From Off-road to Olympic Triathlon- Kippen Places 2nd in Age Group at Traverse City Tri
August 27th, 2015 by Team OAM NOW / Athletic Mentors
By Roxane Kippen, Team OAM Now Triathlete
Northern Michigan has some of the most beautiful triathlon race venues in the state, with crystal clear waters and rolling, tree-lined roads. After experiencing the beauty of Harbor Springs last year at the Little Traverse Triathlon, I was determined to race another event “up north”. I had the opportunity to compete in my first Olympic Distance road triathlon at the Traverse City Triathlon. The race begins with a 1500 meter swim in Bowers Harbor, on the crisp, clean waters of the West Arm of Grand Traverse Bay. It continues with a challenging 40 km bike course covering both the east and west coasts of the Old Mission Peninsula. Finally, the race finishes with a 10 km run that combines pavement, a dirt road, a little bit of trail, and a grassy field.
My primary focus is off-road triathlon, which involves a swim, mountain bike ride, and trail run, but the duration of my races range from under 2 hours up to 5 hours, depending on the course. The fact that I had never done an Olympic distance road triathlon did not worry me too much; however, I did have to make some estimates to anticipate how much fuel I would need to carry and consume during the race. I estimated best case 2 hours 40 minutes and worst case 2 hours 45 minutes, with the big unknown being the bike. I had ridden my road bike a whopping ONE time this year, but I generally get one or two 90 minute mountain bike rides in per week, so I felt I was prepared for the 25-mile, hilly course. My run training was not really robust enough for a strong 10K, but I knew I could at least cover the distance.
I was able to get a restful night’s sleep at Timber Ridge Resort before the race. I had originally booked a campsite and planned on tenting it, but with temps near 90, I asked at the check in desk if there were any cabins available and luckily there was a cancellation, so I got to sleep peacefully in an air-conditioned cabin. There are nearly 400 camping sites at the resort and my cabin number ended up being the same as my race bib: #329. I took it as a sign of good things to come.
Race morning was warm with a fairly strong wind from the south, which created a challenging swim with pretty big rollers. The rough swim, coupled with a course that was about 100 meters on the long side, put me several minutes over where I anticipated my swim time. Then, the bike course included a couple of 10%+ grade climbs which left me climbing out of the saddle in granny gear! The winds from the south provided a steady headwind down the east side of the peninsula, and a slight tailwind on the return up the west side. Despite the conditions, I finished the bike almost exactly where I had estimated. I haven’t been doing much brick training, so I was unsure how the transition to running was going to go. The first 3 miles of the run were along the coast of the bay on nice flat pavement and were mostly shaded. An aid station was like an oasis on the run as the temps continued to climb. I welcomed the breeze. Miles 4 and 5 of the run turned to dirt roads and trails with no breeze. The final, brutal uphill mile was back on pavement with no shade and felt like a death march. I really felt like I had tanked my run after starting out the first half with a good pace.
At the end of the day, I finished my first Olympic distance triathlon in 2 hours 49 minutes. This placed me 7th overall for the women and 2nd in my age group and I couldn’t be more thrilled. My swim ranking was my normal top 25% of the women’s field. My bike ranking was 8th in the women’s field on a road bike vs many on time trial bikes. And, surprisingly, the run I thought I tanked was my best position, ranking 7th in the women’s field. I am also happy to have posted the fastest transition times among the women and 3rd fastest of both men and women. Check out my blog on transition for tips on improving yours. This race got me wanting to do another triathlon before the season is up, so I may tackle the Reeds Lake Triathlon for the first time in 5 years.
The post From Off-road to Olympic Triathlon- Kippen Places 2nd in Age Group at Traverse City Tri appeared first on Team Athletic Mentors.