You would think that these races would get easier with time. Not when mother nature is involved. IM Boise 70.3 was cut short due to cold and snow. IM Kansas 70.3 retained all the distance but added wind, 2 foot to 3 foot rolling waves in the swim and 90+ degree heat.
Mother Nature was not looking out for the 70.3 racing crowds this weekend...
I think the fact that I didn't totally blow up is a credit to the shift and focus of specific training goals for my workouts as the amount of training time in comparison to past IM 70.3 races is either equal or less. I didn't train longer, I trained smarter.
I'm not into boring you with the details of pre-race...
Yes, I hit the port-a-potty 4 times before my wave took off.
Yes, I ate my normal fare, but added in regular Gatorade for fluids in prep for a hot day before the swim. This includes NO sports gels what-so-ever. Sports gels = GI issues.
Yes, I lost my ear plugs in final port-a-potty visit that played a significant role in my swim.
Yes, my tires were aired up in the morning and after the swim, still, unlike IM KS 2010.
That swim was wretched...
I knew it was going to be a tough one when they announced 76.8 degree water and wetsuit legal cutoff is 76.2. They couldn't find the extra 0.6. Dang it. No wetsuit.
Wind was whipping early. I would venture a guess it was already at 15 to 20 by the first wave start. The lake was rolling with 2 foot swells. They weren't white caps, but they still hit you in the face and force you to inhale water when you come up for a breathe. That's important for two reasons:
- I get motion sick. Imagine going up, down, up, down for 1.2 miles in the water. I felt ill to say the least. I wanted so bad to hurl and get it over with, but it didn't reach that crescendo. I had to muddle through on the verge.
- I have "odd shaped" ear canals, so says my ENT. This causes water to get trapped in my ears very easily. Trapped water results in swimmers ear and balance issues. Hence using ear plugs and no flip turns in the pool. I thought I could pull my swim cap down and be ok, wrong. Immediately water went in my ears and I became imbalanced as waves came over all of us, with no wetsuit.
- For a bonus point, my goggles were on too tight, giving me a headache to add to the imbalance and motion sickness.
Why I didn't, I'm not sure. I have a few pointers I'll share in an EverymanTri post this week on what worked for me to calm down and stop freaking out. No, it didn't make my stomach settle or keep my ears from filling with water, but it allowed me to get through the swim.
I dragged out of the water in 54 minutes, the WORST Half IM swim by 14 minutes, but a success in the fact I didn't get pulled out.
Can money buy you speed on the bike?
I'm not sure if it was gear, training or both, but with 15 to 20 head winds and gusts around 25 mph I pulled out my second best HIM bike time out of my rear end, literally.
My back was killing me, the headwinds sucked and the crosswinds sucked with a ZIPP 808 on the front wheel, but for the last 20 miles with a tailwind, it was pure butter.
I cranked out a 3:04 for 18.2 mph pace. Not the best, but with many people crashing, flatting out and some being carted off in ambulances, it's a success. My goal was to survive the hills and headwind and stay steady with the tailwind. I stopped short in going all out with the tail wind, zapping anything I had left for the run, because I was going to need everything I had to get through the 13.1 miles in the heat.
Heart rate was the highest average to date of any race or training ride. Rarely do I hit the high end on rides, but I got it just right for this race.
Couple of house cleaning items of note:
- With a tailwind, hammer it or move over. There was too much lolly gagging going on riding two wide on out and back roads. If you want to chat with your friends, wait for after the race, please. If I yelled at you at any point on the ride "ON YOUR LEFT" or "LOOK OUT", it meant you needed to move over to the right so I could pass and keep my momentum, or you were not paying attention and veering into my path. I don't like having to ride in the ditch. Sorry if I offended, but I wanted off the bike asap.
- Respect the downhill and crosswinds. One gal going the opposite direction downhill around 20 to 25 mph went off road. I was ready to pull over and help stop whatever bleeding that was sure to ensue, but she got lucky as there was no fence going into the field she veered into. She somehow got out of aero and grabbed the outer bars and came to a stop 100 yards off the road. I hope she said her prayers last night, she got saved.
My goal was 155 to 165 heart rate range for the run, and I got their pretty easily...
By the time I arrived in T2, the heat was picking up and the suffering was just about to start.
I took off looking for the max 165 beats per minutes and found it running 8:30 pace. The culmination of the swim and bike paired with the heat had maxed me out. At 4 hours into my race day, I knew a PR was not going to happen. My focus was on keeping a running pace and not blowing up.
The first half was 9:00 pace, the second was 10:00 pace. The program was to stay hydrated, avoid gels and GI issues and stay cool. Luckily campers and spectators broke out hoses at camp sites and about every mile on the section in the campsite had some form of opportunity for getting moist. I knew from the heart rate training that to push it above 165 was to guarantee a bonk or blow up, and I wanted to finish in control. So, I kept it to 165 or less.
My last 7 miles was mostly slowed due to extended slow trots through hosing areas. Thanks to anyone that broke out the hoses!
Oddly enough that was my second best half marathon run in a HIM, 2:03. It's bitter sweet as I poured everything I had and played a good game to survive, but it took me 2 hours to get it done.
It's just surreal as 2011 IM KS felt so easy on the run. My bike split was horrible, and maybe I had played it safe and left enough for a solid run, but it felt effortless compared to this year. I think the temps were cooler with clouds last year, which play a huge factor.
And I was done... in more ways than one.
I was ready to see that finish line. They poured water down my back and I sucked down 5 chocolate milks, 2 real cokes and various waters and Gatorade. Then I sat in the camp ground showers with the water running on me, still in my tri gear, for 20 minutes. It was a tough day out there.
It's odd, the course in itself is a great opportunity for fast race. The swim in 2010 was the pinnacle with smooth waters and wetsuit legal. Too bad I had a flat that year... what could have been.
The bike course has some hills, but a lot of straight sections with little elevation change, that without wind could be a hammer fest.
The run is for all intense purposes, flat. Any given run on that course just for a half marathon should be a PR for anyone.
But, when you add them all up into a HIM and throw in Kansas winds and heat, it's a different course.
A lot of people mentioned that it was the toughest HIM they had ever ran. The elements proved to be the great equalizer. When reflecting, it's not the finishing time that matters, per say. Sure, I would love a 5:30 PR, but there was no way it was going to happen. The swim alone eliminated that and to recover time on the ride would have brought a quick end to the run in a DNF or walk to the end.
Oddly enough, this was my highest overall placing and highest age group placing.
- 507 of 1506 overall
- 78 of 167 age group - we had around 20 people in 35-39 that dropped out, so around 187 started the race and 167 finished.
Strange at what felt like the worst HIM experience effort wise was the best finish compared to everyone else. At least I wasn't the only one suffering, right?
Pictures coming as well as some great videos my super fan wife took that show just how much I was enjoying the swim and run...