Triathlon Across the USA: State #28 – Missouri

Triathlon Across the USA: State #28 – Missouri
Columbia, Missouri, May 1, 2016 – University of Missouri – Columbia (also known as “Mizzou”) TriZou Triathlon at the University of Missouri Columbia was my Missouri triathlon and 28th state in the ‘Triathlon Across the USA’ adventure.  Read on to learn of my experiences and lessons from the ‘Show Me State’.
map_MN_MO

Map showing the roughly 1,200 miles traveled between Minnesota and Missouri.

 

Planning the Missouri Triathlon

Planning for the TriZou Triathlon in Columbia, Missouri began the previous summer.  Our daughter-in-law, Lindsey, informed us she and Ben (our son) wanted to do a second triathlon with me.  Since Ben and Lindsey live in Nebraska, selecting a triathlon in Nebraska was one option. Another option was to find a triathlon in Missouri where Lindsey’s mother and husband live.  Joy and I had been talking about visiting Lindsey’s mom for some time so we also looked for races in Missouri near their home. A search on Running in the USA revealed that the TriZou Triathlon would be held at the University of Missouri Columbia, also known as ‘Mizzou’, on May 1st.   Lindsey’s mom lives near Freeburg, Missouri, about one and one-half hours south of Columbia.  My uncle lives in Columbia about 20 minutes from Mizzou. Since I was looking for two spring and two fall triathlons for 2016, we agreed on TriZou.  I completed registration for the Missouri triathlon on November 7, 2015.  

Travel to the Missouri Triathlon

Joy and I left our Minnesota home around 1 pm on Thursday, April 28th.  About 9-1/2 hours later, we arrived at the Neuner home south of Jefferson City, Missouri. I have traveled for business and pleasure to Kansas City and St. Louis but do not recall having been in central Missouri before.  I swear that if I ever knew that Jefferson City was the capital of Missouri, I had forgotten it.
Missouri-farm-poison-ivy

Leading up to the triathlon, we enjoyed the very real hospitality of the Neuner family home near Jefferson City, Missouri (left). One takeaway – I finally learned to identify poison ivy – ‘leaves of three, let them be’ (right).

  The hospitality was great. The wooded hills around their home were gorgeous.  However, almost immediately, I felt the effects of allergies (itchy eyes, running nose) to tree pollen I experience each spring.  (Note to self: no more triathlons during April and May in states with high tree pollen counts.) On Friday, Ben, Lindsey, and our two granddaughters, Mari Lyn and Anna Joy, joined us.  We spent the day relaxing, chatting, and exploring the farmyard and surrounding pasture, getting in some target practice.  

Visiting Columbia and Mizzou

On Saturday afternoon, Ben, Joy, and I traveled to Mizzou for the pre-race triathlon ritual known as ‘packet pickup’.  Here we received our race t-shirts and race numbers. Due to ear infections that had been keeping Anna Joy (our youngest granddaughter) and Lindsey from sleeping recently, Lindsey decided to not take part in the triathlon and instead to stay with Anna.  We agreed that this was the best decision. We attempted to drive the bike course, though realized that my map reading skills need some work.  On race day, this was confirmed as I realized we had been on the course only at its beginning. After packet pickup, we found our way to my uncle’s house where we enjoyed another evening of Missouri hospitality, homemade crispy, thin crust pizza (Joy’s and my favorite), Missouri wines, and fellowship – laughing and solving many of the country’s problems – with Wayne, Anita, and Ethan.  

TriZou Triathlon

May Day morning, Ben, Joy, and I rose at 4:30 am (yes, 4:30 in the morning). The main motivation for this horrendous wakeup time was to stake out a good location in the transition area. Even though triathlon is a supposed hobby, I often catch myself acting as if the decisions associated with it are life-altering.  True to form, I tossed and turned throughout the night analyzing various options for the optimal position of my transition area.  In other words, I was thinking about where I would rack my bike on the Mizzou Track & Field track. The transition area for TriZou was considered ‘open rack’.   This means that transition spaces were available on a first-come, first-served basis rather than pre-assigned by race number.  To get the space I preferred (near the Bike Out area for this race), I wanted to be at the race site when the transition area opened at 5 am. After packing the car and stopping for coffee, we arrived at about 5:10 am to find many people already having racked their bikes.  (There have been many races for which I have been among the first to rack their bike even when arriving 15 minutes after the transition area has opened.  That there were so many participants in the transition area this early told me that this was to be a serious race.) Ben and I racked our bikes next to each other.  Lindsey’s cousin, Jeff, also from Omaha, Nebraska, arrived a few minutes later.
triathlon-transition-area

Downtime with Ben and Jeff between transition setup and the start of the triathlon.

