I'll write this blog like the old "Choose your own adventure" books used to be. You can choose the short version of Kansas 70.3 or the long version. Version A is the short version. B is the much longer drawn out version.
"A"- The race was a non-wetsuit swim. The water temp was 76.8 degrees with the wetsuit cutoff being 76.1 degrees. I've only done one other pro race non-wetsuit and it was a disaster. This one was no different. The wind was blowing like crazing creating lots of big waves. I started the race in contact with the group but after getting smashed with wave after wave I found myself alone and I switch from race mode to survival mode as I attempted not to drown. As a result I was 11 minutes back of the leaders after the swim...about 7 minutes back of any resemblance of a main pack of pros and my race was over. The rest of the day was competing for fitness and pride. It was tough and not a lot of fun getting smoked like that. I finished 13th of 15 pros and lost ot my first amateurs ever in a 1/2 Ironman distance finishing 17th overall of nearly 2,000 triathletes to start the race.
"B"- I began the week feeling good after racing the Pigman Sprint triathlon last Sunday. I woke up on Monday and got on the scale...161...what the heck have I done to myself?? I was pretty frustrated...borderline depressed with seeing this number. Just 2 months ago I was feeling as fit as ever weighing 147 and I could feel the benefits of this newfound slim figure. I was running and riding incredibly well. I grew content and through April and May developed some bad eating habits. I would begin most days still counting calories but every other day or so I would blow my calorie count up with binge eating of things I should not be putting into my body if I want to compete at a high level. Needless to say little by little the weight piled back on and here I am basically back to the weight I raced at a year ago. I had signed up for the Kansas 70.3 when I was light and fit and now I would be racing it at my old race weight...FRUSTRATING!! I'm the only one to blame for the lack of focus and discipline here. I need to get back to where I was if I ever want to know how good I can be.
Monday through Wednesday were three great days of training. I put in 14 hours of training between those three days and I seemed to recover better each day so it was a good sign that I'm over whatever sickness I had been battling for the past few weeks.
On Friday Jen and I left the QC around 1:00 for the drive to Lawrence Kansas. Jen registered for the QC Triathlon that is going to be this upcoming weekend. She was planning to ride my old 98' LeMond road bike that is way to big for her but I had other plans. I had secretly purchased her a 2008 Orbea Ordu...the same bike I used to race on. I bought it from a guy who lived 15 minutes off our path to Lawrence and I had arranged to pick it up on Friday night to surprise her. To do this I had to tell Jen we were stopping by a guy's house who I had ridden RAGBRAI with 10 years ago. I told her I hadn't seen him since I road RAGBRAI with him and that he knew I was going to be in town and wanted us to stop by to say hello. Jen was a little annoyed with this detour since she didn't know this ficticious character I had made up. She was straightening her hair in the car as we got close to his house. I told her he wanted to go on a bike ride with me but I would tell him we were in a hurry and didn't have time. When we pulled up to his house he was outside getting the bike ready and Jen said, "He has his bike out. He must want to show it to you...she was still oblivious to my plan." When we got out of the car I told her this was actually not my friend from RAGBRAI but a guy I had purchased a bike from for her. She was pretty stunned. I'm still trying to decide if she's excited or if she wants me to get rid of the bike. I'll probably be able to answer that one after Super Mom races the QC Triathlon on Saturday. We had put my LeMond in the car because Jen wanted to ride it in Kansas so combining the new Orbea with my Shiv and the LeMond would give us a jam packed SUV.
On Saturday morning Jen found a road race in Lawrence, KS and she won the entire race...guys included. This was the first time Jen finished a race ahead of all the guys and girls. She even managed to get off course and ran about 400 meters extra. I slept in while all this excitement took place. I went for a 4 mile run and then we headed to pick up the race packet, go for an open water swim together, and drive the bike course. The pro athlete meeting was at 3:00. We ate a late lunch/snack which I termed a snunch...Jen says I need to skip the snunch from now on. I was in bed by 10:00 awaiting the 4:00 am wakeup call.
On race morning I was up at 4:00 and had the Super 8 waffle for breakfast. We drove to the race site and Jen dropped me off so I could get my transition areas set up and get my warm up in before the 6:30 a.m. pro race start.
SWIM: The swim was non-wetsuit. The water temperature was 76.8 degrees and the cutoff is 76.1. I knew this would not fare well for me but I tried to keep that out of my head and remain positive. There were 15 or 16 guys on the start line with some big names. Among those were Clayton Fettell, Ben Hoffman, Joe Umphenour, Paul Ambrose...all multiple 70.3 and Ironman chapmions. When the cannon fired I took off and it didn't seem that hard swimming in the pack. Soon the waves began crashing down on me and I felt like I was lost at see. I couldn't find the pack and I was gone off the back in a hurry. I saw another straggler and tried to get on his feet because he didn't seem to be swimming too fast for me but the waves would soon take over and I felt like I was in a washing machine. I was getting tossed all over the lake and I had no rhythm to my stroke. It was painful to see the women pros fly by me before I hit the 1/2 way point when they started 2 minutes behind us. I knew this swim was a disaster. All I could think about was trying not to drown so I could get to my bike. When I finally reached the shore I saw 37 minutes and some change on my watch...my slowest half IM swim ever by over 4 minutes. I knew I was out of the race with no chance of clawing my way back in it with a gap I knew was well over 10 minutes to the leaders and probably 7-8 minutes behind any of the other main field. I will admit as I ran towards my bike I thought about abandoning the race knowing I have another race next weekend and anything I did from his point on would make not change the fact that I was going to get smoked. I knew continuing on would only slow my recovery for next Saturday's hometown sprint race. As quick as I thought about stopping I knew there was no way I was going to DNF. I needed to suck it up and go get a solid ride and run in. As it turns out there was one other pro in the water behind me. My swim rank was 14th of the 15 pro guys and 185th of the nearly 2,000 who started the race.
