This past week was bittersweet for me. I was tapering for the IM Kansas 70.3 so my training load was toned down. Normally when I get off work I’m out the door for a ride before it gets dark, but last Tuesday I was up in my bedroom when Dana’s phone rang. I answered it for her and it was Lori Davis. She had heard on the news that some cyclists had been hit out on highway 51 and was checking to make sure that it wasn’t either of us. This was a big blow to me, as I later learned the magnitude of this accident. The cyclists were run down by a drunk driver on one of the routes I consider to be my safest. I was just out there the previous day doing some intervals. Two cyclists were killed and one was treated and later released from the hospital.
This really shook me up. Ironically, at the time of the accident, around 4pm, I was on the phone with a life insurance agent expanding my coverage. I know how dangerous it is to ride on the road, but this event hammered it home. It could have been me, it could have been Dana, or any of my close friends. None of us are immune from this. Unfortunately, there are thousands of drivers out there who are inattentive, drunk, and have poor attitudes against cyclists. It’s so depressing. Read this article and then read the comments.
I was originally planning to do Ironman Florida this year but this tragedy spooked me. I think I’m going to bag it. I have so many responsibilities and there a lot of people who depend on me. To be injured or killed on a bike is not an option. I think I will just stay with the half ironman and Olympic distance for now. I figure I can still do the nightly bike training on the trainer and still stay in the sport.
So much for the bitter......Now the sweet.
This weekend was Ironman Kansas 70.3. I’m a Kansas boy, so it’s nice to be able to get back home and race. I’ve been driving down to Lubbock, TX for the past four years. This race was closer and I needed a change.
I wasn’t up mentally for this race. I felt kinda down and depressed about the death of the cyclists all week. I didn’t feel like racing. I was glad that a few of my coached athletes were here racing along with my training partner, pro, Jessica Meyers. It was motivating to see others getting psyched for their races.
Race morning came quickly. It took a little thought and organization to get there and get two transitions set up before my 6:46 start. I was sure glad I got there early because I was told I needed to clear T1 before the pros started. I had a minute to spare. A lot of folks were late for their waves or didn’t get to start.
Tulsa sportscaster, Jason Shackleford, with KJRH TV Channel 2 was up here to do a feature story for the news on Dana and I, so the pressure was on to not suck in this race.
My wave went off 16 min after the pro’s, so finally there would be fewer heats of swimmers to swim over. It’s so much easier to swim faster in clean water.
I took the swim out hard for the first 100-200 meters or so. I usually can build a big gap then cruise the rest of the way however, this didn’t happen. The swimmers showed up for this race. I ended up blowing myself up. I had to let a few go by and let someone else lead and let myself recover. Anyway, I can’t see jack despite having prescription goggles. The swim felt unusually hard despite the fact that I was still drafting. I thought to myself that I must be having a bad day. I ended up 5th in the age group out of the water this time. Later when I checked the split I was surprised with my 25:29. No wonder it felt hard, it was one of my best splits ever.
I was out of T1 quick. I had passed so many on the swim that the bike course was virtually empty. It was like doing a small local race. Kansas is a rolling course. It’s not flat by any means. Over the past few months I have been making adjustments to my bike position and have been seeing better results with my speed and wattage outputs. I used to be so low and I felt that my power was compromised. I brought the front end up about an inch. I rode strong today and only a few folks passed me.
I enjoyed an empty course and soon caught some of the slower women pros. The out and back sections allowed me to see the congestion going on behind me. The weather was perfect, 60’s with spitting rain. I rode a harder than I usually do. I was thinking of those cyclists who had died this week and thought to myself “They would love to be where I am now...Don’t wimp out”
My bike split was 2:33.31 this was much better than I have been riding recently. Wattage numbers were slightly higher than my previous halves.
Once out on the run I checked my splits on each mile. I was hitting solid 6:30’s, 6:40’s for most of the run. I was pushing it hard and running with the pros on a non congested course for the first loop. When a pro ran by on their second loop, I tried to hang with him as long as I could. I think that helped my overall pace. The second loop was just mad; lots of people and little space. I still managed to run a PR for the distance in a HIM of 1:29.30.
When I turned the corner into the finish I found it to be empty. No one was around. Dana always tells me that I run hard through the finish and don’t enjoy it. Well, this time I was going to do my best Usain Bolt impression. I had my hands in the air waving to the crowd just like I had just won the race. Cheerleaders where welcoming me home on the yellow brick road. Then I hear Mike Riley saying there is a sprint to the finish. Does it look like I’m running that fast? Before I know it some guy comes tearing by me on the right and crosses the electronic finish line just in front of me. It turns out he’s in my age group and clipped me for third. I felt like such a dork. Note to self: turn around before you celebrate and always run hard through the finish. Sorry Dana. It’s all your fault.......... He He He.
The guy who clipped me was Mike Vance from Iowa. We talked after the race. He was a super nice guy who ended up running a 1:20. That’s my best recent open time. I don’t know if I would have been able to hold him off even if I knew he was back there. I’m just glad it wasn’t for the age group win. However, it would have been fun to have a dash to the finish and a lean for the tape. My overall time was 4:31.55. That’s a PR for me. I’m pleased that I had a solid race in all fronts. I felt good about all my splits. I was 5th in the swim and run and 4th in the bike in the age group. I was really pleased with the bike which is normally my downfall. The course was accurate from my measurements and to others that I spoke with. Full age group results here
I ended up taking the Clearwater slot which I had passed on at previous races. It will be a lot easier to train for than an Ironman. It should be fun and I look forward to improving my time there. Last time I went there it was just for a vacation and the race was a side show.
I really enjoyed Ironman Kansas 70.3 and I will be back again next year.