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Jeremy Grootens and Laura at the trailhead to Big Sugar Creek Trail.

Everything about Cuivre (pronounced “quiver”) River State Park in Troy, Mo., is wild. There are wild flowers, wild animals and wildly-fun trails, lakes and campgrounds. All in all, the park makes for a great adventure.

Photos from my trips to the park: 1. Woodland Swallowtail Butterfly 2. Red-Throated Woodpecker 3. Wildflowers 4. Frog 5. Cardinal 6. Water Snake 7. Wildflower 8. Icicles along the bluff 9. Wildflowers 10. Squirel 11. Forest Plant 12. Eastern Fence Lizard 13. Rat Snake eating a Corn Snake 14. Dogwood Tree 15. Titmouse.

Cuivre River is only an hour and a half from Quincy, and is one of the loveliest state parks in Missouri. I suggest starting your visit with a stop in the park’s Visitor’s Center. The park staff is very friendly and will give you great tips on finding just the right activities for your group. They know the local wildlife and trails inside and out, so ask them how to get the most out of your visit.

Even though the park is close to home, the variety of trails, habitats, and terrains make the park seem like a real vacation.  The 11 trails at the park are well-marked and easy to follow, and they vary in length and difficulty.  Some trail highlights include:

Lakeside Trail (3.5 miles) This trail leads right along the perimeter of Lincoln Lake. My husband and I hiked this trail just last weekend, and saw frogs, snakes, butterflies, beavers, lizards and more.

Big Sugar Creek Trail (3.75 miles) I hiked this trail with friends in January, and it was simply breathtaking. The creek and bluffs were heavy with icicles in the winter, and in the warmer months, the bubbling stream and chirping birds are a symphony.

Lone Spring Trail (4.75 miles) The Lone Spring Trail has both a north and a south loop, which gives you the option of only doing 2.3 miles if you prefer a shorter walk.  In addition to its namesake natural spring, this trail traverses an open woodland area. This area is currently being restored via controlled burns, and it’s amazing to watch the processes of the forest right before your eyes.

Prairie Trail (.3 mile) and Turkey Hollow Trail (.8 mile) are great options if you’ve got kids along.  They each are short, well-marked trails that give you views of prairies and woodlands, respectively.

There are far too many activities at this park to list, but I’d suggest checking out the Ranger Talks on Saturday nights or Sunday mornings between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Topics are seasonal and have featured subjects like owls, bats, wildflowers, birds-of-prey, prairies, conservation, wetlands and much more.  Call the park office at 800-334-6946 or visit their website  http://mostateparks.com/park/cuivre-river-state-park

Also, don’t miss the lake, the beach, the campgrounds, the fishing, the swimming, just don’t miss this park.

*Note: There is also a cave at Cuivre River State Park. It is closed at this time, as are most Missouri, Illinois, and Iowa caves, to control the spread of White Nosed Bat Disease. I will be talking about the cave closures in an upcoming blog, however, the closures may be lifted later this summer. Check the Department of Natural Resources for the most up-to-date information.

Original Post April 15, 2011

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It’s going to be hot this week. Very hot. I don’t know about you, but as soon as that thermometer tops 90 degrees, I’m looking for fun ways to cool off.  Sure, you could go to a crowded pool this weekend, but if you’re really wanting to do something different, I suggest going over and checking out Mark Twain Lake’s Spalding Recreation Area.

The Spalding public beach at Mark Twain Lake is a short 40-minute drive from Quincy, and it’s a great summer destination for the whole family. The area features a swimming beach, a nice shady grassy area with picnic tables and charcoal grills, a sand volleyball net, and a bathroom and shower facility so that everyone can clean up and not drag sand into the car for the ride home.

The bottom of the lake at the swimming area is sand, which is nice for people who would rather not step in lake muck. Though there are no lifeguards on duty, the area is fairly safe for even small children because the increase in depth is very gradual and the swimming area is roped off from all boating traffic. As long as you’re keeping a close eye on the kids and having them use the right flotation devices, you should be good to go. Heads up: If you’re bringing water toys, there’s no air pump at the beach, so inflate those rafts before you get there or bring a hand pump. It’ll save you from getting blue in the face! There are a limited number of lifejackets available at the shelter house that can be borrowed, but you should probably bring your own if your kids need them. 

