I did this race last year, the first year it was held. Got 4th overall and of course, they paid cash to...the top three. $250, $125 and $75. So, I had a goal of getting a bit of cash if possible, depending on who showed up, which is often what race finishes come down to.
My Dad drove out with me the three hours into Iowa Sat. afternoon May 15. We checked into the motel, drove out to the lake, checked in and scoped out the course. Having raced this course last year I knew it had the hardest 5K run course I'd ever seen in 30+ years of racing. My Dad couldn't believe it as we drove up one steep hill and down the other side, one after another - relentless.
Bite of dinner, then back to the motel...only to discover...I'd left my tri bag with all my gear...in my garage at home. 7:45pm. Ouch. Called my wife and asked her to start driving east on I-80 across Iowa and told her I'd drive west. So, after driving 3.5 hours so far, I drove another hour and 45 min. to meet Jen, get the bag, then 1:45 back arriving at the motel at 11:15pm. NOT the way I'd planned to spend the evening.
Race morning was cloudy with a little drizzle that stopped well before the race. We held a short pre-race chapel for those who wanted a bit of encouragement and inspiration before jumping into the water. The race director was support of this and even attended. The men all went into the water in one heat. Water was about 60 but it didn't feel that bad. Settled into a steady but strong stroke and exited the water 5th. Headed out onto the bike in 4th, slowly moved to 3rd and played leapfrog with one other guy for 2nd and 3rd almost the whole bike. Windy and hilly out there. Was in 3rd, close to 2nd, but with about a mile to go the cyclist ahead of me pulled away and hit T2 about 30 second ahead of me.
Quick trasition and started chasing that guy up the first hill which you hit immediately out of T2. Not wanting to pull a calf or something I chugged up the hill and let him open up a 20 yd. lead or so. At the top of the first hill is the only flat part of the entire run course. I notice the 2nd place guy had a very smooth stride with a beautiful, high back kick - looked like an 800m runner. I really thought he'd just pull away but I started to open up and just tried to keep the distance what it was.
I was surprised to find that I was slowly reeling him in and when we hit the 1/2 way turn around I was right behind him. We were running all out and on that course, man, it hurt. My heel bruise was also starting to hurt a lot. Made the mistake of running in racing flats instead of trainers which would have offered much more protection for my heel. The downhills were murder on it.
I took the lead with about 3/4 of a mile to go - 2nd place - $125 was mine if I could hold it. The first place guy was about a minute ahead of us. With about 400m to go my opponent came around me and blew the doors off me - like I was standing still. He took second, I got third and the $75, which paid for the gas I burned on this trip. Found out later he ran track in college and was the Conference champ in the 5,000m all four years. No wonder he had a kick. He was 8 yrs. younger and the winner was 13 yrs. younger than me.
I was thankful to the Lord for getting third, having a good trip with my dad and having my gas paid for :) This will probably be an annual race for me as it's a lot of fun, is run really well...and it offers money!