IM Louiville

IM Louiville
Bikes racked at Ironman Louisville 2010

Monday, August 21, 2006

Pleasant Prairie Triathlon Report

Pleasant Prairie Triathlon
August 20, 2006

Just like the last 2 years I’ve done this race, I drive up on Saturday to pick up my packet and rack my bike. The packet pick-up opened at 11:00am. I arrived at about 10:55 and the line inside the Rec Plex was already about 100 people! Thankfully, though, most of them were not first-timers and things moved quickly. We got a primo goody bag which included a nice, rather large, backpack, technical shirt AND a hat. Definitely the best goody bag I’ve gotten all year!

I immediately affix my number to my bike and scurry over to rack my bike. Pleasant Prairie is one of those races that just assigns racks instead of individual spaces, so the earlier you get there, the better spot you get. And with that, I threw my bike on what was “the” best spot on the rack…at the end closest to the bike exit and entrance. Suh-weet. And that was it, I drove all the way up there, picked up my stuff and racked my bike and 15 minutes later, I got right back in the car to drive home. Good thing there isn’t much traffic on the weekends!

Getting up at 2:30am was, surprisingly, not difficult. I really look forward to this race each year, and this year was no different. I ate a peanut butter bagel and quietly threw all my things into the bag after going over my list one more time and I was out the door by 3am. The drive up to PP was, again, quick and painless. I had to drive my little, VERY LOW-TO-THE-GROUND car across this big field with what seemed like a million ruts and holes to get to the front of the lot. I was afraid I was going to bottom-out! After what felt like a 30 minute ride across the lot, I was able to squeeze right in at the front, closest to the shuttle bus. Things were working out very nicely!

It was a cool morning, but nothing crazy. The low temperatures overnight made the lake temperature drop just enough to allow this to be a wetsuit-legal race. I walked into transition just after 4:30am and they had it lit up enough to where you could begin to set up your transition area. After the usual set up, check, re-check and triple check of my things, I had plenty of time to just hang out and talk to some friends.

With the transition closing in about 15 minutes, Lauren Jensen, pro triathlete, comes up to my rack and racks her bike on the OUTSIDE of the rack, right in front of my bike. WTF! That is illegal, everyone knows this. There is no pro division in this race, and if there was, she would be assigned a special rack. Today, she was an age grouper, just like the rest of us. However, the rest of us have to follow the rules. Apparently, the rules don’t apply to Ms. Lauren Jensen as she set up her stuff and walked away. I was fuming (I still kinda am!).

OK, I thought to myself, her bike will be gone when I get out of the water anyway. See, Lauren gets to go in the first wave…with the men. Another “special little treatment” which doesn’t really seem fair to me. People in the first wave don’t have the obstacle of passing all the slower people who started in waves before you. Again, there’s no pro division, why doesn’t she have to start in the wave with the REST OF HER AGE GROUP?

I try really hard to let this go as I put my wetsuit on half way. I then make my way down to the furthest bank of porta potties, because I know the lines there will be shorter. However, someone must’ve let my secret out because there were over 50 people in line for these porta potties. I made some small talk with the people in line, prayed that the people in front of me would pee fast and kept glancing at my watch every couple of minutes. With about 9 minutes left before my wave started, I still had 12 people in front of me. I did one of the rudest things triathletes do…I begged to go to the front so I could get down to the beach for my start. When I see people pull this stunt, I always think to myself, “You have to plan this in…get in line with plenty of time before your start so you don’t have to cut in front of people!” But I was in line over 40 minutes! I was graciously let in front (most of these people still had over 20 minutes before they started). I took care of business and jogged down to the beach with just 4 minutes to spare…

I had to finagle my way to the front, which wasn’t easy with such a competitive group of women. But I knew I belonged there, so I wasn’t giving in. The horn sounded and we ran into the water. Almost immediately, I decided it was too warm and I wished I hadn’t worn my wetsuit. I’m about 50 yards into a .9 mile swim and I’m very warm…too warm. It felt like bath water to me (only not as clean). Ugh. I knew there were 74 people in my wave and I was pleasantly surprised to have such an easy start of the swim. No arms locking up, no getting kicked, no fighting for position. I saw about 7 girls jump out ahead of me. I figured I’d get a few of them toward the back end and there were probably going to be a couple that I wouldn’t see again until the finish.

After a comfortable, solid swim, I glanced at my watch as I crossed over the timing mat, and though it wasn’t lightening fast, I was happy with the time. I found my bike very quickly, made a smooth transition (unfortunately, I felt my socks were sopping wet) and jumped out on the bike course. It was a little chilly for the first 10 minutes of the ride. My fingers were freezing, but I knew that would pass as I dried off and started to warm up. PP’s bike course is mostly flat, with a couple hills where you have to ride over the highway. The roads were amazingly smooth. There were a lot of guys riding down the middle of the lane which made it tricky to pass at times. Several times, I’d pass a guy only to have him pass me right back. I call this the “I’m not gonna get passed by a chick” syndrome. Well, buddy, if I passed you the first time, I’m going to pass you again. You can count on that. But the next time I do it, I’m going to fly by you so fast, you won’t have a chance to catch up and I’m going to crush your confidence for the remainder of the ride! Did I mention I’m competitive?