Launching kayaks from the beach.

For boaters, there is a launch at Spalding Recreation Area, and also sandy areas to pull up your boat and enjoy the beach. We launched kayaks from this area a few weeks ago, and it was the perfect point for setting off to explore.

Perhaps the best part about this close-to-home adventure is that it’s so affordable. For the cost of one ticket to the pool, the whole family can swim at Mark Twain Lake. Swimming costs $1 per person, up to a maximum of $4 per carload of people. The pay station is self-service as you drive in, so be sure to have exact change in cash. Bring along a picnic lunch and/or charcoal to barbecue with, and you’ve got all-day fun for everyone. No alcohol or glass containers are allowed at the recreation area, so plan your picnic accordingly. And don’t forget sunscreen!

Directions from Quincy: Take 172 across the bridge at Hannibal, continue on 24/36 and then turn right on Route J by the Spalding Recreation Area sign. If you reach the Cannon Dam, you’ve gone too far.

Original Post July 18, 2011

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Eric Riutzel on his approach, jump and landing.

Okay, I probably should have written a blog about waterskiing in June, instead of at the end of the season, but it’s better late than never, right?

A few weeks ago I got an email from my old friend John inviting me down to the Quincy Bay to go waterskiing with the Great River Water Ski Club. I used to ski quite a bit and was even in the ski show for a couple of seasons back in high school and college. John is still on the team, and has been performing in their weekly shows for many summers now.

My friends and I used to spend most of the summer on the water. Back then, I learned to slalom, ride backwards on trick skis, ski with no hands, and even did a bit of wakeboarding. One thing I never got around to trying, though, was jumping. I always meant to try, but some seasons the water was too high or too low, or I was working on other tricks, or I’d look at the size of that ski ramp and chicken out… This year though, with the invite from the club, I harnessed my love of adventure and decided that it was the perfect time to give it a go.

I met the ski team on the docks and several people were there to help me out. Eric Riutzel has been skiing with the team since he was a just a kid, and he’s become quite an accomplished jumper. He and John explained the most important steps: knees, trees, freeze.

Laura Sievert's first ski jump attempts. The crossed skis are an example of how not to jump.

Knees: As you’re approaching a ski ramp, you’ve got to bend your knees and bring the rope in toward your body. You lean up kind of on your toes because the feel of the ramp is slick and it will help you keep your balance.

Trees: This rule is the most important part of any skiing, not just jumping. You’ve got to look up at the trees and not down at your skis. If you look down, you’re going to fall down. If you look up and out, it will help you maintain balance.

Freeze: This is probably the hardest part of jumping. As you’re coming off the ramp, you freeze your position. Jump skis are broad but have no fin to speak of, and that means that when you hit the still water on the other side of the ramp, it will feel like wet glass. You freeze and let the skis grab into the water and the boat pull the rope taught again.

I suited up in protective gear which included a padded shorty wet-suit and a hockey mask, and I rode the boat to watch Eric jump a few times. He was awesome. He made it look easy. I could see every step, and it seemed like I could pull it off. Eric even did a helicopter jump — where at the end of the ramp he does a complete 360 degree turn before he lands — and after I saw that, I was primed for my attempts.

Steve Fleer was driving the ski club’s amazing Hydrodyne boat. It sports twin 175 horsepower Evinrude motors, and is easily the best boat I’ve ever skied behind.

I tested my balance as we rounded the corner to approach the ramp by jumping up and down and feeling the way they handled. It felt more like skiing on huge doors than on proper water skis.

John Wellman performs a "deep water" barefoot ski start.

Barefoot skiing requires high speeds and a lot of practice.

