This post, as much as I’m excited about my experience, isn’t about me. It’s about you and everyone else who is out there holding on to a goal or a dream and not making it a reality. Maybe you want to take the step and try a tri. Or run a race. Maybe you want to do something completely different and unrelated. What matters is that it’s your dream, and that you are capable of doing it! Really. You are. I want to share this to inspire you, because I needed inspiration myself along the way so many times. I still do!
The Des Moines race was so meaningful to me this year, and really it always has been. It has become my favorite race, and a tradition for our family every Labor Day weekend. This race used to be the HyVee Triathlon, a huge draw for pro athletes, and was a part of the 5150 championship series. Two years ago, the 5150 series in the US fizzled, and HyVee announced they were no longer presenting the race. It is now put on by the same race management company, it’s just known as the Des Moines Triathlon.
Going back a few years, in 2012 I toed the line at the HyVee Triathlon for my first Olympic distance race. I was 11 months postpartum, still nursing almost exclusively, holding on to a lot of baby weight, and just plain tired. I’d done a few sprint triathlons by that point (before and after baby), as well as a half marathon just a few months before. Still, I had huge doubts that I was capable of completing an Olympic distance tri and was overwhelmed and intimidated by this race. An Olympic distance is about twice the distance of most sprint triathlons, hence the anxiety I felt. A few weeks before that race, I did the Corporate Cup Bike challenge in Omaha—the 25 mile distance, which is the same bike distance for an Olympic tri. I came home and had more left in the tank, and felt like I could have done more. So I did what any crazy person would do. I signed up for the HyVee Tri. Then, I surprised myself—I really COULD do it. I finished it. That decision led to me continuing to challenge myself to new distances and harder races as years have gone by.
That first HyVee Tri Sept 2012
Coming back to this year, Des Moines is much smaller than it used to be in number of participants, and lacks the fanfare of HyVee. However, it now offers both a sprint and Olympic distance, which is great for welcoming new people into the sport if they are intimidated by the distance. This year’s Olympic course was different than previous years as it featured a new double loop bike course (which ended up being WAY flatter than the old course). This was a GREAT thing.
Hubby asked me the day before if I was going to break 3 hours this time, and I said I was going to do it. Then, I told my kids I was going to do it (one of those kids rocked the Ironkids Tri the day before my race!). So, I had no other choice than to break 3 hours for this race. I committed to it by telling the people I love, so I had to make it happen.
Des Moines was wetsuit legal (surprisingly). I do not prefer to wear my wetsuit, but given my next race (Ironman Louisville) will likely be wetsuit legal. Since I intend to wear it then, I decided I needed to race with it on this time. My swim time was 31:25. I surprised myself with taking almost 3 minutes off my time from the previous week’s swim in Lincoln, so I think it was worth it!
The flat Des Moines bike course worked in my favor as well. I knocked both loops out in 1:18:50. My fastest Olympic bike time ever. I loved that bike course. Well, except for the part on the far end of Water Works Park that has a very bumpy and torn up road. People were riding far left in the lane just to get a bit of smooth road, myself included. I was so nervous about a flat tire because it was so rough. Hubby and the kids greeted me towards the end of the 2nd loop (this was the only time I saw them). They missed me at T2—by the time they got there, I must have already been on the run. Though the Only run loops back by transition after the first mile and a half or so, they knew it would take time to get downtown and park to get to the finish line so they booked it.
By the time I got out on the run, I started doing the rough math. 31-ish minute swim + 1 hr 18 minute bike = just under 2 hours. I didn’t have my transition times recorded on my Garmin, but I figured if I could bust one hour on the 10K–I would be under 3 hours. I was taking NO chances this week, not after last week’s 21 second miss. I swore I would give this all I had for the run.
The first mile of the run was hard. I was having a tough time keeping a 9 min/mile pace, and my hip adductor muscle was giving me grief. People were passing me. Something lit my fire once I hit the first water stop around the first mile marker, though. I took my fuel as planned, hydrated, reset my mind, and then my wheels just started. The pain in my hip went away, and I started passing people that passed me earlier, and I just kept going faster! I held an 8:30 or lower the rest of the race, and kept looking at my Garmin in such disbelief that I was doing this, and I felt really good. The Olympic run through Des Moines winds up and down some of the downtown streets, most of which are a bit desolate for miles 4 and 5. I remembered this from last year (it really messed with my head). I hit the 4 mile mark when things started getting rough again this year, and I told myself if I just run faster I’ll get to the finish line faster. Where all the people are. I was still holding sub-8:30 at this point. The last mile is a loop that has a ton of support, though, followed by a killer hill that goes up to the capitol building. Once I get to the hill I know I’m there. I look at my Garmin and I am in the 52 minute range for my 10K (again, disbelief). I did it. I know I broke 3 hours. I see my Hubby and kids as I hit the finishing chute, and I felt a huge sense of relief and accomplishment. I did something that I once thought was impossible. I broke my 3 hour Olympic tri.
I couldn’t wait to get to the timing tent to see my official time. After greeting my Hubby and kids, I high-tailed it to see what my time was. Again, I was met with complete disbelief. I shattered my goal by over 12 minutes! The printout read 2:47:32. How in the world did I just do that?!
I give all glory to God for this race.
There are so many things that had to come together for me to do this. My nutrition plan is dialed in (thanks to Niki Kubiak with Infinite Sports World!). My nutrition has been a game changer for me all season long. Additionally, I have trained harder this summer than ever before. I have met so many fears and doubts about what I can do. I’ve come a long way since that day in 2012 when I toed the line for an Olympic triathlon.