The talk was about the weather and lake temperature. Would the water be too cold? Would storms roll in and cause a shortened race or no race at all? Would it be a soggy bike ride?
Well, as it turned out the cool spring kept the lake right around 70 degrees. Perfect for wetsuit swims! Early morning rain swept through and left the roads a little damp, but by the 6:30am pro start, it was pretty dry, calm winds and cool temps.
Basically from my past 5 years at this event, you could not have asked for a better race day weather wise. It was just up to the athletes to make their way through the 70.3 miles. Mother Nature was smiling on us Sunday.
Cutting it close.
This year was pretty similar to years past as far as the day and night before. I was originally planning to camp, but Em was on board to be an athlete supporter and we opted for a hotel. I wasn't sure what we were going to get two weeks out, but we did get the last room at the Oread hotel right off the KU campus. Coincidentally it's the sponsor for the race. It was pretty cool to check in and the staff was wearing IM KS gear and they were set up to support the racers in for the weekend. And, the price wasn't outrageous. AND, school was out for the summer so we didn't have to worry about late night house parties and didn't need the hotel supplied ear plugs.
From valet service (not free) to just being accommodating and convenient to the race site, stores and restaurants, it was the best hotel stay the night before IM KS we have ever had.
The only problem was how close I cut getting to T1 and T2 and getting set up. I thought I would have plenty of time, got up right at the alarm, normal race morning routine, normal breakfast, valet had my truck ready when I got downstairs, loaded up and I was out.
Problem was that traffic into the lake was already backing up and it probably took 45 minutes from leaving hotel to getting parked. Normally it would be all of 10 minutes. That left me with just enough time to walk the 0.5 miles to T2, drop gear off, walk 0.5 miles to T1 and get everything set up.
Since the forecast was calling for storms with winds, the RD allowed bike check in the morning of the race. I'm all about keeping my bike with me until I rack it on race morning. Good call, but it also created the need to utilize every minute possible for setup and exiting transition on time.
I was basically wetsuit lubing and spraying sunscreen on when they called for T1 to close for the race start. That was the first time I had to lug the wetsuit out with me and put it on in the port-a-potty line. Did I mention I had to hold my morning deposit until after T1 was closed? That's a long time and I really had to go... Had I gone before setting up, I would have had a real problem.
The short of it is I cut it too close. Luckily I had plenty of pre-prep time in the hotel the day before to plan out T1 and T2 bags and get squared away so they could take the provided T1 bag and lug it to T2 so we could just pick it up. It all worked out, but with no time to spare.
The one issue I have, though, is people setting up transition and racking bikes. You face the handlebars the direction your number is facing on the rack. This allows the alternating direction of bikes so your handlebars do not get tangled with the person next to you. I think that should be in the athlete guide somewhere in bold letters. I got hosed in T1 and T2 on this when people next to me set up their gear under my bike spot and face their bike the wrong way. The rack lines were long and you had to be on the correct side to get your bike in and out. It's a complicated dance and no one wants to fight someone's bike. Just be courteous out there. ;)
Race with Hines Ward
So, yes, I'm always racing myself and my past performances. I always want to do better each year, especially in A races. But, they have Hines Ward out there Becoming One with Chocolate Milk training for Kona this year. He's an NFL MVP, Super Bowl winner and MVP and will be in the NFL hall of fame. I couldn't carry his jock, when it comes to football. Triathlon, though... this was my chance to say I beat Hines Ward... in anything. So, he was there and it was a joking but half serious mission to get a better time than him. After all, he is retired and has nothing to do (I'm sure that's not entirely accurate) other than train for triathlons with Paula Newby Fraser. I tweeted at him, left messages on his FB here and there... but he was a bigger man and didn't get baited in with trash talking.
It was a fun game in my mind to play to have another motivational tool when times got tough.
Best swim ever - 1.2 Miles // 34:19 // 1:46 min per mile pace // 47 AG // 336 OA // 261 Male
Beat my preview goal of 35 minutes!
It's not sub 30 like the pros and great age groupers, but it is a personal PR for a HIM swim. Score.
It's around a 40 second best over the IM Boulder swim in 2011, which was water like glass and no wind. Last year was 20 minutes slower. Allow me to repeat, 20 MINUTES SLOWER. No wetsuit, lost my ear plugs, 30 mph winds and 2 to 3 foot rolling waves last year. This year was a little bit of a breeze and some choppy water with wetsuit legal option.
