To read about my neurotic thoughts before and during the Kansas 70.3 swim, click here.
For an exciting account of how I rode my bike 56 miles and then ran a half marathon, find a good writer to write it and then read that. To read my version, follow the words on down the page.
So I get out of the water and I’m happy like Pharrell. Woop woop! Holla! At the Kansas 70.3 the carpet that you run on from the boat ramp to the T1 is printed like a yellow brick road. Get it? I hailed from Kansas for most of my life and I’m telling you, the first thing anyone, anyone, ever says to you when they learn you’re from Kansas is, “You’re not in Kansas anymore.” If you meet someone from Kansas, don’t be that guy.
Anyways, where was I? Oh yes, follow the yellow brick road.
This was the first triathlon I ever participated in that had official wetsuit strippers. I’d heard of these mythical beings but I’d never run across one. So when I saw them helping others ahead of me I decided to take advantage of their services, because wetsuits are hard to get off. I pulled my suit down to mid-thigh, then I sat down on the yellow brick road carpet, and the lady yanked my suit right of my legs. It was fabulous, but it marked the second triathlon in a row for me where a strange lady pulled my clothes off. You can read about the first one here.
In transition I was cold, so I actually took time to use my towel to dry my arms and legs. I wear a one-piece sleeveless tri kit, which was already on me, so I didn’t need to grab a shirt or anything. I put on my shoes, helmet, sunglasses, and throw all my other swim crap in my swim bag (more on that later), and I’m off. My wife was standing by the fence taking pics. I smiled and waved back.
If you pick the Kansas 70.3 to race in because you believe it will be nice and flat, you know, ’cause it’s in Kansas, then you will be sorely disappointed. It’s officially listed at 1,184 feet of gain over 56 miles, but it’s a constant up and down, and some of the ascents are steep. The route takes you through the country side south of Lawrence.
My plan on the bike was to eat something every 10 miles. This is what I hope to do in Louisville. And since I believed that Gu and Gel upset my stomach, I tried to outsmart myself and packed almonds, cashews, peanut butter, and a Clif Bar. I also took a zero calorie sports drink, one that only had added electrolytes. Again, I believed the carbs in the Gatorade upset my stomach.
The peanut butter was somewhat of a mistake. It didn’t make me sick or anything, but it was hard to eat and swallow. I got a little packet of it, not unlike a Gu packet, but when I tried to open it and squeeze it into my mouth it got all over my hand and then it was all over the packet itself, and since you can’t litter, I had to put it back into my top tube pouch with my other uneaten food and the peanut butter got all over that as well. In the meantime I’m trying to swallow the dry peanut butter, but it’s sticking to my throat like peanut-flavored glue. I think I rode three more miles before I finally swallowed the last of that peanut butter.
The Clif Bar was equally traumatic. I got, yep, peanut butter flavor. Those things are denser than black holes! It’s like I was trying to eat a neutron star out there. I think granite erodes faster. And again, the stuff got all over my hand, which wouldn’t be so bad, but I didn’t want to wipe it off on my racing kit; I had to wear that the rest of the day, so a lot of it got on my handlebar tape.
The cashews worked out a lot better, but I never got to the almonds. In the past when I’ve raced in these 70.3s and the marathon I did last year I’d get sick to my stomach, like I needed to throw up. It only happens during these longer races. So I surmised that it was the boat loads of carbs I would throw down over the extended period of time during the race. That’s why this race I chose a carb-free drink, and foods that had a mix of carbs, protein, and fat. But at around mile 45 I started feeling it. It starts out feeling like all that food and fluid is just sitting in my stomach, not going anywhere. Then it starts feeling like it wants to come back up, but it won’t.
Getting sick dissappointed me a little, but it was OK, not any different from any other long race, I was just hoping it wouldn’t happen.
