2013 Ironman 70.3 World Championships

***Warning*** Kind of a long blog post. Plus photos galore at the end compliments of my sister’s friend Elise.

Woke up Sunday morning and I was excited, ready to go. Grabbed a quick breakfast to go and was headed to T1. Walk outside and it’s raining!! Couldn’t believe it. I knew there was a very slim chance of rain, but I wasn’t expecting a full on downpour. It rained almost every day I was out there, but prior to Sunday morning they were all in the afternoon and they were extremely hit or miss. I wasn’t too worried; I had my bike covered with a bag on the seat and a bag over the handlebars and aero bars. But as it turns out, they were basically pointless since it rained all morning long. Set up the rest of my stuff in transition and tried to find some dry land. Eventually got in line with speed suit on and waited until we could get into water.

Swim: 29:18. Says 10th in AG, but I think I was 9th.

As I got near the start, I positioned myself in a gap in the middle. There weren’t many people around, but that quickly changed. We were treading water, and it got crowded fast, so I moved more to the left. My thinking was that a lot of the fast Pro’s started on the far left away from the first buoy, so I figured instead of moving right, left would be best. So I positioned myself on the front line again, and again it got crowded. So with about 1 minute to go, I moved left again. At this point, there’s about 7 or so people to my left so it was easier to find space. As the announcer says 15 seconds to go, I notice that everyone is slowly creeping forward ahead of the start “line” (even though it’s invisible), so I do the same, I keep inching forward with the rest. When the horn sounds, I took off. I tried this new in water start technique and it worked. I was out quick. The other guys starting near me were also out fast. As it turns out, I was positioned in the lead group! I know at one point, about 4 or 5 buoys in, I was in about 6th place, give or take a spot. There was a line of us and we were all drafting off the person in front of us and I was near the back of it. Since I breathe to my right, I could see that no one who started off on the right of me got out to fast start since I couldn’t see any of them. This gave me great confidence that I finally picked the right spot to start and got off to a quick start. As we made our way down to the first turn buoy, I was still feeling pretty good. The lead group gapped me at this point, but I was swimming with one other guy. We ended up swimming together for the remainder of the swim. He beat me by 1 second on the swim (Florian Seifert).  I had kind of a lull after making the second turn and started heading toward the finish. I was struggling and didn’t feel like I had any strength in my stroke when I went to pull. I eventually snapped out of it and started to get in a bit of a rhythm, but that lull probably lasted a good 3-4 buoys. Florian didn’t gain any ground on me at this point, but that may be because on the way back, he took a wide route around some of the 25-29 AGers that we were catching while I took the inside route and stayed near the buoys and just weaved through the slow ones.

Things to note about swim:

1. The water was gross. It was warm (80 degrees) and it was like thick soup. You couldn’t see your elbow when you were swimming.

2. The swim course has a bit of a bend to it. On the way out, the left side was definitely the fastest side to be on; you could take the tangent to the first turn buoy. And on the way home, staying close to the buoys since it had a slight bend to the right was the shortest possible route.

T1:

Had a bit of a slow T1. The run over to T1 was a muddy muddy pit with extremely torn up grass. But that’s to be expected since it’s been raining for 5 hours at this point at nearly 2000 people crossed the exact same fenced in area as I did. They had water (which turned out to be hot) right as you enter T1, so I grabbed a cup to throw it on my feet to get rid of the mud. I had my helmet, sun glasses, watch, and endurolytes all inside my helmet and covered with a trash bag. So when I got to T1, I took off speed suit, threw it in gear bag, slide the bag over helmet and put it in my gear bag, put endurolytes in back pocket, put extra gel in shorts on top of my left quad, put helmet and glasses on and went. The T1 exit was weird. You run up a steep incline that has a sharp 170 degree turn in it before you get to the road where you can mount.

