Last year, after the Bikes, Blues & BBQ race Madi informed me that she wanted to try a triathlon the next summer. When I saw that Hy-Vee was putting on a triathlon in Des Moines and had a youth race I asked her if she wanted to sign up. She gave me the enthusiastic “yup, sounds fun”. At this point I thought it would be a bunch of kids from Iowa, some with mountain bikes, some not really very good swimmers. As Madi has been in the Mason City Swim Club since age 7, ran cross county the last two years and is a solid biker I thought she would do well.
We connected with Amy Rowe at Splash Multisport and she was GREAT! She helped us get Madi into a properly fitting Tri-suite and other essential gear. With her HED wheels and tri-suit Madi announced that at a minimum she would “look intimidating”.
As I periodically checked the start list I noticed there was only one other girl from Iowa. I saw girls from California, Texas, Colorado, Arkansas, Hawaii, and Illinois. What had I gotten Madi into! Getting her into a serious training schedule was proving difficult. You see, she has a social life that takes priority. But she was in the summer swimming program getting ready for her Freshmen year swimming for Coach Hugo and the Mohawks. I got her out on her bike whenever possible and she was getting in the occasional run.
Friday arrived and we packed the car, loaded her bike and set out for Des Moines. The weather report was predicting a very hot day Saturday so early Friday we had her start hydrating. At every opportunity Joy and I both told her to DRINK! At the mandatory pre-race briefing on Friday afternoon reality hit and it hit hard. It was at this point that we discovered how BIG of a deal this was. This event was the Youth Nationals (age 13 – 15) and a World Cup qualifying event for the Juniors (age 16 – 19). There were teams, there were coaches, there were trainers, and there was a team bus from Colorado for crying out loud! And there were participants not speaking English. There were 25 girls in her class with only three from Iowa. We learned there were two girls from Puerto Rico and one from Peru, and in his opening comments the race director mentioned how happy he was to see some of these same kids from the race he put on in Sydney, Australia. As we walked out of the briefing Madi turned to Joy and me and asked, “do you think we could have started with something a little smaller?”.
I got up Saturday and went for an early ride with some old friends from Mason City. By 9:00 it was already 85 and I knew it was going to be a bad day for the athletes. After lunch we set out and had to stage her running gear at the transition point in front of the Capital. They had individual bike stands for each of the participants with their names on the stands and individual baskets for their bike gear. The bleachers along the transition / finish area were massive and they had carpeted the street! At the end of both the Youth and Juniors race the view down this area with nearly 150 bikes lined up in the stands was very cool. Then we had to get her to Grays Lake to check in her bike and get marked. As we were walking to the check-in tent I saw 13 – 15 year old girls wheeling in unbelievable bikes. Cervelo and Pinarello TT bikes with Zipp or HED wheels were the norm! And most of them were in team tri-suits. Okay, throw out the intimidation factor mentioned earlier! At this transition point each participant again had a name plaque by their bike stand and basket for their swim gear and the path from the water to their bikes was carpeted. They were having the kids use the same facilities and transition areas as the pros. They did get the royal treatment.
By 2:00 it had reached 93 degrees and they had all the girls in the athletes’ tent with fans, ice packs and ice water. At the start area they brought the girls out in the order of their ranking and they announced the names of the ranked athletes - 14 of them were nationally ranked. They started from the pontoon built out over the lake. Being used to the start of a swim race and not a triathlon Madi had a bad start and was one of the last girls in the water. When she hit the water she was on top of another girl and had to swim over her. She recovered and came out of the water in 15th place and had a great transition into biking (thanks Amy and Eric!). During the ride she moved up to 13th place. At this point she started to hit the wall. Her transition to the run was slow and it was at this point she had her first drink of water (big trouble on a HOT day), and had completely forgotten the Sport Beans. She had a tough run but finished in 19th place but she was the top Iowa finisher.
After she crossed the finish line several of the girls that finished ahead of her pulled her aside and poured water over her and down her back. She then disappeared into the athlete’s tent. After 15 minutes and no sign of Madi I became concerned and talked my way through security. I was able to have one of the EMTs go in and check on her condition. She appeared with a bag of ice hanging around her neck, a bottle of cold water, a banana and a huge grin on her face and proceeded to ask me, “What’s up?”. She let me know she was fine but she wanted to get back inside the tent where it was cool and the volunteers were waiting on them hand and foot. But she also commented that she definitely wanted to do the Iowa Games triathlon and that she was going to start training. And she also let me know there was a Juniors race in Hawaii next year according to the girls from Colorado.
I think she has the bug! And I was right, she did well!!