Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Race Report: Jackson County Triathlon Long Course

Pre-Race routine is pretty... well... routine.  Wake up at 4:30am, toasted bagel with peanut butter, banana, sunblock up, and tri clothes on.... and try to remember to suck down water.  I had my transition bag packed with confidence due to my trusty checklist:

Thanks to the anality of my day job, I document everything.
Yes.  I have each one for each race.  I will blog about this some day soon.
We left our house and picked up Heather and Shane around 5:30am.  On the way there we saw a couple cars with bikes on their racks.  We followed one closely all the way to the race site (drafting is only illegal during the bike course!).  After arriving we parked next to that same car and found out one of the riders/triathletes works at Cycle City.  Between Shane and I, our car had a few thousand dollars worth of bikes and equipment that came from CC.  Needless to say, she recognized us (regardless if she ACTUALLY did or not).  Irony... she had to borrow my air pump.  As it turns out this was Tarah from the shop and my understanding is she is the sister of the owner, Joe.  She kicked butt and got third in her age group.

Thanks to a text from Joe VI the day before, I was not surprised to see the racking system used.  Instead of having the typical bar to prop your bike on, it was essentially a box with slits on it to put the tires into.  I didn't have very many issues with this but it was different.  It was just a little nerve racking placing your bike into something that pinches the wheel to keep the bike from starting a domino track. After setup, we had about 45 minutes to get settled.  By settled I mean hanging out in the port-a-john line.  It was quite long (about the length of the transition area) but it went quickly. 

A photo of the transition area while we were on the bike course.  Here is an example of these tray bike holders.

About this time they announced that the water was just under the 78 degree temp to make the race wetsuit legal.  I DID actually bring my wetsuit in the event it would be allowed but elected not to wear it.  It probably would have been smart to get another swim in with the suit before Beach2Battleship 70.3.  I would probably benefit from the speed for the 1000 meters we were about to cover versus the time to take it off.

The remainder of the 45 minutes went quickly as I bumped into a bunch of peeps, including Travis (and his friend Michael who just completed his first triathlon!) and Mark from Twitter.  Mark has a blog I follow as well.  No.. not that Mark.  While we were setting up our transition area, I recognized a guy from work a few slots away.  He was the guy who bowed out of the corporate challenge triathlon that took me out of backup role to participant role.  Austin had elected to do Ironman Kansas instead.

On the way down to the beach I finally ran into Ryan from Twitter and of his many b l ogs.  Last October after finishing the KC Marathon I did a search for #kcmarathon and found a few Twitter users who had ran the marathon.  Ryan was one of them.  So nearly 10 months after the KC Marathon, I finally met up with him.

Shane,  Joe VI, and I continued over to the swim start.  Mark joined up with us and listened to the pre-race meeting.  A lot of information given and not the easily to follow.  I knew I wouldn't be in front for the swim, so I decided to follow the leader (Ryan being one of them). 

Swim - 1000 Meters
My goals for the swim was less than 20 minutes.  I was disappointed with the Shawnee Mission Park Tri swim time of 22 minutes so this was a chance to fix that.

I'm the the only one hip enough to have color matching tri tank and swim cap.
I quickly learned that the swim was very odd.  I have read a few posts about it and I've seen other races do it too but to see it in person was quite interesting.  Basically, you start at one end of the beach and swim out about 25 - 50 meters.  Turn left and swim ~400 meters.  Turn left again and swim towards the beach.  Once you hit ground, get out of the water and run back to the start to do it again.  

So at 7:30am we were released like a bucket full of carp.  I lined up on the inside and ran as far as I could before jumping into the water.  The first turn came quickly and "time to sharpen the elbows".  It was bit nasty.  Similar to Tinman, I never really got into the groove before we had to turn back to the beach.  I touched ground and start running.  I decided to take a different route back than most people and stayed as close to the water as possible where the ground was more compact.  It allowed me to pass a few people.  I'll take whatever advantage I can get.

Time to dive back in.  At this point I heard the Race Director (RD for short, I will probably refer to him a lot.. yeah, not a good sign) count down for the third wave.. "10... 9... 8...".  HOLY CRAP!  I dove in and sprinted as hard as I could.  I was about to get nailed and, boy, did I. I thought about treading water off to the side to allow the more capable swimmers pass but I kept with it... even though I was being boxed in.

I got out of the water and trotted to the transition area, extremely glad to have that over.

I'm going to jump a few sections here.  After I got settled on the bike for a mile or so, I looked at my 310xt to gage my overall time.  It read 16 minutes.  What?  Something's not right?  

Time: 9:57 / 1:00 (?!?!?!)
Rank: 16 Age Group / 102 Overall

Yeah.  Something was SERIOUSLY screwed up here.  The total swim distance was less than 500 meters.  At least everyone swam the same route.  And it wasn't the third wave the beat me up, it was the second wave. Now if I had chosen to wear the wetsuit, it would have most certainly slowed me down.