Bike:

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/373838957

There’s a link to my Garmin watch results

There was a big downhill about 2 miles or so into the race. This wasn’t much fun because I didn’t have my sunglasses on because they were foggy and soaking wet, so the rain hurt as it hit my eyes and face. We then went around a roundabout and had a big climb out to the main road. We go down this hill and do a quick roundabout on a bike path the goes under the road so we could get back on the main road and head the opposite direction. This was a no pass zone and it didn’t count toward out total distance, which ended up being 56.6 miles, officially. As we entered the park, I quickly realized that the course preview I thought I did 2 days prior to the race was not correct. If my link above works, you can zoom in 1 or 2 times on the map. So we took a left on North shore Rd, well during my ride on Friday, I stayed on Lakeshore Rd. So needless to say, the route was completely foreign to me. All I knew was that it was going to be hilly. I got in a nice rhythm. On every big climb, I shifted the front gear to the lower ring. I just wanted to keep things easy and not try to power my way through these hills because I knew I was in for a long day if I trashed my legs. I got out of the saddle to climb for some of it, but for the most part, I just moved out of aero position and kept a nice cadence/rhythm. I was passing a lot of people on the climbs. I biked with one guy for probably 30+ miles (as well as a few 25-29 AGers). On every uphill, I’d pass them and on the flats or down hills, they would catch back up to me. Bike went well; I wasn’t getting fatigued at all at the turn around point. I specifically remember the rain stopping and the sun creeping through the clouds simultaneously around mile 40. I also remember being at 2 hours at mile 46. Other than that, I don’t remember a whole lot about the race. Around mile 40-41 there is a massive hill climbing out of the National Park. It was a brutal one, probably a good 3 miles long. This is about the first point of fatigue creeping into my legs. Luckily there was a lot of downhill (albeit a very slight one) and flat roads until around mile 50. Once we took a left from Warm Springs Rd onto Gibson, that’s where the “fun” took place. Gibson consists of a 2.5 mile hill that starts out slightly uphill, until you go under the highway and then it’s a steep incline. Surprisingly to me, I felt better on the steep incline then I did on the slight one. After that it’s a right (small roller hill) another right (all downhill) then a left (flat for 1 mile, then uphill till T2). Half of that uphill is the same incline that we had to run during the run course.

Things to note about bike:

1. A lots of flat tires. I didn’t have one, fortunately, but there were a lot of people pulled over changing flats.

2. Once the sun came out around mile 40, it heated up quickly. The pavement was dry by mile 45 or so.

3. Confidence wasn’t as high at the end of the bike as it was after the swim and early on in the bike.

T2:

I like that they take your bike from you and you don’t have to rack it yourself. I handed off my bike, and legs felt extremely weird running over to get my run gear bag. I’ve mentioned before how much I absolutely love this feeling, well it was different on Sunday. Legs were very tired. Probably from the 1.5 mile hill that I just had to climb to finish off a very hilly 56.6 mile bike ride. Since my bag was in the very back, the volunteers were yelling my number out, so when I got to my area, they just handed me my bag and I didn’t even have to slow down. I went in the right tent (left tent was for females), took off helmet and slipped on my shoes, grabbed hat and race belt and I was gone…. But before I could start the run, I had to go #1. They had port-a-potties just outside the tent, so I stepped in an open one and quickly relieved myself. Probably a 20-25 second pit stop…

Run:

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/373838926

I took off down the hill and was actually feeling fine. As I just mentioned above (#3), confidence was a bit down, but I knew that running was my strength and that it’s 3 sports all in one. So take it easy and I know I can find my running legs and finish strong. My splits are slightly off because when I left T2, there was no timing mat that was visible, so I didn’t know exactly where to start my watch. So at every mile marker, my watch would say x.94; meaning that I was .06 off for each mile. But it was consistent so it was no big deal. The plan was to originally keep 1-2 miles easy, then go 60 min tempo since it’s my strength. Since I was a bit tired, I decided to run the first 3 miles easy and wait until the first downhill until I start to get into my race pace rhythm. So 6:05, 6:29, 6:43 for my first 3 miles. I felt really good at this point. I wasn’t too concerned about the hills and knew I could find my rhythm on this course. I let gravity and momentum take me down the hill and split a 5:55. Was it too fast? I really don’t think so, I wasn’t exactly pushing it super hard, and I was just in my tempo pace and let the hill help me. After doing that stupid horseshoe section (see #2 below), I headed out to start lap 2; still feeling fine as I headed down the hill. Mile four was 6:16, part of which was stupid #2 below. Up the hills the second time I still felt decent. Had to focus more this lap than I did the first one, but I was able to go 6:32 and 6:55. Pace was slower than I expected, but the heat and hills were starting to catch up to me. By the time I reached mile 10 at the bottom of the course, I was spent. I was crawling along at this point! Hip flexors hurt, could change pace at all. I had officially bonked. So we take a right off Paseo Verde and there’s an aid station, we go down roughly 200 feet and do a u turn and the other side of the road is also an aid station. Through both those aid stations, I had to walk. I got 1/2 a banana at each one and ate them. I also took on water and a full gel packet. Going up the hill toward the finish line was not fun at all! I was struggling. I wasn’t breathing hard at all, but my energy levels were beyond low and all I wanted to do was walk up the hill. I finally made up the hill at mile 11 and there was another aid station and got more water. After mile 11 there are a few short steep hills as you make your way to Green Valley Parkway, I was going so slow that I couldn’t take it; I had to walk, so I did. I walked for about 45-60 seconds in hope that the food I consumed 1 mile ago (so 9-10 min at this point) would start to take effect. At this point I knew I was going to be able to finish, but I was worried that I was going to have to walk most of it since I knew I had bonked. I started running again and made it to GV Pkwy. The food did the trick; I started to feel better and was able to pick my pace up a bit. At this point I’m running almost 10 minute pace. I was able to get my pace to 8:47 by mile 12. This is quite remarkable considering how I was feeling and the pace I was going just a ½ mile prior. Once I reached the top of the hill, I started feeling great again. For mile 13, the first .20 – .25 of it was still part of the uphill and my pace was a 6:47 for that mile. I was able to finish strong the last 1.25 miles.

Things to note about run:

1. The second hill (Green Valley Parkway) is definitely harder than the other hill. This one is a constant grade the whole way up. The other hill on Paseo Verde has a few spots where it’s steeper than others, but it also flattens off a bit in other spots.

2. That stupid horseshoe loop we have to do around the amphitheater is very hard. You go near the finish line, do a 100 degree turn to get to amphitheater, then it’s a steep uphill until the top of it, then steep downhill, but at the end of the downhill, you do a sharp 150 degree turn, followed by another 150 degree turn followed by another one. It was ridiculous. You lost all your momentum and rhythm every time through this section. And it’s on a side walk. The 3 straight 150+degree turns are on a handicap ramp. You can see the sharp incline I talk about in my link if you look at the elevation change.

Finish time/place:

4:38:00.

12th in AG

164th overall.

Thoughts…

I don’t know what to think. Obviously I’m disappointed because I have high expectations of myself.  But at the same time it’s a great accomplishment to not only qualify for such a prestigious race in really my first full year of triathlons, but also to not give up and finish the race. After all, it was just my 2nd 70.3 ever and only my 5th race that is Olympic distance or farther that I’ve ever done. It would have been fun had I not bonked so I could’ve seen what I could do on a tough run course like that; but that’s the sport of triathlons, especially long distance triathlons. Obviously I’m disappointed in my run. To see 1:31:17 and having to walk twice was not fun for someone who has never hit the wall and been a runner all his life. I know I’m much faster than that. But there’s not much you can do when you bonk and you body is deprived of nutrition. Overall, it was an amazing experience. Something I will never ever forget. I have things to learn and improve on, (like nutrition so I don’t bonk, rookie mistake) and that’s very exciting. I look forward to trying to qualify for next year’s race in Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, Canada.

Photos compliments of Elise. She took a ton of great pictures.

Entering the water
Entering the water
Warming up before the race
Warming up before the race
Spotted my family pre race on the bridge above the water
Spotted my family pre race on the bridge above the water
Still warming up, That doesn't look natural
Still warming up, That doesn’t look natural
And we're off! (I'm on left with a bit of red showing on my left shoulder)
And we’re off! (I’m on left with a bit of red showing on my left shoulder)
Sighting. I'm top left.
Sighting. I’m top left.
The top group that I mentioned. I'm up there in about 6-7th
The top group that I mentioned. I’m up there in about 6-7th
Swim venue. You can see the bend in the course (yellow buoy's on the way out, orange on the way back)
Swim venue. You can see the bend in the course (yellow buoy’s on the way out, orange on the way back)
About to go under the bridge, maybe 200-250 meters left
About to go under the bridge, maybe 200-250 meters left
Leaving T1
Leaving T1
Just went around sharp turn headed out to the road to mount my bike
Just went around sharp turn headed out to the road to mount my bike
Just mounted bike
Just mounted bike
Ready for a fun day in the rain and hills
Ready for a fun day in the rain and hills
About to enter T2. Hurting
About to enter T2. Hurting
Climbing
Climbing
Final stretch to finish line
Final stretch to finish line
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Hy Vee Triathlon

I woke up race morning and it was raining outside. I knew this was a possibility, so I covered my saddle and handle bars with plastic bags to keep them dry overnight in transition. The rain started to get lighter as I got to transition to set everything up for my race. The race directors informed us that they were delaying the start of the race 45 minutes.