  All the while leading up to the race, the ever faithful supporter of this triathlon obsession, Joy, waited for us in the van.  

TriZou Triathlon

The race included Sprint (Jeff’s and my choice), SuperSprint (Ben’s choice) and Duathlon distances, including relays.  

Swim

TriZou claims to be “The Largest Pool Swim Triathlon in the Midwest”.  I guess it has earned this because of the number of participants in the Sprint and SuperSprint distances. The swim distance was 400 meter (8 lengths of the 50-meter long pool) for the Sprint distance and 100 meters for the SuperSprint.   Swimmers followed what I have called a ‘zig-zag’ pattern but what the race director called a ‘snake-style’.  In any case, we entered at one end, swam the length of the pool, ducked under the lane divider to the next lane, swam back to the starting end, and repeated the process for the eight lengths.  The SuperSprint involved two lengths of the pool.

Mizzou Aquatic Center at University of Missouri, Columbia Missouri, the venue for the swim leg of the TriZou Triathlon.

Bike

The temperature (according to my bike computer) was perfect at 64°F (18°C).  The bike segment consisted of a 7-mile course, all on the streets of Columbia.  We covered the course twice for the Sprint distance (14 miles).  Supersprint participants rode it once.. The race director described the course as a ‘technical course’ because of the many turns.   With its long hills and sharp turns, the course reminded me of the course on which I train in Minnesota.   My average speed logged by my bike computer supported this idea.  

Run

During the transition from bike to run, I experienced something never before, even in training. I nearly passed out while putting on my running shoes.  The feeling quickly passed.  I thought this to be an isolated incident. However, about a half mile into the run, the feeling returned and found it necessary to walk for a while.   I completed the 5k run through intermittent walking and jogging.  After the race, I felt fine. I have thought the feeling related to my allergies (body producing histamines) or to the antihistamine I had taken during the night before the race to quell allergy related symptoms.   My daughter, a registered nurse, supported the idea that the light-headedness resulted from the antihistamine. Any thoughts about this experience are welcome. As observed earlier in the comments about Race Day, TriZou was, as predicted, a competitive race.  While the problems during the run cost some time, I still would have ended near the middle of my age group (60-64).  I ended 5th of 9 in my age group and 311th of 483 participants.  Positive results in my age group were 1st in T1, 2nd in T2, 3rd in the swim, and 4th in the bike.  

Race Firsts

First time experiences or observations associated with this triathlon were:
  • Swim in a Division 1 college pool.
  • Triathlon with the transition area on the track around a track & field facility.
  • First with Ben and my bikes racked next to each other.  (This was my second triathlon with him.)
  • First riathlon in which I became ill during the race.
transition-area-TriZou-Missouri-Triathlon

The transition area was located on the track of Stankowski Field, which is adjacent to the Mizzou Aquatic Center, location of the pool swim. The ‘Bike In’ and ‘Bike Out’ were on one end of the track (to the right of the area in the picture), while the ‘Swim In’ and ‘Run Out’ were at the other end (to the left of the area in the picture).

 

Lessons Learned

  1. One lesson that I learned came from the video of my stroke. While my right arm extended properly, the left arm extension was much shorter.  I am not certain if this was unique to the race situation or a feature of my stroke – I have not seen video of my swim stroke before.  Since seeing the video, I have been conscious to extend both arms during the reach portion of the stroke.
  2. I cannot say that I learned what caused the light-headed feelings during transition T2 and the run. However, I do know that I will be more conscious of the possibility for allergy symptoms in planning future races.
 

Return Home From the Missouri Triathlon

After having lunch with Ben and his family, we headed our separate ways.   While it rained most of the 8 hours, traffic was light and the roads were good. We had always thought of attending Tulip Time in Pella, Iowa.  Unfortunately, we were one weekend too early. Nevertheless, since we passed near Pella, we made a short detour through town.  Sure enough, there were thousands of tulips in bloom and plenty of evidence of the preparations for celebrations the next weekend. We also finished the CD book Killing Reagan by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard, learning more about President Reagan and his family, administration, and personal struggles related to memory loss.  

Takeaways

There is so much to learn about triathlon and my body (actually, the human body in general) and its reactions or responses to different environments and situations. The swimming, biking, and running are important parts of this journey.  However, the enjoyment around seeing the USA and sharing time with those we are fortunate enough to meet along the way makes me never want to stop this adventure.  

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