Chisago Lakes Half Ironman Race Report

Coming off a Half Ironman in Door County last weekend I didn’t know what to expect at this race. My legs were feeling heavy and sore all week up until Friday. There was a decent prize purse for this race, paying of the top 5 overall (Men and Women). I’ve never won any money from a race before, so that was definitely my goal to be in the top 5. There were 3 pros (that I knew of) racing, so I knew it would be a good battle for 4th and 5th place. The race was about 50 minutes from my house so I decided that I would just drive up the morning of the race. I actually enjoy a nice quiet drive before I race because it gives me a chance to mentally prepared for the day ahead. I woke up at 3:45am and was on the road by 4:15am. I always like to get to transition right away in the morning.

Pre-Race: I got checked in, grabbed my timing chip and headed into the transition area. Since I was signed up in the elite heat I had a good rack spot right next to bike out. It was a huge transition area with a lot of trees and few pavilions within it. I set up my area and then mapped out where I would be entering and exiting for the swim and run. I went for a quick 10 min jog with my coach (who was also racing) and checked out the beginning and end of the bike course. There were two sections where we would have to ride on grass so I’m glad I was able to see those prior to the start. After the run, I put on my wetsuit and headed down to the water (76 degrees). I did a 5-10 minute warm up and then headed to the starting area. I knew there would be a some good swimmers (including 2 pros) so I was going to try my best to stay with them.

Chisago Lakes Triathlon 2014 - Eric EngelSwim: The gun went out (actually it was just a whistle) and we were off. I stayed with the front pack for the first 100 yds, but they began to put a little gap on me so I decided to stick to my own pace. I stayed with a small chase pack up until the first turn buoy. After that I was on my own for the rest of the race. This happens a lot for me since I’m usually right between the really fast swimmers and the decent swimmers. I always find myself alone out in the lake. After making the first turn, the chop really picked up. I had to adjust my breathing to avoid taking in water every time. After the next turn buoy I was headed to shore. This is where things got interesting. I began to swim through weeds. I don’t really mind weeds at all, but these were tall and thick. My arms would get caught up just doing a stroke so at times I had to almost change to a breaststroke. I remember thinking at the time that if I was panicking a little bit, I can imagine what some weaker swimmers were experiencing. But you have to just keep going and soon enough I was to the beach. Swim Split: 31:26, 1:30 min/100 yds, 14th fastest split

T1: I ran up the beach and up a steep little hill into the transition area. I could tell my heart rate was skyrocketing from the weed fiasco and the run into the transition area. When I got to my bike, I estimated that I was in about 10th or 11th place. T1: 1:07

Chisago Lakes Triathlon 2014 - Eric EngelBike: The first couple miles of the bike I was focused at getting my HR down. It was in the 180’s-190’s which is way too high. It took me about 30 minutes to get my HR back down to the low 170’s. In that time I passed a few guys and thought I was sitting about 8th or 9th overall. At mile 7 or 8, a girl came flying by me. Now I know there’s a lot of fast women up in the cities area, but she was cooking. I tried to stay with her for a little bit, but I had to let her go. As I approached the Half/Sprint turn off I saw her continue onto the sprint course so that made more sense. She ended up crushing the field and winning the sprint (2nd overall including men, I believe).

Following suit of all my races this year, the bike course was very windy. I did my best to stick to my wattage goals (lower against and head wind and higher with a side or tailwind). My goal for the day was to average 260 watts. From mile 15 on, I had a guy riding behind me (legally). I made sure to keep checking that he wasn’t drafting. Along with my power goals, I stuck to my nutrition plan. Taking in a GU or GU Roctane every 20 minutes with Gatorade and water as needed. We made our way through the course and the wind never seemed to die down. We passed about 3-4 guys along the way. Around mile 50, my legs were hurting a bit, but I tried to stay as close to my wattage goals as possible. I figured I was about 6th or 7th place at that point. Bike Split: 2:15:56, 25.6 mph avg, 7th fastest split

T2: I came into T2 with a guy right behind me. I quickly threw on my socks (considered not wearing them, but glad I did) and slipped my shoes on. This was my first race this year that I used race laces. After Door County last weekend I figured I needed to save as much time as possible in my transitions. T2: 55.43

Chisago Lakes Triathlon 2014 - Eric EngelRun: I felt surprisingly good starting out the run. At Door County my goal was to keep my HR under 170 on the run, but instead my goal was to keep the pace around 6:15-6:30. I nailed the first four miles of the run around 6:15 pace, putting a large gap on the guy behind me. It was mostly an out and back run with a little lollipop at the turn around. The temperature stayed pretty cool most of the day, which was a relief after the hot temps at Door County. The back half of the course was along a highway with some rolling hills. My pace fell off a bit and I averaged 6:23 for the next 2 miles. At the lollipop section I passed the leaders, which I knew I was about 6 minutes back of the lead guy. I wasn’t able to tell how many guys were in front of my but I estimated I was in 5th or 6th place. Miles 7-9 I ran 6:23 pace. The last 4 miles were a little tougher, my legs started to hurt a bit, but I was able to hang out and keep my average around 6:30. I never caught a glimpse of the guy ahead of me and knew I had a large gap on the guy behind me. I came across the finish line in 5th place, just in the money. I finished about 7 minutes behind the leaders, which were 2 professionals. I was the 3rd amateur overall. Run Split: 1:2202, 6:23 avg (course was a little short). 5th fastest run split of the day

Chisago Lakes Triathlon 2014 - Eric Engel

Chisago Lakes Triathlon 2014 - Eric EngelOverall: I’m really happy with the way the race ended up, especially after having raced last weekend as well. My legs felt a lot better on the run than at Door County which was a good sign that I’m recovering better from IMCDA. I still have a lot to work on, especially my swim. If I want to be able to compete for wins, I need to be up with the leaders getting onto the bikes.

Up Next: I’m taking the next 2 months to recovery and get ready for the IRONMAN World Championships. I have a few weddings and some exciting things happening between now and then so I want to be able to focus on my training.

Thanks for stopping by! Have a great day!

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5 responses to “Chisago Lakes Half Ironman Race Report

  1. Pingback: My Road to Kona 2014 | Ironman Diary·

  2. Pingback: Looking Back at 2014 & Ahead to 2015! | Ironman Diary·

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