Monday, July 21, 2014

A Long and Lonely Drive - Kansas 5150 Triathlon

I made a quick trip to Lawrence, KS for the Kansas 5150 event while Wes stayed home to take care of our urban farm.  The goal for the race was to finish (top 15 qualify for the championships, and I correctly guessed there wouldn’t even be that many women racing in the elite wave), and get some mental confidence going into the last training block for Age Group Nationals in 3 weeks.   I achieved both of those goals, even though my race was lackluster.

I packed my car Thursday night so I could leave right after lunch from work.  The drive was over 5 hours and I wanted to get to Lawrence in time to have dinner at the place I was staying.  Made it just in time to settle in, whip up a quick dinner, and watch a movie before heading to bed.  Oh, and a quick call to Wes to let him know I was safe.

Saturday morning I slept in until 8am.  It was awesome!  Even the cat clock didn’t wake me up!

I made breakfast, looked up a few place to visit while I was in town, then loaded the car back up for packet pickup and a quick bike/run on the course.  Packet pickup was at the same park as the race, and I did quick drive of the bike to make sure I could figure it out.  I’d been there 3 years ago for the Kansas 70.3, which uses the same roads, so I at least knew they were low traffic and rideable. 

My workout for Saturday was an easy 20 mile bike followed by a 3 mile run.  The race course was a 25 mile out and back bike followed by a double out and back 3.1 mile run.  So, I rode most of the bike, and did 1 lap of the run.  The bike course has a little bit of everything…some hills, some rollers, and some flat.  The run has a long, steady hill right at the beginning, then flat, then back down the hills, done twice.  I was glad to get a chance to run it prior to the race to see how not-so-bad it is compared to the holly-crapness it looks like. 

While riding I noticed all the really fast looking women out riding as well.  It made me a little concerned at how stacked the elite field would be at the race, then remembered there is a pro field as well.  I’ll just pretend they are all pro women, and not actually anyone I’ll be competing against.

Saturday afternoon was spent doing a little shopping in the downtown area (lots of cute shops with tons of people wandering around), picked up a few things to cook up from their coop, stopped by a really cool wine and beer shop (Cork and Barrel) for a mix-and-match 6 pack (worker guy was VERY helpful in picking out a selection), hy-vee, finally writing up the blog post from last weekend’s races, another movie, and finally asleep at 10pm.

So many to choose from!!

Narrowed down to 6
Electric Vehicle parking with charging station at Hy-Vee

 Sunday morning came early as most races do.  4am wakup call (I wondered if the cat clock set to not go off in the middle of the night, but it went off just after my alarm), breakfast, then off to the race site by 4:45am.  I have a massively long check list for packing for triathlons, and for some reason it doesn’t contain a headlamp. And, the sun is not even close to being up at 5am when transition opened.  Most races this isn’t a problem as they tend to have spotlights everywhere, but the LONG walk from the car to transition was pitch dark.  With the road surface a little sketching in a couple spots, there was no way I was going to ride my bike, so walking it was.

The racks were set up with each person assigned a specific spot on the rack.  I was fairly close to the bike in/out.  Yeah!  Maybe someday I’ll figure out how to leave T1 with my shoes already attached to my bike.  But, today was not going to be the day, especially with the hill coming out of T1. 

For a warm up, I was able to get in about a 25 min bike (rode to my car to drop off my transition bag, then continued to the park entrance and back with some bursts of effort up the rolling hills)  and 1.5 mile run (one last feel for the hill out of transition).  The swim warmup was only allowed for the pros, so called it good. 

Swim – Water temp was measured at 77.9 (wetsuits are allowed up to 78 degrees).  I assumed they hunted for a cold enough spot to make most racers happy, but I was not one of them.  I wore my wetsuit as did almost everyone else in the wave.  While waiting I talked with Aryn (tri chick from Des Moines) and we counted the women in the wave.  Seven.  Our wave was both men and women, which gave me more opportunity to find someone to draft off of.  With the water temp so warm, I found some feet and settled in.  I didn’t want to work too hard and overheat.  I still figured it was better than just wearing a speedsuit.  I misunderstood where the swim exit was, so went a little off course.  The feet I was following went the correct way (I should have trusted him), and he came out of the water 11 seconds ahead of me.  I tried to find him later to apologize for touching his feet so much, but never figured out who he was.

T1 – Not real smooth, but not horrible either.  The wetsuit is never easy to get off over the timing chip.

Bike – I settled in.  I told myself to try and negative split the bike, but I just didn’t have the motivation.  It wasn’t until I loaded my data that I realized that I not only didn’t negative split, but my second half watts were much lower than the first (192 and 181 for the halves).    I was alone most of the ride, with just a few guys passing from the wave behind. The bike was a mile long, so my time is a bit slow.  It’s an out and back, so not sure why it was long.  Maybe they thought it was better to make it long than have us turnaround in the middle of a downhill. 

T2 – Again, not real smooth, but not horrible either. Ever since Holiday Lake I’m more careful putting my shoes on, which takes a few more seconds.

Run – Starts with a long uphill then flattens out and returns, done twice.  It was very hard to tell where I was compared to the other women as we were now mixed in with the sprint race, and it was also hard to tell the pro women from the elite ones.  I continued my day of just settling in.  I was pretty sure Aryn was next behind me (by about a minute), and I really thought we were pulling up the end of our wave.  At the final turnaround (with 1.5 miles to go), I noticed another women catching Aryn.  That put a little bit of fear in me, so I finally picked up the pace a little.  Avg pace for the race was about 7min/mile. This pace felt pretty comfortable, whereas at Age Group Nationals last year, this same pace had me redlining the entire run.

I crossed the finish line with a good amount of energy left in me, and in 3rd place out of the 7 elite women. Much better than I had expected while racing.  I know I could have done better.  Not sure if I could have come in ahead of 2nd place, but it would have been much closer.  Even though I didn’t give it my best attempt (felt like I was doing half-ironman pace), I was pleasantly surprised at how high the watts were for the first half of the bike and pace for the run were for my effort.

After the race I biked up to my car to take a quick shower before the awards ceremony that was scheduled for 11:30am (it was about 10am at that time).  I biked back down to transition to find out that we were just picking up our awards.  No ceremony.  This was one of several things about this race that I was disappointed with.  At least it meant I could leave earlier than I had expected, and I was getting hungry (the post-race food is another disappointment).  Maybe I’m just spoiled with the caliber of the local races in Iowa.

Beer Stein Award

In all, I’m glad I made the trip.  I’m qualified for both the Age Group and Elite Age Group waves of the Hy-vee 5150 Championships.   Top 5 receive awards.  I think it’s a long shot that I will be in those top 5, considering I was 3rd in this qualifier and there are SEVERAL other qualifying races.  But, I think it’s worth the try.  It will be my last race of the season, so hopefully that will give me some motivation.  It’s also nice to be in the first wave behind the pros instead of having to wait around.  Time will tell.

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