Two years ago was the first, and only time, I've done this race. It's really well run with closed off roads for the bike. The prize purse is one of the heftiest around, which also makes it appealing. In 2012 we camped at the fairgrounds, which worked out perfectly as it's only a miles or so from the race. I called Thursday to ask a few questions and found out the Junior High National Championships was in town, but they would still have a section for people camping that were not with the rodeo. Good deal!
Friday was a little bit of a late start, then made later when a half hour from home Wes realized he forgot his computer at home (needed it for work), so we turned around to get it. My hopes of getting to the campground for lunch were no longer, but we pulled over at a gas station and ate lunch in the kitchen we brought with us. We finally arrived at the fairgrounds only to find out they changed their minds and were not allowing non-rodeo people to stay there. Ugh! I remembered from the lsat time racing that there was a campground off of the bike course, so we headed to Yellow Banks campground. As we were driving through we notice how LOUD the cicadas were. As much as I wanted to find a campsite, I wasn't too disappointed to find out it was full. The ranger let us know that spot #5 was open at Thomas Mitchell, so that was our next stop. As we were pulling in a camper was leaving, but thankfully the spot was still open. A few campers down told us it had driven by and decided it wasn't good enough and was going to Yellow Banks to check it out. We were lucky! Our next option was to call my aunt and uncle, and drop cord to their house. By the time we pulled in and set up it was 3:30, 5 hours after we left North Liberty (the first time)! I had planned on some shopping at East Village, but that wasn't going to happen with how late it already was.
After a tiny bit of relaxing, we headed to my aunt and uncles to catch up (they just got back from 2 weeks in Alaska!), check out their awesome new garden, and eat dinner. That night was a meet-up for my class at Old Main Brewery in Ames. Great to see those that I haven't seen in so long. Craziest thing was Wes knowing one of my friends, Dan, from high school that I didn't know he knew. So, we spent most of the night with Dan and his wife.
|Garden pre-Alaska trip. Veggies were MUCH larger when we visited.|
Saturday morning we slept in until 7:30am, then I went for a short bike and run while Wes headed out for a run himself. The roads were decent enough we could leave from the campground. I headed north for a bit until the road T'ed with a road I wasn't comfortable riding on, so I turned around and rode south of the campground. It was going well until a huge, fast dog ran out from a farmhouse. Holly crap! And, of course I don't have my phone on me. I ALWAYS have it with me. I kept heading south to get in the miles I needed, and debated on what to do coming back. Try to hitch a ride? There wasn't much traffic at all. Go around the block? I'd have to take gravel and without my phone I didn't know how far out of the way I'd have to ride. I choose option 3....try to outride it. It came within feet of me both times, or at least it appeared to in my head. A truck was coming the opposite direction right after I passed it, and part of me hoped it would hit the dog.
I get back to the camper, text Wes to tell him not to go south of the campground, then go out for a short run. I got back, showered, made breakfast, and Wes still wasn't there. I called, and heard his phone ring in the camper. Not good. Several minutes later he arrives and tells me his story of the same dog. Knowing he couldn't outrun him on the way back, he tried to wave down a car to hitch a ride the few blocks to get past, but no luck. So, he ran through the muddy field behind the house on the other side of the street. Continuing the bad start to our camping weekend.
Our next stop was in Ames at my college roommate's house. They got chickens this year, and we wanted to see how it was going. Ames doesn't have any restrictions on backyard poultry, and I'm amazed at how many houses have chickens. Up until we got ours last year, we didn't know of any in Ames, and now I hear about them constantly. They have a few Ameraucana's (Easter Eggers) that will lay blueish/greenish eggs. I wouldn't mind replacing a couple of hens with that breed, but we'll probably keep what we have for at least another year, although we're about ready to send one of ours to the axe! I'm jealous of their fenced in back yard that allows their chickens to run freely while they're home. Currently they have 8 chickens that are a few months old, and 12 adorable baby chicks!
|Chicks chillin' under the lilac bush|
Next up was the final class reunion activity that I was participating in. They held a lunch at Brookside park catered by Hickory Park restaurant. If you are ever in Ames and like meat (or ice cream), check it out! More talking with Dan and his wife, and meeting the 4 kids. Also caught up with fellow triathlete and Zoot teammate, Mark Harms, and learned about Cluck, a chicken store south of Madison. Can't wait to visit while we're there in September!
Finally time to do some shopping! It was already getting pretty late in the afternoon, so just a quick stop at West End Architectural Salvage. They had some great stuff, but I prefer the prices at ReStore in Iowa City.
Last stop for the day was packet pickup. Hardly anyone there, so got through quickly. The swag two years ago was CEP compression socks. This year was Tifosi sunglasses. Nice! Oh, and a free beer.
|Pink to match my bike and kit :)|
As I was leaving one of the volunteers saw my race number and said "You're supposed to beat your race number". I was race number 2. Yeah, sure.
|Pretty cool packet pickup printout with the schedule on it.|
Back to the camper to get the bike race ready, and chat with the old folks camping near us. Learned about a few good camping spots for more trips! Dinner, an episode of An Idiot Abroad, popping corn, and time for bed.