Years past had been similar conditions, but I blew away my best swim time for the Kansas course by 2 minutes. It's looking like the reconstitution of my swim workouts has indeed been paying off.
Aside from taking in a mouthful of water swimming to the start, it was a pretty uneventful swim and went according to plan. Just the way I like it.
|I'm in the yellow swim cap... see me?|
There's no real action in either transition minus T2 where I was wrestling with some dudes bike that he placed on my rack number and faced the wrong way. I was nice to his rig... but it took restraint.
Pedal power - 56 miles // 3:05:46 // 18.09 mph // 101 AG // 625 OA // 517 Male
Beat my preview goal of 3:10 and almost hit the 3:05 best case.
My mission is to break whatever I have left loose on the 13.1 mile run. That's a long enough distance to expend any energy you thought you left on the bike. You can always give when you have reserves, but you can't take back what you spent on the bike if you start suffering on the run. I learned that in 2009 after bonk, cramps and a general "this sucks" feeling on the run.
The big pleasant surprise was the lack of wind. It was actually a little reverse of years past with the wind direction changing. Going out, I had my best splits. Coming in, I was managing energy and a mild headwind. The killer south turn around leg was painless compared to years past. I never knew what it was like to be able to exceed 20 mph without going over 180 bpm downhill heading south on this leg until this year.
I ate my gel blasts early, alternated between water and a combination hydration mix. Electrolytes / BCAA / Glutamine / and sports drink mix. I wanted a touch of protein, but not so much it would give me gut issues. I do have to thank the wife, Em, for helping me logically think out what would work best. She has a lot more background in the dietary world, and what she came up with worked great. I wanted to get solids in early (every 30 minutes and cut it off after 2.5 hours) so I could process it in low zone 2 and switched to hydration mix and then nothing but water 15 minutes out from T2. I wanted nothing sloshing around after T2 to cause stomach issues.
But I will say this, I tried as best I could, but to anyone I inadvertently sprinkled with pee on the bike leg, I'm truly sorry. I wasn't going to pull over to pee and I had to pee like 5 times. That's the price you pay for proper hydration and temps in the 70's. Forgive me... Chrissie Wellington does it, why can't I?
And, for all the effort I have put into PT and Chiro work and strength training, I have a little bit to go to get my back ready for 112 miles at Lake Tahoe. Around 50 miles my back was killing me and nothing catches wind more than sitting up in the saddle and stretching your back out. Minor detail, but it's so much more improved than in the past, I can't really complain.
Conservative to start the run - 13.1 miles // 1:49:07 // 8:19 min per mile avg // 75 AG // 444 OA // 359 Male
Beat my preview goal of 1:50.
Never ever ever ever come out of a HIM or IM T2 gunning at full speed, unless you're a pro going for first place. Nothing is more debilitating than spitting out 7 min/mile or better to be slowed to a walk, shuffle and cramp plagued crawl at mile 7. I've been there and it sucks.
Just like the bike, take the first few miles easy. Get your footing, find your groove, start your hydration and nutrition plan. Stay low zone two and take a minute to allow some aid station fluids to get in.
What I didn't mention on the bike was the last aid station, I grabbed a banana. Right out of T1 I cramped a hammy exiting the lake on the bike. I knew I needed some help to avoid cramps on the run. The good part is, I figured out how to peel it in aero. The bad part is, I hit a bump and half of the half banana feel off. I only got a quarter of a banana in, but it was better than nothing.
That was one of the best runs in a HIM I have ever put out there. Both timing and feeling wise. I was never in a hole, I was always in control and I was smart about adjusting my plan with my performance. I stayed at 160 bpm for miles 1 through 10 and I opened the gate at mile 10 to see what I could do.
One wild card was a groin cramp at the second downhill back into the dock area. from mile 8 to 9, I was coasting under control downhill and the cramp started. Luckily I was able to dial it down and get it under control at the aid station and it wasn't an issue after that. I just knew I would need to stay on top of hydration.
The run portion of IM KS is pretty sweet. It's all on the campground area and family and friends line the roads with signs, cheering, music, water hoses and squirt guns. You are never really by yourself in the mental black hole. You are always distracted enough to not let your mind wonder, but to stay in the moment.
Long training runs I usually stop every 3 miles for hydration and nutrition. This course was nice in that the out and back style loops allowed pretty much an aid station around 1 to 1.5 miles. I adjusted my stopping points to every other station to stave off cramps and bonking. It worked out great. There I was, hopping along at 8:19 pace overall at 160 bpm or less. Sure, I was passed a lot at first, but passing the suffering masses in the last 3 miles was vindication.
