My Kansas City Corporate Challenge Triathlon experience has about 10 stories all wrapped up into one race/event. Below are a few stories that stand out as well as a guest post of my sister’s race experience as this was her second ever triathlon and first one in three years.
Story 1: What is KCCC?
Kansas City Corporate Challenge is a competition between corporations in the KC area. Corporations are broken into Divisions based upon the number of employees in each company. Then the employees compete in various events ranging from triathlon to 5k, half marathon, bike race, swimming events, track and field, darts, 3v3 soccer or basketball, disc golf, bowling, fishing, horseshoes, even tug-of-war. You’re assigned points based on how you do within your age group and within your division. You find the uber competitive triathletes (like me), to cyclist or runners that decided to give the duathlon a go, to someone who is doing their first triathlon in 3 years (my sister) or even someone doing their first triathlon/duathlon ever. There’s definitely a wide range of individuals competing in these events. I want to thank Purplepatch Fitness for working with me to include this race in my schedule since it is not a USA Triathlon sanctioned event nor that beneficial to my 70.3 Muncie preparation. It was, however, a lot of fun.
Story 2: The showdown.
It all started about 6 months ago with Brandon Barnett showing up to masters swimming and talking smack, telling me how he was going to beat me at the KCCC Triathlon mid-June. I’ve won the last two races (2013 and 2015, rained out in 2014), but Brandon was confident he would beat me. His main rationale was it’d be his only race and I’d be focusing on other races (which is/was true). The good humor and fun continued all spring and early summer. It actually made me look forward to going to masters just to see what he’d say that day. Good, competitive fun always makes practice better especially on the days when I wasn’t feeling it or didn’t want to be there. Brandon would push off the wall right on my feet, so naturally I’d pick up the pace and try to drop him. I loved all the, “yeah I let you go; I didn’t want to hurt your ego by catching you and being on your feet.” Despite him spending more time all spring and early summer on the golf course rather than training, the smack talk continued all the way up to race morning. Results can be found here. Let’s just say one of us won overall and the other was 2nd overall. I’m already looking forward to next year’s rematch. Side note: I will admit, for someone that hasn’t raced in like 10 months, he actually did very well. And, naturally, he told me so at masters the day after saying his performance was more impressive than mine because he’s, quote, “slow and out of shape.”
Story 3: The coach?
So, back in early May, my sister sent me a text asking me for a favor; “Can you write me a training plan of sorts for the KCCC Triathlon?” Nervous but beyond excited, I obviously accepted. I’ve never coached anyone before, nor have I ever considered it. Surprisingly, I really enjoyed it. After setting some initial baselines of what she could or couldn’t handle for swim, bike and run, I started to write some workouts. It was a lot of fun to give her workout ideas and even push her a bit more than I know she would have done on her own. We also had to schedule around several other obstacles such as travel for work, and other KCCC events (volleyball, bike race, track, 3v3 soccer) in which she was participating. Watching her progress and get in better shape was fun and exciting. I now know (to some small degree) what a coach goes through.
Story 4: My race.
Swim started off well. I learned from my mistake last year of thinking I could just muscle through the 500 meter swim and go full gas from the start. I started strong, smooth, and in control early on. Picked up the turnover the second half and excited the water in 6:31, tied for first for fastest swim split, and my fastest time of all three years–2013, 2015 and 2016 (2014 rained out, as mentioned in story 2).
Not even a mile into the bike loop, you hit the first big hill after crossing the dam. I was nervous since at TriZou, KC Tri, and Pigman, I struggled to find my biking legs early, but that was not the case here. My legs actually felt really good early on! Between gasping for air and yelling “On your left!!”, I was determined to set the fastest bike split for the day, and that’s exactly what I did. Nine miles in 20:49 (Strava link and Garmin link), it was my fastest bike split out of all 3 years by over a minute. It was also the most power I’ve held in any race and was above my FTP (functional threshold power–Basically a 20 minute test that determines what watt/power you can theoretically hold for 1 hour). Needless to say, I was beyond shocked and pleasantly surprised with my bike effort.
Having biked harder than I’ve ever done before, I wasn’t entirely sure how the legs would feel for a hilly run course. Early on, I just let the legs go on the downhills and figured I’d settle into a pace after the first half mile when it flattens out before going up a steep hill after the dam. The lungs were burning and HR was high (same with bike), but I actually felt good. I was about 5:25 pace prior to the uphill after the dam and went through mile 1 in 5:38. Huge downhill for half a mile followed by flat for half mile gave me a 5:15 mile 2. Unfortunately, that’s where I started suffering and I still had 1 mile of literally all uphill. 5:58 for mile 3 and relieved to reach the finish line in 17:17, the exact same time I ran in 2013 which ties for my fastest 5k split on this course.
