I’m safely back in Seattle now. Far away from the polite people, logical transportation network, and attractive architecture that Des Moines uses to lower your guard and keep you from remember to pay attention to silly things like pre-race changes to swim courses and which side of a concrete barrier you’re supposed to ride on.
I swam strong, biked strong, and ran horribly this weekend. It was my slowest 10k in over a year, and it was done on a course that (aside from the humidity) should have been the easiest run course I’ve done. I lead the swim, and was about cruising 25 yards in the lead when I made a 4th left as was described in the manditory pre-race meeting. 30 seconds later a kyak stopped me and pointed to the shore where two of my competitors were nearing the beach. They had apparently listened to the race director before the start when he told us the course was changed to three lefts and a right.
I was tied for 3rd onto the bike course, but shortly moved up to second. The lead cyclist pulled away gradually until the last 5 miles when I finally started feeling great. I was closing the gap rapidly when I misread a volunteers directions and went the wrong way on a turn. By the time I unclipped and threw my bike over the concrete median to return to the right side (on the left side) I was in 3rd, and no loner closing on anyone.
Out of T2 I was tied for second, but was craving the gel flask I had lost going over train tracks at mile 5. Without any fuel 80 minutes into the race I was low on energy, and unable to run fast. Negative thoughts kept creeping into my head, and it was a conscious effort to replace them with images of pink roses and ice cream cones. Just past half way I saw Jason Mucher from USAT chearing my name. From then on I had a painful smile on my face, and the last lap of the run, while still sub-par, was somewhat faster than the first.
I crossed the finish line 4th, but rather than my normal chatting with the other finishers I rushed to the aid tent and grabbed ice to shove anywhere I could to cool off. It was quite a challenging course, and I’m happy that even with a few mistakes I was able to finish with a smile. My focus continues to be on Nationals in two weeks, and I’m excited for some northwest style hilly fun.
After the race I was finally able to spend a little time with my host JJ Bailey. JJ was forced to walk part of the run due to a funny heart beat, but still managed a 6th place finish. When we left the race that night (after watching the pro women and men race for $200k and a hummer) we were invited to a post-race bbq with Team Zoom. The part reinforced my new opinion that Des Moines must harbor some of the nicest and most welcoming people in all of the US. I didn’t see a cow or a corn field while I was there. Later in the night we met up briefly with a few of the pros for some local fun, which I won’t go further into detail about, but it was definitely not the cow tipping I would have previously expected of Iowa.