Kansas Chaos

Traveling to races is something I wish I could more frequently.  The Kansas 5150 race was an easy choice for me though as my best friend Anne lives there with her hubby John and their twins.  Yep, more twins!  Hope and Jack are super cute and just a mere 15 months old.  Spending time with them was wonderful and helped distract me from some of the race nerves too.  But, for a week prior, there were forecasts of severe thunderstorms on race day so that was hanging over my head some.  I did not want the swim to be canceled. I knew what to expect on this course though as this is where the Kansas 70.3 (half ironman) was I did a couple years ago.  A brutal hill was in store at the beginning of the run and bike.  It was also at the start of the 2nd loop on the run.

I did this race last year too, but it was on a different course and was run by another outfit.   So even though I signed up for the Kansas 5150 and not the Kansas Triathlon, for weeks before the race, I was receiving emails from both with updates.  So this is where the chaos ensued.  Before flying to Kansas Friday morning, I double checked my races website per packet pick-up and other information.  Luckily, I wouldn’t have to rush to get my packet Friday evening as I had to get my bike built too.  I knew I could pick it up locally Saturday…or so I thought.  Stephen, a friend and client, was in town to race as well so we  tried to coordinate meeting.  I told him to meet me around 1pm Saturday at a local bike shop so we could pick up our packets together and talk race strategy.  His response informed me we were to pick up packets at the race site, which was almost an hour away.  What?!?!?!  I checked this several times, the emails and the website.  I even dug up my email confirmation for the race to ensure I had signed up for the ‘right’ one.  Well, only the latter was good.  I had been checking the wrong website, reading the wrong emails. Grrr!  I was so mad at myself.  And, I felt guilty as the trip to the race site took more time out of my day with the Stichnoths. Fortunately, Anne was gracious enough to make the jaunt with me, Hope and Jack were too!

Only darkness upon waking, no rain. Of course that all changed once I pulled into the race parking lot. Within seconds of getting out of the car, the rain started, so did the lightning.  Grrr!   By the time I walked to the transition area, about a 10-15 min jaunt, I was soaked. I debated whether to lay out my stuff as I didn’t want it getting soaked too. I opted to leave everything but my wetsuit in my bag for now.  I put on my wetsuit to get warm, I wasn’t the only one.  People joked with things like, ‘ oh, you think we’re still going to swim?’  Ha, I could only hope!  So there were some of us with a sense of humor.  Many others were off seeking shelter.  Many were under trees, several were under a semi-truck, even more were on a covered stage and dozens were sitting underneath.  I did a few laps in search of Stephen, but couldn’t find him.  I figured he was nice and warm somewhere out of sight.

After what seemed like a couple hours, the race director announced that indeed the swim would be canceled.  I don’t only dislike that being a swimmer, I dislike it because then it’s no longer a triathlon, what I came to do.  And it really adds to it after traveling.  I know, I know, it’s a safety thing and as a RD I would make the same call.  It doesn’t mean the frustration level diminishes.  Anyway…

So after a 30 minute delay, which seemed like hours,  they lined us up single file in the transition area and started everyone 12 seconds apart.  Fortunately they had the pros and   elite athletes go first so I was out of there pretty quickly. It’s quite odd starting the bike leg with a normal resting heart rate.  (By the time they made the announcement of the duathlon, I had no time to get in a warm-up run).  I knew I needed to ease into it or my legs would blow up, especially on these rolling hills.  I really must have eased into it as I was the first elite female to start and all the others passed me within a few miles.  I didn’t let it get to me as I needed to stick to my plan. All in all, the ride was pretty uneventful; up and down, down, and up, fast, slow, slow, fast.  As much as I like the variety of the hills, I prefer the flats so I can get/feel a groove. I didn’t here, in fact my legs just felt flat the entire ride.  That’s fine though as I know going by feel alone can be greatly misleading.  My watts were ok, so I knew I was doing ok.

I had a good T2 and headed up the big hill.  I recall thinking it wasn’t nearly as bad as I remembered from the 70.3 whew!  On top it was nice to see the Stichnoth crew cheering me on. (I saw them drive by when I was headed out on my bike too).  This was by no means a scenic run.  It was a 2 loop course which just meandered around a camp ground with no shade in sight.  Oops, I forgot to mention, within minutes of heading out on the bike, the rain stopped and the sun came out. Of course! Anyway, at least the course made it easy for the spectators to see everyone a few times. And, it was great for us to see them so often!  Plus Stephen and I were able to give each other a couple of cheers.

So then there was loop #2.  Remember how I didn’t think it was that bad the first time?  Yea, so that all changed the 2nd time.  Holy moly, it felt much much harder!!!  I just reminded myself that I did it here during a half ironman, I could certainly do it (not walk) during an olympic distance race. Up and over, ouch that hurt.  In fact, the entire run hurt like crazy.  I did wear a watch, but never looked at it until I crossed the finish line.  I just don’t like to as it can mess with my head; you’re going too fast, you’re going too slow, etc. So when I did look, I was expecting to have been about 1-2 minutes per mile slower than what I saw.  Wha wha wha what!?!  I had a really good run!  I was very happily surprised!  Ironically, I often tell my clients they can’t always go by feel.  This is a classic case as to why.  I’ve had races where I’ve felt great, but the results were quite disappointing and then races like this.  I’ll take this any day!  😉  And, I was 8th in elite and first in my age group!

