Triathlon Across the USA: State #28 – Missouri

Triathlon Across the USA: State #28 – Missouri

Columbia, Missouri; May 1, 2016 – University of Missouri at Columbia; TriZou Triathlon

The TriZou Triathlon, held at the University of Missouri at Columbia, was my Missouri triathlon and 28th state in our ‘Triathlon Across the USA’ adventure.

Planning the Missouri Triathlon

I started planning the Missouri triathlon during the summer of 2015. While sitting on our patio one summer afternoon, our daughter-in-law, Lindsey, informed me that she and our youngest son, Ben, wanted to do a second triathlon with me. Since Ben and Lindsey live in Nebraska, one option was to find a triathlon in Nebraska.

Another possibility was to find a triathlon in Missouri where Lindsey’s mother and husband live. Joy and I had been talking about visiting them for awhile, so we also looked for races near their home.

Through a search on Running in the USA, I learned about the TriZou Triathlon. This race was to be held at the University of Missouri at Columbia, also known as ‘Mizzou’, on May 1st of the next year. 

Lindsey’s mom lives near Freeburg, Missouri, about one and one-half hours south of Columbia. Also, my uncle lives in Columbia about 20 minutes from Mizzou. Seemed like a good opportunity to combine a triathlon with family time.

Since I was looking for two spring and two fall triathlons for 2016, we agreed on TriZou. On November 7, 2015, I registered the three of us – Ben, Lindsey, and me – for the Missouri triathlon.

Travel to the ‘Show-Me’ State

Joy and I left our Minnesota home for Missouri around 1 p.m. on Thursday, April 28th. About 9-1/2 hours later, we arrived at Lindsey’s mother’s home south of Jefferson City, Missouri.

Map between Minnesota and Missouri for the TriZou Triathlon.
Map showing the roughly 1,200 miles traveled roundtrip between Minnesota and Missouri for the TriZou Triathlon.

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.

We were treated to real southern hospitality in a gorgeous area of the country. Their home, nestled in the hills of central Missouri, provided relaxation that is hard to beat.

However, almost immediately, I felt the effects of my allergies to tree pollen (itchy eyes, running nose).  I have since been careful to avoid scheduling triathlons in states with high tree pollen counts during race days.

On Friday, Ben, Lindsey, and our two granddaughters, Mari Lyn and Anna Joy, joined us.  We spent a lazy day chatting and exploring the farmyard and surrounding pasture. Later that day, we took advantage of being in the country to practice our shooting skills.

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

Visiting Columbia and Mizzou

On Saturday afternoon, Ben, Joy, and I traveled to Mizzou for the pre-race triathlon ritual of ‘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 over the past few days, Lindsey decided against taking part in the triathlon, choosing instead to stay with Anna. Of course, we agreed that this was the correct decision.

After picking up our race packets, we set out to drive the bike course. After a short while, we gave up as I realized that my map reading skills were lacking. I confirmed this on race day, when I learned we had been on the course for only a short distance.

Having given up on driving the course, we made our way to my uncle’s house. Here we enjoyed another evening of Missouri hospitality with homemade crispy, thin crust pizza (Joy’s and my favorite) and Missouri wines all while laughing and solving many of the country’s problems with Wayne, Anita, and Ethan.

An Early Morning for the Missouri Triathlon

On race morning, Ben, Joy, and I rose at 4:30 a.m. Why this horrendous wake-up time? To stake out a favorable 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.  Where should I rack my bike on the Mizzou Track & Field track?

The transition area for TriZou was described as ‘open rack’. This meant that transition spaces were available on a first-come, first-served basis, rather than pre-assigned by race number.  To get an ideal space (near the Bike Out area for this race), I wanted to be at the race site when the transition area opened at 5 a.m.

After packing the car and stopping for coffee, we arrived at about 5:10 a.m. to find many people already having racked their bikes.

To put this in perspective, there have been many races for which I have been among the first to rack my 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 going 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.

While were setting up our transition areas, checking out the pool, and killing time before the race, the ever faithful supporter of this triathlon obsession, Joy, waited for us in the van. She didn’t complain, however, since I’m pretty sure she got in some of the sleep I had deprived her of earlier.

hanging out in the transition area before the triathlon
Downtime with Ben and Jeff between transition setup and the start of the triathlon.

8th Annual TriZou Triathlon

The event included options for sprint (Jeff’s and my choice) and supersprint (Ben’s choice) triathlon distances and a duathlon. The sprint and duathlon races also included an option for a relay.

The advertised distances for the individual legs of this USAT-sanctioned sprint triathlon were:

  • Swim: 400 meters (0.25 miles)
  • Bike: 14 miles (22.4 km)
  • Run: 3.1 miles (5 km)

Pool Swim

TriZou is advertised as “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 triathlon 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 swim leg of the supersprint race involved two lengths of the pool.

Mizzou Aquatic Center before the TriZou Triathlon
Mizzou Aquatic Center at University of Missouri, Columbia, location of 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 ‘technical’ because of the many turns. With its long hills and sharp turns, the course reminded me of the course on which I had trained in Minnesota.   My average speed logged by the 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. I found it necessary to walk for a while. I completed the 5k run through intermittent walking and jogging.  After the race, I felt fine.

Thinking About the Missouri Triathlon

I have thought that the dizziness was 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, agreed that the light-headedness likely resulted from the antihistamine.

Any thoughts about this experience are welcome.

TriZou was as predicted during transition setup 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.  On a positive note, my times were 1st in T1, 2nd in T2, 3rd in the swim, and 4th in the bike within my age group.

Race Firsts

My first time experiences from this triathlon were:

  • First triathlon swim in a Division 1 college pool.
  • This triathlon was the first with the transition area on the track around a track & field facility.
  • First triathlon where Ben and I racked our bikes next to each other in the transition area.
transition area for TriZou
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 From the Missouri Triathlon

  1. The first lesson from this race came from the video of my swim stroke taken by Lindsey. While my right arm extended properly, my left arm did not fully extend. I am not certain if this was unique to this race or a feature of my stroke since I had not seen video of my swim stroke before. Since then, I have been conscious to extend both arms during the reach portion of the stroke.
  2. I also learned to be more aware of the types and amount of pollen in the area and for the dates of a triathlon I am considering.

Returning Home from the Missouri Triathlon

After lunch with Ben and his family, Joy and I headed home. While it rained most of the eight hours, traffic was light and the roads were good.

Our route took us by Pella, Iowa, host of an annual Tulip Time tulip festival. We had always thought of attending Tulip Time in Pella so looked into it while enroute. Sadly, we learned that we were one weekend too early.

However, since we were so close, we made a quick detour through town. Sure enough, there were thousands of tulips in bloom and plenty of evidence of preparation for celebrations the next weekend.

One More Thing

The swimming, biking, and running are important parts of this journey. There is so much to learn about triathlon and my body and its reactions or responses to different environments and situations.

However, the enjoyment around seeing the USA and sharing time with family, friends, and others we are fortunate enough to meet along the way makes me never want to stop this adventure.

Have You Experienced Dizziness During A Triathlon?

I would appreciate hearing about any experiences you have had with dizziness during a triathlon? What did you learn about its cause? How to prevent it?

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