I signed up for the Freeport Sprint Triathlon about a month before the actual event (July 13), but I was worried that I wouldn’t have a bike for the biking portion of the race.
I finally got a bike just over a week before the race, borrowing it from Chris Powers. It was a FELT road bike, and I took it around the block for a spin and knew immediately it was for me.
Last year, I attended the triathlon out in Freeport as a spectator, watching Ellen and her parents participate in it. Ellen was on a team and she ran the 5K portion of the race, while her parents both completed the triathlon on their own. I never really thought it was something I wanted to do as I watched them do it, but my mind changed this year after I began running races in the summer.
This particular sprint triathlon was a 400m (1/4 mile) swim, 17 mile bike ride, and 5K (3.1 mile) run. Two weeks before the race, I went out to Freeport with Ellen and her parents to practice the swimming and biking portion of the race. The swimming portion wasn’t too rough, but I knew it’d be challenging to transfer to the biking portion on race day.
I biked the 17 miles that day of practice on a mountain bike, and it was not a pleasant ride. The course was hilly and you really needed a road bike to be able to attack it.
In the days leading up to the triathlon, I only practiced the triathlon in order once. I just didn’t have the time necessary to rehearse it over and over again, so I was just hoping that I’d be able to withstand the vigor of it.
The week of the triathlon, Ellen came down with an illness early in the week and was in a lot of pain. On Tuesday, I drove out to Rockford because she had a doctor’s appointment and then would be going to the hospital after. We ran two races in four days just before she started feeling bad, so I think part of her illness could be attributed to that. Thankfully, she didn’t have a kidney stone or anything major wrong with her. She was pretty weak for a few days, but it wasn’t going to stop her from doing the triathlon.
Race day was finally here. We got up early and made the 33 mile trek from Ellen’s house to Freeport. The triathlon would start at 8:00 a.m., with your starting time in the pool determined by what you put down as your swim time when you registered for the race.
My parents were on their way to support me, making the 96 mile trek to Freeport. It felt good to know they would be there for me.
|My parents were there to support me.|
Based on my swim time I put down (8:30), I was going to start at 8:22 a.m. We made final preparations, including getting our bibs on our shirts, setting up our bikes/shoes/socks and getting water bottles set up on our bikes. I was very nervous before the race and talked to an older gentleman in front of me in line who would be in the pool right before me.
Once I finally stepped in the water, I knew there was no turning back. I watched the final seconds tick away, and I was off to the races!
I was never winded and went at a comfortable pace throughout the swimming portion, passing two people in the process. When I touched the wall and finished, my watch showed 8:10, better than what my practice time was.
I climbed out of the pool and made my way to where my bike was situated and encountered my first difficulty. I was in such a rush to get my socks and shoes on, put my shirt on, put my helmet on, put my shoes and socks on and take off. I had trouble getting my shirt on because I was wet and it stuck to me. I had difficulty getting my helmet strapped on just because I was so anxious to get going. My transition was not pretty, but I finally hopped on my bike and got going.
The biking course is a moderately hilly 17-mile course out in the country. I knew I had an excellent bike to ride and came out pretty fast. In the early stretches of the bike ride, I did well on the flat parts and downhills but failed to attack the uphill parts like I should have. I let them attack me. They were pretty steep, but I still could have pedaled with more vigor instead of letting them slow me down a bit too much.
It was a beautiful morning to be out on the bike and I was cruising between 19 and 20 MPH on average. I never really felt too fatigued throughout it. As I returned to the YMCA, I saw my parents had arrived and were watching. I finished the biking portion in 52:30, but I knew the hardest part would be the run.
|Ellen and I shortly after she finished the race.|
Once I got off the bike, my legs felt like Jell-O as expected. I knew it’d take some time for them to get loose. When they did, they still didn’t feel that great, but I pushed through it. Most of the run was out on a bike path and into a neighborhood, and you returned back the same way you came from. I finished the run in a time of 19:48, which I still don’t know if I truly believe that because I felt way slower than that.
My overall time was 1:22:02 (counting transitions). I drank a ton of water after the race and waited for Ellen to finish up. She did a great job, especially considering she was in the hospital earlier in the week due to dehydration. I’m proud of her and lucky to have her as my girlfriend.
I came in third in my age group thanks to Erik Fielder. Erik won the race and therefore could not place in his age group, which was my age group.
Ellen’s parents also competed in the race and had an interesting day. Mrs. Larson was misled on one turn and it set her off course. Mr. Larson was a few miles from finishing up his bike ride when he saw her. He gave up his race to be with her and finish the race out with her. That was the highlight of the day to see those two finishing out the race together. It really showed true love.
I was really glad my parents were able to come to the triathlon and support me despite the long drive.
After the race, my parents left to go back home, and the rest of us went to eat at Union Dairy in Freeport. It was a great way to cap off a tiring morning.
This was my first triathlon but certainly not my last. I am thankful that God gave me the drive and capability to finish the race. He has blessed me beyond belief, and I am amazed when I think about those blessings.