What else can I say about the bike? I’m as slow on it as I am on the water. I couldn’t believe how many dudes passed me. I thought there was a clown car full of cyclists behind me. Where were all these dudes coming from? I didn’t see any wrecks, thank the Lord. I saw maybe three or four people pulled over with flats. I saw another dude on the side of the road. I assumed he had a flat, but just as I went by him I saw him grab is rear derailleur and it came clear off his bike. Not good.
My goal on the bike was to average 18 miles per hour. A modest goal for some, and harder to reach than I thought. I averaged 16.63 MPHs and finished biking in 3:22:03. I know, pathetic. Like Boxer, the horse from Animal Farm, I must work harder. I decided my second favorite sign I saw all day was, “Dismount Here.” T2 then on to the run.
T2 went OK. I pulled out my Garmin, turned it on so that it could locate the satellites while I put my shoes on. I got my shoes on, got my sweatband on my head, and took off, leaving my Garmin in T2. Dang it!
This was a two transition race. T2 was about a half mile from T1, so we parked our bikes in a different spot where we got on them. Before the race, then, we had to stage our running gear at T1.
I took off on the run and immediately had to pee something fierce. I figured I’d have to at some point because it wasn’t hot. Mid 70s. I wasn’t sweating very much. I had to run about two miles before I could hit a port-a-potty. That’s the bad thing about one-piece kits, you practically have to take them off just to pee. One other thing about that port-a-potty-I felt sorry for anyone who had to sit down on it (it was nasty).
My mantra on the run was “just keep moving.” With my stomach situation all I could do was take sips of water, cola, or Gatorade. I just couldn’t bear taking a long pull on something even though that’s what the rest of my body wanted even if my gut didn’t.
The run was a two loop course, so it was hard to really tell where you were in terms of everyone else. Was I passing people who were on their first lap, or second? At about a mile and a half into the first or second lap you run down a nice steep hill, down toward T1 and the swim start, but then you have to turn around and run back up that hill. I saw plenty of people just flat-out walking back up. On my second lap I don’t think I saw anyone still running the hill. I determined to keep running. From the outside it may not have looked like I was running, but I assure you, I was running.
At some point I passed a couple of guys and I overheard them talking. In essence, the one dude misunderstood the whole swim bag deal and he failed to set up his T2. He left all his running gear in his swim bag at T1. In these races if you pack up your swim bag, they will deliver it up to T1, but they don’t put it at your station. All the bags are set near T2, but they certainly don’t set up your T2. So the guy ended up borrowing a pair of 10.5 size running shoes from someone in the crowd.
During these races you see all the usual signs like, “Run Total Stranger!”, and “Worst Parade Ever”, or “Because 70.4 would just be CRAZY!” But my favorite sign was “This way to finish.”
I ran down the finish shoot, pulling up because there were a couple of folks ahead of me. I could’ve blasted around them, but it’s not like I was on the bubble to qualify for the world championships, so I let them have their moment crossing the line, and then I had mine. As I neared the arch the emcee announced, “Here’s Ken Lanning from Roeland Kansas!” Hmm, I used to live near Roeland Park, Kansas, but I live in Clinton, Missouri now.
At the finish they were giving tickets for free beer, but it just didn’t sound good. I couldn’t imagine drinking much of anything at that point.
So I finished the run in 2:09:13, 9 minutes over my goal. On the bike I was 22 minutes over my goal, and my swim was 2 minutes over my goal. My total time was 6:26:02. I wanted to be closer to 6:00 flat. I was surprised my run was as good as it was, as bad as I felt, so that was encouraging.
My wife helped me gather up all my triathlon paraphernalia and we made our way to the van. It felt good to be done. Of course, the biggest lesson I learned was I have to figure out my nutrition before Louisville. 140.6 miles is too far to go feeling like you need to hurl.
A week removed it was a good day and a good weekend, even if my race didn’t go as planned. I really feel like if I could figure out my nutrition I’d come a lot closer to my goals, so that’s what I’ll work on over the summer.