Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Kansas 70.3 race report
The Ultimate Tri Sherpa and my husband, Steve, drove Lesley Smith and I up on Thur and we headed straight to our good friends and hosts for the trip Mike , Kim ( pictured above ) and their son Michael’s house in Olathe , KS late that night.
Fri morning was a short run in the neighborhood with Steve while Kim and Lesley did a spin then we were off to the expo to get our packets and do a lake swim with other Texas friends Leslie and Tri 4Him team mate Matt.
The group effort for Dinner was Salmon on the smoker by Mike, the yummiest rice ever by Lesley ( salt and olive oil to the boil was the trick ) , Kim’s Salad, and my healthy and superstitious side dish of Sweet potato fries ( baking pan , foil, spray with spray stick olive oil, cut sweet potato into fries, top with Lawry’s salt ( the secret ingredient to amazing fries) and bake at 450 for 20 min ) Honestly, try it ! Every time I eat them I am immediately revived and have my best workouts the next day!
Sat was a short bike and run in the morning and then off to the expo for the pro meeting. I was trying not to gawk at Chrissie Wellington sitting 2ft away from me, but it was hard. She was kind enough to smile every time she looked my way to find me staring at her once again. The rest of the day was spent off the feet, compression socks on, some quality time with my Trigger point Therapy kit to roll out my calves , IT band and quads which have been particularly tight lately and then continual snacking on Oatmega bars and Athletes Honey milk straw-ban shakes before the usual dinner of chicken, rice and sweet potato fries with my last pre race pedialyte. Yes, part of the plan going into this race to try and be cramp free was 1-2 pedialyte drinks per day for the week leading up to the race, Hammer Fizz for electrolytes in every 2nd water bottle I sipped on, and no caffeine for the last 3 wks. Yes , I gave up caffeine ! Those who know me know this is a big deal. We figured out that I was drinking way to much coffee which in turn was dehydrating me as well as making me drink more water and visit the restroom 25 times a day which was flushing out all the electrolytes out of my body. Tomorrow was the big test, and my No 1 goal for this race was nail nutrition, and don’t cramp!! Hopefully all those non caffeine days were not in vain.
They were expecting 80% chance of showers that day, and I was partially praying this would be the case knowing they would cancel the swim. But unfortunately / fortunately it didn’t rain and we were up for an overcast and windy day.
I started in the water next to Chrissie (yes, while we were waiting to take off I was smiling ear to ear ) and just did that to see how long I could hang with her before she dropped me. I was pleasantly surprised to be able to swim side beside with her and the group for 100 or so yards to the first buoy before the slowly pulled ahead. I maybe got another 100y draft and then I was on my own . But I took that as a good thing, knowing that if I can hang on for at least 200 yards the difference is swim Strength. And fitness .Yes , I don’t have any. I hate to admit this but I cannot do ONE pull up and yesterday I tried to do some pushups to start working on my swimming muscles and 10 pushups has me sore today. Terrible…. Anyway, hopefully more swimming and getting fitter and working on my swimming specific muscles can have me hang in for longer. Swimming is the only 1 of the three disciplines that I find hard to dig deep during workouts and endure the 90 min swims that were being thrown at me at UT masters, so i was either swimming in the slow lane just to get through it, or getting out 60 min into the workout out of boredom and honestly my lack of enjoyment for swimming. They always say you don’t enjoy the sport you are worst at, it’s so TRUE. So I am working on changing my mind set and from now on if anyone asks me what my favorite discipline is, instead of my standard biking answer, I am going to say “I love swimming and can’t wait to swim more” and hopefully I will start believing this.
To finish – The water was a joke. Probably the roughest swim I had ever done due to the winds that had picked up and the boats that were zipping up and down next to us, for what reason, I have no idea. A few times when I tried to lift up my arm out of the water, a wave would consume it and my arm literally didn’t come out. It felt like I was doggie paddling, and I couldn’t help giggle thinking how ridiculous this was probably looking.
Lesley and I worked together on the swim and as she put it “It was like the blind leading the blind” I was drafting off her going out and at the turn around, she tucked in behind me. We are still joking about it because at one point we were swimming at almost a 90 degree angle from the buoy. So Steve termed that swim the “Sailors overboard swim” ( if you can picture sailors getting thrown overboard, with arms flailing trying not to drown, yup that was us ) Lesley and I were the last 2 out of the water with a 34 min swim, and at least we would have company on the bike since usually we are way back chasing the pack.