I cut out hard through the wake to the left and the boat cruised right of the jump. The ramp, which sits on the bay at a nice 30-degree incline, looked more like a wall as I approached it. I think I held my breath. I pulled the rope in, froze my knees and before I knew much else, I heard the hollow thud of my skis hitting the wooden ramp, I looked up over the boat, I flew off the end of the ramp about a hundred feet in the air (okay, 12 feet.  But it felt like a hundred) and…

Boom. I hit the water, lost the rope, and wiped out. You didn’t think I’d get it on my first attempt, did you? I popped out of the water and waved at the boat to let them know I was OK. The boat swung back around and everyone inside was grinning about my somewhat comic fall. They asked if I was going to try again, and I didn’t hesitate a bit!

I had two more attempts that night because the light was fading fast and there were other skiers that still had to try some things. My second go was my worst — I forgot the freeze part and ended up with crossed skis in the air. Someone managed to get a photo of that jump… so I suppose I’ll share that with my Get Out readers.  My third attempt was very close. I actually landed and felt the skis underneath me. One dragged behind a bit though, and came off my foot, so I didn’t quite get the landing on that one either.

This water ski season is drawing to a close, but I was really happy to have had the chance to get out with the Great River Ski Club. If you would like to learn more about the organization, please visitwww.greatriverskiclub.org. The club is always recruiting new members, and you don’t need any experience to get started. They also snow ski throughout the winter, so any time is a good time to give them a call. I’m going to keep on working on my jumping and maybe next year you’ll see me in the ski show.

Original Post September 7, 2011

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Ali Berti demonstrates one of the pilates exercises from the NuFit CycleLates class.

I’d been meaning to get out to try a class at the NuFit for You facility at 4480 Broadway for a few months.  Several of my friends from the Heartland Road Runners Club and the Quincy Bicycle Club take classes there, and they all have had very positive things to say, so I figured I’d go take a class and see for myself.  I hopped on their website to look at a class schedule and one class name stood out: CycleLates.  Moments later, my Facebook status read: “Going to CycleLates class Monday night. I can only assume we are making delicious espresso beverages on a machine powered by bicycles.”

The NuFit CycleLates class is actually a combo class with a half hour of indoor cycling (also called Spin Class) and a half hour of Pilates.  The combination of the cardio workout of the cycling class and the core workout of the pilates class makes this one of the most balanced hour-long workouts a busy person could ask for.  Personally, though I’m an avid cyclist, I’d never done an indoor spin class or a pilates class, so it was going to be a fitness adventure for me!

Your first class at NuFit is free, and you register online for the class you’d like to attend.  The remaining open spots in the class are listed on the web, so you’ll know right away if there’s room.  I showed up about 10 minutes before the scheduled start time, and was immediately greeted by owner Angie Asmann and my instructor for the night, Lindsay.  They showed me around the immaculately-clean and inviting facility and I changed into my cycling shoes to get ready for the cycling part of the class.

Lindsay explained how the bikes work and how the class would progress.  I was able to adjust my seat and handle bar height to fit the way I’m used to riding, and there was a small screen in front of me that displayed my cadence (strokes per minute) as well as the gear that my cycle was in.  The class is tailored to your fitness level by the gear you choose.  You start from a place called your Push Point.  Your Push Point is the gear that feels most similar to a comfortable ride on a flat road.  Everyone’s Push Point is different; therefore the class is individualized for each rider’s ability.

After a warm up, our instructor called out for us to shift up 3 gears above our push point and to try to maintain a cadence of about 75.  Shifting on the bike is very easy and just consists of moving a small lever up or down.  The music matched the intensity of the ride, and I was having a good time and quickly working up a sweat.  We moved on to “rolling hills” where we would gradually increase our gear and hold it in intervals, and then we would move down gears to simulate the downhill portion of the ride.  I kept imagining we were doing a real stretch of rolling hills out on Ellington Road.  I know if I keep doing cycling classes at NuFit, the real Ellington Road will seem much easier on my real bike next year!

After a cool down on the bikes, our class of about 15 people all retrieved pilates mats.  The facility has mats to use if you don’t have your own.  The lights were turned down and the music shifted to mark the change from high-energy cycling to more focused pilates core work.  Our instructor Lindsay did a wonderful job of explaining each exercise and demonstrating it before we started each set.  Many of the names of exercises were at least vaguely familiar to me- exercises like scissors, planks, downward dog, etc.

