For the second year in a row, I decided to travel to the corn fields of Central America to the Hy-Vee Triathlon.  The Hy-Vee Triathlon has become one of the most renowned races in the world.  For the pros it is an ITU World Cub and has a $1million prize purse.  One of the biggest reasons I do the race besides the above mentioned facets is that the race is put on by one of the best race directors and management companies out there, Premier Events.  Bill Burke and his crew do an amazing job with every race they do and that’s why I keep coming back. 

                Before I go any further I thought I would actually disclose what Hy-Vee is.  For the longest time I never knew what it was.  Hy-Vee is a very nice chain of grocery stores in the central part of the country. They are all over Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri.  Ok well now you are educated on Hy-Vee. 

               

                Continuing with the weekend adventure, my guide and I flew in on Friday morning to Omaha, NE.  Since I spent some of my younger years living in Plattsmouth, I wanted to remember back to those days.  Our family friends the Rishel’s are still holding down the fort there so we made our way there in our rental SUV.  We were eagerly awaiting the arrival of my bike that had been shipped out by TriBike Transport.  This package was the type that the FedEx man just wants to get off his truck because it takes up half the truck.  The box had so much duct tape on it there was little cardboard exposed.  I think the duct tape weighed more than the actual bike.  All that mattered was that our little baby got there safely.  When we took the bike out it was still the same old piece of art as when I packed it.  We planned on riding the thing a bit considering that I had just met Eric a few hours before.  There was one problem.  It was so gosh darn hot and humid that we decided it was counterproductive.  We had pools of sweat dripping off our foreheads from just standing there.  We decided to take option two and go into the cool air conditioned home and eat.  Marlene made some yummy spaghetti bake and brownies.  As much as I wanted to stay up and socialize after dinner, I was so exhausted because I had only gotten three hours of sleep on my red eye flight. 

                Saturday morning Eric and I woke up to a much more comfortable temperature outside.  A pounding rainstorm had brought in cooler temperatures overnight.  We headed out on the Griffen tandem but didn’t go too long because I swear the town used to be a beach or something.  There was so much sand n the streets that corners became a little interesting.  We then went for a short run to teach Eric what I needed for guidance.  Our run was a little extended because we got lost.  Upon our return Marlene had cooked us some amazing blueberry pancakes and I told her that I was going to hire her to be my personal chef.  While we were in Plattsmouth we also took a little car ride through the town and by my old house which looked just like when we left it. 

                We drove the 2hrs to Des Moines, IA and arrived around 2pm at the packet pick up.  The most important thing at packet pick up for me was to see some of my favorites from Premier Events, Susan McManus and announcer Dave Ragsdale.  Also, just an FYI, the Hy-Vee triathlon has by far the best free swag of any race.  Just for entering you get a bike jersey, back pack, visor, and tons of goodies in the back pack.  The race is only $125 which is super cheap for a major race like this.  Eric and I finished all our pre race duties and headed to our hotel to catch the end of the US vs. England game.  We got there just in time to see the middle school goalie mistake by the English keeper.  Kind of felt bad for him but was happy for the US. 

                Later in the evening my Aunt Marilyn and uncle Bob arrived from Kearney, NE.  On their way over they decided to just take a casual stop and purchase a new Lexus SUV.  This thing was pimped out with everything.  We couldn’t stare too much at the car though because it was 7pm and time for dinner.  We had to get up at 3:45am for our early start time. From our hotel we walked over to an all American restaurant.  On our way back to the hotel the skies were looking very dark.  It looked as though within minutes we were going to get pounded.  Luckily, we made it to the local Hy-Vee for a few items before the craziness began. 

                At 3:45am the alarm clock sounded and just as every other race, “its game time.”  We walked down to the lobby and there were 30+ lively and spirited Team in Training (TNT) peeps getting psyched up.  Wherever TNT goes there is always emotions and spirit.  Even the hotel doors of the TNT racers were full of purple and yellow decorations.  One thing that you can never do is question their enthusiasm.  This is awesome and it’s such a good cause. 