Bike starts with rolling hills, and from the get go I was struggling to get my breathing under control. You could probably hear me panting from a mile away. As we got out of the park I looked back to see I had put quite a bit of distance on Lesley, so I tried to get my heart rate under control, settle in and get comfortable focusing on taking in the right amount of salt.
Nutrition plan for the bike was 2 water bottles of Hammer Heed and carbo pro and 3 saltstick tablets mixed in each bottle which I sipped on through the ride adding water to it at every water stop. Then a gel every 40 min with 2 salt tablets every 20 min. so it would end up 1200 mg of sodium and about 250-300 calories per hour. I was diligent with the salt especially after feeling some cramps in my hands ( the bad sign and where it starts ) at mile 25 or so, and took some extra salt right away to nip it in the butt, and it worked.
While the nutrition plan was being executed, the hopes of having a strong ride was not, at mile 20 I was ready to get off the bike and usually I feel like I could ride all day long. I usually love to ride the hills and make time up there, but today I was losing ground since I felt like I had no strength in my legs and found myself spinning in the small chain ring just to get up and over them. I did all I could to just focus on the present knowing that I was trying my best , even though my best today was not very good. I found myself asking every 2 min “ Can you go harder? “ and the answer was always “no” I was going as hard as I could today. Came off the bike a disappointing 2:40 ride, 7 min slower than last year on this course, and I knew I was fitter this year, but I just had to swallow it, stay positive and look ahead to the run praying that I wouldn’t cramp today.
No Cramps in the legs !! Yay!! Usually I feel tightness in the quads right away, but today nothing ! I was so excited that I saw an age group guy running strongly a few feet ahead so I caught up to him to try and get in his draft and pace myself off him. That was stupid. While I was keeping myself from having to fight the wind to its full extent, I was never able to settle in on the run at my pace. I found it hard to get my breathing under control, and soon a side stitch followed. I had never had a side stitch in a race before so hoped It would just go away. Well, 6 miles later it did, but it was unfortunately replaced with right knee pain. There is one steep downhill on the course that we hit twice on the course and after the 2nd time of hitting it too hard trying to make up time I had lost, I found myself unable to bend my knee pain free. So I worked as hard as I could with my left leg, mostly kept the right leg straight as it followed behind and put the arms to work trying to help the forward momentum. My day was already somewhat a bust so I tried to focus on the positive – I was not cramping and any day I get to swim, bike and run is a great day ! I had a ton of friends out there racing, so I cheered loudly for them as they ran by. Shout out to Matt Russell ( Tri 4Him team mate ) and Lesley Smith( picture above - Oatmega 3 Teammate and training partner ) , both had amazing runs, like top 3 of the day in the mens and womens pro division ) 3 miles to go and I really thought “ this better not lead to surgery” as I limped along and considered stopping, but I was so close to the finishline and DNF is never an option. I tried to pick it up with the last 2 miles to go. The mind and rest of the body was willing but the knee wasn’t, so I just tried to bite my tongue making noises that probably sounded like a dying animal ,having most people I was running up on actually look back to see what was coming.
Finished 1h40 later on the run with a 4:58 overall time.
While I was totally excited that I had figured out my nutrition and not cramped for the first time during a 70.3, I had some expectations for a good performance on this race especially since I raced so well in Kansas last year where I did a 4:41 and earned my pro card. I still believe that my training and recent racing has me fitter and faster than ever before, but unfortunately I have yet to put together a decent 70.3 for this season. Again, I am not trying to compare my performance to Chrissie or any other pro’s. I am still a ways off being in the same time zone as them, and trust me, I am realistic about that and my current ability. If I thought I could compete with them that would be stupid and I would be consistently let down wk after wk. I am focused on my triathlon journey and my progression, and know that with time, who knows how long, I will be there. As I have heard many times before and believe to be true – “ It’s HARD WORK and TIME – This sport rewards athletes that are dedicated enough to be consistent with their training day in and out and are patient” It takes time to develop into an endurance machine, and experience to know what is the best way to get there without injury and burnout. Instead of extreme measures and quick results the theme of 2011 has been “Small deposits”. Little by little I am moving in the right direction, and one day I know it will all come together.
Thanks to friends Mike and Kim Brosseit for hosting us in their wonderful home for the weekend and showing us what Kansas BBQ( picture above ) is all about. I would recommend Kansas as a race to put on your schedule. Great course, Great weather and great people. I will be back next year, no doubt.