Overall time of 46:16. Crossing the finish line I really had no idea what my time was (I was in last wave to start the swim). I was beyond thrilled to find out I just broke my old course record (from 2013) by 1:36 lowering it from 47:52 to 46:16.
Story 5: Kaitlin’s race, in her words.
The much anticipated (or dreaded) race day finally arrived and it was time to put my training to the test. I knew I would struggle on the run (from past experiences and the fact that I just hate running), so I knew I needed to perform well on the swim and bike portions to have a shot of beating my 1:30 goal that I set for myself.
I arrived on the beach a few minutes before my swim heat was supposed to start and positioned myself toward the front of our heat so I could be one of the first few in the water. My plan for the swim was to just keep it steady and swim strong for as long as I could. After a minute or so of swimming, I looked up to realize that I was headed toward the middle of the lake and not straight at the dock like I was planning. Whoops! So, I redirected my path toward the dock and kept on swimming. I very clearly can’t swim in a straight line because I’m pretty sure I just zigzagged across the water until I reached the buoys and could somewhat follow those. By the time I reached the buoys, I was forced to start weaving my way around the slower folks from the heat before me. It was not an easy thing considering you can’t see anything in the water, so I had to look up every 10 seconds to make sure I wasn’t swimming up someone’s back. Finally, I made my way around the two turn buoys and was headed back toward the swim exit. By this point, I was sick and tired of weaving in and out of everyone because it was taking up more energy than I wanted, and I was finding it harder to catch my breath. A couple times on the way back to the swim exit, I flipped on my back and did backstroke for a few seconds to catch my breath and look at something other than the ugly, murky water. I felt pretty good on the swim and focused on keeping my stroke strong the whole way. I was pleasantly surprised to find out I swam 10:06 since I felt like I was moving so slow while weaving in and out of other swimmers.
In T1, I took the time to put on socks and my Fitbit, two things I’m sure my brother would cringe at me taking extra time to do, but hey, you gotta count those steps, right?
I got all my gear on, grabbed my bike and headed for the bike exit. I hopped on and set out on the bike course toward the first big hill that was coming up after the dam. I was really hoping my legs would loosen up pretty quickly, but as I was climbing the first major hill, the only things running through my mind were “holy crap I have to do this whole loop twice. THEN I have to run!”… “I wonder how mad my brother will be if I fake a flat tire and bail out on the bike” … “I’m not sure I’m going to be able to finish this race, I’m already so tired!”
I pushed through the challenging set of hills and my legs started to feel better on the long gradual downhill. The second lap went a lot better with a lot less “I’m so ready to be done” thoughts. Another female in my age group passed me going up the dam hill on the second lap, and I made it my goal to not let her get away from me. I stuck to that and actually ended up passing her not long before we entered T2.
Coming out of T2, my legs were super tired from the hilly bike course and I knew the run course was not going to be easy. I was already struggling not far into the run and had to stop and walk often so I wouldn’t feel so nauseous. About this time, my brother (who started his race 20 minutes after me) goes flying by me yelling encouraging words which were met with “this sucks!” I still wasn’t feeling well so in true Kaitlin fashion, I ended up moving off the side of the course and throwing up (having flashbacks to my half marathon). This actually ended up making me feel a lot better so I could start running again. The remainder of the run was a mixture of running and walking with a lot of “I’m so ready for this to be over” thoughts. I was really hoping to perform better on the run and actually be able to run more of the course than I did, but with heavy and tired legs, that just wasn’t going to happen. I knew going into the race that the run would definitely be the hardest for me. The run was also the point that I died during my first triathlon about 3 years ago. Regardless, I’m so proud of myself for finishing the race since it’s a tough course with a hilly bike and run. I ended up beating my goal by finishing in 1:26, and I even managed to score some points for my company. I really don’t think I’ll be doing another triathlon anytime soon. I think I’d rather just focus on cycling since that’s what I enjoy the most. But maybe in another 3 years, I’ll have forgotten about the pain of a triathlon and I’ll be ready to try another one.
If you’re interested in traveling (my sister’s passion), be sure to visit her blog Travel Far, Eat Well. She’s already visited a lot of really cool places both in the US and over seas with some reviews and tips on where to go and what to do.