Transition 1

Nothing special here.  Everything went as planned.  My mount was less than spectacular.  I'll work on that next year or two.

Exiting the swim.  I'm not holding my arms close to the body because I'm cold, that's just how I run --- like a turkey ready to be cooked for Thanksgiving
Time: 1:39
Rank: 9 AG

Bike - 25.5 Miles

Long distance participants do two loops of the course.  Since I rode the course on the previous Wednesday with Shane, Joe VI, and Lauren, I felt comfortable with my race plan.  Get up the first hill and plow through the next 7 miles until I meet the hill again.

As you may notice with the swim photos, it was foggy.  I could barely see 300 feet in front of me  for most of the first lap.  I kept my sunglasses on as I am blind as a bat without them but they were fogging up as well.  It was really pretty, actually, I wish I had one of those bike mounted video cameras.

As I turned off of Raytown Road onto High Grove Road, I caught up with Ryan on the bike.  He nailed the swim but with the shorter distance swim, I happened to catch up on the bike.  I figured the only time I'd see Ryan again was during the post-race "party".  I passed him just ahead of the hill and asked him if he was on his second lap. Now looking ahead my immediate thought was doubt.  Crap.  What am I doing wrong?  Ryan will probably blow by me in the next 30 minutes as I push hard too early.  I decided to stick with my plan and race my own race.

The hill was nasty but I kept the bike in double digits.  Being as foggy as it was, I couldn't see where it crested but since I entered the course in my Edge 800, I just waited until it told me the turn a was .15 miles ahead and sprinted the rest of the way up the hill to the turn.  It didn't take too long until Mark blew by me on Hook Road.  He said something to me but it just sounded like a sonic boom as he passed.

This race has its own little "Warrior Dash"-esque obstacle.  There is a wood bridge on Sampson Road. They've tried multiple ways in the past to make it safe for participants but this time it was "at your own risk".  You basically have to ride the tire tracks or it will be a very bumpy ride.  When you consider the recent rains, the wooden boards were slick but I took it 'safely' at 25 mph.  Both times after the bridge I took in a Gu packet.

I was happy to see all my splits at 20+.  It was a good feeling considering you effectively have to hit that hill four times (two loops and you hit it on both sides).  Of course, what goes up must come down, so there was plenty of time to pick the speed back up.

My only gripe about this is they did a great job marking the turns except the most important one: the turn around. Now it is the participant's responsibility to know the course; however, I was concerned I missed it back on High Grove Road. It was actually just before the turn into the beach on Raytown Road.  Everyone in front of me were short distance participants or other people who were confused.  After I turned around, I saw other people follow.  Heather and Tricia did mention they saw some riders take the turn towards the beach and then back out.

Time: 1:07:32 / 22.7 mph average
Rank: 11 AG / 60 OA

As I already mentioned, I am very happy with this bike.  There is definitely some room for improvement but I'll take this any race right now.

NOTE:  The 22.7 mph average is on the race results.  If I look at my Garmin, I see a distance of 23.03 and not 25.53 miles as the 22.7 is based.  My Garmin showed an average of 20.7 mph.  I wonder where that 2.5 miles went?  Maybe I turned around WAY to soon!?  Hmm.

Transition 2
Flying dismount.  Rack the bike.  Struggle with my socks AGAIN. Need to man-up and go sockless.

I blew a kiss to TKB and off!

Check this out, ladies!             I can run with a cup of water.
Photo Credit: Heather

Time: 1:22
Rank: 5 AG

Run - 5 Miles
As I mentioned earlier, I rode the bike course Wednesday night. I followed that up with a brick run.  That run gave me a ton of confidence as I was hitting some 8:00 minute splits with my heart rate in check.  So I was planning to dig a little deeper on race day.  I had a impromptu target of trying to eek out a 7:00 minute mile on the last mile. 

For the second race in a row, one of the guys I follow posted a quote that stuck in my mind during the race.  It was:

If you don't follow @SteveInASpeedo or read his blog,, then you need to reevaluate your priorities in life.
This was my mantra for the run.  I decided to visualize it... almost cartoon-like.  The pain was in the legs.  I wouldn't let that pain go above the waist.  As long as I did that, I kept suffering at bay and just cruised.  This is purely mental.  It was easier than I thought but the legs did yell the entire time.  I'm sure as I try to go faster, it will be more difficult until my body acclimates to the speed.