Sunday (Race Day!)
Finally, race morning!! I arrive just as transition opens at 5:45am. First elite there, and still the only elite after 15min. Guess I didn't need to be in such a hurry to arrive. Oh, well. Gave me more time to meet fellow Zooter, Ben Lindell, who was volunteering in transition.
|Ben and I after the race|
While we're waiting around I talk to Daniel about the elite women field. I knew Claire Bootsma, and had beaten her earlier this year at the Pigman Sprint (she's not training as much with a wedding coming up and other stuff), but didn't recognize the other woman in transition. Daniel tells me she's a decent swimmer (so get on her feet), she's a strong cyclist, but my run is faster. Seriously? My run is faster?!?! Oh, and she's a pro. She's a what?!? And, that's all them women we knew were there.
The race is an in-water start. I line up with Claire on my right, then pro chick, Morgan Chaffin, moves to the right of her. I just stayed in my spot, as I didn't want her to know I would be stalking her feet. The cannon goes off and we all sprint. Claire, who I swam faster at Pigman by 30 seconds, was ahead of me. Not a good start. My hopes of moving over to Morgan's feet were not looking promising. I finally get ahead of Claire, but Morgan's gaining time ahead. Dam it. I notice as I'm swimming that I seem to be headed toward the turn buoys, but am pretty wide of the spotting buoys. Still not sure how straight my line was. If only I could have just followed Morgan!
I finally climb out of the water, and next to me is Claire, and then she passes me going into transition as I'm pulling down my speed suite, which I never even thought that it would be a non-wetsuit race, so this is my first time wearing it this year. Claire's shoes are attached to her bike, so she makes it in and out of T1 much more quickly, and probably more gracefully, than I do. But, I make most of that time up while she's getting her feet in while cycling.
|Bike out. Attempting to put my sunglasses on while riding. |
Every little second that I can do something while running/riding helps.
Out on the road it took longer than I thought it would to catch and pass Claire. I used more energy then I expected to make sure I made a quick and clean pass as I knew there were race marshals on the course.
Every few miles I'd watch Morgan ride past a post or driveway or something, and then count to see how long it took me to get to that same point. On the way out, it really didn't change. On the way back, I lost sight of her in the last few miles. Not good.
|Bike in. Mike bike seems huge in this picture!|
While in T2 I get an update the Morgan only has a 10 second lead. Um, what? I'm a little flustered as I leave my rack, and a few steps later I realize I left my bib behind. Ugh! I quickly turn around, grab it, and head back out on the run. I doubt it cost me more than 5 seconds, but those are very precious seconds when first place is within your reach.
The run route is along a pond for just a little bit, then does an out and back in the subdivision next to the lake (which is very rolling), then the last mile finishes around the pond. I figured I was about 20 seconds back at this point. Was coach right that I really do have a faster run? At this point in the race I don't feel confident in my ability to catch her, but I don't give up either. Through the first mile I could tell that I was getting closer. I see Coach Daniel heading back. He yells at me that I CAN catch her. I'm still not sure about that. He's usually deep in the zone when I see him racing, so I wondered at this point if he cared more about my race than his as his didn't seem to be going as well as hoped.
For the first time ever in a triathlon I have the thought cross my mind that I wished the run was longer. Halfway through the run I still didn't think I had enough distance left to close the gap. And, then, just as we're about to hit the 2 mile mark I caught up!! Now I have the fear of her staying with me and being out-sprinted at the finish line. Instead of leisurely passing I went into another gear to make it more definite.
The race had a cyclist for the lead man and lead woman, and now it was for me!!! I only had to yell at him once to go faster :) It was right after I made the pass and we were going down a short hill. Maybe he was too distracted with the excitement behind him.
A half mile later I look back for the first time...and see nothing. Where'd she go? It starts sprinkling, and felt soooo good! With a quarter mile left, it rains a bit harder and I see Daniel and his wife Katie waiting for me. He tells me she's 20 seconds behind me and looking back over her shoulder. "This is what we've trained for! You have a quarter mile left! Just one lap around the track!" Even though at this point I know she can't catch me, I finish strong with what felt like my fastest pace of the race. However, that last chunk seemed to last FOREVER! These are times I wish I wore my Garmin while racing. Was it really a quarter mile, and did I actually run faster or imagine it?
The race has so many great touches that make me want to come back and race again. As I approach the finish line, two volunteers are holding tape across it. I love little things like that. And, the Casey's breakfast pizza in the food tent :)
|Photo curtsy of Copper Creek Triathlon|
|Wes was an awesome sherpa, especially given the conditions at the end!|
|Claire and I on the podium. Morgan must have left early.|
Race Results here.
As always, a few thank you's...to my coach Daniel Bretscher for pushing me beyond my mental limits, Zoot Sports for the great clothes and awesome shoes, We Run for hosting group runs so I don't have to run by myself all the time, EpiCor for keeping me healthy and for quicker recoveries from hard training days, Core Fitness for having classes that help with injury prevention, Geoff's Bike and Ski for keeping my Specialized Shiv is race ready, and Wes for waking up early for sherpa duty on a not-so-ideal weather day.