Tracy’s Mint Chocolate Chip so I actually had all three flavors!!!

After stretching, re-hydrating, refueling and relaxing a bit, we decided to have a little “:photo shoot” at Buckingham Fountain on our way back to the Transition Area to pick up our bikes and gear.

When you finally get home, you get to relish in your victory… unpack all of your gear so it can dry before going into the laundry basket. And then choosing to each pretty much anything you want. You deserve it. One night to eat whatever you want… you deserve it… you’re a TRIATHLETE!!!

So what were my final results you may ask?
Just remember, I’m never going to WIN any race. Look at me… not built for speed.
Instead, my goal is always to finish, to have fun, and to not injure anything!
And very pleased to say that this was my fastest International Triathlon race yet!

SWIM – 0.93 miles – 47:55
Transition One – 11:07
BIKE – 24.8 miles – 1:09:56
Transition Two – 8:04
RUN – 6.2 miles – 1:06:53












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