Trying out one of the stationary bikes!

I very much liked that some of the toughest moves could be modified for beginners.  For example, one of the exercises called a “teaser” had 3 different ways of modifying where your legs were placed to make different difficulty levels.  I started on the middle level, but on the last set I needed to drop my legs down to the third level to make it a little easier.

Many of the pilates moves emphasized balance- something I am certainly not known for- but I did my best to keep up and never felt self-conscious or behind the class.  After the class was over, I said something about how tough some of the things were and our instructor said, “Good! It wouldn’t be much of a class if you could do all the moves your first day.”  She was totally right, and I am actually looking forward to getting better at some of those core exercises.  I can tell that no matter what activity I’m participating in, the strength and balance that you learn in a pilates class will be a huge advantage.

Overall, I very much enjoyed my class at NuFit.  I’ve just scratched the surface of what the facility has to offer, and I think that the CycleLates class will be a wonderful cross-training piece for the half-marathon I am training to run in March.

Besides the CycleLates class, there are also Indo-Row Classes (Rowing machines), PowerCycle, Yoga, Pilates, Zumba, CrossFit, and more.  They also offer classes at Quincy University and at Riverside Spa in Hannibal.  In addition to fitness classes, you can sign up for individual nutrition counseling or group classes held at Steamboat Cooking Store that can help you get the most from your workouts.  Most classes work on punch cards which are 5/$50, 10/$75 or 20/$120.  Your first class is free and you can see the entire schedule by clicking here.

Original Post December 1, 2011

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Dark River Derby

2011 has been a banner year for Quincy’s first all-female Roller Derby squad, the Dark River Derby Coalition.  The team played its first official bouts this year, and earned its first victory.  It’s also done a great job of raising awareness and money for some wonderful charities in the Quincy area.  Despite having watched some derby though, I found myself a little confused at exactly how the game works.  Lucky for me and the readers of Get Out, my friend Jessica (AKA Patella Crusher) was nice enough to write a guest blog today and explain the ins and outs of the game.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Dark River Derby Coalition as either a skater or a ref, they are holding recruitment sessions December 6th and December 8th from 7-9pm and December 11 from 10am-12pm, all at Scottie’s Fun Spot at 8000 Broadway in Quincy.  Also, visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/darkriverderby

– Laura Sievert

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Derby 101

By Jessica “Patella Crusher” Snowden Patel

When I tell people that I play roller derby, their first reaction is complete shock.  I think this has to do with stereotypes of what roller derby is and who plays this sport.  After the shock subsides, I am always asked, what exactly is roller derby?

Roller derby is a sport played on quad roller skates. That may seem obvious, but many people remember roller derby from the 60′s and 70′s where it resembled more WWE than an actual sport.  Now, roller derby is a real sport with real skaters, real rules, and unfortunately, real injuries.  There are up to seven refs (or “zebras”) per bout to make sure those ladies don’t break the rules. Needless to say, you will see numerous skaters from both teams going to the penalty box.  If you go to the box too many times, you will get a nice trip out of the rink on your 7th major penalty.  If you get really into things and want to learn the zebra hand signals, you can do so here, but I recommend learning the basics first (http://wftda.com/rules/wftda-rules-appendix-c-referee-hand-signals.pdf).

Here are the basics: Each bout is made up of two 30 minute periods. Within those 30 minute periods, you have short matchups, called “jams.”  Each jam starts with four blockers and one jammer from each team on the track (the jammer is identified by the star on her helmet cover).  One blocker (“a pivot”) has a stripe on their helmet cover. The pivot is basically the leader of her blockers for that jam, and leads them by yelling out plays and setting the pace.  It helps to almost think of the jammer as a ball (i.e., a point scoring agent).

The whistle blows and the pack (i.e., the blockers from both teams) take off.  Once they cross a nifty line on the ground, the whistle is blown twice and the jammers take off.  The whole goal is to get your jammer through the pack first, while keeping the opposing team’s jammer from making it through. This is where you will see a lot of blocking, assisting (maybe even a whip), and hitting.  Remember, this is all real and very unpredictable.

