The Des Moines Triathlon

I guess it’s time for a race report on my first Olympic triathlon, so here goes…
My wife and I arrived to set up our transition area at 5:20 am. There were already lots of people there setting up. The biggest concern: water temperature. The announcement came over the speakers that the water was 81°. Not wetsuit legal if you want to win an award.
Julie and I stopped setting up for a moment to discuss this. We can swim a mile without the wetsuit, but that’s when it’s just us, not a huge crowd of people all swimming for the same markers. Did we really think we would hit the podium on our first try? Did we need the extra worry and anxiety? This was our first Olympic distance triathlon, so we were nervous enough. We made our decision: pull out of the age group division and enter the wetsuit division. We would still get our times and finishers medals, and we were here to just finish, after all.
After prepping our areas and chatting with friends, we headed to the other side of the lake for the swim start. Before we knew it, the first horn sounded and the pros were off. Then the age groups went, 8 at a time, then us. I was happy to see we weren’t the only ones in the wetsuit division!
I ran in the water and glided in as soon as I could. It helped me get into my rhythm and I reached the first buoy marker quickly. Now a right turn and down the length of the lake.
There were yellow turn markers and orange position markers. I swan close to the orange markers until I could sight the yellow turn marker. I sighted, and noticed everyone angling to the right. I spotted what they saw: yellow. I started that way then remembered when we walked the lake the day before that the buoy wasn’t that far to the edge of the lake. I stopped and treaded water for a moment and saw what it was: a volunteer on a jet ski wearing a bright yellow shirt! I re- sighted and finally spotted the marker. When I reached the marker, the crowd realized their mistake and was now all around me.
I made turn two and three without issues. One green marker to find and I’d be done! Suddenly someone kept bumping me to the point where I slowed to let them pass. He did, then he stops in front of me to sight! So I passed him again, and then he’s hitting my leg constantly. Finally he actually grabbed my leg, and I’m surprised he didn’t smack my family jewels. I shook hard and slapped the water with my foot really hard. He let go, and I could almost tell by the way he let go that he was saying “Oops! Sorry!” At that point I was glad I had the wetsuit because without it I would have panicked. Something to work on I guess.
Finally the green marker appeared, and I was out of the water. I finished the swim, and that was the main goal. I hoped to complete the swim in 45-55 minutes. Actual time: 35:32 for 1,837 yards. ✔️
T1 was 5:22. A little slow, but with taking off the wetsuit I’ll take it.
The bike was great. Some rolling hills and a couple steady climbs made me glad I bought all those “Sufferfest” videos. I passed quite a few people on those hills. I really pushed it on the ride and I would regret it on the run later. More bike/run bricks are in order. I wanted to finish the bike in 1:45 or less. Final on the bike: 1:25:42 for 40k. ✔️
T2 – the kiss of death. I knew better, and I even tell those I’m mentoring in running to eat little bits at a time and not too much, yet I was so hungry I slammed down as many Honey Stinger chews as I could and washed it down with half a bottle of water before I took off to run. In 90°+ heat with a heat index of 105°.

T2 time – 3:06 (cut all the shoveling food, and I would have been under 2)
Run – the first two miles were pretty good, with the exception of the inner part of my quads burning from the bike. This eventually went away, but a new problem arose: I had a knot in my stomach from pigging out in transition. The heat was unbearable and every time the wind would blow (which wasn’t often) I’d get chills. I figured I was dehydrated, but didn’t want to put anything else in my stomach because it hurt so bad. I finally tried to walk a bit to settle down and not throw up, then used a walk run method to make it to mile 4.
My friend and training partner Kara caught up with me, and together we would finish the last 2.2 miles together. It seemed appropriate, since we crossed the finish at her first marathon together, hand in hand. Julie calls Kara my running wife, and it fits.
We had one hill to go, then turn to the finish. We slowly ran up the hill and crossed the line, got our medals and hugged. Then we waited for our significant others to cross the line. I wanted to finish the run in 1:00:00. Final time: 1:22:10 ✖️
The goal was to finish, and I did. I was hoping for a time of 3:45:00 which I would think would be ok for a first Olympic Tri. Ideally if everything was perfect, I thought 3:30:00 would be amazing!
Final time: 3:31:51. Julie crossed the line at 3:56:28. I was at the finish line to present her with her medal and to give her a big hug.
Lessons learned: train harder without the wetsuit. Maybe train to swim 2+miles without it, so one mile won’t be bad at all. Also work on far distance sighting.
Transition: get in, get out, move on. This is no time for a breather, you have a race to run. And no pigging out and slamming tons of water. A little fuel at a time, and the same for water.
Train on more hills and more bike/run bricks. Although my legs felt pretty good after the ride, not the spaghetti legs I have had in the past at sprints.
So with the lessons learned, you should have guessed that I’m already planning on training for the next one. I loved it! Great event and a great group of people to be around!
That’s it! Let me know what you think, or if you have any tips or suggestions. Thank you!



  

Live healthy, be happy!
Travis

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