Saturday, September 10, 2011
HyVee was my priority race this year. I drove through 8 hrs of rain to Memphis, TN with Yvette and raced in a thunderstorm just to qualify at Memphis in May for the 5150 National Championship. The carrot on the end of the stick was a brand new Mini Cooper and $5000 in other prizes. Purses of this value are unheard of in the amateur triathlon racing world. I knew it would bring all the competition out of the woodwork which would make for a great race.
We arrived on Friday to get some of the pre-race hassles out of the way like packet pick up. Saturday morning I rode the entire run course to familiarize myself and mark distances. Also per usual routine I ran the final miles of the course and later drove the entire bike course.
I actually got 5 or 6 hours of good sleep Saturday night and awoke feeling fresh and prepared for the race. Yvette, Corynn and I headed down to Greys lake and although lake temperature had been a toasty 83 earlier in the week the cold front and air temps in the 50s had dropped it to 75 making it wetsuit legal.
Our small group of about 40 amateur elites were in the water first. A relatively uneventful swim and I was out of the water in 13th in 22.05. Through transition and I got my first split to the leader...4 min. I was slightly surprised because I thought the first out would be around 19min based on who was racing but I had missed picking Adam Webber's name out of the list. The former Duke swimmer was out in 18. I knew to make up that amount of deficit I would have to take a big chunk back on the bike and then nibble off the rest in the run.
The bike course proved to be a little difficult with gradual hills and swirling wind. I pushed past my fellow competitors moving up spots, however I was only taking back a few seconds from the leader at my time checks. I flew back into transition with a hard earned 58.11 for the second best bike split and 4th overall.
My legs were feeling the effort as I headed out on the run. However, they came around and I was into my stride by the time I hit the long bridge over the lake and received the news from my brother that I was indeed still around 4min back of the lead. I was less then pleased by the deficit after the type of effort I was giving to that point.
On the quick out and back first 2 miles I confirmed splits and got to see the entire top 10. Everyone looked to be running well which was later confirmed by 8 of the top 10 running sub 35min. I clicked off the first 3 miles in 16.40 right around my expected pace. Although I was moving well this hadn't stopped 2 guys from moving around me. I continued in that position and near that speed through the next couple miles as we were spit off the bike path and into downtown. The last half mile was a gradual uphill ending with a steep one block hill to the finish at the capital building. My legs finally couldn't fight anymore and one more competitor came around me. I completed the hill as best I could and stumbled down the carpet across the finish with legs completely spent. Run time was a respectable 35.17 and I finished 7th overall, two places off the medal stand and prizes.
I was satisfied with my race efforts to get to the front, as well as my paces, but would of course liked that to have yielded a higher place. The first place mini cooper would have really been nice but it goes without saying that with a prize like that the competition will be "the toughest amateur field of the year" as one press release put it. This was due to the multiple national amateur champions and winners of other elite fields in top races around the US that had all come looking to get their hands on a new car.
I doubt this will be my last appearance at this race because we really enjoy going to Des Moines. However, I have many race goals and am unsure if it will be a "peak race" in the up coming years. I do know that the next time I am on the start line at HyVee the competition and course will be just as challenging but my fitness and preparedness will again be at another level. And with a few more million yards (literally) in the pool I will hopefully be beginning my bike/run pursuit from only 2 minutes back of the leader.
I am looking ahead to possibly getting in a half ironman yet this season but no registrations have been sent yet.
Posted by Kevin Nickel - Triathlete