Trinona Olympic Distance Triathlon Race Report

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I haven't done an Olympic distance triathlon since 2009. I did  a couple of halfs in 2010, but I was pregnant then postpartum in 2011 and definitely in survival mode last year, where I got to try a few sprint races. The last 6 months or so have been the first time where I feel like things are finally settling into our new normal as parents. This probably coincides with Henry finally consistently sleeping through the night - I have time to get in a workout after he's in bed, and sometimes while he's awake if Steve is feeling generous. My speed (if you can call it that, but on my spectrum it's speed), is coming back, and my body almost feels back to normal. When Steve and I got the chance to head down to Winona for Steve to do the bike time trial the night before and for me to do their Olympic tri, we jumped on it. Conveniently, Grandma Connie was itching to take Henry for a few days. This was going to be a vacation.

The race was June 9 - one week after the Minneapolis Marathon. I knew that it was a little crazy to do these two races so close together, but I have felt pretty strong in training this spring and figured my goal would be to be able to bike on tired legs. After a full spring of marathon training, a 10K is doable, even though I knew I'd be tired. I followed the FIRST marathon training program for Minneapolis almost to a T. I love that program. It focuses on quality over quantity and covers a long run, a tempo run, and intervals over 3 days of running each week. The rest of the week is cross training, which I have mostly spent biking. I've been trying to get 1-2 rides on my trainer in at night when Henry's in bed and at least one long ride outside each week, usually on the weekends. Alas, swimming has taken its usual back seat in training, and I've only been getting to the pool once or twice a month. I know I need to be swimming more, but it's tougher to squeeze in with the rest of life, and the benefit tends to be only a minute or two off of my time.

Steve and I headed down to the race late Saturday Morning. We had sent Henry home with Grandma on Thursday, and the ability to pack uninterrupted and with confidence that I wasn't missing a half dozen things was fabulous. We checked in to our hotel and headed straight to the race expo where we spotted tons of local race buddies. It was fun to catch up with them all! Oh, and we also met up with Amblyn, my sister's partner in crime when she was volunteering in KY for 2 years. The swim temps were expected to be pretty chilly, and I had an extra wetsuit to lend her. We gave her a few pointers for rocking her first tri, and she did. Way to go, Amblyn!

The Trinona TT bike race offers a brief warm up then a ride straight up Garvin Heights, a hill that's over a mile long with 10% average grade. We would be racing up that hill during the oly the next day. Steve was signed up to do the TT, and it made me feel both better and worse to be able to drive up and down the hill a few times to cheer him and the other bikers on. Some folks only did the TT, but many of the racers were signed up for the triathlon the next day, too! It's only 3 miles long, so I can imagine it wouldn't take too much out of your race legs. I would totally consider doing both, though I admittedly stink at hills. It was fun to spectate, and the food (beer, wine, pizza, fruit) and swag at the finish line were top notch. I think Steve had fun, and we joked that by the time we got back to the hotel, it was past Henry's bedtime.

Our hotel (The Plaza) was really close to the race start, so we were at the start in no time. Fitting in with the rest of our spring/summer, it was cold (around 55 degrees) and raining. We found Amblyn right away in transition. She was ready to conquer her first triathlon!

Amblyn's first triathlon!

Transition was filling up quick, and our rack was really full, but I didn't realize until just before transition closed that I had racked in the wrong spot. There wasn't enough time to move my stuff. Sorry ladies for crowding you out! Transition closed at 7, but my wave didn't start until 8:42, so there was a lot of time standing around in my wetsuit trying to stay warm. It helped that we got to catch up with a few more tri buddies in the process! I was in wave 16 of 17, and eventally it was go time!

Heading into the water!

The Swim: I was a little worried about the water temp. It was in the low 60s and my first OWS of the year, but after standing around in 50 degree air temps and rain, the water felt great. My swim wasn't fast, but I sighted pretty well. I was out of the water in 35:12.

Out of the water. Why do I always forget
to Bodyglide my underarms? Holy chafing!

