PostHeaderIcon Bluff Creek Triathlon 2013 Race Report:

Bluff Creek Triathlon 2013 Race report: Today I did my second sprint triathlon. It consisted of a 500 meter swim, a 15 mile bike and a 5k run. The race was held at Don Williams Lake in Ogden Iowa.

Pre-Race Report: I woke up at 4 am with a right eye swollen shut from an eye infection. I spent some time wiping the eye with a warm damp rag to try and get the eye to clear up enough to see. I used eye drops and took a shower and finally got the swelling to go down enough to see out of the eye and got the car loaded and headed out for the 1.5 hour trip to Ogden.  I had loaded most of the equipment the night before so I got out of the house by 4:45am. I arrived at the race site at 6:15 am and got my bike out and aired up my tires and then rode my bike to the transition area with my backpack on my back. I got everything setup and went for a 2 mile run to warm up. I then put on my brand new wetsuit and headed to the line to the bus to take us to the beach starting area on the other side of the park. While in line my wetsuit was only pulled up to my waste to keep from getting too hot.

Swim Report: Once we arrived at the beach I finished getting into my wetsuit and had another person help me zip it up. This was my first time swimming in the new sleeveless wetsuit. I noticed it was a little tight when I went for a warm-up swim in the water. The collar was actually choking me but I thought it would loosen up a bit once I got it wet and filled with water. We lined up on the beach and the horn sounded and I started to swim. After about 100 feet I had to roll to my back and pull on the collar to allow my neck to breath. I was not really having a panic attack this time but I was having a wetsuit issue that was not allowing me to swim any length comfortably. I would swim about 10 strokes then roll to my back and pull on the collar. This made the swim take way longer than I had hoped although I did keep moving the whole time and never had to stop or rest.  I know better than to try something new on race day and I had my other wetsuit with me but wanted to use the sleeveless one I had just purchased to keep cool. I should have gone without a wetsuit in hindsight. The swim took 13:30 and that time included the 200 meters run to the transition area where the bikes were parked after we left the water and ran up the boat ramp and across the park.

Transition 1 Report: I ran in to get ready for my bike ride next. Transition was like a giant maze and it was easy to get lost in the confusion. I arrived at my bike and had issues with getting my very tight wetsuit off my legs. I had taken it off down to my waste as I ran up to transition but could not get my feet out of it. I finally just laid down on the ground and worked my feet loose. I dried my feet with a small towel and put on my socks and bike shoes and then put on my glasses and helmet and grabbed my bike and headed for the Bike mount area. Transition 1 time was 2:36 which is slow for a sprint triathlon. I was hoping for 1 minute or less.

Bike Report: As soon as I left transition with my bike in hand I ran across the bike mount line and got on my bike.   I immediately knew that my front tire was totally flat. I got off the bike and went to the ditch to fix my tire. I removed the old tube and installed a new tube and aired it up with some help from a couple spectators. I installed the tire on the bike and got on and started my bike race with over 7 minutes of time gone from the clock. I was in the back and had plenty of people to chase as I went down the road. I passed people for the entire ride and finished the bike portion in 49:44 for the 15 mile ride including the tire change. They called the course flat but it was typical rolling hill countryside of Iowa. No big hills but many small ones and you were either going up one or going down another constantly. There was a headwind on the way back in from the half way turnaround that made the ride back in fun also.

Transition 2 Report: I ran my bike from the bike dismount area into the transition area and placed it on the rack. I removed my bike shoes and put on my running shoes. I put on my visor and grabbed my handheld water bottle and put on my number belt as I was running towards the exit. You had to run towards the swim in area to go across that timing mat then make a sharp turn and head back the way you just went to get to the trail that leads to the 5k run area. Once again it was like a maze of blue fencing.  Transition 2 times was 1:34. I was hoping for 1 minute or less. 

Run Report: You had to run on a nature trail for a short distance that leads to a gravel road that took you up to the paved road for the 5k. My legs were tired as I started the run due to going too fast on the bike to try and catch up on the flat tire time that I lost. I was not running my best pace but it was a decent one till I hit the turnaround of the 5k and headed back towards the finish line.  That’s when I quit racing as I had something more important calling me to take action on. 

I came upon a fellow racer and she looked like she was having a really hard time. I won’t mention her name here but she was a person that I have talked to many times as we have been to the same training clinics and practice swims together in the past and we always exchanged small talk. I knew this was her first triathlon and I knew how hard she had worked to get to this day. She was walking on the road and looked like she was not having a very good time of the run. I stopped running and ask her how she was doing. I could see by the look on her face that she was hitting the wall. She told me she was overheating and that she was done. I asked her if it was alright for me to spray her head and neck with the water from my bottle I was carrying. She said yes so I started cooling her with my bottle and you could see the color come back into her face almost immediately. We started running and we ran side by side for a short distance talking until we arrived at the water station. I told her to grab two cups of water. One to drink and one to pour over her head to cool her off. We walked a short time then started running again. We ran until we could see the turn to head down the gravel road towards the finish line and she told me to go ahead that she would be alright. As I left her side I could hear the runners behind her start encouraging her to keep going and I told her I would be waiting at the finish line to watch her finish. I ran ahead and finished my race in 26:18. I crossed the finish line then went back down the course to yell as she ran past. Her husband and daughter were waiting for her at the finish line and I could see the tears in her eyes as she greeted them. I walked away feeling like I had just won the race. You know the funny thing about this was that until the announcer at the finish line called out her name I had no idea what it was. It’s funny how you know people by face and talk to them and greet them like old friends because you see the same people at the races and group training sessions each week. I think this friendly culture of the triathlon group is what makes doing triathlons so addicting.  You see people at their worst. Hair messy, no makeup, sweaty and smelly, wearing next to nothing and you become friends anyhow. We all know how hard the work is to get to the finish line of a triathlon. The respect and admiration I have for each and every triathlete whether they are the first to cross the line or the very last is overwhelming. Today, in the blink of an eye I made a decision to do a simple act of kindness to help another person out and in the process I realized that the finish line is not the goal, experiencing the journey is the real goal. Perhaps my flat tire on the bike was meant to happen to put me in the exact place and time to reach out to another person who needed a little boost to keep going in her journey.  We met up again at the food table after some time and we exchanged a big sweaty hug and she thanked me for everything. We talked and laughed about the day and I could see she was hooked and she will be back for another try in the near future.

