HyVee 5150 Sprint Championships

HyVee 5150 Sprint Championships

The HyVee 5150 Championships was a bitter-sweet end to my triathlon season. There are always mixed emotions heading into the final race of the year; it’s sad knowing that racing is finished, but it’s also a great time to soak in the accomplishments of the year and give the body time to relax and repair. Knowing that this was ahead of me, I was prepared to put everything on the line and race hard. As the weekend began, however, we were informed of a major change. Due to an usually wet August in Iowa, flooding had made a majority of the bike course unreachable, and the race directors decided to shorten the race to a sprint. Mentally, this took a lot of work to come to grips with. I knew that an Olympic was going to be painful enough because of the intensity level that was going to be required to be competitive in a championship race. The change to a sprint race took the required intensity level up a few more notches. Alyssa has had me on the track and/or treadmill pretty regularly to do speed work, but we definitely hadn’t done any work to focus on a race that would likely only take slightly more than one hour. Trying to take everything in stride, the only option was to race as hard as I possibly could until I crossed the finish line.

Race morning was perfect! A slight chill in the air, little wind and clear skies. I had very few nerves to deal with and focused on enjoying the environment and every process associated with getting ready to race. Another aspect of the altered course was that the start time for the age-group race was delayed 1 1/2 hours so that the pros would be able to get of the bike course before we started. This meant that after transition closed we still had almost two hours to wait. So once everything was set up, I found some space to sit and relax. Family started to arrive, including my in-laws that were having their first triathlon experience, and after seeing the pros transition onto their bikes, we made our way across the lake to the swim start.

Swim (14:20) – My decision of whether or not to wear a wetsuit due to temperatures that were just below the cutoff and because of the shortened distance was made for me as the water temp increased by two degrees overnight, making it wetsuit illegal. This would be my first non-wetsuit swim of the year, and I had no idea how it was going to go. I felt good about where my swim fitness was but also wasn’t used to swimming in open water without the added buoyancy. Regardless, I made my way into the first 2-3 rows, knowing that it was going to be a fast and furious start and I wanted to get on fast feet. The gun went off, I ran into the water and started swimming as hard as I could. But I quickly got engulfed in the mass of people, getting elbowed in the face and grabbed from all sorts of directions. Gasping for air and desperate to just be able to swim, I had to breast/side-stroke for a few seconds to gain my composure in order to finish even a 750 meter swim. I knew I was a ways behind the lead pack, but once I got going I felt like I was able to swim well. I thought things were okay, until I got out of my water and saw that I swam 10 minutes slower than my first, Olympic race of the year (double the swim distance). But there wasn’t any time to get down as I sprinted to my bike.

Bike (29:25) – I knew that the only option on the bike was to push myself as hard as I could. The alterations made a fairly hilly course incredibly flat, and the lack of wind made it a very fast day. Both laps went by incredibly fast, and I was able to pass several people. Knowing that I didn’t want to have a lot of volume sloshing around in my stomach, I kept my nutrition minimal, only taking in water and two gels. Before I knew it, I was at the entrance to the park and ready to dismount.

Run (18:06) – My age-group had the privilege of having the first bike racks in transition from where we biked in, so I had little time running with my bike and was quickly in my Zoots. With only 3.1 miles to run, my strategy was the same as on the bike. The only thing that I was going to let slow me down was complete system failure, which fortunately didn’t happen. I pushed the pace from the beginning, picking off a few more guys and I went through the first two miles in 11:25. After that I found myself in no-man’s land and focused on keeping the pace and finishing strong.

Crossing the finish line I had no idea what place I was in, but I was happy knowing that I had put together a good race and pushed myself. I ended up finishing in 1:04:27, placing 5th place in my age-group and banking a $400 gift card. Although not my ideal race to end the season, racing at home with lots of family support was the perfect way to end the season.

Thank you so much to my wife, dad and in-laws for the incredible support throughout the day! And thank you to all of my family, Zoot Sports and Alyssa for an incredible 2014 triathlon season!