Trying to squeeze into my bike jersey while wet

T1: I was wet and my fingers were cold. I couldn't get my shoes or long sleeves on. It was so frustrating. In retrospect, I probably would have been fine with just arm warmers. I didn't know if I'd be warm enough wet in sub 60 degree weather on the bike. Total time: 3:02

Just out of T1

The Bike: I had worried about "the hill" all week. I have been out on plenty of rides and crammed all of the hills I could find in St. Paul into most of them. I had to remind myself that I survived the hills in Chattanooga just fine and that the rest of the course was mostly just rollers. Still, that epic hill that the race is known for brings a lot of people to their knees. Thankfully, it's around 10 miles in - plenty of time to warm up and plenty of time to regroup. Also thankfully, it had stopped raining, making the climb and subsequent decent less scary. I was holding a good average until the start of the hill, but that quickly went down the drain. I am happy to say that if it weren't for my lower back, I could have done the whole thing seated. My legs felt fine, but I had to stand every once in a while to take the pressure off of my lower back. It felt like it was going to snap! I made it up the hill in 10:47 (they check your chip time at the beginning and top of the hills). Thankfully, we had a tail wind once we got to the top. There was a nasty cross wind up there at times, too, but for the most part, we were spared the head wind that they had last year. I rode my brakes all the way down the big descent. I heard that many of the pros get upwards of 55 MPH down that thing, but I couldn't handle much more than 30 or 35 MPH. I was jockeying back and forth with several guys on the bike, but I saw so few women out there. I came into T2 in 1:31:25 - a 16.3 MPH average. I know I can get that number up, but this really isn't the course to do it.

Finishing up a hilly ride

T2: I stripped off my sleeves, loaded up with Gu, and was back out in 1:53.

Starting the 10K

The Run: This was going to be the real test to see how well my legs had recovered from the marathon the week before. I knew the endurance training I did for the marathon would prepare me to run on tired legs, but I didn't know how tired my legs would be from the hilly ride and the previous weekend's race. Unlike the bike, the run was pancake flat and followed the lake. When I hit the first mile at around 8:20 feeling pushed but OK, I started betting that I'd be good to go. Mile 2 came in 8:00. I laughed to myself thinking that my running partner Laura would be amused and disgusted by all of my "Miss Congeniality" comments. The run was an out and back, so I spent the whole thing cheering on the other runners - Nice legs! Great pace! Looking good! Way to go! Finish strong! I'm sure anyone around me was thoroughly annoyed, but I just do so much better when I can take some of the focus off of me in a race and get outside of my own head. That's not to say that I'm not paying attention to the way I feel, my pace, my form, etc. I'm regularly checking on those things, but if I just tell my legs to GO and get my head out of the way, I do so much better physically and mentally. I hit my watch late after the 3 mile turn around spot, and it came up as an 8:37. I was picking tons of people off and was gaining confidence that I could hold pace. Mile 4 then came in 7:44, and it took me a good 3 minutes to figure out what the average would have been for those 2 miles. Pharmacists don't do mental math. Mile 5 may have been a bit short, but I hit it in 7:37. My internal drill Sargent was in full force by then, and I was really trying to push it those last 2 miles. Run till you puke was our motto in cross country in high school, and it kept going through my head. I hit mile 6 in 8:07. I was really kicking for the last section, or so I thought. When I passed a very motivating volunteer shouting, "KICK IT IN! THIS IS WHAT YOU TRAINED FOR! YOU'VE GOT THIS! FIND ANOTHER GEAR," I did manage to find one last gear and really started pushing. There were 2 guys in front of me, and the one on the left obviously did not want to get out kicked by a girl. He found another gear, too, and kept checking over his shoulder. I'm glad I could push you, buddy! I hit the last 0.2 miles in 1:55, so either the run was closer to 6.3 or the other mile markers were off because if anything, that pace was significantly faster than the rest of my race. Run time was 50:33 for an overall time of 3:02:03 - my 2nd fastest Oly.

Booking to the finish! 

My finish medal, my trusty QR CD.01, and a smile

 Final thoughts:

1. This race pulls in most of the elite locals, and for good reason. The bike is epic, the race is well-organized, the swim is in a good-sized lake (warms up easily for early June), and the run is flat and shaded. There were a TON of people doing the sprint (which doesn't include the huge climb). I would definitely say the sprint is beginner friendly. Also, between the bike TT, the kids tri, and the sprint and Olympic distance races, it can be a family friendly weekend event.

2. The finishing medals have a typo and say "battle for the buff." Awesome

3. My Oly PR is 2:56:04, and while I'm not sure that I can hit that this summer with my current training, I'd love to go sub-3.

4. My 10K was a PR for me both in stand alone races and triathlons.

5. I've got the racing bug. My next official race on the books isn't till Twin Cities Marathon, but there will be more before that. I can't not race.



Look at you GO!!!!! That is awesome. Congrats on a great race!


Awesome race report! Can you tell me about how you use FIRST? Do you closely follow the prescribed speedwork, paces, etc? I tried it last year and got injured. But might consider doing it again, because it did make me faster...


Great race summary! I raced Trinona for the first time this year and did the sprint course. Maybe next year the Oly will be in order!


Great race report! I raced Trinona for the first time this year, and will definately be back!