Summary of results:

Swim 500 meters: 13 min 30 sec

Transition 1: 2 min 36 sec

Bike 15 miles: 49 min 44 sec

Transition 2: 1 min 34 sec

Run 5K: 26 min 18 sec

Total time: 1 hour  33 minutes  45 seconds


I finished 108 out of 176 and 12 of 13 in my age group.


Summary of the day: I still have tons of work to do in the open water swim. However today I felt I worked through the difficulties and actually was in some control of what my mind was thinking about. I did not have a good swim but I did finish it with face in water and freestyle. I found out why you don’t introduce a new item into your race on race day. This goes for nutrition as well as clothing or other items.

I felt I had a good bike ride. I had such a good bike ride I felt I needed to give the others a 7 minute head start to be fair. Stella has failed me a couple major times here lately and I need to figure out if this is random or something I need to work on with upkeep and maintenance. I was happy when her chain broke and left me stranded 10 miles from my car in the dark a week back as it was not on race day. Stella and I have to have a heart to heart I guess before the next race.

The run started off with tired legs from the bike but I got into a good pace once I hit the pavement. I need to work on spinning my bike more as I come into the end of the ride to get my legs ready for the run. As for the rest of the run I would not change a thing.

Transitions were slow again. I will work harder on this before Hyvee. I was faster from bike to run but slower from swim to bike so it was about the same as my first triathlon for times. I shaved 10 seconds off the total time but should have shaved 2 minutes at least. This is free time that takes no energy to gain just practice.  I have been practicing the bike to run but I felt I should have shaved more than the 35 seconds off my time that I did.

Final note: After the race I walked up to the run area after putting my bike in my car to cheer on the People who were doing the Olympic distance race today. They were running a 10K at the end of their triathlon. That is where I met my second new friend of the day. Her name is Cathy and she is 67 years young. She was just starting the run and she was suffering badly from charley horses and cramps in her legs from the bike ride. She was the very last person to start the run and she was determined to finish. Her son was waiting there with us for his mother to arrive and when she did her son Jason and I walked with Cathy for the entire length of the run course. We talked about everything from triathlons (which she did her first at age 59) to grand children to riding her bike in Ragbrai and even across the Untied States. She is quite an inspiration to listen to as she walked ever so slowly and we even stopped a few times as you could see the cramps in her legs. She was determined to finish and she did. She walked over 6 miles and I was cheering along with a couple dozen others that waited at the finish line as she crossed the finish line. I could see the pride in her eyes as she got a hug from her son who walked with us the whole way. She talked the whole way around the course and she was even talking as I left to head to my car. She will be at the Hyvee triathlon and I look forward to watching her cross another finish line in a few weeks. When I asked her what her plans were for the rest of the day, she told me she was going to take a nap in her truck under a shade tree before she left the park for home.

I woke up this morning thinking I was going to a race. I ended up getting a lesson in life and what it means to be alive. Sometimes your time at the finish line is not the most important thing you get from the day!



See You at the Finish Line!


4 Responses to “Bluff Creek Triathlon 2013 Race Report:”

  • Steve Stone says:

    I loved your description of your day and all of your details. I felt I was with you with each step. Interestingly, the overheated gal you befriended is my daughter. A person with the biggest heart I have ever seen. She has given up good race times to help others, at other times she made the conscious decision to be aware of the wonderful people and experience around her. But this was her first triathalon, getting up very early in the morning and leaving behind her loving husband and precious 3 year old daughter to compete with you. Thank you, thank you so much for befriending her, because I have seen her help so many others and place her personal goals on a back burner. And for you to return that loving energy to her, which I feel she so greatly deserves, but seldom receives…… well, I am a father. And I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Zen masters say we are all One, and I believe that. And you showed that. Thank you.

    • daverodda says:


      Thanks for your kind words. When I started this journey I thought being a triathlete was about swimming, biking and running. It is so much more than that. Watching your daughter cross the finish line with a smile and tears in her eyes as she fell into the arms of her husband and daughter was the highlight of my day. I received far more than I gave on this day.

  • Nina says:

    That was my sister you helped. I can truly apreciate what you did for her because she has done that for me. You have both inspired me, and I plan to work on my swimming skills and run my first try when I turn 40 in 2 years.

    • daverodda says:


      I look forward to standing at the finish line watching you complete your first triathlon in the near future. Every journey starts with that first small step. Good luck I wish you the best!

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