The first jammer to make it through the pack legally is the lead jammer.  The jammer then needs to get around the rink as fast as they can to make it back through the pack.  On every pass through the pack (starting with the 2nd pass), the jammer can score up to 4 points for each blocker they pass from the opposing team.  Any jammer, lead or not, can still score, but only the lead jammer can call off the jam.  She can have the jam go for the full 2 minutes allowed, or she can call off the jam by putting her hands on her hips repeatedly.  A lead jammer typically will call off the jam to prevent the other jammer from scoring or when she is just so worn out from being blocked by the other team.  If a jammer goes to the box, they are no longer lead jammer and you will get to see a full 2 minute jam.

Once the jam is called off, the skaters have 30 seconds to reset. You’ll often see a whole new set of blockers and jammers in each jam.  There are a total of 14 skaters per team allowed on the roster for a bout.  Oftentimes, there are up to 40+ jams in a single bout.

The rest is simple. Whoever scores the most points wins!  Roller derby is a high scoring game. It is typical to see scores upwards of 100-200+ per team.

While the basics of roller derby are fairly easy to understand, there are many misunderstandings of the sport. The biggest misunderstanding is that roller derby is fake.  You can ask any of the ladies on the team who have been taken out with an injury, it is very real (and we have two very real EMT’s with an ambulance present at each bout). The second misunderstanding is that there is a certain “type” of person who plays roller derby.  Our team is made up of ladies from all professions, including teachers, nurses, the executive director of a non-profit, a psychologist, artists, salespeople, managers, a librarian, other medical professionals, college and graduate students, and mothers (to name a few).  There is no “typical” skater.  All of our skaters are also dedicated to volunteering in the community and have raised money through our bouts, in partnership with Scotties Fun Spot, for local organizations including Honor Flight, Quanada, Paw Pals, Madonna House, and the Quincy Autism Support Group.  The last major misunderstanding is that roller derby is violent.  Roller derby is a full contact sport, much like football, although we have even more rules. There will be hits, but no elbows (unless you want to go to the box) and definitely no punching like movies such as Whip It would have you think.  It is a family-friendly sport.

You can also find out more about roller derby at http://www.wftda.com. 

Want to join the Dark River Derby Coalition for its 2012 season?

Come out to Scotties Fun Spot (8000 Broadway) from 7-9pm on December 6th or December 8th or on December 11th from 10am-noon. Skaters must be female, 21+ (by 5/1/12).  Absolutely no experience is necessary.  Just bring yourself, $7 (for rink and skate rental), any safety gear you possess, and a good attitude.

If you think you’d be better off keeping those skaters in line, you can also come out and learn about being a ref (refs can be male or female, 19+).  We are also always looking for volunteers.

If you think that you’d rather stay on the sidelines, you can find out more about supporting the DRDC in its upcoming season on our website atwww.darkriverderby.com or on facebook atwww.facebook.com/darkriverderby.

Original Post November 29, 2011

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Disc golfing at Upper Moorman Park : From left, Dexter and Corey Miller, Kristin Brennan, Tom Keppner, Laura Sievert, Dalton Tappe and Kyle Miller.

Crisp autumn days are here, and it’s a great time to Get Out with your family or friends and try something new.  One of the most affordable and fun activities available in our area is disc golf!

Tom Keppner goes for birdie on a disc golf putt.

Disk golf — also called frisbee golf or “frolf” —  is an easy sport to learn and is a healthy and fun way to get your entire family out to be active together. There are several very nice disc golf courses in our area, and just last week, I went out to the course at Upper Moorman Park in Quincy with a group of friends for a nice afternoon round.

The rules of disc golf are similar to regular golf. The golfer steps up to a tee area and throws a disc toward a metal basket that acts as the hole.  Each hole on the course has a set par or suggested number of throws that it should take to get to the basket.  You score the hole the same as you would in golf — you count the total number of throws and the lowest total wins. You can score birdies, bogies, pars …  all the same terms as regular golf.

