Leons Race Report

Race Report – Leon’s Triathlon

This was the third year since the resurgence of Leon’s Triathlon.  The triathlon was a popular Olympic distance race in the late 80’s and early 90’s.  It took a hiatus and then came back in 2010 just as I started training with the Trimonsters.   For the most park the original group have been back each year.  We typically end the day sitting in the sun eating food and drinking beer as the race organizers pack up around us.  We are always the last team to leave it is always a blast.  This year especially we had over 50 athlete.

I went into this race with low expectations given my ironman finish just 2 weeks prior. I felt that I was not quite fully recovered.  If nothing else I could practice my transitions!


The alarm went off at 4:45.  I tested at 220 (a little high) I bolused 8.5 units for my bagel / banana and almond butter breakfast and correction.  I got ready, made coffee, put my bagel in tinfoil to eat in the car.   However, because I took longer to eat the timing was off and my blood glucose came crashing down so by the time I got in the car I was seeing stars.  Officially I probably should not have continued but I did anyway it was 5:35 and I needed to leave.  I drove off got on Lake Shore Drive and for the first time in my diabetic life I probably should not have, I am not proud of this fact but for full disclosure I need to say it.  I was slightly disoriented not sure if I was going the right way etc.  I ate the bagel then remembered the emergency jellybeans… yes!  Jellybeans to the rescue.  Handfuls of them.  Yes, you know what happens next.  My blood sugar shot up like a rocket (see graph).Leons dexcom report_1


For this race I was going with the waterproof pump (omnipod) for the swim then my regular pump for the rest and my Dexcom (constant glucose monitor) in the aquapac.  I set the PDM for the omnipod to reduce my basil by 60% for the swim (0.3 units per hour).  I was sort of stumped at what rates I should be using for the Olympic distance because it had been so long since I had done one.  Nevertheless going with less in the water was best.  My BG pre swim was 178.  I decided that I would just keep my basils as they are normally for the rest of the race at 0.75 units per hour. The temperatures were fantastic – water at 66 degrees – yay wetsuit then the rest of the day was due to be in the high 70’s the wind at 10-15 mph.  No extraordinary high temperatures or low to worry about.


I set up my transition area.    Leon’s is great, they have these awesome wooden bike holders with a place for your bike and a place for all your stuff, you can just sort of throw it in there and no-one can mess with it. I put my regular insulin pump in my bike shoe and set my temp basil on the omnipod.  I met some other trimonsters and T2’ers and enjoyed the warm hellos and camaraderie, we did a little ra ra piece for the tv cameras. I picked up my race packet and a “free” race belt from the vendor area. Yes, the kind young man gave it to me for free, I think I looked lost!  Applied all the necessary stickers to the helmet and bike and I was all set.    Chris had set up an interview for me with the camera crew on “ life living with diabetes as a triathlete”  they thought it would make a good little news piece for the Leon’s broadcast.  I am terrible in front of a camera and terrible at adlibbing.  But thought I’d give it a whirl anyway.    Half way through the interview the camera man had to leave to cover the national anthem.  We finished up later after the race.  I’m not sure they got enough but we’ll see.


At this point it was time to put the wet suit on J and head to the water.  I downed by Espresso flavored hammer gel for the swim. Hootie zipped up my wetsuit and immediately my chest started buzzing, it was my dexcom yelling… your sugar is over 200!  Pull the wetsuit back down turn off the alert. I didn’t want the buzz going off during the swim. Although in hindsight it might have been a good distraction.  It was a wave start and I was 4th wave orange caps – that is orange the same color as the buoy swim course marker orange.  Yes these bobbing heads in front of me all looked like little buoys.  Try following those and not go off race course!  Anyhow there was only about 100 or so in my wave a far cry from starting the swim with 2500 of your fellow athletes.  The swim was in a small lake just over the border in Indiana jokes are made that this is where the mafia used to dispose of bodies ha!  The water was cool but nice.  The horn blasted and we were off.  Shocker, Gillian panicked again.  WTF – I’ve never been afraid of water, just never a good swimmer.  Now I was a good (well ok) swimmer and I’m all of a sudden afraid.  It makes no sense.  I felt my chest tightening and my breathing was hard.  The whole time I’m thinking about a triathlon I may sign up for in September that involves a 3 mile swim and wondering if there is a cut off.  Well, despite everything I made it back alive.  Ran up the ramp and saw Katie, Tom and Helen.  I was so happy to be out of that freaking water.

Swim time 31:01 – better than I thought and 13 minutes better than Leon’s in 2010! 2011 timing was screwed up for some reason so no comparative. I know I was doing approximately ½ a mile in 15 minutes at the indoor triathlons so at 0.9 miles in 31 minutes I was rather pleased. I didn’t know what my time was until later because doh! I’d forgotten to start my watch.

Next up T1 yes y’all I was going to do this fast.  I ran towards the entrance trying to unzip my wetsuit.  I couldn’t do both. Ok walk and find wetsuit zip strap.  I finally found it and unzipped.  This is when I looked at my watch and realized that I hadn’t started it. I took the watch off to take the wet suit off and put it down.  Well I forgot to put it back on.  No matter I had my bike computer. Or did I?   For this race there was no changing.  I ripped off my omnipod and put my regular pump on, took my Dexcom out of the aquapac and put it back in its little leather case, grabbed my endurloytes, helmet, gloves, and sunglasses.

