2014 Ironman 70.3 Kansas

For some non triathlon related news…. I’ll first start with my house search, which is hopefully over. I started looking for a house in Lee’s Summit late last summer but got more serious the past four months. I’ve probably looked at 25 houses with my mom and agent in the past four months. There were a lot I liked, but none that really had that, “yes, buy me” factor, or they sold before I had a chance to place an offer. Finally, on Friday, a house in a neighborhood I really like came on the market. I looked at it that night and put an offer on it, too. I found out Saturday morning as I was about to head out the door for Lawrence that my offer was accepted. It seems surreal that I will own a house. I’m sure my parents are relieved to finally get their 25 year old son, 2 years removed from college, out of their house. But I’m very grateful they’ve put up with me and my training, different eating habits, and mood swings for two years and allowed me to save money to buy a house. Needless to say, that was some fantastic pre-race news and a relief to get off my shoulders going into KS 70.3.

Brief summary of the race:

I got off to a fast start in the swim. I hit a lull and struggled for a while in the middle, but found some feet to draft off of a little past half way. I was very happy with my bike split. I felt really good on the bike early on and just tried to settle into a nice pace. I tried to stay within myself and not go crazy and destroy my legs for the run. I put a lot of focus on my nutrition and hydration on the bike as I knew it would be key to finishing the bike strong and putting together a fast run. I felt really good early on in the run. My first couple of miles was probably a bit too fast, but it felt natural and comfortable. I felt great through 6 miles and was on pace for a crazy fast time. I started to hit the wall around 9 miles. The last couple of miles were a struggle as my feet were bloody and my pace had slowed. I finished as strong as I could and crossed the line in 4:04:17. I later found out that I was 9th overall and the Amateur Champion. I improved my overall time by 14 minutes and 41 seconds from last year. This is by far the best performance of my triathlon career.

Long Version:

It’s really nice to have Lawrence just 1 hour from Lee’s Summit. Not having to spend a lot of time traveling to a race is always a plus. I did the normal boring pre-race check in and packet pickup on Saturday and then headed to my hotel to rest up.

Parking at Clinton Lake is always a hassle since there’s just one road back to the camp ground and lake. I set up my run gear in T2, and then headed down to T1 to rack my bike and get ready for a warm up. The race was delayed 15 minutes because I don’t think all the athletes were parked in time. I went for a 10 minute run to warm up. When I got back, I realized my wave was already lined up and was about 8-10 minutes from starting. Whoops. I frantically hurried down to the swim start and put on my Roka wetsuit. Didn’t quite get the warm up I planned, but oh well.

Weather info: water temp was 75 degrees, just under wetsuit legal. Cloudy/Overcast with NE 5-8 mph wind. Temps warming from 62 degrees in the morning to around 70 by the end of the race.

Swim: 27:04.

My swim was decent. I improved my time from last year by 17 seconds, which is nothing major, but it’s always nice to cut off some time. It’s also hard to compare swim times from any race/year/etc because conditions are hardly ever the same and it can often be hard to accurately measure them. Anyway, I got off to a really fast start. I was actually the first person in our wave to the 1st two buoys. I was still feeling good at this point, but shortly after that, I was passed and started to fade. Unfortunately, the M 18-29 wave is one of the last waves, so I was constantly weaving my way around some of the swimmers from earlier waves. After the second buoy, I was in a funk for the majority of the first half of the swim and just didn’t feel good. Another person from my wave passed me as we turned the second turn buoy and headed back toward the dock. I stayed on his feet and drafted off him for a while. It was nice to get a little break while still swimming a decent pace.

Finished swim, trying to get wet suit down to waist

Finished swim, trying to get wet suit down to waist

T1: 1:58

I had a much quicker T1 than last year, about 1 minute to be exact. Last year I played around with my GU’s and couldn’t get them into my back pocket of my jersey (rookie mistake). This year was much quicker since I already had my GU’s in my pockets and just had to take off my wetsuit, put on my Rudy helmet and Rudy sun glasses and go.

Bike: 2:18:25 Garmin data here (read section below about watts being too low)

I knew going into the race that my bike split was going to be key for me. I’ve been working hard all off season to improve my biking.  I felt good early on in the bike. The plan was to just find my legs the first 5 miles or so, then settle into my tempo pace/wattage. Unfortunately, ever since my race at the Kansas City Triathlon, my watts have been lower (approximately 40-50 watts) than they should be considering the speed/effort I was putting out. I knew early on in the bike when I was seeing 230s for my watts that it was messed up again and not accurate. So I did two things: don’t try to push more power to get my watts where it “should” be and to just go off perceived effort. I raced all last year off perceived effort, so it didn’t throw me off my game plan at all. I knew from previous race pace workouts (prior to Garmin acting funky) that a 2:20 bike split (24 mph) was possible if I was feeling good.  With a light NE wind, I knew that the first 20 miles or so would primarily be with the wind at my back or side. My fellow EMJ teammate, Sean Cooley, passed me about 22 miles into the race. I was actually surprised I was ahead of him because I thought he beat me out of the water. The majority of my 56 mile bike ride was rather uneventful. Just like the swim, there was a lot of passing for the first 35 miles. I also focused on staying on top of my nutrition and hydration.

T2: 58 seconds.

Nothing special. Just trying to get out of there as quick as possible and onto the run.

