Pigman Sprint – Race Report

I was really looking forward to racing the Pigman Sprint triathlon for the first time this year because of the added competition with the Equalizer. The Equalizer is a time differential determined by the difference in the course records. These records were held by Gear West teammates David Thompson and Claire Bootsma, so the elite women would get a 7 minute and 42 second head start over the elite men.

Saturday morning I was rushing around to squeeze in my last workouts and finish packing before the 4-5 hour trek to Iowa. Patrick was also racing so we stuffed all our gear into his SUV, which you wouldn’t think is difficult but with two bikes awkwardly stacked and a few bags each, (I always travel with extra everything, you never know what the weather will throw at you) it was tight. On the trip down it was perfect timing to watch the women’s ITU London race live via triathlon TV. Being a sprint race I thought maybe, just maybe, a bike pack would get out front and work really hard to be out of reach of Gwen Jorgensen; but it didn’t happen. You’d need at least a two minute lead on Gwen to have a chance. It’s amazing what she can do and very motivating, major props to her.

Arriving in Iowa we checked into the hotel first thing, dumped all our gear and went to pick up our packets. Being new to the course and knowing that I would likely be leading the bike out of the swim I wanted to check out the route. The park was in a really beautiful location on top of a hill and the roads appeared to be in pretty good shape. There were a couple of moderate climbs on the course but nothing too crazy. After riding the course Patrick and I grabbed some food at the grocery store for an early dinner. Again it was perfect timing to now watch the men’s ITU London race live, while enjoying dinner in bed, perfect.

After eating we headed back over to packet pickup so that Kevin O’Connor could double check a few things on my bike and Patrick’s bike, as we’re still learning all the ins and outs of how everything works. At this point we realized that Patrick had forgotten his aero bar pads, luckily Gear West was open for business at packet pickup and had a couple pairs, phew, that would have been uncomfortable! After packing up we tagged along for dinner with a bunch of Gear West teammates that were also racing. We already ate but there was plenty of good conversation and old race reminiscing to enjoy.

Bed time, so our room seemed great until we realized the basketball court outside our window was open until 9:30pm. Pillows over the head and air conditioner fans could not buffer the annoying sounds from the outside… why don’t I carry earplugs? So trying to sleep was less than ideal but eventually it happened.

4am, my favorite time of day (that’s sarcasm), up and time to get moving. We re-loaded the car and were off to the race site. Surprisingly I was NOT one of the first people waiting to get into transition, there were a good 20 people ahead of me. Stopwatch Greg (my dad) had also beat us to the race site (he also likes to be early to scope out what’s going on all morning).

Conveniently you pick up your timing chip as you enter transition, so no chance of forgetting it at the hotel (Bend mishap, ugh) or losing it before even getting to the race. Once setup in transition I got in a quick warm-up and before I knew it we were down at the beach getting ready to race. I was pretty excited for the swim because I was wearing my new Blue Seventy Helix for the first time. It definitely felt a lot more comfortable around the shoulders which always tend to get sore in my wetsuit.

The horn sounded and we were off, the swim was straight out, around a buoy and back. Exiting the swim was nice because everyone was there to cheer us on as the elite men hadn’t gotten to start yet. Transition was fairly long so I had plenty of time to get my wetsuit pulled down and cap and goggles off.

Heading out of T1 was another long run through transition with my bike. I was a little nervous because the roads in the park weren’t closed and there were cars going both directions as I started riding and I had nowhere to go. I didn’t realize the convertible in front of me was the lead car so they quickly helped clear the way. Leaving the park involved a fairly big downhill so I wanted to take advantage of that 32 mph speed as long as I could. There were two 180 turns on the course so I could time where the men were at, at the first turn, about a third of the way through I still had at least 6 minutes on them, surprisingly I didn’t lose too much over the next third. I was feeling pretty good about my bike heading back into the park but I knew the toughest part was ahead.

Headed out for the run.
Headed out for the run.

Heading out on the run I was feeling good but that changed fairly quickly. I was watching for the men to see how much cushion I had after the bikeand I still had quite a few minutes, to my surprise (I later found out David Thompson had flatted and was riding it out, so he would have been much closer). Luckily the course was fairly flat and the time went by quickly. The whole run there were bikes and runners going by me so I always had some motivation to keep going. Since the run was also out and back I could see after the half I still had about 3 minutes on the next guy, but I knew he’d be closing that quickly. Heading back towards transition I got tons of cheers from my Gear West teammates which kept me going to the finish. The last quarter mile or so fans were packed along the road and going wild, cheering me into the finish. I was able to hold my lead and I crossed the line first, finishing in 1:06:53, 1:42 under the course record.

I hung around the finish to cheer on folks as they finished. Eventually I wandered over to the food tents and MASSAGE tents. There were approximately 20 massage tables and enough staff for all of them, no joke. I have never seen so many massage tables at a race; it was amazing. I thought I would get a quick 5 minute post-race rub down, but it ended up being a pretty thorough 20 minute massage, amazing and greatly appreciated! Now I understand why this race always fills up(around 600 athletes)!

Post massage, Patrick and I did my favorite post-race “swim” cool down, which is basically letting my hair out and dolphin diving in the water to wash off the salt from racing. After our “swim” we hung out for awards. Patrick and I both got an adorable piggy bank trophy which was pretty sweet. Gear West gave away a ton of cool swag, like a Blue Seventy back pack filled with goodies, a Blue Seventy PZ3TX swim skin (I wanted that SO bad) and a mountain bike; pretty insane prizes if you ask me, I was totally jealous of the winners.

Finally we packed up for the 5 hour trek home. We accidentally took the “scenic” way but we ended up missing some pretty severe storms so it worked out (I’m not very tech savvy with the iPhone Google maps).   All in all a great race weekend! Check out the results.

Gear West Teammates
The folks from the Gear West family.
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