The swim course and run course were slightly different this year. We started on the opposite side of the lake for the swim and the run course no longer finished downtown Des Moines at the Capital.

Swim

While in Milwaukee for AGN, I met a guy named Danny Isaacson, and I knew he was going to be at this race as well. He had some extremely bad luck at AGN (2 flats on the bike, race belt and running shoes taken from his transition spot and had to use a random spectators shoes for the run) so I was excited to race him head-to-head. He swam in college, so I was hoping to find his feet early on so he could pull me through some of the swim. I stayed with him until the first buoy, but after we turned he pulled away and opened up a gap. I tried to keep a nice rhythm and keep pushing hard. I took a bit of a wide path throughout the whole course. Not really sure why, but it seemed like every time I went to sight, I was further out from the buoys than I wanted to be. I exited the water in a time of 21:43. Not my best swim, but it will do.

Bike

Early on in the bike, my main focus was staying upright. There are several sharp turns with lane lines as well as two u-turns. The volunteers were screaming at us to take it slowly, so my guess is that some people went down because of the slick roads. After I got through the u-turns, there weren’t many hazards areas left besides the rail road tracks we had to cross. I couldn’t really find my biking legs until 10 miles in or so when we got out on the main road/highway. Once out there, the course is basically a bunch of rolling hills until we hit the turnaround point. I was able to get in a good rhythm, but once we did the u-turn and headed back, the wind was more in my face. With little protection from the wind, it made the course difficult. I didn’t pass many people in my wave because at this point in the race I was sitting in 2nd place behind Danny. Decent bike split considering the conditions, 61:18. I was expecting to go sub 60 like I did at AGN, but the conditions made it a tougher course than in Milwaukee a few weeks back.

Run

Leaving T2, my dad told me I was about 20 seconds down on the leader (Danny). I passed Danny about 3:30 into the run. The out and back course was relatively flat with only slight gradual hills. Unfortunately, most of the 3 miles back to the finish line were all into the wind. And at this point, the heat and humidity were starting to rise. I could tell early on that I didn’t quite have the running legs I was hoping for. I kept it pretty consistent through the first 4 miles. Just tried to run a steady pace that I knew would be fast enough that no one would be able to make up serious ground on me. I finished with a time of 35:07, which is basically the exact same time as my 35:08 from last year.

Recap

21:43, 61:17, 35:07 plus transitions for a total time of 2:01:14.

I placed 12 overall in the 5150 US Championship and was the top AG athlete (11 AG Elite athletes beat me). I was pleased to be the top AG athlete, but I was hoping for a little better of a day. Not quite sure why, but I felt like I was just a bit off all day long. My best guess is that even though I was trying to stay in the moment and focus on this race, deep down I also wanted to save something for 70.3 Worlds next weekend.

Photos taken by my parents

Going around a slick corner.
Going around a slick corner.

2013 Hy Vee

Approaching mile 6
Approaching mile 6
20-24 podium. 1st place.
20-24 podium. 1st place. 

Age Group Nationals

My splits: 21:02, 1:47, 58:57, :59, 34:10. Total time of 1:56:57.05.

 Swim – 21:02 is good, it’s basically the same pace I went in my 70.3 swim when I went 27:20. Would have liked to be less than 21 minutes, but only missed it by a few seconds. I didn’t think I particularly had a great swim, just a good one. Felt a bit sluggish and slow at the beginning. Then around half way I started to feel really good and started to get in a groove. Coming back near the bridge I noticed that my left hip on the front was pretty sore. I don’t know why, it’s never hurt swimming before. Most likely because of the wetsuit and lack of proper warm up. Low 20:xx would be nice since some guys in my AG (the college swimmers) are going 17 or 18 min.

 T1 – Went well. Long run to transition and to bike.

