Monday, June 10, 2013

Ironman 70.3 Kansas Race Report

There are some things in life that are decisions that should perhaps have been made with some forethought. This was one of those things, but in the spirit of being an immature adolescent lacking a full developed frontal lobe (which controls impulse), I decided it would be a wonderful idea to enter Ironman 70.3 Kansas. With no actual triathlon experience, but some in all three individual disciplines, the thought was "How hard can it really be?"

In a word: Very. There's a list of firsts that I'd like to point out:
1. First time regretting an 11-23 cassette (towards the end of the bike, when a 400m climb looks and feels like a mile.

2. First time racing in the heat and humidity of Kansas (and I hate humidity, even though I spend a lot of time in Kansas).

3. First time ever going through aid stations, I missed a bottle of water twice, but thankfully, there were more volunteers at the ready.

4. First time (in a long time) tapering. And man did I screw that up. I basically didn't taper at all, and what tapering I did, I'm sure I blew it. 

Now, onto the actual race:

3:27am: Hotel front desk calls three minutes ahead of scheduled wake up call. I'm rather irate, considering I could have slept another 180 seconds.

3:30am: Three additional alarms I set in a fit of paranoia the night before go off. I'm still mad about getting woken up early, but cheered somewhat by hot oatmeal and a banana with a bottle of Skratch Labs hydration.

3:45: I'm now feeling paranoid again, checking my bags of gear and my bike repeatedly, instead of packing up everything else in a suitcase like I should be doing, since we won't be coming back to the hotel post race.

4:30: Finally out the door, the van packed and off to the race. I'm still grumpy and tired, my dad is relatively cheery at the prospect of a nap while I'm racing.

5:30: Having gotten turned around twice on the way and nearly getting stuck in the muddy campground that was set up as a parking lot for the athletes, I'm now (in my mind), a good half hour behind schedule. Paranoia is setting in again.

6:00: Transition areas are set up. I eat another banana, say a prayer, and apply a liberal coating of Tri-Slide so I can get into my wetsuit.

7:07: After standing around for a considerable amount of time since being kicked out of transition by the officials, we're off! The swim is hectic, with a good number of bad swimmers out in the front, and I find myself horribly out of position. Having swum over a good number of my fellow age groupers, many of whom stop on the spot when I hit their feet, I make the turn and head for home.

7:37: I'm gutted to see 30:02 on my watch. In the back of my mind I know I'm going to lose a bet with Erik when he swims at Lake to Lake a destroys my time. I take a couple extra seconds to throw my wetsuit in my bag so it will be transported up to T2 (Kansas is a split transition race) and go.
I look so attractive coming out of the water....Not.

7:39: I see that I've wasted a lot more than a few seconds putting my wetsuit away and rush to catch up with my fellow athletes. According to the official results I was 13th in the 18-24 age group to emerge from the water, but I don't see anyone that isn't younger than 30 around me. I suck down a gel, put my head down and go.

Sometime around 10: I'm 2:20 into the bike, and it's heating up. I finally dropped the group I had been having a little back and forth war with and am feeling okay with the bike. Getting a gel down every half hour or so and drinking pretty consistently, but something in the back of my head says I'm going to regret not mixing an additional bottle of water with a packet of Skratch I brought with me on the bike.

See the bottle there? It's empty, and even though I'm only five miles from T2, I have a feeling I'm going to regret this. There's a full bottle behind me on my X-Lab wing and a packet of Skratch in my suit on my leg.

Approximately 10:20: I'm so in my zone that I nearly miss the dismount line and almost hit a volunteer as I manage to get out of one shoe, but not the other. I unclip the other and run into T2 with one shoe on, one off, and only one contact. I wear disposable, 1 day contacts when I know I'll be swimming but they have a tendency to dry up and fall out after extended amounts of time with the wind blowing in my face. The last 10 miles of the bike have been a mix of not being able to see well and suffering as I start to cramp. I'm prepared (and I'm rather proud of myself for the forethought) and put a couple extra contact lenses on my towel. I pop them in, suck down another gel and run out of transition.

11:00: After running for 40 minutes, I realize that there's no way I'm going to finish before noon, which was my initial goal. I start looking at a 1 o'clock finish. I'm cramping badly, cursing myself for not drinking more on the bike, and running nearly 10 minute miles. This sucks.

12:00: I meet another 18 year old. We run for a while and find that we're remarkable similar. He entered this race on impulse and wants to come to Colorado for his senior trip. Hallelujah! We run together a ways and I also discover that he's on his first lap. I start cramping again and tell him to go on, as I'm only a mile from the finish.

12:38: I run down the finishing straight, having spent the last mile cramping. I also observed none other then Hines Ward running along, and see his chocolate milk endorsed teammate with one leg and a prosthetic as he passed me with a friendly nod.

They say, "Respect the distance" for a reason. That was an absolute sufferfest. I cramped for the vast majority of the run, and spent the entire bike portion swamped in competitors that impeded my progress somewhat as I tried to observe the drafting zone. I did, however, learn a lot about myself, holding fuel for five hours (I failed), and that I'd rather give up time on the bike and be stronger on the run. Obviously the hills around the bike course are not conducive to holding steady power, and being a Colorado hill climber, I made up a lot of ground on the bike, but lost it all on the run. Live and learn. Til next race, ciao!

Edit: I'd also like to mention that while I do like my Skins Tri400 suit, I think I'll use it primarily for shorter triathlon events in the future. The lack of a sizable pocket for nutrition and a thin chamois bugged me almost the entire bike/run. It's a wonderful suit, and I may buy and pair the Tri400 bottoms with a top that has a bigger rear pocket for future 70.3 events as opposed to the suit, which I wore this past weekend.

1 comment:

  1. Congrats on completing at 5:31 on your first HIM! Your statement, "I'd rather give up time on the bike and be stronger on the run" is spot on. After trying to kill the bike on my first HIM (KS), I suffered on the run. Now, I get around 18 mph and I'm ok with that on the bike, so I can hit the run and actually feel good doing it. 13.1 miles is plenty of time to expend any extra energy you have off the bike. Took me a while to figure that out. You are light years ahead. ;)