T1 – 5 min 30 seconds.. arg!  I was 2nd to last in my age group for this transition. Thanks to my team mate Susie Olsen who took last in our age group J


I started off on the bike, the road was bumpy the aero bottle giggled.  A lot! I look down and I saw that what I thought had been fixed by the bike shop was not.  The aerobottle was floating back and forth and not stuck on the velcro like it was supposed to be.  I quickly undid the elastics to stop it moving forward and attached them to the side. I checked the bike computer it seemed ok.  I moved on.  First turn, then a huge bump, there goes the bike computer (IMTX all over again), then there goes coach Chris, “G your bike computer” yes, I see.  So off the bike to walk back to get it.  Since I didn’t care much I put the computer in my pocket.  The course for Leon’s has lots of turns and you actually ride up an on-ramp onto an unused portion of a highway, kind of cool but a lot of sharp u turns as you go up and down one side of the highway then up and down the other side.  I felt great though.  I finally got some speed going on the “speed” concept bike and passed a number of people. I just got into aero and went.  As my back started to hurt I recalled portions of Chrissie Wellington’s book and her capacity to endure pain.  I thought if she can do this during an Ironman surely I can put up with some pain for an Olympic distance! I also recalled many crazy commutes home against huge headwinds, hail, sleet and snow and that was 6 miles.   So, I put my head down and suffered. I ate 4 clif blocks  and had a few sips of Gatorade on the bike.

I finished the 2nd loop and headed into T2

Ride time 1:16:11 – average 19.5 MPH  I was very happy.  Of course I had no idea at the time because my watch wasn’t on and my bike computer was in my back pocket.  I’m so glad I paid lots of money for these wonderful devices!  I can’t really compare it to years past because in 2010 the course was a bit short and in 2011 it was a bit long.

T2 I looked at my Dexcom the line was straight but I was sitting at around 230.  I didn’t do anything with that because it’s not overly terrible and I thought if I left the basil the same that it would just come down on the run anyway.  I felt super fast in T2 I found my watch and put it on.  Visor sunglasses shoes, race # check done.  I didn’t eat or test.  I grabbed my marguerita flavored blocks.  I only had 1 on the run but drank Gatorade.

T2 time 2:57 – see what happens when I skip testing!


I started the run and felt the familiar  hip pain on my right side.  I thought the new bike alleviated this issue, it’s always the one side, perhaps I’m out of balance.  But I guess maybe hammering it on the bike takes its toll.  Again I drew strength from Chrissie.  The run is out and back so I had fun cheering on other athletes as I went, there were obviously some uber fast people who were finishing as I was starting, but there were also 3 other waves who started ahead of me J  I kept running with hopes that the hip thing would go away.  I didn’t feel the plantar fasciitis which is the norm for a race it seems.  It was fairly hot out at that point and no shade.  I saw Dave Athans who yelled his usual “catch up to me Gillian” which never happens.  This man is an incredible athlete and is my hero. He has no fancy equipment it’s all just him and his strength.  I would hate to see the damage he could do with a brand new bike! Not only that but this man can party like a rockstar.  Truly a legend amongst us trimonsters. Further down the road I see Trevor (our swim coach) I try to say hi but he is in a zone then Tim, also in his zone.  A few minutes later I see Chris and tell him to “go get ‘em” he at least high fived me (I think he did end up catching them!)  Just before the turn around I see Dave Ellis and Steve, who doesn’t look happy.  I catch up to him and try to get him to come with me but it’s not his day.  Normally he beats my ass every time.  At 3 miles of any run I start to feel pretty good.  The kinks are finally worked out and I can get into a good pace.  My breathing was still pretty heavy though and I suspect I may have sports induced asthma.  Especially as I pick up the pace like that.  On my way back I see a few of the others as they are heading out – April (always smiling), Shaina (looking as marvelous as always), the Tanners, Lorrie and Susie (Team Wild) and tons of other T2’ers Abby, Traci and Sally etc.  I start to pick the pace up and take it home.  I felt good passing some people at the end.  I run hard down the finishers chute just under 3 hours on the clock (2:57:19) that means I finished in just over 2 hours and 42 minutes. Finally the other awesome thing about Leon’s is that Leon himself stands at the finish line and shakes ALL finishers hands and thanks them for being there.

Total run time 00:46:39 pace 7 min 31 seconds and fourth in my age group for the run. Probably in hindsite I should have upped my basil for the ride, the faster you go the more adrenaline you produce thus the more insulin you need. All in all I was happy no crashing lows no extreme highs but could use some tweaking to make it overall lower.  Again, love the dexcom for its durability and its staying power.  2 for 2 on the old dexcom!

So the three things I love about Leon’s Olympic distance triathlon:

1) Leon – the sweetest guy you will ever meet and he has an awesome life story,

2) the post-race celebrations with a bunch of great peeps,

3) the wooden bike racks – so civilized!

Official Finish time 2:42:19  12th out of 33 in the F40-44 category.

We ended the day with lots of cold beers and munchies.  It was glorious to have raced then to celebrate with such awesome people.  I am so lucky!

Also, below are the airdates that Leon’s Triathlon will be broadcast on Comcast Sportsnet.

Sat 06/30/12 3:30 PM 1 hour
Sun 07/01/12 7:00 PM 1 hour
Tue 07/03/12 11:00 PM 1 hour
Wed 07/04/12 4:30 PM 1 hour
Fri 07/06/12 11:00 PM 1 hour


About Gillian

I am a type 1 diabetic diagnosed at the age of 30. I run marathons, participate in bike races , ironman triathlons and everything in between.
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2 Responses to Leons Race Report

  1. Angela says:

    Great report and congratulations!
    Why do you take off the Omnipod and change pumps?

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