I hadn't originally planned on doing this race, but the bid I placed at our club's auction for the race entry ended up winning and Wes didn't want it. So, I signed up. The race is held at the same time as the Half Ironman distance race, with the Olympic being in it's third year and my second time racing it. Leading up the I had checked the start list and the really fast racers were signed up for the half, and there was just one other elite signed up for the shorter race. But, the race doesn't sell out, so that could change right up until the day before the race. Last year former Olympian Radka Vodickova swung by Iowa on her drive between two other triathlons to easily take the win. So, you just never know what's going to happen.
Friday night we made record time getting the camper ready and heading up to Pleasant Creek Park, just west of Cedar Rapids. Settled in quickly and cooked up some dinner, including veggies from the garden. Yummy!
With Hy-vee coming up in two weeks, the decision was made to train through this race. Saturday was a 40-mile bike ride with some hard intervals in the middle. It was nice to ride somewhere other than around home, and the bike course for the race is pretty bike-friendly to train on. After lunch we drove into Cedar Rapids for packet pickup. The wall in the room has the final start list for the race, which includes an additional elite female, Lesley Smith. Hmmm...the name seems familiar. From Iowa City. Huh? As we're leaving the hotel I find out from one of my Iowa HEAT teammates a little more about mystery girl. She's a pro originally from Iowa City and is back for the summer. Fun! :( After some stalking back at the camper, I find out she's also sponsored by Zoot. Cool! I had seen a pro in a Zoot uniform (a much fancier looking one then mine) at Kansas 5150, so looked up the results, and, yup, that was her. Our swim and bike times were about the same (with her faster), but she can run! I start to second-guess my hard workout that afternoon, but quickly come back to the reality that no matter how fresh I am, she's still going to destroy me at the race.
This race is known for being hot! The week leading up to the race had some pleasantly cool temps, and the forecast for race day was no different. But, as I'm heading to bed Saturday night and watching the news, I find out that there is fog moving in. A few years ago the race was delayed a half hour because of fog. Not real safe to swim in open water when you can't see the buoys you're swimming towards, and the safety volunteers can't see you.
Sunday morning I was up at 4:30am for breakfast, then headed to the race site at 5:30am. The transition area opens at 6am, but the line was already forming as usual. I really wanted to get in a long warmup, so needed to get through the line quickly. I was also able to get a good spot on the transition rack for my bike. After setting up, I biked back over to the camper and rode the trainer for about 15min before heading back. The roads are a cluster with cars coming in and I didn't want to deal with that. I then went out for a mile and a half run. The time was going quickly, so after a final look at my transition area I started the long process of squeezing into my wetsuit. The water temp was just about 70, which is perfect!
|Wes' post-breakfast, pre-race nap.|
The elites, teams, clydesdales, and athenas did a mass start followed by a time trial start for the rest of the participants. This was much better than what they did last year, which was the elites just stood in line like everyone else.
The fog was lifting just enough that we were only delayed for a few minutes. We all waded into the water for the gun. I considered lining up behind Lesley, but decided instead for what looked like a team person in a speedsuit. I had hoped she would be slightly faster than me, and pull me ahead of Lesley. It did not work out nearly as planned. Yes, team girl was slightly faster than me and I was able to stay in her draft, but I don't think she has much experience with open-water swimming. We swam far from a straight line, and at one point had to stop to figure out where we were.
I come out of the water in 3rd place. Bridget (the elite that had been signed up as elite all along) was 4 minutes ahead and Lesley was 1min ahead of me. At this point I realize the Kansas 5150 race was wetsuit legal for me, but not Lesley as the professionals have a different limit for wearing wetsuits. So, although our swim times at Kansas 5150 were similar, I had an advantage with wearing the wetsuit. I should have attempted to draft off her instead of directionally-challenge chick, but I'm not sure if I would have been able to hang on anyway.
On my bike I was carrying new nutrition, Skratch Labs Raspberry. I had only had it twice before the race, but I really enjoyed it and wanted to try it out in a race prior to Hy-vee and this was my only chance. My goal for the bike was to try to hold 190 watts. This is about 10 watts less then what I could hold at the beginning of the summer, but my bike training has gone a bit downhill the past few months. At Age Group Nationals the week before I only managed 188, but with how the rest of the race went, I'm pretty sure I was dehydrated going in. This time I drank PLENTY of fluids on Saturday. Also, at Age Group Nationals we're not able to do a bike warmup, but I also didn't do a 40 mile hard bike ride the day before. I was pleasantly surprised to be able to hold 190 out and 192 back!
At the bike turnaround I saw Lesley heading back, but didn't see Bridget. Hmmm....I had passed a few people, but assumed they were all teams. As I entered the transition area the announcer confirmed I was in second place. He also mentioned Lesley's running background (college runner), which confirmed I wasn't going to catch her :) About a quarter mile out of transition I see Joanna (she switched to the elite wave at packet pickup) coming in, but at least a few minutes back. She's a better runner than I am, but I was pretty sure she couldn't close the gap. Shortly after that I saw Bridget. From my cyber-stalking of her I didn't think she would catch me either.
Side note here...I get my workouts from my coach, Daniel, on Fridays. Friday night as we're lounging in the camper the email arrives. I read through it and out load express my confusion of "I'm supposed to do what?!?!?!".
2 minutes and 10 seconds (according to my Garmin data) after crossing the finish line. I had hoped to grab a water to take with so I wouldn't need anything from the aid stations, but that didn't work out as planned.
The second run was actually fun in a way. The weather was still pretty cool, and I got to see more teammates from Iowa HEAT out on the course.
|Making random friends on the race course.|
I did take water from two aid stations, which I felt bad about, but I made sure there wasn't anyone close behind that I would be taking away their chance at water. I took in a few more chomps along the way and finished the second 6-mile run feeling good! A quick dip in the lake to loosen up a bit and it was about time for the award ceremony.
|Podium Left to Right...Lesley (1st), me (2nd), Joanna (3rd)|
Afterwards we watched the half distance finishers before packing up the camper and heading home.
|Cheering on Ebe to the half finish line|