And the results are in - 70.3 miles // 5:34:46 // 75 AG // 444 OA // 359 Male
My preview goal of 5:40 was smoked. My PR HIM of 5:49:55 was blown away.
|That's the overall clock, so ignore it. ;)|
I had my moments of cutting T1 close too close, wondering if my rear 1080 ZIPP wheel was going to hold air the entire race and what the run was going to look like, but in the end I tried to manage each part as best I could.
It was awesome to hit the final 3 miles a little harder and feel good at the end of the race.
Some parting thoughts...
I beat Hines. He ended up with a 5:53, which is not too shabby for a first HIM. He actually beat my bike split, since the more solid people were able to utilize the downhills better with slower wind speeds. He looked like he might gain some time on the run on me, but at the halfway point I could tell at the turn-around I was putting him further back. Mission accomplished, I beat Hines. I wonder if he knew we were racing? ;)
The only real gripe about the race organization was the line to check in on Saturday. I waited nearly and hour. Luckily I was next to some nice people from Oklahoma who had some family members that lost homes in the Moore tornados. Makes me appreciate not having to go through that. But, we all sat there in the sun for a long time. I'm not sure what was the difference than years past, but I never had to wait that long before. Maybe I'll go on Friday next year.
Sunburns suck. It's my own fault. I lathered up in T1, but through the day and missing the sunscreen out of T2 and on the second loop, I suffered. Fluid Nutrition is looking good with a permanent sunburn tat, but it's not very comfortable.
Thanks to my Tri buddy Jon for some good training days and the extra bit of motivation at mile 10 on the run to pick it up. I knew he was closing in and someone mentioned his tri team right as I left an aid station and I knew it was him. That was the last bit of motivation I needed to kick it up a notch and get it done. In the end it's all for fun, but I'm competitive and like I said with the Hines Ward deal, anything you can do that positively affects your mind during a race is all the better. A little friendly competition never hurt anyone.
Thanks to family. Thank you to my wife for working with me where we realistically could for training and allowing me to follow my dreams and passion working in the world of triathlon coaching and consulting. The results of my race are a direct reflection of the attention I have been able to give it and her help in nutrition and getting the crud out of my diet (except for the epic cheat days... Fire burgers, whole pans of brownies or lemon bars, Chipotle, 6 pancakes... mmmmm).
Thank you to my mother and mother-in-law for helping with the kids. I do not want to go down this path alienating my children from me. I train, race and work comfortable in knowing that the kids are with people that love them and will make sure they are well taken care of when I need a sub. I try and manage my time to impact the kids and family as little as possible, but they help bridge the gap when I need that extra time.
Thanks to my partners and sponsors. Out there with me was:
Heritage Family Chiropractic
The back's not 100 percent ready, but it's 100 percent improved from where I was.
TK Muscle Therapy
Kent keeps me in one piece. Aches and pains are so much easier to deal with when Kent's on board for sports massage. Now, the massage might be more pain than the race, but you'll thank him the next day.
Karbon Speed Wheels - SpeedPac - "MVT" for 10% off
The SpeedPac worked like a charm. I used it for water and it was right there in my face to remind me. Great addition to their arsenal.
Coach Bob gave me some great pointers in all 3 categories. My swim has improved, my bike is stronger to get the same results with less effort to spend on the run. He's also given me great insight into being a coach myself.
Recovery is a forgotten 4th sport. If you're not 100 percent at the start, you're going to pay for it in the end.
The same idea applies to nutritional recovery. Crap in equals crap out (literally and figuratively). Chocolate fluid recovery drink mix is my go to after a brutal work out.
Man, where would I be without my sleeveless Xterra suit after 4 years. Takes a lick and keeps on ticking. I treat that suit like a red-headed step child and it's still in great shape and gets the job done.
Roman has go my back helping with ideas and the right frame of mind to be in the endurance world from more than a participant perspective. Having that "out of body" mentality lets you get to the root of some mental issues holding you back. Writing has been an outlet that has created so many positive impacts.
If you have read this far, consider me as your next coach or someone to consult with for your next triathlon. This is now my job and source of income and support for my family. I have a passion for the sport and with the USAT clinic under my belt, I have learned so much that has taken me to new levels in triathlons.
Whether you want to up your game or just stay in the game for years to come injury free, I can give you tips and pointers on how to get there.
I have exciting partnerships in the works that will benefit Kansas City area athletes as well as athletes all over the country.
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