“if you are an Olympian go around me”

“If you are an Olympian, go around me.”

~volunteer on the run course

Cliff Notes Version: I GOT to race the Bluff Creek Olympic-distance Triathlon on Sunday, August 15, 2021! 💙💛

  • this is a small local race
  • parking is about 1/2 mile from transition
  • the air temp was in the low 60s by race start, sunny, very low humidity, and very little wind
  • the water temp was ~77F so I wore my Roka swimskin
  • the swim course this year was changed so shuttles would not be needed to transport athletes around the lake for the swim start
  • the swim start was self seeded with 1 athlete entering the water approximately every 3-4 seconds
  • the swim was out and back twice with buoys on the left
  • the bike has two big climbs of Twister hill (where the movie Twister was filmed)
  • there were no water/aid stations on the bike, which is typical for a 24.8 mile bike course
  • the run course is two out and backs with a decent hill climb done twice
  • there were aid stations on the run with water and Gatorade
  • there was food and beverage options available at the finish, but I didn’t go scope it out, so I don’t know what was offered

Longer Version: I GOT to push myself to the 2nd overall female place on Sunday (with first place going to professional triathlete, Jess Smith)!

We had a 40 minute drive from home on Saturday morning to the race site. It was a BEAUTIFUL morning with temps in the upper 50s/low 60s…drastically different from Wednesday where the heat index topped out at 106F. When we arrived at Don Williams Recreation Area, we got all of our gear ready at the car before hauling it to the transition area. We had completed packet pick up on Saturday at a local bike shop, so when wee arrived at transition, we got body marked and put everything in transition at our spots. I used the kybo before setting up my transition area. Once my area was set, I chatted with friends and former students before getting my Roka swimskin on and heading to the boat ramp for the athlete meeting.

Getting to squeeze and race with my Coeur Sports sistas!

Swim: (34:19 for 1500 meters at 2:17/100 m average pace)

We self seeded on the boat ramp for how confident and fast we thought we’d swim, so I stayed toward the front of the line of Olympic distance triathletes. When it was my turn, I dove into the water. I felt so strong and confident as I made my way to the first turn buoy. The water felt really warm, so I was grateful to have the swim skin on and not a wetsuit. As I made my way around the first turn buoy, I was swimming directly into the sunlight. This made it a bit challenging to site, but I did a great job of swimming straight. There were some athletes in front of me swimming on the wrong side of the buoys after making their way around the 2nd turn buoy, so I collided head on with them. They apologized as I forged on. After turning around the 2nd swim buoy, the sun was no longer in my eye and I was able to quickly and easily make my way back to the 1st turn buoy (which would be turn buoy #3). As I approached this turn buoy, the traffic became much more congested as the sprint triathletes were making their way into the water and around the turn buoy. We had the sprint triathletes in the mix with us until about the 1/2 way point back into the sun toward the 2nd turn buoy (which would be turn buoy #4), but then the traffic thinned out for a bit. I easily and quickly made my way around the 4th swim buoy and headed back to the boat ramp. At about that 1/2 way point we encountered more traffic again as the slower sprint triathletes made their way around their turn buoy and toward the boat ramp. It was nice to have the big swim exit arch to site off of at the boat ramp.

***Side note…the timing mat for the swim exit was actually up at transition, so my slower time/pace is reflective my swim + a decent run to get to the timing mat.

T1: (1:29)

As I exited the water, I got my swimskin off just below my hips, removed my goggles + swim cap, and ran all the way through transition since my bike was right next to bike exit. When I arrived at my transition spot, I stripped off my swimskin, put on my socks + bike shoes, donned my helmet and sunnies, grabbed Mojo, and off we went!

