I woke up Saturday, September 12, knowing that I was going to do my last triathlon of the year that day. Although I was sad to see the season go, I was happy knowing that I would have completed 15 triathlons that year, and 30 in my lifetime by the end of the day. Tom was up early that morning, too. Coincidently, the Tour da Woods mountain bike race was on the same day. It was his last race of the year, too.
With Ironwood being about three hours away, and the race beginning at 1:00, I headed out about 8:30. Driving across the UP in construction season is never fun. In fact, construction is one of the only things I dislike about living here. Two-lane highways with one lane closures lead to lots of time at a dead stop. I was starting to get concerned that I would be late. I stopped in Wakefield and realized that I had crossed time zones. I was going to be 2.5 hours early, instead of the hour and a half that I had originally planned.
I got to Gogebic Community College as the race organizers were setting up. They weren’t ready to start registration yet, so the race director gave me a quick rundown of the run and bike courses, so I went for a drive to check them out. The run was hilly, and one stretch of it was down a road under construction. That was going to be interesting. I also noticed that there was very little shade.
Just then, I got a call from Tom. His race was over, and it couldn’t have gone any better. He had won by over 2 minutes. This was very impressive, considering that all of the big, local players came out to play. As it turned out, he was a marked man from the start, and was able to hold everyone off. The other cool thing that he told me was that his bike team had swept the podium – 1, 2, 3. Go SISU!
As I drove the bike course, I was realizing that I was going to like it, and if there was any point in the race where I was going to make up some time, it was here. The course went through some residential areas before it hit a smooth, shaded, hilly road that headed out of town. Since the course was an out-and-back, most of the bike would be on that road. I was pumped.
I headed back to the registration area and paid my race fee. I was sad to find out that they didn’t have any more race shirts in my size. The race director said she was going to order some more, and that she would make sure that I got one. I set up my transition area, which was just in a grassy area in front of the college. I found a pole to lean my bike up on, and laid everything out. I got my body marked, and then went to check out the pool area. I would need to do 10 laps. Seemed easy enough, although I was curious to see how I would perform with the swim being last instead of first.
I decided to warm up, so I put on my IPod and headed out for a short run. Then, I came back, and took my bike out for a short spin. Before long, we were lining up at the start line and singing the national anthem. After a pre-course meeting, we were ready to go.
A mass start, 45 us of started to run. It was hot, and there was no place to hide. There were also no water stations on the run. I’m not sure why, but at least one would have been nice. When I entered into T1, I knew that I had a lot of ground to make up. I wasn’t happy with my run performance, and I knew that I was towards the back of the pack. I got onto my bike and thought, “Well, I don’t need my legs after this, so I just need to give er,” and that’s what I did. One by one, I started to pick of each girl in front of me. Since the course was an out-and-back, I was able to easily tell where my competition was. I was feeling really good, when I had the girl in second place in my sights. She kept looking behind her, knowing I was coming up fast. We made the turn back into the residential neighborhoods, and I was right on her tail. She kind of cut me off on the turn, so the first chance I got, I got out of the saddle and pounded the pedals past her. With about a mile left, I started to feel some cramps starting in my calves. I realized that I was going to really have to rely on my upper body strength in the pool. I pulled into T2 right behind the woman in first. I frantically ran into the pool area asking which lane I was supposed to go to, and a volunteer pointed me in the right direction. I started swimming, and was surprised at how tired I was, and how hard each stroke was. My calves still hurt, but by the third lap, they started to feel better, and by lap 8, I was using my legs to kick.
Pool swims are difficult in a race because you never know where your competition is. I finished my 10th lap, and climbed out of the pool, ran back outside and across the finish line. What a rush. After I crossed, I had to ask if I had won.
I went back to my car to get a towel, and saw that Tom had been texting me, wanted to know how I did. I texted him back, “I WON!”
Thinking about it today, I still get emotional. I started calling my friends and family. I called Michelle, and when I told her that I won, she thought I meant that I won my age group. I had to correct her and tell her that I had an overall win.
What a day. Tom wins in the morning, and I win in the afternoon. I’d be lying if I said that his win wasn’t motivation for me. That day was a culmination for both of us. Three years ago, we started pretty much at ground zero, literally worked our tails off, and became champions on the same day.
As it turns out, it was the bike that saved me. The girl who took second out ran me and out swam me, but I had such a big lead over her on the bike that I still won by three minutes.
My Final time was 1:27:09
Run (5K): 32:40
T1 and Bike (12 miles): 41:56
T2 and swim (500 yds): 12:33
Up next: TBD- Maybe the Green Bay Duathlon