The end of the racing season came earlier this year than any other year, on Labor Day weekend. Last year was the first year that I didn’t race the Hy-Vee race. Last year was also the first year it was a WTC 5150 event. There are two sets of waves, the 5150 Championship waves and the age group waves. The Championship waves raced for cash and prizes. To get into these waves I had to qualify at another 5150 event, which is why we did the Kansas City 5150 race in May. Not only did I place high enough in my age group at the Kansas City race, but I also earned a free entry (worth $100) into the Hy-vee Championship race. The Hy-Vee championship race gave awards to the top 3 and prizes to the top 5. In KC I placed 2nd in my age group, and was really hoping for top 3 in Des Moines, but wasn’t sure if that was possible.
Friday night we drove the camper to Des Moines. Our home away from home for the weekend was Walnut Woods State Park. If the race hadn’t moved back to the Downtown area, we would have been very close to transition. Instead we had about a 20min drive to Gray’s Lake. Not too bad, and the route to and from Gray’s Lake was a lot of the bike course so I was able to easily check that out as well.
Saturday was packet pickup and bike check in. It was also the first U of I football game for the season. After sitting through the mandatory half hour, non-informative information meeting (a heart-felt video followed by course information that didn’t include the things that I would have liked to have known as I was racing the course…like how to navigate the swim buoys as they weren’t set up as the picture showed during the course talk) we bellied up for the pre-race beer at Buzzard Billy's just down the street. A few other friends and teammates joined us as we were there for several hours. The rest of the day was uneventful and relaxing. I set up my bike in transition, and had just about the best location possible...first rack inside of transition from the bike in/out, and just a few bikes down from center. The way transition was set up was about as unfair of a setup as you can have, especially with assigned racks, and I was very lucky with my spot.
Race morning was super early as usual. My mom and step-dad were on site to watch the race, so after setting up transition I worked my way over to the swim start (unfortunately they do not allow a swim warm-up, so no warm-up at all for me that morning) and looked for them. It was a cluster, and I was extremely surprised to hook up with them.
|My mom and I pre-race|
I usually wear two swim caps. If I can get an extra race cap I use that, otherwise I bring one with me. That morning I forgot my spare and hoped to get another one at the race site. No luck. I put my cap on, then my goggles. I wish I would have done it the other way around, but was afraid of yanking out my hair getting my goggles off. As I was swimming I could feel my goggle strap working it’s way off my head. Thankfully it never came off. Other than that, the swim was pretty relaxing up until the finish. At the start it’s really hard to see the full course. At the course talk I was pretty sure they said to keep the buoys on your left the entire time. Sounded easy enough until I saw the last buoy. If I kept it on my left, I could easily cut the course to the finish line, as I saw several people doing. To make sure I wouldn’t get a penalty, I went around the far side of it before heading to shore.
As I was running through the VERY long T1 I noticed Wes’ bike was still there (his wave started before mine) and my rack looked full of bikes. The first leg of the bike goes through Waterworks park. It wasn’t too long before I closed the gap with one of my teammates, Jami. She’s an ex-U of I swimmer, and I knew she would exit the water ahead of me. I wondered if there were others ahead, too.
The bike course is a little rolling. Nothing too steep, and a good amount of flat road. I only had two issues on the bike, which were both similar. Twice I had a Clydesdale pass me, and just after getting ahead of me one sat up and took a swig of drink and the other grabbed a gu. This slowed each of them down enough that I quickly caught back up and passed them. I was not a happy camper, especially because the second guy that did it sat up RIGHT after he passed me so I wasn’t sure if I had even dropped back enough before passing him back and it was just as a course marshal road by. Thankfully no penalty was given.
Coming back in to T2 was a bit of cluster. There were still waves heading out on their bikes, which led to not much room on the bike trail. I heard there were a good amount of crashes from spectators walking across the bike trail without noticing bikes were coming and going. I was glad to not have witnessed any of that.
I was in and out of T2 quickly and headed out for the run. There is a short out and back section along one of the parking lots before winding back to downtown. I hadn’t seen my mom and step-dad since before the swim, and wasn’t sure if I’d get another chance before the finish line. But, as I was coming back from the turnaround they were headed to their car. Yeah!
