Los Angeles Triathlon Club
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Club Member: Fred Winter
Race: Ironman Kansas 70.3
Distance: Half - Ironman
Race Date: 06/14/09
Submit Date: 07/11/09

Pain or pleasure? I am just beginning to understand the contradictions and paradox of these two opposing forces. For the most part, the KS 70.3 was quite a pleasure for me. Unlike last year, the weather was conducive to a faster swim and what seemed like a shorter, less taxing bike ride. The run was certainly not the pain that I remembered from last year, both physically and mentally when the course was closed down due to bad weather. In fact this year, the sun broke through the clouds, and it got painfully hotter towards the end.

This year’s event was at a totally different venue at Clinton Reservoir from the inaugural season of 2008. The day started out painful with the mass arrival of so many participants at one time that the staff could not direct traffic into the parking area fast enough. I am sure that it would have been interesting to have hidden microphones in the cars of those of us waiting in line for over 20 minutes to park. I had to really hustle to get to the swim start at T-1, which was nearly a mile away from T-2. After quickly leaving my run gear at T-2, I bolted down the hill to T-1 with barely enough time to leave my gear at my bike and head to the swim start. Thanks to a helpful person in my swim wave, I was able to zip into my wet suit and get in the water. In an earlier day, I would have been completely unnerved by this lack of prep time, but somehow I was fairly serene, and the swim was pleasurable. I was only kicked in the head once, and only got off course once.

The welcoming crowd at the swim exit was much bigger than I anticipated. I felt that I was in the upper third of the 50 age group wave coming out of the water, and all was good. Then, it dawned on me that I had not had any time to check my tire pressure on my bike before the swim. I made the decision that “oh they feel just fine,” and went on out with the bike. In retrospect, I think they were not fully inflated, but the more critical decision that I had made was to use my gear set and wheel that I used at IM FL. That probably was not as smart as I really could have used the lower gears that I use around Taos. Probably half of the bike course remained the same from last year, but it sure seemed shorter to me. The other sensation from the bike course that seemed the same to me was the feeling of being passed. I really did try to pay attention to my cadence level and keep at or above 80. (I have yet to check the readings from the computer). I really have to figure out why I do not seem to have any cycling power.

Despite these feelings, I really was thoroughly enjoying the scenery. Once again, here was pleasure, but there was the somewhat painful challenge of watching my hydration. I have taken to riding with a Camelback, which I know is not too aero or too cool. In fact, another cyclist came by and offered to straighten up the Camelback for me (that did not help) and another person said, “That thing must cause a lot of wind drag.” I am now on a mission to find the perfect bike-specific hydration system. If I had not had my prior bouts with passing after and during bike rides, I might not be so obsessive about this, but the Camelback has to go for IM CA.

As I was passing over the very flat dam at Clinton Reservoir coming back into T-2, my mind did wander to the fact that I had not finished the Sarah Peretsky novel, Bleeding Kansas, which was set in contemporary Lawrence, but contained a lot of local history that meant a lot to me since I grew up in Lawrence and knew Sarah’s younger brother in grade school. On Friday when I went to pick up my packet, I had an even more blast from the past as one of the registration volunteers was none other than the 80 year-old mother of a school age friend. Her jaw dropped when I re-introduced myself to her as I am sure that she could not believe that that weird little neighborhood kid from the past was participating in this triathlon. And, what is her son doing these days? No time to dwell on this; let’s get back to the run.

The run course was tightly woven around the expo area and campground where there was a great crowd and music. The only exception was a leg that dropped down the hill to T-1. I started the run thinking that I felt so much better than at the start of last year’s race. Once again, more pleasure, but that feeling started to dwindle as time went by and once again, I was being passed. The course wound through a lot of the campground, and I was constantly fooled thinking that the turnaround point was just ahead. Was it just around the next curve? No, not yet, perhaps it is at the next curve? I knew that by this time things were becoming more mental for me. I really did kick it up for the final mile coming into the finish line, and I was so exhausted that I did (once again) screw up the summary readings on my Polar monitor so that I could not get my max and avg HR. I was gunning for a 6:30 finish time; it actually was 6:42.

Now, I am truly playing mind games with myself. Did I enjoy the day so much that I did not push myself enough? Should I have endured more pain to have the pleasure of attaining my goal time?

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