Friday, July 3, 2009

Hy-Vee Olympic, Take 2

Last November, perhaps after a visit to the Breezy Hills Winery in Minden, Iowa, my sister and I decided to do the Hy-Vee Triathlon again. We named our team “Wash-Dry-Put Away,” our assigned tasks for doing dishes on the farm. All winter and spring, I diligently worked on improving my swimming and JB trained on her bike. JJ, however, was preoccupied with moving to a new house and then she hurt her foot, so she withdrew from the team in April. Not wanting to abandon the race, I decided to take her place as the runner. I kept meaning to concentrate more on that phase of my training, but I never quite succeeded.

Race day arrived, a pleasant summer morning with no rain in the forecast. Thankfully, the oppressive heat of the preceding week was gone, and it was actually chilly as we gathered at 5 a.m. From the beach, the buoy marking the turning point of the 1500 meter course seemed very far away.

My swim wave went off at 6:36 a.m. The water temperature was in the low 80s – too warm for the wet suit I’d carefully packed. Once I got started, I felt more confident than last year. I was disappointed, then, to discover when I finished that my time was three minutes slower than last year (when I’d stopped to rest at almost every buoy, but had worn a wet suit).

As I entered the transition area, I took off my foggy goggles and headed toward the person I thought was JB. I realized my mistake just as I started to hand the timing chip to a surprised stranger.

This year’s bike course had more hills than last year’s, and the first half required riding into the wind. JB, who rides a heavy, hybrid bike, had worried she’d have to walk her bike up the biggest hills. I assured her doing so would be okay, but she wasn’t looking forward to her part of the race. However, after her husband gave her some tips on proper gear-shifting technique, she rode up all the hills and actually enjoyed the second half of the ride.

Then it was my turn again. The run course had more hills this year, too. The 10K course was an “out and back,” and on the return, I ran with a young woman from Chicago. I enjoyed having a companion, as there were not many runners still on the course, and we encouraged each other to finish strong. My time was what I’d realistically predicted.

Our total team time was about 20 minutes slower than last year when JJ was the runner, but both JB and I were just happy to have finished. We had some post-race Blue Bunny ice cream, collected our gear, and departed. Before the race, JB had said she wasn’t doing it again next year, but on the way from Des Moines to her house, she was already reconsidering. Maybe Santa will bring her a new road bike!

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