The weekend of the race was going to be crazy. I had a wedding of one of my long time friends was Saturday night. My daughter was turning 3 and had a birthday party and my son had a baseball game. The other challenging thing was going to be logistics: The race was in Lawrence and we live in Kansas City. So we decided to reserve a camping spot. It worked out well last year and the family was able to have a good time.
So Saturday I left KC with my kids, bike, tents, etc, etc… I needed to check in the bike and set up the tent early because we had the wedding that evening so we’d be getting into Lawrence well after dark. I dropped my kids off with my parents and headed out to Clinton Lake State Park. What can I say, but I LOVE the energy that comes from these races. Once you start getting closer to the event, you start seeing folks out riding, running, site seeing and even sleeping. Yes sleeping can be energizing. It’s a ton of fun, so I was hyped up. I set the tent up, checked myself and the bike in, sweated my ass off and headed back to KC with the kids. Yes, it was getting hot, but rumor had it that there was a storm rolling in overnight and it was supposed to cool everything off. Including the water because as of Saturday afternoon, the water was around 80 degrees and wetsuits were not going to be legal. Yeah right!
Saturday evening we went to the wedding for a short while, caught up with a lot of old friends that I hadn’t seen in a long time, had one beer and ate fairly light (I had pizza for lunch and around 5:00pm). We drove back to our house, finished loading up the car and kids and headed down to Lawrence around 10:30pm. This was awesome, I was going to be waking up in 5 ½ hours and I was just leaving KC. Driving down to Lawrence found us wondering what kind of weather we were going to be sleeping in as the sky was lit up with lighting for miles and miles. The storm was definitely rolling in, but it was still hot as hell. Got into the campsite, the rain was all south of us, got the kids into bed and fell asleep around 12:30-1:00. This was NOT a good start to the next day, but what are you going to do right?
Woke up at 4am. It was definitely colder. Ate, drank, popped in the IPod and headed off. The swim was delayed due to the rescue teams not being in place, so since I was in the last heat before the relays, I ended up waiting for 1 hr 15 min before setting off. Amazingly the lake temperature dropped 5 degrees in 12 hours??? So the wetsuits were allowed! I needed to pee, but couldn’t since the start was out in the lake and we needed to be treading water. The swim started ok and I was pacing pretty good I felt, then about half way through, my calves started to cramp. I thought, “WTF???” My calves cramp when I swim the pool a long time from pushing off the wall, but it’s never happened in open water. I just kept swimming, tried not to think about it and pushed forward. Cramping and having to pee was NOT the race start I was looking for and it was a sign of things to come. Swim time- 38:24 minutes.
After hitting the port-a-potty right out of the swim (how’s that for a dramatic exit, “and here’s Matt Waters looking to get on the road with… wait a second… where’s he going?… oh boy, Waters is taking a turn off course!…”), I had a good T1 and was relieved I didn’t have to pee anymore. The weather had dramatically cooled off, but the sun was out and it was going to be hot eventually. As luck would have it, my Garmin’s Cadence Sensor decided not to work on this Sunday morning. That kind of threw me off as there was some wind I was battling and I didn’t want to blow up right away. I love the KS 70.3 bike course. I grew up in Lawrence and spent a lot of time camping, fishing, playing all around Douglas County and Clinton Lake. The hills suck, but I love them and seeing the lake and open winding roads are just beautiful. I was in Mile 9 when Chris Leito and Andy Potts were on their way back in at Mile 46!!! Christ that’s fast! MY bike time was 2:55:53, not nearly as fast as I had hoped, but still less than 3 hours!
And then “sufferfest” set in. It was hot by now. I was optimistic that I could start off the bike around a 8:30 min pace and eventually drop it down to 8 min/miles for the 13.1 mile run. However, things just didn’t seem to work out that way. I did start around 8:30 min/mile but that was as fast as I ever got. The first 2 miles went okay but I immediately knew I did not have much left in the tank for the run. I could NOT drink anymore Gatorade, it tasted like complete shit. I also resorted to walking through the aid stations and running/shuffling between them. Around Mile 5 I wanted to quit. No doubt about it. I hurt, my legs couldn’t move, I kept looking at my Garmin thinking to myself, “I just ran sub 6 min/miles in a race 4 weeks ago, NOW I’M RUNNING 9:30 MIN MILES???!!!” It was demoralizing. On that same Mile 5 I was coming up on my campsite. My wife, kids, parents, buddies, their kids all hanging out, shooting water guns at the runners. I didn’t even want to run by them because I might as well been in a snail’s shell at this point. However, my wife came out and walked about 100 yards with me, just talking to me and it was great. She got me re-energized to keep going and by the 10th mile or so, I knew that I would at least finish. Run time- 2:09:55.
Total time of 5 hrs 49 min and 33 secs. Over 30 minutes slower than this exact race in 2009. However, just as humbling as it was the first time around. I hung out at the campsite for about 30 minutes, but soon became aware that my son’s B-Ball game was only a few hours away and my daughter’s birthday party was at our house just after the baseball game, so I loaded up (luckily my family had taken down the tent and packed everything up) and headed back to KC. I helped my wife pick up the house, barely but I did help. We went to the game which I sat miserably on the aluminum bleachers with my legs on FIRE. Then came back to the house for a party. I drank about 4 beers, hung out with everyone, stayed up long enough to participate in my daughter opening her presents and went to bed. I was asleep by 9pm with a house full of guests. I got my wife’s permission to duck upstairs early and passed out.
Overall, KS 70.3 is a great race, great venue and great time. In hindsight, I was more underprepared than I thought I was, but I’m extremely happy I forged through and finished the damn race.