Frisbee golf discs are specially designed for the sport. Discs are labeled the same way as golf clubs. There are drivers, putters or discs with numbers on them that correspond to irons or woods. Each type of disc is shaped to optimize its flight to a certain distance. For example, drivers are meant to fly long and putters are shaped for short, accurate throws.

You don’t need all of the types of discs to get started though. In fact, if you’re just trying disc golf out for the first time,I’d suggest purchasing one driver and using it for the whole game. You can purchase discs many places, including MC Sports, Kmart or from any number of online sources.  Most recreational discs cost around $7-$15, so disc golf is a relatively inexpensive hobby to get started playing.

Corey Miller at the tee box for a disc golf hole at Upper Moorman Park in Quincy.

The other good news about disc golf is that after you have your Frisbees, there is not much cost in the sport. Courses in our area are all at public parks and are free!  And you don’t even really need a course — I highly recommend practicing by making a hole out of an orange Quincy Recycle bin, placing it behind the swing set in your back yard and using your tulip-poplar-tree as a hazard. But that’s just me.

Local courses include:

Upper Moorman Park in Quincy: 18 holes. Open until the Avenue of Lights closes the park in the winter.http://www.dgcoursereview.com/course.php?id=1572

Flower City Park in Palmyra, Mo.: 18 holes, year round.  Map here:http://www.showmepalmyra.com/parksrec/disc_golf.pdf

Huckleberry Park in Hannibal, Mo.: 18 hole, year round. Includes two water hazards!   http://www.dgcoursereview.com/course.php?id=1370

Wildcat Springs Park in Hamilton, Ill.: 18 holes, year round. Very pretty course with lots of trees and concrete tee boxes. http://www.dgcoursereview.com/course.php?id=848

Rand Park in Keokuk, Iowa: 18 holes. Open until Keokuk City of Christmas Lights close the park in November. This is a lovely course at a park that has a stunning overlook to the Mississippi River.  There are also Rec Disk Golf Leagues here in the summer. http://www.iowabeautiful.com/southeast-iowa-tourism/23-rand-park.html

For more information and to search for other courses, check out http://www.dgcoursereview.com

*Thanks to Corey Miller with his help on putting together info for this article!

Original Post October 19, 2011

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Bob and Lara Meyer, Rodger McKenzie and Jim Robesky at the Hy-Vee Triathlon on Sept. 3.

Quincy native Jim Robesky has a passion for multi-sport events, and after overcoming both injury and personal struggles, he competed in the Hy-Vee Triathlon in Des Moines, Iowa, on Sept. 3. He’s graciously offered to share his story about coming back from injuries to be a competitor again with the readers of “Get Out.” Jim is an active member of both the Quincy Multi-Sport Club and the Quincy Bicycle Club, and his story highlights the hard work and perseverance it takes to be a competitive amateur athlete in events like triathlons.

Laura Sievert

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The Road Back

Bob and Lara Meyer, Rodger McKenzie and Jim Robesky at the Hy-Vee Triathlon.

On May 28, 2009, I broke my collarbone on a training ride. That October, I managed to finish the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii. I had decided to spend the next year healing the shoulder and working on my run. Then in July 2010, we lost our home to a lightning strike. We lost everything.

It took almost a year to rebuild. We moved into our new home on in May of 2011. It took another month to get settled in. That’s when I decided it was time to jump back in to triathlon.

So with a new Trek bike, I started riding with the bike club. I was getting dropped the first few rides. It was hard to get back in to shape. I just kept pushing myself to get stronger.

I still had not signed up for a race, so I decided to train and race the Hy-Vee Triathlon in Des Moines, Iowa. The race was in September, so I would have a few months to train. It is an Olympic distance race which includes a 1.5 km swim, 40 km bike and a 10 km run. Now I had a goal.

The night before the race I took my bike out to the transition area. After I dropped off my bike, it was dinner with a handful of Quincy Multisport club members. We had a nice dinner full of carbs. Back at the hotel, I got my gear ready for the race. After my bags were packed, I had to number myself with tattoos for the race. So there I was, in the bathroom, placing numbers all over my arms and legs.