Bike: (1:21:34 for 24.8 miles at 18.2 mph average speed)

After crossing the mount line and getting on Mojo, we cruised our way out of Don Williams Recreation Area. This course was nothing like Saturday’s super flat course! We had some rolling hills before reaching the first big climb at about mile 7. Those rollers primed the legs for what was to come. As we were climbing Twister Hill for the first time, a few of us were chatting a bit (people I was passing and those passing me) about how beautiful the weather was…and some complained about how big and steep this hill was, but I didn’t let their negative chatter impact me. I LOVE A CHALLENGE! At the top of the climb, it was time to put the hammer down and work to make gains on the people I saw in front of me. After all, playing chase on the bike lights my fire! I got to cheer on my Coeur Sports sister (and professional triathlete), Jess Smith, as she was making her way back to Twister Hill for the last time. There were some more rolling hills before making it to the turn around at mile 12.4 and again after the turn around as we made our way back to Twister Hill. Before making it back to Twister Hill for the second time, I got to cheer on my Coeur Sports sister, Sarah, as she had just crested the top of Twister Hill. I asked her if she liked that climb and she relayed that she wasn’t a fan. Who ever said Iowa was flat clearly hasn’t experienced Twister Hill. 🤪 As I was going down Twister Hill the second time, I saw an athlete walking up the hill with his bike…that’s how big/steep of a climb it is. I powered my way back up the climb and was making my way back toward transition when our friend Steve passed me with about 2 miles to go on the bike. I was determined to keep him in my sites as we approached Don Williams Recreation Area. I absolutely LOVE a good challenge! I had SO MUCH FUN on this course! I was smiling and giddy the whole time!

LFG! ⚡️
Photo credit: Dave Mable

T2: (0:40)

As I came into T2, saw the Iron Hippie walking on the road near bike dismount, so I knew he was done with his sprint race. I yelled “hi” at him as I rolled into the bike dismount and ran into the transition area. I quickly racked my bike, dropped my helmet, changed into my Newton running shoes, grabbed my visor + race belt, and ran out of T2. I had only seen a couple of women in front of me on the bike course, so I wanted to hunt them down! I knew I would never catch Jess Smith…hello professional triathlete…but the rest of them were my rabbits to chase down!

Run: (52:04 for 6.2 miles at 8:24/mile average pace)

As we exited T2, we ran on trails through the wooded area that eventually spit us out on to the paved campground roads. This route had a mix of sun, shade, flats, hills, and spectators in the campground + lots of fun! I could see our friends Mindy and Steve in front of me. It was time to chase them down! Mindy and I chatted briefly as I passed her. Just after mile 1, I took water from the aid station…thank you ISU Physics club! The ISU Physics club had brought volunteers out in full force and it was fun to see a bunch of them on the course. After the aid station, I put the hammer down on the slight climb to catch Steve who was just ahead of me. I caught up to him just before the turn around out in the campground. We chatted as we ran together briefly and then I forged ahead. I took in water at the aid station again before climbing my way up the steep hill. I tapped into my intentional thinking to not allow myself to walk…”I set goals on purpose and with purpose. I like a good challenge. This is good prep for worlds. Just keep running.”

As I came to the turn around, the volunteer at the cone said, “if you are an Olympian go around me. If you are finishing, turn right.” I smiled big as I rounded the cone to head back out for lap two. I again grabbed water at the aid station on the dam, made my way to the turn around out at the campground, back to the aid station for water before climbing the steep hill for the last time. I kept the intentional thinking strong and focused…”I set goal on purpose and with purpose. I like a good challenge. This is good prep for worlds. Just keep running.”

This time when I got to the volunteer at the cone saying, “if you are an Olympian go around me. If you are finishing, turn right,” I got to turn right back through the wooded area toward the finish line. This is where I saw Dave Mable who briefly ran with me for some video footage before I got to that finish line.

So much heart and courage running into that 2nd place finish!
Photo credit: Dave Mable

Overall: (2:50:07…2/16 Female, 35/81 overall)

I am SOOOO incredibly grateful for a strong body and mind! I never would have dreamed that I would ever get 2nd overall female at an Olympic distance triathlon the day after taking 1st overall female at a sprint triathlon, but here I am…and it feels AMAZING!

That 2nd place medal at Bluff Creek
Photo credit: The Iron Hippie

Gear: Coeur Sports triathlon shorts, Coeur Sports sports bra, Coeur Sports aero top, Roka X-1 Goggles, Roka Viper x2 Short Sleeve Swimskin, Specialized Transition tri bike, Specialized S-works Evade helmet, Specialized Torch 2.0 Road Shoes, Coeur Sports visor, Newton Kismet running shoes, Roka SL-1X sunnies

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