Hy Vee Hijinks – Mel Hauschildt

220 columnist Mel Hauschildt runs us through the Hy Vee Championship race and how a misplaced helmet almost kept her from racing

Mel’s Hy Vee Championship Race Results

2nd 1:58:30
Swim 21:20 22nd
Bike 59:27 2nd
Run 34:52 1st

As I’m setting up my bike in transition the black and white striped official does his rounds – checking our helmets for the CPSC sticker, meaning it has passed the US safety requirements. European helmets won’t suffice. Specialized had just sent me the new Evade aero road helmet. Tested in the wind tunnel to be just as aero as the longer TT specific helmets but a lot lighter. I was keen to try it out as were many of my Specialized competitors. The stripy dude looks in my helmet but no sticker found. Damn! I look to my left, Angela Naeth has the exact same helmet, sent from the exact same place, California. How can this be?

Long story short, 20 minutes before race start and I’m still in transition running around looking for a helmet. The rest of the pros are on the other side of the lake at the final check in tent waiting to be announced one by one to the start line. 15 minutes before race start Eric comes running from the Specialized truck, helmet in hand. I quickly show the official, put it on my bike then run towards the water. At this point I no longer have time to run around the lake dodging all the spectators and age group athletes. So I run down the T1 swim exit chute and dive into the water, volunteers/marshals wondering what the hell this girl thinks she’s doing diving into the wrong side of the lake minutes before the race is about to begin. I was wondering the same thing. I quickly swim across the lake, run up the sand to race start and make it just in time for the final introductions. My heart is definitely warmed up!

As I stand on the blue carpet near the waters edge I look to my right then to my left. There are a handful of familiar faces, my usual long course competitors. But the rest…no idea who they are. This is because I’m racing a 5150 – an Olympic distance ‘non-drafting’ race. A lot of these girls are ITU-type racers, i.e. super fast swimmers. ITU style racing is also known as a wet running race. You need to be a strong swimmer, know how to sit in a pack on the bike, then be a gun runner.

Bang! The gun rings and I sprint down to the water. Two strokes of slapping people and being slapped and…they’re gone. I get through the 1500m lonely swim. I run up the swim exit in 23rd place. I’d like to say there were over 100 pro women in the race but there wasn’t. 27 started. Emma Moffat and crew were already 2:35 ahead.

40km on the bike can go very quickly! I hardly have time to eat or drink. I’m on a mission to catch as many of these girls as possible. I pass one then another then another…until time’s up…pencils down! 40km done. Dismount and put Shivy back in his rack. I felt great on the bike, clocking over 40km/hr average. But I also clocked over 40km/hr a few weeks back in the Boulder 70.3 where I rode 90km. Maybe some more work on my Computrainer will help with that top end speed.

I quickly throw on my Adidas runners, ITU style – no socks! But with Vegas just next week I’ve got fixomull tape all over my feet to avoid blisters. I grab my GU gel and visor, Scody race belt and take off – back on the chase. I start running girls down but I’m a bit nervous – can I hold this pace? I haven’t done an Olympic distance race since Nov 2012 in Noosa, and even there I crashed and couldn’t really run properly because of it. I decided on 3:30 pace to start. It feels quick, a good 15sec/km quicker than 70.3 pace but it also feels manageable. I’m reeling more and more girls in but at 6km I’m still only up to 6th place. Jared gives me another split “50seconds to 2nd place”. I have to pick it up. My legs are actually feeling really good. I can get 2nd! I pass another girl just as we turn into a strong head wind. She jumps right on my feet. Not like a runner comfortably ‘tucking in’. I mean RIGHT on my feet, clipping my every stride. I zig zag trying to get her off so I don’t trip. A slightly stronger surge and the tripping hazard is gone. Three more to go to second place. I see my next target just up ahead. I pass straight by and zero in on the next. Make another pass and look up for the 2nd place girl as my Garmin beeps ‘9km’ done. Only 1 km to go…I’m running out of k’s. Emma Moffatt is too far ahead to consider the win, but 2nd place is still within reach. “Please don’t be short” I say to myself…thinking of some of the ITU run courses where the women miraculously run 31-flat for ’10k’.

About 800m to go and second place is right there… I relax, slow just a touch and catch my breath before I throw in a 3:14km to make a decisive move. I don’t want to risk her jumping on my feet. I run straight past and about 100m later my watch beeps 10km. Perfect! The race is still not over… It ended up being 260m long but I have second place in the bag. As I run down the blue carpet high fiving the Ironkids who raced yesterday I feel pretty awesome. I never ruled myself out of a podium finish here but I really didn’t know what to expect racing these super fast short course girls.

You can check out more from Mel Hauschildt at her website www.melissahauschildt.com or follow her on Twitter @MelHauschildt