On Monday I began a big 3 week training block with lots of volume and bike intervals to be the main focus. For the week I hit 30 hours of training which was my highest training time in a week yet this year. I biked 250 miles, ran 64 miles, and swam 21,200 yards. This was my 3rd straight week over 20,000 yards swimming. I also lifted weights and did speed drills and strides twice, jumped rope, did lunges, and push-ups all three times, core work 10 times. I did plyometrics once. It was great to be back training a lot. My run mileage has not been this high in a couple months. I set out to get 3 big weeks in before backing off a week in hopes of a good race at Ironman Racine 70.3 on July 15th. On Tuesday someone sent me a link to a race that was in Des Moines over the weekend. The race had a nice prize purse through 3 places and last year there were a few Iowa pros racing and a couple really competitive amateurs. After consulting with Jen we decided to do this race. We were already planning a trip to Des Moines to take the kids to Adventureland on Saturday and decided to stay overnight Saturday and do the Copper Creek Triathlon on Sunday. I wasn't planning to race for a 4th straight weekend but the prize purse coupled with a complimentary entry was enough to get me to sign up. I opted not to change any of my training plans. I decided I would do the race as a good speed workout and if it happened to place me in the top 3 that would be an added bonus. We also felt like last year's women's field was not super strong and Jen had just as good of a chance to place top 3 as I did.
I woke up on Sunday morning after a day of riding roller coasters and walking all over the park feeling like the Tin Man. I had bags under my eyes and frankly just wanted to keep sleeping. My body was worn down from four 5 hour training days through the week and another day just under 5 hours. I drove to the race course with Jen and began a warm up. I was really having trouble getting moving at all. My body felt as bad as I ever remember feeling warming up for a race. I wasn't sure how I was going to muster up the strength to give it a go. The one positive for me was that it rained on Saturday just enough to make the lake wetsuit legal. This was not good news for Jen as her new Xterra wetsuit had not arrived prior to our departure on Friday for Des Moines. The race was 1/2 an Olympic distance so it was much more of a swimmer's race than I would prefer with a 750 meter swim followed by a 12.5 mile bike ride and finishing with a 5k run. After slogging my way through a warm up I headed to transition where I was greeted by other pro athletes from Indiana, Minnesota, and Arizona. I began wondering what I had gotten myself into. I knew this was set up to be a royal butt kicking the way I was feeling. I tried to just look at the race as a nice speed workout to end a tough week.
SWIM: I was too late getting ready for any swim warm up so I went into the water with no swimming ahead of time. When the cannon fired the pack took off. There were about 25 elite males and 5 elite females. Jen opted to race in her age group since she would still be eligible for prize money and would have more people out in front of her on the run to keep her moving fast. We took off and I was with the group when me made the first turn but that was only about 150 meters in. My goggles were fogging worse than I can ever remember in a race probably due to not getting them used to the water ahead of time. I was having trouble seeing anything. I knew I was losing the main pack but tried to follow a set of feet hoping he was swimming in the right direction. I could not see the boueys in front of me due to the fogged goggles. The swim seemed to go by quickly and I got out of the water right on someone's feet and passed him in transition. I had a good transition to the bike. My swim time was around 11:15 which was about 1:45 down to the 3 leaders and about 45 seconds down to the main chase pack.
BIKE: Early in the bike I passed about 5 riders. I gained confidence with each one that maybe my creaky body was going to be okay. I was feeling good about things and at the turnarond on the bike I saw I was in 7th place but over a minute behind 6th. I pushed hard solo on the ride back. There were a couple challening hills to climb where I didn't feel very strong. When I made my way back into transition my brother confirmed I was in 7th and 6th was a long way up the road. I knew there was no chance at any money but was feeling good about the workout I was getting so I set out on the run trying to maintain a comfortable tempo effort.
RUN: 1/2 way into the run I could see that 6th place was really slowing down and I would soon be making the pass but that was as far as I was going to move up. Everyone else was way ahead of me. I passed him just after the turnaround and stayed settled into a 5:40 pace rhythm the rest of the way. The run course was a bit long and I ended up around 18:10. I finished in 6th place overall. The best thing I took away from the race was the fact that I felt 100 times better when I finished than when I was warming up. I quickly changed shoes and waited for Jen to get off the bike so I could run out and get some more miles while watching her run.
Jen flew through the course couting the people as she passed them. She passed over 70 people on the 5k run and turned in the 7th fastest run split including the guys. She actually ran faster than 1/2 of the elite guys field. She ended up placing 5th which was great but she was a little frustrated by it for a couple reasons. One was that her wetsuit had not arrived in time for the race. Of course it was waiting on our doorstep when we got home. The second was when she was telling me about the race she said it was so easy to pedal on the bike. She said she felt super strong and was in her hardest gear almost the enitre way. Realizing this could not have been possible I asked her if she was in her big ring or small ring up front and she said she doesn't mess with the front ring in a race, she just leaves it where it is at...of course she didn't realize when I changed her wheelset for the race I had shifted it into the small ring so I could get the wheel off easier and she/WE never bothered shifting her back into the big ring. So Jen rode 20.6 mph on this course entirely in her small chainring up front. When she realized that was why she was pedaling like crazy and the pedaling was too easy she chalked one up for a rookie mistake. I hope that she soon learns how to shift her bike and understands that there are 2 shifters for a reason on bikes. Either way it confirmed to me even more how great she could be in this sport. Being without a wetsuit and riding in the small chainring the entire way she still managed to place 5th overall in the women's field and only missed a paycheck by 2 minutes. I think next time she will get that. She isn't sure if she'll race any more triathlons this year or just focus on running but the invitation for me to retire from pro racing next year and her to launch her pro racing career is on the table for her if she wants it. I have no doubts that she could have way more success than I am at the pro level. She rode the bike once last week for 12 miles bringing her biking total to 5 rides (2 of them races) and she still hasn't cracked 100 miles on the year. I'm pretty sure if she put in some bike training with intervals and all the fun stuff she could be a stud on the bike as well as the run. I also know from a few years back when she swam for a few weeks she is a much better swimmer than she has shown. She has swam 4 times this year and two of them were races. The other two practice swims totalled 30 minutes. Either way it's pretty exciting to see her having fun at these races. There was one guy at the end of the race who held her off. It was hilarious to watch this guy change gears when he realized he was about to get passed by a girl! Congratulations to Daniel Bretscher on winning the race. He is a pro from Indiana and one I really look up to. He's a real professional on and off the course and I was excited to hear from him that he will be moving to Iowa with his fiance in December. He's in fantastic shape and you will see some big results from him this year. The event was extremely well organized and was very 1st class. Complete results with splits can be found here. 2 more weeks of big training and a promise that I won't race again until Racine in 3 weeks. Thanks for reading! DREAM BIG!!