It was pretty windy and every time I made a turn I thought, “OK, we’re going to get the tailwind now.” But with every turn, I was left hanging. Why does it feel like every time I turn, I’m riding directly head-on into the wind??? This is just cruel! More than once, the wind jerked the front wheel on me and I felt like I was going to be blown over. The nice thing about the wind being so strong is that’s all you hear…wind…you can’t hear how hard you’re breathing! When you’re about half-way through, the courses for the International and Sprint distances are combined. Now here is where it’s easy to crash! You’ve got all these newbies, and yes, I was new at one point too, but many of them don’t know the rules, nor do they bother to learn them. These are the people riding 3-4 people across so you can’t pass without going into the next lane. They’re also the ones that when you shout “on your left”, they either turn left and ride right into you or they turn around to find out why someone is yelling at them. They’re usually riding some form of mountain bike or hybrid. They usually have way too much nutrition with them (who needs 4 water bottles and 4 gels during the bike of a SPRINT race?), and they look like they did a full wardrobe change in T1. But we were all new once, and you gotta love the newcomers to our sport. However, where are the officials? I didn’t see one the entire ride. In fact, now that I think of it, I don’t think I’ve EVER seen an official on the PP course.

I jockeyed with this one guy for the entire second half of the bike, and I loved every minute of it. Just as I would think I’m going strong, this guy would show up and pass me, just to let me know I couldn’t get away. And as I would catch him, I’d give him this look as if to say “you’re not going to let me get away with this, are you?” It was a fun game of cat and mouse and I was almost sorry when the ride was over. We dismounted at almost the same time, smiled at each other and said “nice ride.” And although this wasn’t my fastest bike split on this course, I definitely had fun!

I ran over to my spot to rack my bike and guess what! The infamous Lauren Jensen had thrown her bike where mine was, and completely trashed what was left of my transition area. That BEOTCH! And there was another bike right next to hers (which also wasn’t the one that was originally racked there), so I had to move my bike down to the 3rd position. I went to throw my bike over the bar, but there were 3 transition bags (remember those fabulous back packs I mentioned we got as part of our goody bag??) in the way. They were so big and took up so much room, I had to try 3-4 times before I could get my bike to go onto the rack. And now I’m desperately trying to shake off how angry I am and focus on what I’m supposed to be doing next. Luckily, my running shoes weren’t moved too far away from what WAS LEFT OF my transition area, so I moved quickly (well, quickly FOR ME) out on to the run course.

Did I mention it was a beautiful day? We couldn’t have had better weather for this race. It was sunny with a few clouds, maybe mid-70s, and no humidity whatsoever. I really wanted to run strong, especially to off-set my poor run from Steelhead. I felt great, and although the splits weren’t quite as quick as I would’ve liked to see, I ran strong and felt incredibly good throughout the run. I stayed ahead of the guy I rode with the second half of the bike course (yay!). I saw a couple people I knew on the out and back and gave them some Hi-Fives. As I passed runners (hee, hee, I actually PASSED some runners!!) I gave them some words of encouragement. I finished strong and was cheered on by friends that had finished before me.

Unfortunately, this was the slowest time I’ve turned in of the 3 years I’ve done this race. And while that sucks, I really did have fun. And, yes, though I can be competitive, if we’re not having fun, why are we doing this?


jimq said...

nice race report
that was more writing then i did in four years of high school
i also think the pros get away
with too much crap

jimq said...


RunBubbaRun said...

Since Jensen wears this Shark fin on top of her helmet when she rides, you should wear a "killer whale" fin to really piss her off. Nice report and good job on the run.

byakko said...

Hi! I'm new to your blog, and I just had to comment:

I cringe, being a newbie, every time you trash my "class". Could you at least qualify "bad" newbies? For instance, whenever anyone passes me with an: "On your left!", my eyes remain forward, and I respond: "Go for it!"

My first tri in Naperville, I had pretty good rack position because of my age division. When I returned from my ride, a much faster person had racked in my space, over my stuff - so newbies get dumped on too.

Lighten up on those of us who are competitive, slow, newbie, AND who try to adhere to the rules and get out of your way, huh? :-)

MJ said...

byakko - well, I just call it like I see it. If you're not like one of the people I mention, then you shouldn't take offense. This blog isn't about offending or putting anyone down. It's about what I see. It's not to rip on anyone.

In fact, in a later blog, I comment on a pro and how I feel she cheated. Should I censor that, too?