 Bike – First 5 miles on the bike were a bit rough, to be honest. Hip from swim was sore. And my legs felt terrible. Both gluts were tight and I just didn’t feel good. Eventually (probably around the first hill/turn around point) they started feeling better. However, I woke up in the morning with a tight left calf, and it was starting to get worse. It was almost a throbbing/pulsing type of pain. As I started down that hill back toward transition, roughly every 10-20 pedals, my calf would pulse and get tight. It made me pretty nervous. I kept going, took a gel and water, and just hoped that would somehow help. When I got to the bridge around 10 miles into the bike, my legs felt good so I got out of the saddle and pushed that hill. I was able to get back in a good groove and opened up some time on some of the guys I was biking with in my AG. Once we got off the highway and onto the side streets, my calf was still having some issue so I just tried to keep a steady tempo and not use my calves much. After the turn around, I started to feel a lot better. Calf started to subside and I started to open it up a bit more and start pushing. Those roads were basically all a very slight uphill or a very slight downhill. So I was able to find a nice rhythm and pick up the pace. The rest of bike went pretty well, pushed up the bridge and opened up another gap on some guys in my AG that were with me at that point. Overall, I was pleased with 58:57, first time under 1 hour for a 40k bike. Fastest ever bike split, 25.4 mph avg, it’s definitely a good improvement from last year’s times.

 T2 – Good, besides the fact that I dropped my dang electrolyte pills when I thought I got them in my jersey pocket.. Ugh…

 Run – Right out of transition, I felt bad. It wasn’t the normally awkward leg pain/jelly feeling that I love. I guess because I had to run with my bike so far that I didn’t realize that T2 was actually the fun pain I enjoy off the bike. Anyways, didn’t feel the best, but kept pushing. I met a guy named Brad Miles on Friday at a prerace clinic. Oddly enough, we ended up having very similar races. I had a slightly faster swim, and he had a slightly faster bike. We started the run like 5 seconds apart. He caught me shortly after leaving T2 and we ran together for a good 3.5 miles. First mile was 5:18 (NOTE: this is probably not accurate, I wasn’t sure where the timing mat was, so I started it a little out of T2.) Felt good through the first mile. Brad and I were working together and sort of trading off taking the pace. At this point, I knew I could run with him, I had no doubt in my mind that I was ready to run sub 34 minutes and get down close to or beat my college cross country pr. Mile 2 was in 10:48 (I believe, not 100% sure but I think this what I remember it being). Felt good at this point, just finished the first finger part along the lake which was lined with fans the whole way, so great atmosphere. Mile 3 we were at 16:05. I had a small mental break during this mile and moved behind Brad. I just kept telling myself to take it mile by mile. I sat behind Brad until mile 3 and I was able to recover a bit. Felt good by end of mile 3. Sitting back and recovering was a good decision. Around mile 3.5 is when my right hammy started getting tight and I had a few twinges. This is when the road started to have a slightly incline.  Debated long and hard whether I keep pushing and just say screw it, I either blow up and have to walk or it will be a non factor and I’ll finish strong without it cramping. Ultimately decided to easy off a bit and not ruin my entire race off a rash decision. At the turn around point, I was able to get in some water and start to head down the slight hill we just came up. Brad had opened a 15 second gap at this point. I was able to get back near my pace I was going the first three miles and could see Brad 20-30 seconds ahead of me basically the entire rest of the way. I got to mile 5 around 27:0x and I was at mile 6 around 32:30. Finished the 10k in 34:05 on my watch. Official time was 34:10 so I missed 5 seconds somewhere, which was probably first mile, so that 5:18 was probably closer to 5:23, which would make sense. Fastest 10k split in a triathlon. Only 30-45 seconds off my 10k pr that I did in XC in college.

 My thoughts initially after race and first reaction were bittersweet. 6th in AG! Bummer, top 5 would have been nice since top 5 was podium. I was pleased to finish 17th overall, especially since 5 people in my age group beat me. I am also very pleased with a 1:56:57. That’s by far my fastest Olympic distance race. It qualified me for the 2014 ITU AG World Championships next August/September in Edmonton, Canada.

Shawnee Mission Triathlon

Here we are again, it’s early July and I’m competing in the annual Shawnee Mission Triathlon. This will be my 4th year competing in this race. SM Tri is the one triathlon I used to do each summer while I was still in college preparing for my upcoming cross country season. Training had been going really well, I was coming off two races that gave me a lot of confidence, so I knew I was ready to put up a fast time.