                Upon arriving at the mall we got on the shuttle and headed to the race site. As we attempted to dodge our way through the mushy mess of the transition area there was an important announcement over the loudspeaker.  The race would be changed to a sprint distance because of terrible weather approaching the area quickly.  There were of course moans and groans from other competitors but I didn’t question the decision.  No race director is going to intentionally give themselves more work and hardship in changing a course and volunteer organization unless there is a good reason to do so. Come a few hours later nobody was questioning this decision. 

                Following this announcement, we quickly had to change our mental mindset into full on sprint mode.  Eric and I did our duties in the Honey Buckets and quickly went for a run and got in the water and did some fast intervals.  The race was also changed into time trial start to get the racers started quicker.  The age group elite male and females started in front of us and then we were up.  I estimate that the first competitor began about 3 minutes before us.  When the whistle blew for us to start we sprinted on the beach and into the water.  It was a little crazy because there was no way of getting away from the pack.  The swim had been shortened to 400m but I swear it was more like 500-600m.  The fastest swim time was just less than 7min.  We came out of the water in 7:39.  We sloshed through the mud to get to our bike, nearly taking out a group of relay participants that blocked our path.  Eric and I had practiced transitions the day before so we were ready for a flawless performance.  We had 20K to blast on the bike before a hilly 5K to finish it off.  The first mile or so was twisty and narrow so we kept the speeds down.  After that it was “hammer time.”  When we hit the turnaround Eric counted about 12 competitors ahead of us.  It got a bit windy in the corn fields but we smashed it and came into transition with a bike split of 30:27, an average of 24.4mph.  This split was respectable but I would have liked a bit quicker.  We left the shoes on the bike and got ready for the run.  I slipped on my K-Rooz (i.e. Magic Slippers) and began to absolutely fly out of transition.  I don’t know if Eric was ready for my quick explosion but he did awesome at staying with me. 

               

The 5K run is a hilly rolling course with the turnaround at the top of the biggest hill.  There seemed to be about 5 guys ahead of us but all of these competitors also started ahead of us.  This made it difficult to know where we were in the race.  As a result, we had to keep the hammer down and not let up until the line.  I felt really good and as we were running Eric said, “I think we’re probably going about 16:40 pace.”  I was thinking the same thing.  Pace can be deceiving though when you are going up and down hills.  We were slowly making ground on the racers ahead of us but it was very tough because these were the best of the best amateurs in the US.  The Hy-Vee age group elite field is probably the most competitive field in the country along with the Dallas US Open Championships.  As we neared the transition area which consisted of numerous twists and turns and lot of blue fencing one elite male came roaring past us.  With 400m left I began a sprint to catch this speedster but was unsuccessful.  He came across the line just seconds before us.  We ran a 17:33 5K which was good but not what I would have liked either.  I was more impressed with my overall 9th place finish in such a hard field. 

 

                Following the race Eric and I got quick rub downs at the massage booth and then we connected with my aunt and uncle who had been taking video and pictures throughout the race.  They are my big fans.  They both were sporting the CDifferentwithAaron Eye Chart shirt which is becoming a hit among the triathlon world.  I also made some friends with other Age Group Elite males which was nice because I often feel excluded from this group.  They were super nice and I even met an eye doctor that was really interested in guiding for C Different. 

                As we hung around post race, the clouds began to get darker and darker.  We decided it was probably smart for us to gather our belongings from transition area as quickly as possible and get the heck out of dodge as they say. We had to ride the tandem about 5 miles back to the mall where our car was parked.  Just as we left the park the clouds opened their mouth and proceeded to spit everything they possibly could down on us.  The rain turned into hail and pounded us.  Then came the lightening which cracked across the sky.  We were getting hit from all directions and it was beginning to build up on the road.  Eric yelled back to me, “I can see just about as good as you can right now.”  He also informed me, “we are going through like 3 inches of water right now and I have no brakes at all.”  Basically we were praying to get back to the car safely.  We were so freezing cold that we were unable to control any fine movements of our hands.  When we finally arrived at the mall we literally chucked everything in the car and blasted the heat.  There was only one thing on our minds and that was the warm shower waiting at the hotel.  When I got in the shower it was like heaven.  Well, maybe not as good as heaven but you know what I mean.  From there on the Hy-Vee Triathlon Adventure ends.  We made the drive back to Omaha and headed out to our respective homes.  Until next time, train hard and keep warm (haha).

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