Monday, June 13, 2011

Kansas 70.3 6/12/11 Race Review

I tried something for this event that I have never done.  We camped at the race site via tent.  With some unexpected weather and animal occurrences this was the absolute best weekend I have ever had before a race.  Our site was great and shaded for the entire day.  The temps were moderate and the folks we met were a ton of fun.  As it was Saturday night before the race it was a mini firefighter convention with guys from Sioux City, IA and Fargo, ND as well as my own department.
            The morning of the race temps were perfect and a light breeze kept it nice and cool.  Kansas is setup with two transitions, with one at the top of the “hill” and the other at the bottom.  I had a great feeling and was especially focused on my goals—Be 5 hour flat and run the “hill” both times.   I set up T2 and made my way down to T1.
            The morning passed along uneventfully.  I was in the third to last wave which gave me the opportunity to watch the pro’s come out of the water and make their way on to the bike.  It is nice to see that they struggle with their wetsuits as much as we do.  I was caught a bit off guard that they had moved up the wave starts in time and saw my color caps headed to the ramp.  So I quickly got my goggles and cap and made my way to the water.
The water was warm.  They say it was 74 but I believe it was much warmer.  The start was smooth I got right out and felt my stroke doing well.  There was a wind across the water which was noticed more once we got out further into the open area.  It felt as though a boat had crossed our path as the swells were rhythmic and constant.  It felt much like Galveston without the salt.  The swim is rectangular in shape with two left turns.  The first went smooth and headed us into the current. 
The second turn is where I lost my time.  I rounded the second buoy in a small pack spotted the net buoy and hit the gas.  After about 200 yards I spotted again and everyone was gone.  I looked to my right and realized that I had spotted the wrong buoy and swam the wrong way.  So I adjusted my course and swam once again against the current to correct my line.  I finished the swim in 40min.  In looking at my prior attempt I was 5 min slower this time, but in general the entire race was 3-4 min slower in their times this year.
I headed through T1 quickly and efficiently.  I hit the bike and focused on keeping a level head and smart race plan. It would have been very easy to hammer this course.  It is nice rolling hills that seem to go on forever.  It is truly a course built to my strengths as a rider.  The wind was a bit hard to judge as it seemed a bit more swirling and never really had it solid in one direction or another.  The Kansas route is one of the nicest I have been on.  They recently paved about 20 miles worth and it was like riding on glass.  Fueled and pedaled exactly to plan and finished my 56 miles in just over 2 hours and 30 min avg. 21.6 mph.
My dismount into T2 was one for the record books.  I braked too late unclipped erratically and narrowly missed two other riders since my feet were unsteady.  I heard John Madden in my head “rumbling, stumbling, bumbling”.   I saved the bike and other riders and stayed on my feet to the claps and cheers of the surrounding crowd.  I hit my spot and once again made a quick transition.
I headed out on the run to finish my goals.  One thing of note was someone brought to my attention that my leg had a stream of blood running down the back.   Thanks to my rookie dismount my crank slammed my calf cutting it a bit.  No biggie.  But I hope my tat survives.  I felt strong and my heart rate was right in line.  I wanted to run 8:30’s for my 13.1 miles.  I nailed it.  Smooth and steady for the first half then picked up the pace for the second loop.  I think that this greatly aided by the overcast weather and gentle rain shower on mile 9.  My run was completed 1 hour and 50min or so. 
I finished in 5 hours and 11 min.  I was off my goal of 5 hour flat, but I did hit the goal to run the hill both times.  I felt great and was ecstatic about how good I felt.  I have big hopes for Boulder in August.  Crossing the line I gave Chrissie Wellington a big hug and got a publicity shot as usual.
Before I finish I have to thank my support crew.  First I thank Brooke for helping my wife and being an awesome cheerleader.  It was fun sharing this weekend of first time experiences with you.  I know you made a lot mental notes and learned a lot about ticks, spiders, beetles, and making s’mores.  I look forward to your future success and continued determination. 
Second.  But she really knows she is first, my wife Kerrie.  It is not often we get to enjoy such an environment without interruption and this weekend was amazing.  I could not do what I do without you.  There is no one else that I would rather have by my side, than you.  You are my everything.  I rounded every corner on the course looking for you and waiting to hear your voice.  You fueled my fire.  You put love in my heart.  You help me race with passion.  You give me purpose. 
Lastly I have to tell you a quick story.  As we headed out of the park we decided to grab a bite to eat. We were driving down the road into the city of Lawrence when ahead there was a rider pedaling in the distance.  As we got closer the rider was on a tri bike and in a race kit.  I said out loud, ”No Way”.  The girls said, ”What?” I said, ”That is Chrissie Wellington.”  She pulled into the left hand turn lane so I naturally rolled up along side her.  I said you just won and they make you pedal home?  She said she was headed to her home stay only 10 miles away!  She said that she thought that every hill in Kansas was packed into those 10 miles.  There is no truer person than her.  If you need a role model look her up. 

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