I spent almost the entire run with a Clydesdale who was very nice to talk to…as much as we could talk during the 10k. I just hoped he wasn’t one that I was pissed at earlier. I few women passed me, but were not in my age group. Then, finally, a 36-year-old calf went flying by. My Clydesdale friend knew her from his triathlon club. She was a runner! Her run time ended up being over 5 minutes faster than mine! I wondered how many women in my age were already ahead, and how many more would also catch me by the end. I concentrated on picking off the women (all younger) that were ahead of me and staying with my Clydesdale friend (he seemed to be just a bit faster than me). In downtown there is another short out and back section. This is where I pulled ahead of Mr. Clydesdale. I also noticed that it seemed to be a good distance between me and the next women. Yeah! All that was left was a few more blocks, the only hill on the course, and the long finish line stretch. Heading up the hill I caught up with another teammate, Steve. I turned the corner and could hear my cousin, her husband, and daughter cheering me on from the bleachers.
On the blue carpet we (more Steve than me) decided to try to catch the one last guy ahead of us. Steve had a little bit more push left in him and crossed just ahead of me, after we both passed the random guy. Yeah!
|The chase is on!|
|Steve L and I catching and passing random guy on the big screen|
I had thought a 2:18 time was about what I would finish in, but after doing some quick math, I knew it was a bit faster. A few minutes later I picked up my post-race printout and found out my time was 2:15:53 (a PR) and I came in second place. Sweet!
It was going to be a bit before Wes crossed, so I spent some time in the athlete area with a few other Iowa HEAT members. Great food there as usual, including the Blue Bunny truck, but my stomach wasn’t ready for much yet. I also enjoyed a bit of time in the ice baths that were set up. I wandered over to find my family just as Wes was crossing, so back to find him. Once he had a bit of energy back in him we headed back over to thank my family for coming out to watch. They rock!
The finish line and transition areas were pretty far apart. I had hoped to get our stuff out of transition, shower back at camp, then make it to the finish line area for awards, but there was no way that was going to happen. Instead Wes, my mom, and I walked down to the expo. In years past it was very family friendly with tons of stands and stuff to do. I heard last year (my first year not doing this race) it was a bit underwhelming. This year’s was better, but it still lacked greatly compared to the previous years. We did pick up a few things, including a crappy, but free, beer.
It was getting close to the awards ceremony, so we wandered back to the finish area. The heat was starting to kick in, and I’m glad we didn’t have to deal with that in the morning. It was not going to be pleasant for the for the professional’s race.
The overall awards were given first. Dang they are fast women! The winner received a mini cooper car. There were several of them around the finish line area, and they are cute! For the age group winners, we received gift certificates to Orca/Orbea. A nice prize, just not sure what I want to spend it on. Maybe a new wetsuit…?
|I'm on the #2 box!|
The line for the bus to take us back to transition was soooo long, and my mom and step-dad offered us a ride. We weren’t going to refuse. Hopefully our sweatiness didn’t stink up their car too much...
After grabbing our gear, we headed back to camp to eat, shower up, and let the dog out, then to the finish line area to watch the pros. By this time the Women were finishing up, but we caught the entire men’s race. They are amazing to watch. Their route is different than ours in that they do multiple loops. The big TV screen allowed for us to see the action while waiting for them to loop back in to the grandstand area.
For dinner we walked over to Zombie Burger and filled up with burgers and chili fries. A great post-race reward. Yum!
Unless I get a free entry or they change the course to be less of a cluster, I don’t plan on racing it again. I miss having it at Raccoon River Park. The start, finish, and festivities were all in one location. Two years ago would have been perfect if it hadn’t stormed and cut the race short.
It’s been a few months since my last race. I took a week off from working out, then month off of structured workouts…just running with friends and biking to work. I needed this summer to get my mind back ready to race long again. Next year I will do at least one half-ironman, but still not sure if I’m ready to go even longer again. First, we’ll see how next summer goes.