A big woohoo to Stephen for a great race too!

Here’s a shout out to the Stichnoths for putting up with me and my chaos over the weekend.  I love this family!  And of course, I have to show you a pic of the cutie-pie twins:

S twins S twins2

Thanks for reading!

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A weekend whirlwind

The impetus of our trip to Santa Cruz was a Memorial service for Scott’s Uncle Steve, a tremendous person in so many ways.  He was also instrumental to California as a forester. So although the circumstance for our travels was grim, the trip was wonderful as it’s always great to spend time with family.  Time was not only spent at the Memorial Service, but at family meals, hiking, horse back riding, swimming, at the Board Walk enjoying many rides, on the beach, and even a little training.  Lots of great memories, lots of love to our family!

In a beautiful venue with some rolling hills, I was eager to race.  It had been months and I was ready to see where my fitness was.  I had no expectations and very little nerves, both a rarity for me.  I trust my new coach and have followed his plan to a T so I knew if I didn’t do well, it was just a lack of fitness and not to worry. It’s early and I have ample time until my A race.

The swim was in a quarry, which was a balmy 65.5 degrees.  It didn’t feel as cold as I anticipated, but my 10-minute warm-up certainly helped.  I felt strong from the get-go, but once again, my sighting skills, or lack thereof, greatly failed me.  The first turn buoy was directly in the sun and I couldn’t see a thing!  Yes, I had on tinted goggles and all.  I had even picked out a landmark to focus on prior to the start, but couldn’t find that either.  Really, I don’t know how people can see in the sun!  Anyway,  I had to stop and when I did, I saw a woman about 50 yards to my left. I greatly hoped she was the one off course, but I knew otherwise.  Grrr!  I was way wide of the upcoming buoy! I’ve only raced in about 85+ triathlons; you’d think I’d be able to sight well by now.

I finally caught the woman about half way through the swim, but as I passed, she fought hard.  I could feel her drafting off my feet most of the way in.  Coming out of the water was fun as I heard cheers from Sarah, Court, Scott, Sandy, and Aunt Sudi.  Hearing them was pretty easy as I was in the 2nd to last wave of the morning so there weren’t many spectators remaining by the swim exit. Transition was not so fun though.  I clearly had cobwebs on as it took me, what seemed like, several minutes to get off my wetsuit. Finally I was off on my bike.

I stuck to my plan and started out comfortably, nothing hard.  There were some rolling and hills and false flats and I didn’t want to burn up my quads right away.   This was only my 2nd ride outside since last fall so I was pretty happy just to be out and in such beautiful scenery.  About half way through, I got stuck going about 12mph behind a car.  The 2 lane road was open to traffic and for some reason, cones were set right in the middle of the two every 50-100 yards. This made it really difficult for cars to pass cyclists especially with all the curves on the course. Fortunately this car turned off the course within a couple minutes, but about 15 minutes later, I got stuck behind another one…and this time for about 5 minutes.  Getting really annoyed, I yelled at the cyclist in front of the car by shouting ‘car back.’  (This is a common phrase among cyclists to let them know there is a car approaching from behind. Upon hearing this, you’re supposed to get as close to the edge of the road as possible).  Clearly this guy never heard me as I yelled several times and he remained riding in the middle of our lane.  This definitely cost me a few minutes as there was much time spent pedaling little to none.  Oh well.

My legs started burning with about 6 miles to go and these last miles had some rollers. It didn’t help that I had gone through all my fluids. I was so thirsty!   Clearly I was eager to get off the bike so I did, with 1 mile to go.  Yep, my chain fell off so I had to.  I must have changed gears too quickly.  Frustrating, but an easy fix and only cost me about 30 seconds.

After a quick T2, I was ready to roll.  I had a good 8k race a few weeks ago so I was eager to see if I could run similar to that in a tri.  The first mile or so I focused on getting my legs going and not pushing too hard.  My heart rate was high anyway as I wasn’t used to the balmy 63 degrees.  I took water at the first aid station then tried to get a good pace going.  I did and felt great!  I finally was able to zone out and just run.  I didn’t think, I didn’t feel, I just existed.  This was such a rarity and I didn’t even realize my Zen-nes until mile 4 when I started to enter the pain cave. Then my typical mental banter ensued: why am I doing this, go Mary go, this sucks, you’re almost there, my legs hurt, retirement sounds great, suck it up, just walk, you know you want to, etc.  You get the gist. Luckily that only lasted 2 miles and then my mind cleared again.  The last mile was tough, but I didn’t give in. And, it felt like one of my best sprints into a finish line.  Scott even said I finished fast.  (He usually asks why I don’t have any turnover at the end).  😉

All in all, it was a sound race.  1st overall female amateur, 2nd female overall.  (I really believe the cars I was stuck behind plus the chain incident allowed me to be beat, but it happens).  My run wasn’t what I wanted, but it wasn’t bad. Ok ok, so I’m rarely content with my races.  I do recognize that though.  😉  Onward and upward!