Athletes receive pretty nice backpacks (to put all of the other stuff I'm about to list in), a bike jersey, a cap or visor, and then a bunch of other stuff already in the bag. But seriously, for $99....the backpack alone is probably half of that cost, plus the jersey...you're getting a pretty good deal. And if you think this is good, you haven't even SEEN what you get when you finish.
Whole ice cream sandwiches. From an ice cream truck. Ryan and I immediately remember this part of HyVee every year as we are obsessed with ice cream (any time we run a PR or win a race, we celebrate with ice cream). And there's chocolate milk, a bunch of fruits and cheeses, cookies, Gatorades, waters, etc. AND kiddie pool ice baths. And massages.
Also, if you place top 15 in your age group, you get free entry for the following year....so yep, I got all of that stuff I just listed for free. Pretty freaking sweet.
Last year, I took the MegaBus (that was an experience in itself) as Ryan was working the expo so had driven down on Friday when I was teaching. This year, I was lucky that our friends John and Oscar were also racing, so I rode with them. We arrived just in time to catch the last mandatory race meeting and hit up the slimmed-down expo.
Ryan and I actually totally benefitted from this expo as TJ Tollakson was there promoting his bike case. We ended up each buying one to safely (and much more cheaply) get our bikes to Kona. Score!
After the expo, we checked in our bikes and then headed to dinner. I absolutely loved this place last year, and it did not disappoint this year. John and Oscar had a bet going for the Iowa vs Northern Illinois football game....so John buying Oscar's dinner was the only downfall of the night, but hey, that's what ya get for betting I guess:)
Race day came pretty quickly. And it wasn't pretty. We knew there was a chance of rain, but what was occurring was quite the understatement. It was a downpour. Lightning, fast falling rain...we were feeling pretty bummed. We naturally checked the HyVee Triathlon Facebook page (isn't technology great?) and found out the plan was to wait out the rain and begin the race.
We hopped into our cars and headed over to sit in the parking lot for what seemed like an eternity.
Ryan had opted last minute to actually race. You see, HyVee is a super cool race, but has tricky rules. There are two races: the 5150 US Championships race and the 5150 Age Group race. To qualify for the 5150 US Championships race, you had to qualify from any of the 5150 branded races by placing top 10 or 15 in your age group....this is clearly something Ryan is capable of, but every single 5150 race was on a weekend he was working. So, Ryan let me use all the fancy stuff (better helmet, better wheels, etc.) since he was doing the Age Group and not US Championship race (isn't he great?!).
When race time finally came, I was pretty excited to get in the water. The HyVee course changes slightly from year to year, but the swim was pretty darn similar to 2012. This gave me the perfect opportunity to see how much my swim has improved over the past 9 months of training.
Sure enough, I came out of the water almost 2 minutes faster than last year. Later, when looking up results, we saw that most people swam SLOWER than in 2012, so I was gaining more and more confidence in my swim. All those hours in the pool were making me better than I thought!
My transition was okay. I struggled a bit putting on the nice helmet Ryan had me use. Long story short, it has detachable sides (like by your ears) and one almost snapped off on me, so I fumbled with it for a bit.
I made up for that by passing people right away. I was cruising and feeling awesome...until mile 5.
Going into mile 5, we made a semi-sharp right turn. The USAT officials were on their motorcycle behind me and I did not want a penalty for drafting, even though I was only trying to pass a girl and guy. So, I took the corner narrow since they were taking it wide. BAD IDEA. I hit a speed bump and my water bottle in my aero bars launched itself. I tried to catch it unsuccessfully and slammed on my brakes. I gently threw down my bike, ran back to pick up the bottle, and got back on my bike. The four girls I had just passed had now repassed me. I felt like a total jerk passing them again, but what was I to do?
Stupid water bottle launching itself.
The crazy competitive Jacqui came out and I charged. I was flying and again passing girls and guys left and right. I felt freaking awesome. Yep, not just awesome, freaking awesome.
Well, until just after mile 10 (or maybe just before....If I updated this thing more regularly, I'd know).
Right before/after mile 10, you bike over train tracks (you do this three other times as well). They put down that blue carpet mat type stuff and it seems to work pretty well. I should have thought this could happen, but I'm pretty positive my mind was only concentrating on picking people off and catching back up to where I was before mile 5.
Crossing those tracks apparently was hard on my bike as my water bottle launched again. And I mean launched. I wish one of the 10 high school student volunteers had their phone out video-ing because I'm sure it looked pretty darn funny.
I slammed on my brakes, causing me to even skid a little. I put my bike on the grass, turned around to run and get my bottle, weaved in and out of a million bikers, grabbed my bottle while avoiding being hit, threw it back on my bike, held back tears for as long as I could, and clipped my shoes back in.
Only to find out my chain also fell off during all of this.
"SERIOUSLY?!?!?!" I yelled at my bike (yeah, if only a kid had been videotaping...).
One of the sweet kids volunteering came over to ask if he could help and I (probably rudely) told him, "No, my stupid chain just fell off. It is just not my day today." He awkwardly watched me yank my chain back on. I told him next time he saw me (since we were just heading out to do a loop and would then bike back over the same tracks) this would not happen and I'd be smiling.
Four girls. I triple passed four girls throughout this bottle/chain problem day. I seriously felt like the biggest jerk ever.
Just getting passed once makes me upset, so to pass some girls three times made me feel so mean. But what was I supposed to do? (yes, the thought of quitting the race had crossed my mind).
In the end, I'm really happy I didn't quit because the winds were gusting at 30+mph, which was perfect prep for Kona, especially since I was riding with a disc wheel (kind of "amplifies" the wind). I made sure to stay in aero position, again to prepare for Kona, and feel more confident now than I did prior to HyVee.
The run wasn't as great as I feel my triathlon runs usually are for me. The run course was out and back, so I knew who I could and could not pick off. I basically just ran (a) to pick off those girls that were attainable and (b) in hopes of not getting passed by Ryan, who started 20some minutes after me and had a goal of catching me. After he passed me at mile 5 of the 10k, I knew no one else would pass me and I wouldn't be able to catch anyone else, so just coasted to the finish.
All throughout the bike, I imagined myself crying like a big baby when telling Ryan all that had happened. Somehow, the tears never came. As mad and sad as I was, I realized this race really didn't mean much. It served its purpose: show how much my swim improved, gain confidence in that.
Ryan and I decided all of the issues I experienced were meant to be experienced today so as to not happen come Kona time. I'm hoping that's the case, but know that I handled it pretty well for having never experienced something like that before.
Last thing. Best thing. Those who place top 5 in the age group get sweet prizes. I ended up placing 5th in my age group, winning a $400 gift card to Orbea/Orca (triathlon and bike stuff)...not bad for having a bad day!!! Hy-Vee is the greatest!
Good news: next year can't get any worse! :)