The pleasant little town of Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin is located just south of Kenosha along Lake Michigan. The triathlon conducted out of the RecPlex has gotten a deserved reputation as a great race. Reports from years past indicate the parking situation is much improved. Everything from registration to transition is within a nicely confined area.
Even the race delay proved tolerable as thunderstorms swept from the southwest over the edge of Pleasant Prairie. Race directors moved everyone inside to safety out of the rain and threat of lightning. There is nothing more talkative than 2500 triathletes and their friends confined inside a gymnasium. The whole affair felt a bit like a party with a few short naps thrown in.
But when the rain relented and all those athletes and friends gathered outside along the lake, the sad announcement came that lightning was still within six miles of the start. So the race was changed to a duathlon for everyone. The worst result of that decision was mixed emotions on the part of those who excel in swimming. And who dislike running.
Instantly the International distance race became 8.5 miles of running total. The Sprint got off much easier, with only 5.4 total. But that’s still not really a sprint, now is it?
Most competitors raved instead about the new bike course. It utilized a couple overpasses as hills, and found the only other hills in the area out on the far reaches. The quick loop hrough a residential neighborhood was far better than those painful u-turns so many races concoct. And competitors in the International reported a stretch where speeds of 28-30 were quite possible, if not demanded of the riders.
As a triathlete from a running background, and then cycling, the duathlon has been a staple of racing for me the last couple years. But having done the pre-race swim the day before the race, I was disappointed not to get the chance to swim in true open water for the race.
And then I had to wait around for Wave 19 to take off. My fiance had already been on the course for an hour and a half when my race started. That meant we saw each other when I was on the second run and she was two miles into her second one as well. She looked good, and was smiling. That made me happy.
But there was business to attend to. At around that point in my race a fellow who was potentially in my age category (I misunderstood Waves vs. Age Group) showed up next to me at 1.5 miles out of 3.1. We ran together for half a mile and then I decided that it was not going to come down to a sprint. So I chose a spot ahead where the orange cones pointed us back on the running trail from the road and threw in a 15-meter surge. That was all it took to separate us. As is often the case, that tempo became my standard from there on in.
So it felt good to be competing. Again. I do these events with a bit of a chill attitude, I must admit. Getting all nervous doesn’t really help much. But I will admit to some pre-race yawns. Echoes of competitive days of yore. I finished second in my age group and 21st overall.
I finished second in my age group and 21st overall. Not bad for a guy still working on the Jelly Belly accumulated from a love of sweets. In fact, we toured the Jelly Belly factory just down the road from the RecPlex. Picked up some Sport Beans and a couple small treats. We did not go nuts.
As a souvenir and to replace the worn out ball caps lying around my house, I purchased two different Jelly Belly caps to wear around this summer. There’s nothing happier than the thought of Jelly Belly jelly beans. So there’s that. But there’s also a hidden reminder that my own jelly belly needs to go away. A cap with a Jelly Belly logo is a good way to go.