Thursday, July 3, 2008

HyVee Triathlon Inspires

The weekend of June 22 marked the second HyVee Triathlon. What began as a tri, in the middle was a duathalon (due to high fecal levels in the water from the floods) and in the end was a tri, did not disappoint. This is the first triathlon I've watched; the clan I roll with is typically a bit harsh when it comes to the "tri geek," and I will admit to casting my own judgments at those who roll in a paceline on Ragbrai dangerously clutching their tri bars.

Nonetheless, Keri did her first one last year and kicked some ass, and I recall Scooter telling me when I was still in Washington that watching the thing was one of the most inspiring things he'd seen.

So there we all were on a picturesque 80 degree day, cheering Keri a second time. Given that we have a difficult enough time coordinating ourselves in the middle of a normal afternoon, there was to be no coordination for a 6 a.m. start. It took me forever to get my car through the maze of road blocks, and soon after parking I saw Keri zip by looking strong on her bike. I was then ushered on to some bus, and dropped at a different portion of the race, where I sat in the middle of a long climb and awaited her on the next lap.

I was amazed at the number of athletes participating I knew; as they shouted my name all disguised in their spandex and helmets while climbing that hill. But Keri never came. Being a rookie to this spectator thing, I surely felt I'd missed something, screwed up. I asked around. I saw other athletes blazing by who I knew she'd smoked last year. No Keri.

I made my way to the grandstands for the finish. I saw the winner and stood there for what seemed like hours, sweat dripping everywhere, waiting for her finish. My tribe literally stumbled into me as I stood there. They hadn't seen her either, in fact, I was the only one who had all day. Jokes quickly turned to mild panic and eventually someone called and reported a blowout. She was off on the side of the road with her fancy bike and a totally blown tube near a town somewhere, finished. Ah the shit of it all, training for a thing for months, only to blow a tube on the first lap. But maybe she wasn't finished. After sitting on the side of the road cheering on others, resigned to her fate, a kind man who was competing actually stopped and fixed her tire. In doing so he added 20 some minutes to his time, but he also allowed Keri to finish what she started. People like this guy are what makes competing worthwhile.

I was never without the goosebumps when the duo in the picture above rode/ran by either. I don't know what the story was here, but apparently this relay team drug this guy in a canoe for the near mile swim, pulled him in a Burley for the bike leg, and pushed him for the run.

Scooter also scored some VIP passes for the Olympic Qualifer portion so we were up there with the fancy people eating shrimp and armed with little cowbells watching the Olympic hopefuls bike and run through the grandstands. It was an amazing, inspiring display of athleticism that quickly makes you think that perhaps you ought to just quit trying to pretend you're a real athlete while you're ahead, have another beer and maybe a couple more shrimp.

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