Run: 1:15:53

I felt really good and fresh coming off the bike, there was a little bit of awkward/jello feeling in my legs, but I enjoy that feeling and am not fazed by it. I just tried to settle into a nice pace and find a rhythm. I opted not to wear my Garmin watch and went with just a regular watch instead. I was told just out of transition that I was 2 minute down from first, which was my teammate Sean. I ended up catching Sean and taking the lead just past the 2 mile mark. I went through 3 miles in 15:55, but didn’t think much about it, still a long ways to go. I knew I was running faster than I anticipated, but I just felt so good and didn’t think deliberately slowing my pace would be a smart idea since I still had over 10 miles to go and I was in a nice rhythm. I knew I would be in for a battle, but if I could hold the pace I originally planned to hit, it would be epic and possibly the fastest run split of the day. I felt really good through the first 6 miles. When I went through 6 miles in 32:50, that’s when I knew I was on pace for a super fast run. So in my head I rounded that up to 33 minutes, doubled it to get 12 miles in 66 minutes, then add another 6 or so for the last mile. 72 minutes, whoa! I instantly dismissed the 72 and knew if I held pace it would be more like a 73 minute run since I was not going to be running 5:20 or under like I did the first 3 miles. I just tried to stay in the moment and get back to work. 1 lap down, 1 to go. I started to struggle going up a very slight hill toward mile 7. I recovered some at the aid station with a GU and water. I also knew the next two miles would be mostly downhill and just focused on getting to mile 9. I knew mile 10 was going to be tough because I had to go up the lone steep hill on the course. I wasn’t disappointed or discouraged with my 6:16 because I knew the hill slowed that mile. I was happy to still be under 6 minutes through 11 miles because I was definitely in pain and slowing at this point. The next 2.1 miles were a bit of a blur. I do specifically remember 2 things. 1. My shoes are both bloody and these blisters hurt. I’ll take anything at this point to distract me from the pain in my legs though. And 2. My dad is a champ. So, the course at the back of the campground does these mini fingers. While I was on the road (aka the course), my dad was cutting through the grass in between campground spots and cheering for me 3 times in about a .5 – .75 mile span. It was much needed encouragement.  There was also some chalk on the course that said GO KEV. Even though it wasn’t intended for me, you better believe at about 11.75 miles that I used that as more encouragement.

My run splits for the half marathon were:

5:21, 5:11, 5:22, 5:45 (hill), 5:33, 5:35, 5:54, 5:51, 5:45, 6:16 (hill), 5:57, 6:27, 7:01 (1.1 miles)

 

1.5 miles into the run

1.5 miles into the run

Getting water at an aid station

Getting water at an aid station

Final time: 4:04:17. 9th overall, overall amateur champion.

This is by far the best result of my triathlon career. I’ve never won a race of this magnitude and it feels incredible. After crossing the finish line, I had no idea what my run split or overall time was. I tried doing math based off the time on the clock and how long I started behind the Men’s pro wave, but that was basically worthless as I was in a delirious state. All I knew was that I was in the mid 4:0X’s. I later looked up my time and was ecstatic. I improved my time from last year by 14 minutes 41 seconds. I improved in all 5 areas that are possible (including T1 and T2) and set new PR’s for the swim, bike, and run for half ironman distance.

Fellow EMJ teammate, Sean. We went 1-2 in 25-29 AG

Fellow EMJ teammate, Sean. We went 1-2 in 25-29 AG

Coming into this race, I didn’t tell many people (if any) what my goals were. I think the only people that really knew were my parents, and that’s only because I live with them and they’re stuck having to listen to my triathlon nonsense. I kept quiet not because I didn’t want to be held accountable, but rather because I didn’t want to get ahead of myself. I set some very aggressive goals for this race. It’s been on my mind for several months now and was a race at which I was hoping to perform well. My main goal was to win the overall amateur title. I knew this would probably take 4:05 or faster to do so (assuming the weather was good, which is never a guarantee in the Midwest in June). To go from 4:18:58 (27:21, 2:27:07, 1:20:28) to under 4:05 was not going to be easy, which would probably sound crazy to most people. I initially planned 26:xx swim, 2:20:00 bike, and a 1:15 run, plus around 3 minutes for T1 and T2. My splits ended up being: 27:04, 2:18:25, 1:15:53, and 2:55 for T1 and T2. I didn’t quite hit the times I thought I would, but in the end, it ended up being faster than I thought would be possible and exceeded my expectations.

Few things of note:

  1. A half marathon is considerably longer than a 10k. It’s probably not highly advised in just your 4th ever 70.3 (and 4th ever ½ marathon) to run the first 5k at a pace just slightly slower then what I ran for a 10k PR just 3 weeks ago. Would smarter pacing have allowed me to run faster and possibly break 75 minutes like I hoped? Who knows…
  2. It’s incredible how disgusting and smelly a person is after a race. Lake water + 4 hours of racing = terrible combination. Big shout out to Every Man Jack for helping me get clean after the race.
  3. Also have to give a big shout out to Ted at Elite Cycling. I was putting my bike up after a short ride on Thursday when I heard a noise coming from my back tire. I spun the wheel slowly and it sound like there was rocks or something inside my tire rolling around. I tried looking on the internet to see what might be the issue, but couldn’t find anything. The closest I got was something with the hub was messed up. Instead, I took it in to Ted and he fixed it right up. Apparently some carbon from the wheels got loose and was rolling around inside. I’ve never heard of that happening before but was happy the issue was resolved just a few days before my race. Huge props to Elite Cycling for the great service and support.

I have to say thank you to all the people cheering me on: my mom, dad, sister, her boyfriend, and my coach Ryan for all the great support and encouragement during the race. In my opinion, you have to be crazy in order to spend a good 6-8 hours at a race when the swim and bike are far from spectator friendly since you really only see me start and end both of those. I also have to thank all the support from the crew that I swim with at the JCC–not only the ones there spectating, but also the ones competing in the race that encouraged me on.

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