The plan for this race was to push the swim hard and just absolutely hammer the bike. Again, I wanted to see how my legs would respond after 18 miles of a hilly bike course. This is on the same course that KCCC was on just a few weeks again, and since I’ve raced it 3 times already, I knew the course very well. The long course distance here is a bit different than most. It’s a 1k swim, 18 mile bike, and 4.5 mile run.

Swim   13:27, 4th overall.

A couple weeks back, I ordered a speed suit so I could use it in races that don’t allow wetsuits. However, the speed suit was way too tight when it came in the mail, so I had to send it back. Unfortunately, the new suit arrived the Monday following this race. So I just swam in my uniform since this was a non wetsuit legal swim. I was very pleased with my time since it’s a two and a half minute improvement from last year.

Bike    44:14, fastest bike split. 24.4 avg mph.

I just hammered everything straight out of T1. It’s a 4 loop course with 3 big hills on each lap. I was out of the saddle climbing on all the big hills. More importantly though, there is a 2-3 mile stretch back to transition that is a slight downhill, and I was pushing that extremely hard. I averaged over 30 mph for this stretch, which is faster than I’ve ever gone before. After the second lap, my legs were starting to feel like a complete brick and I was getting tired. Surprisingly, I didn’t slow down any though on those laps. In fact, the third lap was my fastest lap of the four. I was beyond happy with my bike effort because I’ve never had the fastest bike split before in any race.

Run     24:38, fastest run split. 5:29/mile avg.

Here’s my Garmin data from the run. http://connect.garmin.com/activity/347768909

Not a lot to say. I tried to keep it steady, felt pretty good until ½ mile to go and just climbing up the hill to get back to the dam. Happy with run split.

Overall reaction/thoughts

This win was special to me. I’ve wanted to win this race for at least 2 year now and I finally did it. Here’s a comparison of my splits between last year and this year.

 

                        Swim               Bike                Run                 Total time       Place

2012                16:04               47:54               25:42               1:31:28            3rd       

2013                13:27               44:14               24:38               1:24:04            1st       

 

I couldn’t believe that I just cut off 7:24 from my race the previous year. 2012 was the first time since I’ve raced this race that anyone I’ve competed against went sub 1 hour 30 minutes. I thought on a good day I could cut off 3-4 minutes from my time in 2012. But to cut off 7:24, I was shocked and extremely happy. To finally be able to compare my times from one year to the next on the exact same course was very rewarding and showed that I’ve made a lot of progress in one year.

Photos taken by my parents.

Image

Exiting the swim.

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Trying to get shoe on

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T2. About to head out for the run.

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Finishing.

Kansas City Corporate Challenge Triathlon

KCCC TRIATHLON

One week after completing my first every 70.3, I was going to race in the Kansas City Corporate Challenge Triathlon for Sprint. This race is only a 500 m swim, 9 mile bike, 3.2 mile run. It should be super easy compared to my last race.

I wasn’t worried going into the race because I was just going to treat this as a workout. To work on speed and more importantly, work more on my transitions. I was going to go as hard as I possibly could in the swim and bike in hopes of completely destroying my legs for the run. It was almost more of an experiment because I wanted to see how my legs would respond to an extremely hard and intense session. And so far in my brief triathlon career, I’ve always felt really good on the run and I wanted to see if and where my limit is or if I’ll always just enjoy the bike to run transition and feeling.

Swim   7:01. 2nd overall.

Not much to say here. I pushed it hard and had one of my best swims ever. Only 33 seconds behind Jared Kuntz (he was in a different wave) who is quite possibly the best swimmer in the KC area.

Bike     21:51. 24.7 mph average.

Fastest ever mph average bike split. 2nd overall bike split, Jared beat me by 3 seconds on the bike.

I’m quite familiar with the Shawnee Mission Park bike loop because the Shawnee Mission Triathlon (my next race after this one) is a race I’ve completed 3 times. First half of the loop is hilly with a big hill after the dam and rollers before a 2-3 mile slight downhill back to T1/T2 area. My plan was to push everything hard and that’s what I did. My legs felt like bricks but I was happy with the effort.

Run     17:17 for 3.2 miles. 5:25/mile pace.

