Algae and E. Coli and Trucks, Oh My!

With my Irongirl Sprint triathlon only a week away, I decided I would do a trial run and try and improve my transition techniques this time. They couldn’t have been worse my first triathlon and I’d like to improve. 

Today I tried a new tri-top from the company Run Girl Run, a sporty pink thing with a zip pocket that I thought wouldn’t drag too much. It seemed like swim suit material, but there wasn’t much support for the Girls so I added an extra sport bra underneath. I was particularly happy that it was on sale at We Run in North LIberty, IA for only $25!

It worked out really well today with my tri shorts. I didn’t have to change clothes or try to pull a tight top on over my wet skin like my first triathlon. I will wear a race belt so I don’t have to pin my race bib on after the swim. The top dragged a little in the swim. In fact, I’m sure that’s why I was slow.


I might have to just be a geek and tuck it into my tri shorts. I will try this out and get back to you. Two years ago I just wore the top of a Tyr swim bikini under a shelf top, but I spent about 3 minutes in transition struggling to get it on. And this year I am 20 pounds heavier and don’t feel like strutting around in that pre-race.

Fortunately I was talking to a friend last night and found out that the lake I was planning on swimming in has been closed quite a bit this summer because of an E. Coli problem. Ewwww. I called this a.m. thinking maybe I was off the hook, but the ranger assured me that it was all good. This is an Iowa State Park and they don’t even have this info on their website! 

When the Brewmaster kindly chauffeured me out there this morning, I found an park employee looking at a sign about it and we had quite a chat. He gave me some good info on the roped off distance that I could actually swim in, plus filled me in on the bacteria issue. It turns out that the problem stems both from geese, which they have herded away, and cow run-off from a farm up the road. Yum. Nitrates…

By the time we got down to the beach I was feeling pretty grossed out, but the Brewmaster didn’t give me much time to reflect on the nastiness of the green water. Yes, green from algae, which is also a serious problem right now. 

I ran out and did 3.5 laps of 700 yards. I really needed to do 4 laps to get my half-mile, but my brain wasn’t handling advanced math that early today. (11 a.m.) They were not pretty. It took me double what it does in the swimming pool, probably because I couldn’t see and was afraid to breathe in the water. Whereas in the past the swimmable area was roped off, this year they installed steel pipes. At one point I bonked my head on one (because I am Grace) and that made me a little wary so I started sighting more often and breast stroking too often.

I promise y’all that this will be faster in one week. We are going up to Minnesota to our cabin and a beautiful spring-fed Lake where I will practice swimming without being able to see a black line.

I was REALLY proud of how fast I was ready to get on the bike. Helmet, glasses, set some apps going, and just wore my bike shoes with no socks and no gloves. The Irongirl is 12 miles, I actually rode 14.7 home today. My bike shoes are tri shoes and meant to be worn without socks, but I lubed them up a little. 

The bike ride was great. I was cruising on the highway for awhile while I had a good shoulder and averaging well above my usual speeds; around 21 mph. Then the shoulder got all gravelly and then it disappeared. I was surrounded by cement trucks and semis barreling down on me, and was really afraid I’d wipe out a few times. It also started raining at this point. Note that this was NOT on the radar even if I had bothered to check it. I had not.

I decided to cut onto a bike path through the woods and get off the road, but this meant more curves and hills and slowing down for other people. The only funny moment of the day was when I was thinking that I needed to hydrate before my run, grabbed my water bottle, and then realized I was at the top of a very steep hill that curved sharply somewhere below. My brain went into slow mo as I realized I really needed both hands on the brakes and that if I looked down to put the bottle back in it’s carrier, I would wipe out. So I chucked it to the right.

The Brewmaster and I might take Rose out for a walk and retrieve it later. Ballet Boy has vastly depleted my bike bottles by forgetting them at his ballet studio. Fortunately I had my back up.

All in all, I was pleased with my bike splits as I will be able to go even faster on a protected course. I averaged almost 19 mph. Not speedy fast, but better than my usual.

I was also very pleased with my bike to run transition. I installed new little triathlon quick ties on my shoes and that worked like a dream. I folded my socks so that they were really fast to get on. I fiddled with my phone apps, but I won’t even have those. I took off in the pouring rain, which only got worse.

Drying my Saucony's and lucky hat
Drying my Saucony’s and lucky hat

A little old lady up the street offered me shelter and probably thought I was nutso when I said that I was enjoying that cool rain. At that point, I didn’t care…I was wet anyway! Halfway through the run, it wasn’t so fun. My shoes and socks were soaked, I heard some thunder and then it started to hail. At that point I realized I would hope anyone I cared about would head home and not hit by lightning, so that’s what I did. I ended up only doing 2.66, but at my usual average pace. I know this will be faster and that’s really not bad after pushing it on the bike!

All in all, I’m SUPER glad I did the trial tri. Transitions need practice. I’m always telling my cello students the same thing! I know what I need to work on (swim) and I’m now a little more confident that I will survive next weekend.

So, today’s race report was .43 mile swim, 14.7 mile bike, and 2.66 mile run. In under two hours. I have this! I will do way better than my younger self. 


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