BIKE: Out on the bike I was in a tough position but I tried to make myself ride hard. The only people I saw were some of the female pros who started 2 minutes behind me but passed me in the dreadful swim. I spent most of the 56 mile ride trying to stay focused on riding hard. It can be very difficult to find the extra level needed to ride well when you really are riding for pride. The course was moderately difficult due to some steep climbs and the wind we were dealing with. Most of the ride the wind was coming across me. I rode 2 hrs. 22 minutes which was a few minutes slower than I expected to ride the course but not terrible considering the position I got myself into starting the ride. I used Roctane Tropical Punch in the bladder of my Shiv and Roctane Chocolate Smoothie Recovery Brew for my high calorie drink. I also mixed together some Peanut Butter and Chocolate GU into a flask for more calories. I took in about 6 salt pills knowing it was getting warm in a hurry. They temperatures were expected to hit 93 for the day and there was no relief from any cloud covering.
RUN: I got off the bike trying to figure out how much damage I wanted to do to my legs with nothing to run for. I began at 6:30 pace through the first mile feeling sorry for myself. I saw Jen and asked her to hand me my Live Uncommon jersey. It was hot and sunny and I wanted to put on a running top rather than have my triathlon top up. I pulled down the triathlon top and slipped on the jersey and started feeling like a runner. I dropped the pace down to 6:00/mile and held pretty steady at that for the remainder of the run. I managed to pass one other pro but didn't even realize it until I saw the results. The run effort wasn't terribly difficult but I wasn't jogging either. I felt pretty good through the entire run. The run effort helped me move into the top 20 and only get beat by 3 amateur athletes while I'm sure it was much more than that when I got off the bike. I ended up finishing 13th of the 15 pros that started the race and 17th overall. My run time was 1:19:54 which was the 5th fastest pro run. That gave me some confidence leaving the race knowing I could run a good split without anything on the line and without digging deep into the well. Complete race results with splits can be found by clicking here. Congrats to all the Kansas 70.3 finishers. The wind combined with the heat made for a tough day out there. I heard they had to pull over 70 people from the lake due to the tough swim conditions. I was very thankful for Jen for making the trip enjoyable despite a sub-par race. It's always fun going on road trips with Super Mom. She's very supportive even when things don't go extremely well. She was all over the run course giving me words of encouragement.
Where do I go from here? I have a lot of work to do. As bad as the swim went I have not lost confidence in knowing I'm swimming better right now than I ever have. The conditions of the day combined with the non-wetsuit left me in a tough spot and I didn't handle it well. I certainly don't believe for a second that I regressed in my swimming over the last week. I put in my highest swim week in over 3 months with 21,400 yards this week. I am excited for this quick turnaround with a race on Saturday. I know I'll be asking a lot of myself to get recovered in only 5 days. My left piriformis is VERY tight but beyond that I feel pretty good...better than I ever have the day after a 1/2 Ironman. A little ART from Kaminski Pain and Peformance Care this week along with ice baths, rest, and massage should hopefully have me ready to race again in 5 days. My next big race is in 5 weeks at Racine for another 70.3. I'm really looking forward to a swim I know will be wetsuit legal in Lake Michigan and I'm going back to a course I've had a lot of success on. I'll be hoping to improve upon last year's 6th place finish, my highest pro finish to date. I'll have 3 weeks of pretty high volume training combined with healthy eating that will hopefully have me back into my lean form and ready for my best ever. Even when days are tough like Kansas was I continue to dream of high finishes and continue to believe that I can and will race more competitively in tough pro fields. It would be great to see a nice crowd out at West Lake Park this Saturday for the QC Triathlon. So many friends and family members I know will be racing. It's an extremely well run event. If you get a chance to come out it would be great to see your support for people on the course. You can park at the New Life Baptist church about a mile from the park and they will be running a shuttle until 6:45 am when they will clear the roads for the race. Parking inside West Lake Park is difficult and they will close the roads down until the last finisher so if you are hoping to leave early park at the church and take the shuttle. Payton and Owen have been enjoying their summer getting out on the bikes a lot. Owen refuses help when he climbs Mt. Wild West Drive home from the mailbox. I thought about the effort I see from him climbing up the hill when I was out on the run Sunday. They inspire me to work hard. Hope to see you Saturday. Thanks for reading. DREAM BIG!