Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Sept. 2009-Last Two Tri's of the Season

Tri season is over for me, but I'm already making plans for next year! Isn't it crazy how this sport gets in our blood?!

In the last three weeks I’ve done two triathlons. After concentrating on running races for the past two months it felt good to be a triathlete again. It had been a productive year for me and I wanted to finish strong.

On Aug. 23 I traveled to the Hickory Grove Triathlon near Colo, IA. I rode over early that morning with fellow club member, Brita. Having someone to talk to really calmed my nerves; it was the most relaxed I had ever felt at a race. Normally I feel like I want to throw up right before a tri!

That morning a raccoon had crossed the road on our drive over and I consider raccoons a good luck charm. Temps were in the 50’s so the water actually felt warmer than the air temperature. Race organizers had broken up the tri into essentially two races with a 30-minute delay between waves 3 and 4. I guess they wanted to avoid congestion on the looped bike course, but I wasn’t too happy about the change. They also switched from an out-and-back swim to a counter-clockwise triangle.

I got this brilliant idea that I would race as an Athena. It’s not that I thought I would be any more competitive in that group; it just seemed like Athena’s started earlier. Days before the race I found out that the Athena’s would be in the last swim wave! I didn’t want to be the last one out of the water so I requested to be moved into my age group. So much for trying to buck the system!

I started the swim and tried to get around the corner of the triangle before the next wave came up behind me. They were coming hard and fast and somebody whacked me in the back of the head! I made it out of the water and headed to T1. Organizers had also decided to move the transition area to a gravel parking lot. Were they trying to make me mad?! They laid a rug down, but it still felt like you were running on gravel with bare feet.

I was off on the bike. I couldn’t seem to find the right gear. I knew I was working a lot harder than I should be. “Okay, your legs are going to have to carry you on the bike and your heart is going to have to carry you on the run,” I told myself.

I like the Hickory Grove run, which is partly on grass. I passed a 20-something girl, which always makes my day, and I zeroed in on the triathlete who was walking in front of me. “Blood on the water,” I said. I then saw she had wrapped her knee. As I pulled up behind her she started running and pulled ahead. We did this several times. She would walk and I would pass her and then she would run and pass me. I finally decided I was going to pass her for good.

At one point I looked back and saw Gimpy Girl was being passed by another runner who had now set her sights on me. I tried not to look back, but I could feel her getting closer. I couldn’t hold her off and she passed me with half a mile to go. I hate that! Fortunately, I heard the sound of the MWX cowbells and it carried me home.

I bettered last year’s time by six minutes, plus Brita and I stopped at Dairy Queen on the way home. It was a good day.

The 3 Amigas were at Hickory Grove. If you haven’t met club members Kristi Hupfeld, Laura Platner and Laura Greif, you will soon. They do a ton of races and most of the time they race together. They are in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s so three different age groups, but they found a common bond. They really epitomize what teamwork and support in this sport is all about. Laura won the drawing for a free entry to next year’s Bluff Creek Tri (which she had predicted would happen) and said they would all do the race together.

Well, I wrapped up the season on Sept. 13 at the Cy-Man Triathlon. I try to do a race each year that I have never done before and this was it. My sister and her boyfriend from Rochester, MN came down to support me.

I didn’t enter the water until 10:15 AM so I didn’t like the late start, but I figured maybe the Iowa State students running the thing had to sleep in! During the bike I could feel my legs shaking, which had never happened before. I think my body knew it was the end of the season and I just felt tired and worn down. “Is this how you want to finish the season?” I berated myself. “Are you gonna punk out?” That was enough for me to lay the hammer down to get through the bike.

Temps were heating up by the time I started the run. I thought, “I could really use some cowbell!” My sister was there to cheer me on; support means so much when you are trying to push through to the end. “Finish strong,” I said (I have a lot of conversations with myself!). I ended up with my best overall time and best swim…a good starting point for next season. I was most happy that I got my T2 under one minute—a goal of mine.

Now it’s off to Club Nationals in Oklahoma City to cheer on my fellow MWXers! Go Green!!

Keep Tri-ing!