As race day neared, I was getting more and more anxious to race at the Kansas City Triathlon as this is my hometown race and always attracts top competition. Race morning greeted athletes with a brisk, low-40s for temperature with little wind. Fortunately, once the sun rose, it felt warmer than the air temperature suggested. I arrived to the race early, set up my transition spot, and went back to my car to get out of the chilly air. After a short run warm up, I slipped on my Roka wetsuit and headed down to the swim start.
Swim: 21:45, 2nd overall swim split.
I got off to a good start for the two loop swim course. I started on the far left next to a few athletes I knew would be fast swimmers. As I approached the first right turn, I was sitting on the feet of the leader and feeling good. My main goal for the swim was to stay mentally engaged the entire time. I have a tendency to let my mind wander and lose focus, form, and power in my stroke which has historically led to a slower than desired swim split. I stayed on the leader’s feet throughout the first lap. As we approached the end of lap one, we had to do a short run on the beach and then right back in the water to start lap 2. The short run on the beach most likely shot my heart rate too high because after I ran in the shallow water and started swimming again, I was having trouble catching my breath. My pace slowed, but so did my breathing and I eventually settled back into a good rhythm. However, now we had to weave our way around the other age group athletes that were starting their first lap. I, unfortunately, lost contact with the leader throughout all the weaving and couldn’t ever pick it up enough to get back on his feet. I exited the water 8 seconds behind him but was very pleased with my swim as I stayed mentally focused and felt I put out a really strong swim effort.
Oh, and for the crazy video award for the year, check out this video of a deer swimming in the lake during the race yesterday.
I slipped out of my Roka wetsuit, put on my Rudy helmet and glasses, and took off toward the bike out sign. Running barefoot with cold feet on concrete was rather painful, but I did manage to get through transition ahead of the first guy out of the water.
Bike: 57:50, 1st overall bike split
Starting off on the bike, I was struggling to really get the legs going. Maybe it was my lack of a really good warm up or maybe it was the cold temps and wet legs, but my legs just felt heavy and slow. The first lap was extremely uneventful. I really just tried to stay focused and keep pushing hard because I knew there’d be some athletes charging hard to catch me. I knew one of those athletes was Kevin Nickel who two years ago, beat me by over 2 minutes on the bike split on this same course. It wasn’t until the big climb on the south side of the lake just past mile 9 that I finally started to feel good. I was able to put in a strong, steady effort up this just over 2-minute climb. After a fast descent down the hill, I found my groove and started rolling. Lap two was a little more eventful because I was now going past athletes on their first loop, so it gave me a constant stream of targets to go catch. I was extremely happy with my bike split. Two years ago on the same course, I biked 1:00:22, so to improve my time by 2:30 is extremely encouraging for me. I’ve been working very hard with Matt Dixon of Purplepatch fitness in order to improve my cycling as well as making some position adjustments on my bike with Paul Buick, and I can definitely see the improvements.
As with T1, cold feet on hard concrete was rather painful, so I ran gingerly to my bike rack. As I was running to rack my bike, an athlete competing in the sprint race (which started over an hour after I started my race) saw me running with my bike in the opposite direction as everyone else and semi-softly but still loud enough for me to hear said, “bike out is that way” and pointed the opposite way I was going. It didn’t register with me until I had racked my bike and was putting on my shoes what he said, but it was funny as I could see why there might be some confusion. I racked my bike, took off my helmet and sunglasses, slipped into my new Saucony Kinvara 7’s, grabbed my GU gel and race belt and took off.
Run: 33:41, 1ST overall run split.
I wasn’t 100% sure where my run fitness would be for a 10k. I’ve spent a lot of time this off season trying to become a better and stronger cyclist, so my running has taken a bit of a back seat. I felt really good early on into the two loop run course. It definitely helped that near transition there were a lot of fans cheering for you. After climbing a short but steep hill, I went through the first mile in 5:32, still feeling pretty good. I got onto the crushed rock trail and really found my stride and was able to pick up the pace a bit thanks to a slight downhill. It was also nice running on a softer surface. Mile two was 5:15 and I felt strong still. Cameron Bogue captured this sweet video near the end of lap one. I felt good through the first lap (3rd mile of 5:24) and almost up to mile 4, where we have to do the same short, but steep hill. This was the first real struggle of the run course. The hill slowed that mile to 5:41 despite averaging low 5:30’s prior to it. For the last two miles, I just tried to keep them steady but still keeping the pressure on. I ran 5:31 and 5:28 for those two miles and went through 6 miles in 32:54. After seeing that on my watch, I really wanted to be under 34 minutes for the run, so I picked it up again. Little did I know at the time, but it also helped me break 1:56:00 for my total time. Two weeks ago at Trizou, I ran 5:22 pace for just under 3 miles and at KC Tri I ran 5:29 pace for 6.16 miles (according to my Garmin). So I am definitely pleased that I didn’t slow off too much despite running and racing twice as far (for all 3 disciplines).
Overall: 1:55:57, 1st overall.
I’m beyond thrilled with my race. Two years ago when I did this race, I was in some of the best shape I’ve ever been in (as a triathlete, at least) and went 1:56:51. So to improve that time on virtually the same course is definitely a huge confidence boost for me. I did it in a completely different way (1:00:22 bike split 2 years ago vs 57:50 this year, and 32:29 run split vs 33:41), but I came out faster overall. After a year of racing Ironman distance and feeling like I lost some of my speed, I’m beyond excited with my result.
I have to give a huge shout out to my mom and sister for coming to support me and for all the pictures. I also want to thank Cameron Bogue, Caleb and Connie Teague, and Dwayne Fritchie for cheering for me while I was suffering. Thank you to Every Man Jack for top of the line products. I left a little while after my race and went to my parents’ house to get cleaned up prior to awards. Yet another perk of racing just a few miles away from your (or your parents’) house. And thank you GU Energy for providing top quality nutrition. I used the lemon lime hydration mix on the bike and gel (salted caramel was GU of choice at this race) for the bike and run.
Next up for me is Pigman sprint in early June followed by Muncie 70.3 in early July. Rest of schedule is here.