Legs felt great again out of T2. We go downhill for ¾ a mile, then climb part of the hill that we do on the bike right after the dam. Then it’s a long downhill stretch for ½ mile followed by ½ mile flat. And then you finish with basically 1 mile all uphill. First ¼ mile is steep, then it levels off a bit and is gradual the rest of the way.

Overall time: 47:52. 1st place overall by nearly 3 minutes.

I was very pleased with my race and it gave me a ridiculous amount of confidence.

Ironman Kansas 70.3

IRONMAN 70.3 KANSAS

Since I’m writing this in September, I don’t remember a ton of details, so I’ll try to give you the quick version of the race…

Swim      27:20, 5th in AG.

The swim was an in water start. I started on the left side and got off to a decent start. The swim course is a counterclockwise rectangle. After a while, I found myself swimming in some relatively clean water. The water was a bit choppy, but I wasn’t having to dodge a lot of people and tried to keep a clear path. With roughly 300 meters to go, I got a cramp in my left calf. This caught me off guard because I wasn’t having any cramping issues prior to this. I had to stop swimming and flip over to my back. I tried to massage my calf to alleviate some of the tension so I could begin swimming again. After 10-15 seconds, my calf cramp subsided a bit and I was able to start swimming again. Instead of risking another cramp, I decided to swim 100 meters or so with only using my arms and absolutely no kicking. After the 100, I still had no issues, so I slowly started to integrate my kick again into my stroke.

Transition 1 was slow for me. I had trouble getting my gels into my jersey pockets. (Note: I no longer have this issue since I learned from my mistakes at this race. This will be a reoccurring theme throughout my entire season. I now put the gels in my jersey pockets before I swim. Hey, this is only like my 6th triathlon and first one that really requires nutrition during the race, cut me some slack.)

Bike    2:27:06. 22.83 mph.

I eventually made my way out of T1 and onto the bike course. This bike course is a relatively hilly course. I honestly don’t remember a lot, so I’ll just post my Garmin data instead. http://connect.garmin.com/activity/347769576

The few things I do remember is I was an idiot and put some electrolyte pills in my jersey pocket after the swim. Everyone knows that capsules dissolve with water… Not a smart move on my part, and this most likely came back to bite me in the butt later in the race. (Again, now I use a tube during races to carry the pills in). So I realized around mile 5 that I wasn’t going to have any electrolyte pills for this race. The nutrition plan was to get a water bottle at 2 of the aid stations since my bike only has one water bottle spot and that I was going to take ½ a packet of GU gel every 30 minutes on the bike, or as needed. This plan worked well and I was very pleased with it. My other race strategy was to not kill myself on the bike so I would still have legs to run. To be honest, I was quite oblivious of how fast or hard I was pushing the bike because I really had no gauge to measure my effort against. I don’t train with power and I’ve never gone this far in a race before, let alone run a half marathon afterwards. But it was hilly and I like to climb, so this played to my advantage. From about mile 43 to 49 I biked with two other athletes and we worked together (within the rules of 4 bike lengths between each racer). At mile 49 we go up a big hill. I debated on whether or not to sit up and just keep the climb easy, or get out of the saddle and climb like I normally do and open a gap on these 2 but potentially risk hurting my run. In the end, I decided to open up a gap and push the hill. This was a smart move and helped me in the long run.

T2 was uneventful. Racked my bike, off goes the helmet and running shoes, hat and run belt go on. At this point, I’m in 3rd place in my AG.

A quick side note, my favorite thing/feeling about triathlons is quite possibly the feeling in my legs when going from bike to run. I can’t explain why, but I absolutely love this feeling. It’s a weird, out of body feeling and I typically feel like I’m on cloud 9 and have no pain.

Run     1:20:28. 6:08/mile.

