Thursday, June 14, 2012

Long way to the yellow brick road

Last Sunday I had the pleasure to race Kansas 70.3.

I put Kansas on my schedule shortly after Wildflower (really I put it on my schedule mentally about thirty miles into the ride at Wildflower). I knew that I needed another long course race before Ironman Couer d' Alene, and while there were quite a few to chose from, knowing Ryan Robinson and crew were organizing the race tipped the scales to Kansas. Having heard it was a tough and honest course, I thought it would be a good test for me. I was right.

It was to be my maiden voyage to Kansas and I had a great homestay in Jason, the race director's brother. It was awesome to have such a friendly yet non-intrusive host who also had some key local knowledge.

This was the latest I had ever traveled to a race, arriving Friday evening. It would also be the earliest I've ever left, an 8pm Southwest departure. It was a "work trip." That is, I was there to get in a solid hard effort as prep for CdA and also gather some more data. Going through my head all day was the phrase, "workmanlike manner." In short, work hard, all day. While I am not exactly thrilled with my race from a results standpoint, I am content with my "workmanship" on the day, keeping my head in the game and my effort high for all but a few short moments throughout the day.

It had been warm in Kansas and thus we had a non wetsuit swim. Knowing Clayton Fettel was on the line I knew there would be at least one guy off the front. I was determined to be in that first chase group however. Unfortunately, shortly into the swim, I realized I had lost the key players and was now trailing. The easier pace should have been an indicator to me. Mental error #1.

The wind was blowing strong on the day and had already claimed two of the course buoys. Swimming on my own I had a bit of a tough time and here was Mental Error #2. I let my mind drift. I got down on myself for missing the pack, my pace slowed and I swam off course. Stupid.

I exited the water, after getting my head back in check, a little over a minute behind the guys I wanted to be with.

If there was one thing I wanted to do in this race it was execute the plan on the bike and just ride Hard all 56 miles.

I went off alone (familiar position) and began the focused "conversation" with my power meter. The wind remained and grew ever more relentless throughout the ride (thanks Leadman for preparing me for that). Knowing who was in front of me, I focused on trying to stay alone as long as I could and not let the gap grow too big.

In the end I was "okay" with my ride. There wasn't a train of dudes that rolled on by, in fact only one pass really stuck, so I can say I was "in" the race rather than "watching" it roll on by.

I came off the bike in 8th.

Hitting the run course I knew two things: 1. it was gonna be HOT and 2. I hadn't drank enough on the bike. My focus on my effort blocked my focus on hydration and it wasn't until the final aide station that I took a bottle.

I went out of T2 just behind Freddy Lampret and focused on trying to get my nutrition and fluids in. After about two miles I made a pass with an effort I hoped would make it stick. It didn't. About a mile later I began to suffer some cramps and had to back off. Freddy just ran away.

From there on out it became a cramp, fluid, fuel and cooling management situation. At times I felt better and could pick up the pace, but inevitably the heat, cramps or bonks would come back to pull back the pace.

I crossed the line in 7th. 4:09. Hot, tired and not too happy.

But the goal of the race was accomplished. I got in a good hard effort on the day, and saw signs that the changes to my training are having the desired effect.

Next up:

Ironman Couer d' Alene on June 24th.


  1. Way to stick with it. There is a lot to be said about workmanship and I'm sure it will start to pay huge dividends. Best of luck at CDA!!! Cheers, -TG

    Thomas Gerlach
    Professional Triathlete

  2. Sounds like a good building block race for an even better performance at CdA!! See you there! :)

  3. Good luck in CDA Ian. I have done KS twice, in 2009 and 2010,and each time its been a grab bag of conditions, heat, wind, chop, oil spill on the road so we had to do a Cross dismount and walk our bikes for a few yards, remount, etc...
    I was unable to make the trip this year so i am glad you got to race it!

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