HyVee triathlon, the blog write-up I’ve been procrastinating. Most of my teammates and friends know the HyVee was set as my “A” Olympic race of the year. After injuring my foot in December, 2010 the decision was made to race amateur for the 2011 season. One of the benefits of staying amateur was to compete in HyVee again defending my 2010 title. In an effort to attract more talent to the new 5150 series championship they increased the prize for the HyVee triathlon in 2011 to a mini-cooper for elite amateur men and women. This made the race by far the most challenging Olympic of the year for amateur’s bringing in the steepest competition.
My weekend inDes Moines,IAbegan with the expo and mandatory race briefing. During which the water temperature was announced as 82 degrees. We were told by the race director that no matter what the water temperature on race morning NO wetsuits were to be allowed. They didn’t expect the temperature to come down 6 degrees overnight and he said, “you guys all qualified to get here, there is no need for wetsuits at this race”. I was thrilled, being a swimmer this is a huge advantage. They already moved the swim from the Des Moines River to a much calmer Gray’sLakedue to predictions for high winds on race day.
While walking to transition on race morning I start receiving texts from friends racing and even hear the announcement that wet suits will be legal for all age group waves including the elite amateur wave. Needless to say I was pretty bummed, I spoke to a USAT official who informed me the race director was wrong telling us no wetsuits would be legal yesterday, it is always up to USAT and their water temperature measurements showed 75.5 degrees. (conveniently under the 76 degree cutoff). This caused quite the stir
with my wave as many didn’t even bring wetsuits based on the announcement yesterday. Luckily I always pack it because these types of calls seem to happen more and more. As I warmed up in the water with teammate Cindi Bannink we realized the water had not decreased to 75.5 degrees, it was still well over 80.
The elite amateur men’s wave took off, and 2 minutes later we followed. With only 20+ women in the elite wave it was a smooth start for me. I shot out in front with two other swimmers, at some point Natalie Kirchoff took off ahead of me. As I approached the 2nd turn buoy my other swimming buddy did not make the turn. I really wanted to grab her, but the sun was right in our eyes and she must not have been able to sight well. I did turn and stayed on course, hoping she would quickly follow. I swam the remainder of the course in my own water keeping it steady but strong. It was definitely a hot swim, by the half way point I wanted to rip off my wetsuit to let my skin breath. I swam it in still not realizing Natalie was 30 seconds up. I had a long run through the mud to my bike in transition, literally peeling the wetsuit off my skin. I made a minor mistake in heading down the men’s transition aisle, quickly realizing it but losing precious seconds I would later need in the run.
As I headed out on the bike I caught Natalie within the first few miles. I was surprised to see another girl but knew she was a fast runner (as were all the other females in the field) so I needed to nail this bike to gain a huge lead. The course was very technical, every time I got going hard in my aero bars we approached another turn. The wind also played a huge factor, with all the changes in direction we were getting head winds, tail winds and cross winds. I started catching some of the men at the half way point. One in particular gave me a hard time; every time I passed him he would increase wattage and pass me back. Finally I asked him nicely not to mess up the women’s race, he quickly stopped and I never saw him again. Unfortunately I may have destroyed his ego, but this is a common issue I deal with and have gotten penalties for in the past.
At the 180 degree turn around I got to see where my competition was. I had a few minute lead but the girls were right there and again I knew most of them and was fully aware of their ability to pass me on the run. So I turned it on harder through the 2nd half of the bike hoping to put more time between us.
Coming back into transition it was fun to hear the roar of cheers from the spectators. I ran into difficulty getting to my spot because the age groupers were exiting the bike out which happened to also be the bike in. I had to dodge outbound bikers, but after a few seconds they let me by. I took off on my feet attempting to get into my stride. To my surprise my legs weren’t too destroyed from the bike. Now I was in the middle of the men’s race, of course they’re all cheering me on saying I’d already won the car. Something I hate about run courses is 180 degree turn arounds. I do not like my competition to see me, but this course had 2, the first being within 2 miles. As I came face to face with the chase girls I knew I was in trouble. They weren’t that far back, and they’re all small runners gunning for me. I picked up my pace. My strategy is to stay ahead at all costs discouraging the chase pack from catching me. To my surprise I was successful as I saw friends along the course they told me I was actually pulling away. The weather was sunny but cool, since I don’t have my top end speed this year, I’ve learned to excel in the heat (this didn’t help here). As I approached mile 5 I knew they were closing in on me but I tried to keep up my pace. Running through downtown Des MoinesI heard quick footsteps behind me, looking back in a race is a sign of weakness. It took much willpower not to look back, and finally the footsteps caught me. It was a guy, I told him how happy I was. This is when he informed me that Kim was literally right behind me. At this point I knew she was just waiting for her chance. So I again gave it everything I had to pull away from her. As we went around the 2nd turn around I saw how close she was. I can honestly say that is when I gave it everything I had in the tank. I hammered with every ounce within me. We approached the final climb which is when she surged. At this point I had nothing left in the tank, it wasn’t by choice but I had to watch her pass me and she crossed the finish 15 seconds ahead.
Of course I congratulated her, she informed me that we raced at wildflower Olympic this spring where I had won by over 2 minutes. She made it a goal to beat me here. I can honestly say she outraced me. Yes they took away some advantages on the swim and bike but she out ran me and I know even if I ran faster she would have too. She played the race perfectly and turned it on at the ideal point. I left it all on the course and 2nd was where I finished. Talking to the top girls post race I found we’re all racing pro in 2012 so I’ll get more opportunities to race them again and prove I can run faster, this was just all I had this year.
A big thank you goes out to Orbea/Orca for donating an amazing 2nd place price of $5K gift card.
Mad props go to teammate Cindi Bannink placing 5th elite amateur woman and Bo Parish for winning his age group.