Anyways, out of T2, I was feeling great. The course is pretty flat with only one major hill that you have to do twice. Here’s my data and splits for those interested… http://connect.garmin.com/activity/347769547

I remember passing my parents a little before the 3 mile mark and telling them, “This is awesome!” I was having a blast and felt amazing at this point. My first 6 miles were all under 6 minute pace and I was ahead of my goal time for the half marathon. Halfway through, I was on pace for around a 77:30, about a minute faster than I was hoping to run. I’m not really sure when I passed 2nd place in my AG, but I knew that I still had work to do if I was going to catch Pablo Gomez who was in the lead after his stellar bike split. Luckily, this course provides plenty of opportunity to see your competition and I knew I was slowly but surely closing the gap. Around mile 8.75 (about the same point I told my parents, “This is awesome”) I got a cramp in my right hamstring. This cramp caught me off guard more than the calf during the swim because I’ve never cramped in my left hamstring before during practice or competition. I immediately slowed my pace but never had to walk. I kept wishing I had those dang electrolyte pills at this point. All I had were gels so I ate them like they were candy. Not sure if it really helped, but mentally it helped more than anything. The cramp only lasted a few seconds, but the lingering effect of it was with me for the remainder of the race. I didn’t want to push it hard again and risk cramping even worse. I could feel it was on the verge of cramping the last 4 miles. I eventually caught Pablo at 11.75 miles and decided to sit on him for a while. That didn’t last long; I got antsy and decided at 12 miles to make my move. I opened up a 20 second gap and was able to hold him off by 5 seconds at the finish line.

My total time was 4:18:58. 18th overall (16th if you take out the female pro & the team that beat me) and 1st in my AG.

After the race, I was exhausted. My feet were killing me from being rubbed raw in spots during the run, and it was hot! After about 30 minutes of being a zoned out faze, the food and chocolate milk I consumed started to bring me back to life. I checked my phone and had several text messages from friends and family telling me my time and place. Prior to this point I had no idea what place I was overall or what my time was. All I knew was that I was pretty sure I had won my AG since I beat Pablo. I was beyond happy; I couldn’t believe I just finished 18th overall, first in my AG and just earned a spot at Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Henderson, NV in my first ever 70.3. It was a goal of mine going into the race, but I had no idea if it was unrealistic or not since I was completely unfamiliar with this distance. After waiting around for several hours, I eventually claimed my spot for Worlds and went on stage to accept my award for winning the 18-24 AG.

Photos taken by my parents.

Swim done, entering T1
Swim done, entering T1
Preparing for T2
Preparing for T2
Just starting the run
Just starting the run
Feeling great, few miles in
Feeling great, few miles in
The 1 hill we do twice
The one hill we do twice

 Post cramp, not as much pep in my step

Post cramp, not as much pep in my step

 Exhausted.
Exhausted.
Podium, 1st and 2nd place
Podium, 1st and 2nd place

Preseason

Preseason

My season got off to a rocky start. I originally planned to race a draft legal triathlon in Clermont, FL in early March. As race day approached, my nagging injury wasn’t going away, so I ultimately decided to not spend the time or money to go to Florida to race. My next race was going to be the 5150 Kansas in Lawrence on May 19th. My dad and I drove over there the morning of the race since it’s only about a 1 hour drive from my house. When we got there, it was just starting to rain. After racking my bike and setting everything up, I tried to find some dry land to hang out for a while. Long story short, the race got delayed, and then it got changed to a Duathlon. After standing in soaking wet clothes for over an hour, I was mentally not ready to race anymore. I was frustrated, cold, and wet and just wanted to go home. So instead of risking anything happening on the bike, I decided to head home. To this day, I still don’t know why I decided not to race. I’ve never backed out of a race, especially if I’ve already taken the time to drive to the venue. I still believe that there was a good reason for me not to race that day, I just don’t know what that reason is.

It’s now June and I have yet to race this season. My first ever Ironman 70.3 was going to be my first race of the season. I’ve only completed one Olympic distance race before and now I was going to tackle Ironman 70.3 Kansas. I was looking forward to this race all winter and spring. Leading up to the race, I was putting in quality brick sessions on the weekends and was extremely excited to see what I could do on race day. Prior to this race, I had yet to swim 1.2 miles in a race (1500 was the farthest to date), I had yet to race a 56 mile bike (60-63 mile solo rides on the weekend was my longest bike) and I had never run a half marathon before which is somewhat surprising since I ran in college. I’ve completed several long runs farther than 13.1, and with my running background I was least nervous about the run portion. In fact, I was really excited about the run portion because I think the longer run distance will only help me. I joined the Jewish Community Center and started swimming in their masters program last November. I could already tell that my swim had improved a lot so I was not worried about swimming five or so minutes longer in my 70.3. The bike was going to be the big mystery on race day.