Jim Robesky transitions from the swim to the bike at the Hy-Vee Triathlon.

At 4 a.m., I woke up, had breakfast and was out the door. As I drove to the race, I felt the first chill in the air in months. I didn’t pack a jacket. I shivered as I got my transition area ready for the race. Then I heard more bad news as race officials announced the swim would be wetsuits legal. Overnight rains had dropped the temperature of the water 5 degrees. Race rules say a wetsuit can be worn only if the water is 78 degrees or less. The water was 83 the night before, so I had left my wetsuit at home. This was a mistake because a wetsuit would have made me faster in the water.

Just before the race, I found the Quincy group and waited for the start. After 3 hours in the cold, I was shivering. Quincy Multisport Club member Bob Meyer offered me his jacket. He was warm in his wetsuit. It felt great to be warm.

The national anthem played and minutes later the race started. We walked to the water to watch Bob’s daughter Lara start in with the elites. She was one of the very first racers to start.

The swim was a time trial start. Every 10 seconds, six people entered the water. It would be an hour after the official start before I would enter the water. We watched wave after wave enter the water. I wasn’t paying much attention until I looked up and realized my age group was at the start line. I barely made the start. I was the last group in my wave to start. So far, the race was not going well. I felt like a rookie.

Once I was in the water, I was warm again. I started to get into a rhythm. The swim was a 1.5k loop around Grey’s Lake. It’s always weird to swim in open water. In Hawaii, I could see fish and corral. Here, I could not see my hand in front of me. I passed several people on the swim, but it was always difficult because you could not see the other swimmer until you were on top of them. About halfway through, my goggles started to fog up. I took a moment to clear them. I finally turned the last buoy and could see the swim finish. But looks can be deceiving, and the end was still a long way on the other side of the lake.

Twenty-nine minutes later, I was out of the water. This is well off of my typical swim average. After I got out of the water, there was a long run to the transition area. I put on my socks, shoes, glasses and helmet. I grabbed my bike and ran out of the transition area.

The bike is a one loop course. It had some hills and technical turns. The flags were standing straight out in a 20 mph wind. There was not a cloud in sight and the temps were still cool. I really wanted to hit the bike hard. Every chance I got, I tried to pound on the pedals, but the wind was my nemesis. I started to question its direction. At every turn, it seemed to hit me in the face. I just kept looking for opportunities to put more power onto the pedal.

At the 20k mark, I looked down at my Garmin. I was actually shocked at what I saw. The Garmin told me that wind was winning this battle. I rode back to transition with a 19 mph average. Well off my goal.

The run was next. It was a point to point run from Grey’s Lake to the Iowa State Capitol. I found a pace and stuck with it the whole race. Two miles into the run, I see Quincy Multisport club member Roger McKenzie, and we high five as we pass in opposite directions.

At the 5k mark, you can see the finish line in the distance.  It was about that time I heard the theme to “Rocky” blaring from the Iowa Cubs baseball field. It does little to boost my energy at this point.

Soon, I made the turn and could see what looked like the final stretch to the Capitol. But a block before the final hill, the course turned. There was still 1.2 miles left in the course. The last 1/4 mile was uphill and then on to a blue carpet finish. The crowd cheered me in to the finish line. My final time was 2:52. It may not have been a great race for me, but I was back racing and it felt good.

In the finish area, I met up with the other club members, and we rehydrated and talked about the race. We shared stories and complained about the wind. Because of the point to point run, we had to take a free shuttle back to the transition area. I gathered up my gear and loaded up my car. After a quick shower back at the hotel, I headed home to Quincy.

This would mark my third time competing in the Hy-Vee Triathlon. The race is always well managed and its integration into the 5150 Ironman World Championships was a great success. If you are looking for an Olympic distance triathlon with a big race feel, Hy-Vee is the one for you.

My next goal is training for a half marathon (13.2 miles) in San Antonio, Texas. This will be a race with several high school classmates. We get together every year and race. So I will be pounding the pavement for this race in November.

Jim Robesky

Original Post September 28, 2011

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