My first two miles were 7:35 and 7:29 respectively.  I saw Mark on his way back to the finish.  That guy is speedy. My third mile was 7:30.  It should have been about 5 - 10 seconds faster though.  Since this was a 5 mile out and back, there would be a turn around at mile marker 2.5.  I was fast approaching two other runners as my Garmin clicked past 2.5 miles.  I noticed some guy about 10 feet off the path and there was a bucket on the side of the path.  I thought maybe it was some guy with fishing gear.  The two guys in front of me kept going so I passed the bucket but then the fisherman yelled at me.  I stopped and then finally realized he was telling me it was the turn around.  Seriously?  A guy and a bucket?  Come on RD!  You've got to be kidding me!  Joe VI did say that by the time he got to the turn-around, the guy had pulled a dead tree limb onto the path to block people.  That makes sense but wouldn't it be easier to bark at people to turn around or maybe a sign?

I turned around and took off in disbelief.  I immediately knew to settle my nerves so I could focus on my mantra.  I decided to ease the nerves by telling the next 30 or so participants that the turn around was at the bucket.  For one thing the race map indicated the run would cross underneath High Grove Road but it didn't.  So I wasn't expecting the turn-around until after the underpass.  My mistake for trying to know the course ahead of time.

Once I heard the beep that mile 4 was completed in 7:40 minutes, it was time to kick it up!  For the first 1/2 mile I was getting close to 7:00 minutes but then it trailed off.  Dang it!  I had one guy pass me at this point who was in my age group around 4.25 miles but just couldn't muster the extra speed.

Time: 38:20 / 7:40
Rank: 10 AG / 63 OA


Time: 1:58:48
Rank: 10 of 34 Age Group / 51 of 253 Overall

My goal splits for this race were 20 minutes for the swim, 1 hour 25 minutes for the bike (18 mph), and 40 minutes (8 min miles) for the run.  Considering transitions, this put me at 2:30. Given the shortened swim and bike distances, that changes to 10 min / 1:17 / 40 min / +4 min for transitions = a new goal time of 2:11 hours.  I beat that by 13 minutes!  Love it!

This was triathlon number five for me.  Not just this year but ever.  I think back to the first one I did in May which I showed up by myself, not knowing anyone or what to do when I got there. I remember seeing other triathletes doing their setup and chatting with others.  I don't try to size myself up to others like this but finally had my own group of folks to chat things up from Twitter and Dailymile and work or other races.  Don't get me wrong, I love my friends and having them compete with me.  In fact, I thought it was awesome to be there with Heather and Shane, who I have connections with going back to 6 years of age and getting to race in a triathlon with Joe VI for the first time.  He made his comeback at this race after being out for two years.  I also enjoyed meeting for the first time or seeing again athletes like Travis, Ryan, Mark (who got first in our age group!), Lori, Ashley (first in her age group!), Mark from the YMCA, and others (I may have forgotten one or two!)... both during the pre/post-race but also on the course.  It really did add to the experience.  I'm glad to have cracked my introverted shell a bit.  

The Breakdown
  • The Good
    • Packet Pickup:  Love having packet pickup 5 minutes from my house.
    • Weather:  The fog really didn't hamper my race any and the overall temps were perfect.  Maybe a bit warmer on the run.
    • Water/Pop/Beer immediately available in the finishers area.
    • Informative website.
    • I was able to make up the word "anality" for use in this post.
  • The Bad
    • Let's just say the overall execution of this race was sub-standard.  Sure, it started on time but it kind of went downhill from there.  Screwed-up swim distance, lack of signage for the turn-around on the bike and run.  According to Ryan, the RD blamed the swim problems on the overnight wind and lifeguards who directed swimmers to turn to the beach too early.  I've talked about this enough already, so I won't dig anymore. I promise.  
    • They did have fruit for finishers to eat but I didn't find it until well after I completed.  It was off to the side.
    • No gatorade/yogurt/chocolate milk post-race.  I consider these a staple at events that take 2+ hours for most participants.  Maybe I shouldn't.
    • If I hadn't waited in the 10 minute line to get my time I wouldn't care about my time being screwed up.  It said my swim was actually 39:57.  I went back right before I left and it was corrected.
  • The Standard
    • Packet Pickup. Fast and efficient. 
    • Goodie bag.  Chomps, discount to Cycle City, T-shirt, Bib, Lava magazine
    • Communication.  Web site was informative.  I don't think I got a single e-mail communication.
    • Aid Stations: One every mile on the run, including mile 0.  A couple stations were doing made to order water/gatorade, which I thought was odd.  Whatever, I got what I wanted.
    • Post-Race.  I touched on that above.  Mixed bag.
    • Parking.  Good.
    • Porties.  10 - 15 holes.  Long line but it went quickly.  Wish I had.
    • Volunteers.  Nice and friendly.  Could have used one more on the bike turn-around (sorry, I'll stop now).
Considering this race is in it's 29th year, I would think some of these issues wouldn't be showing up.  I will probably reconsider doing this race or any KLM races in the future.  Considering that I love doing triathlons now, I will probably conveniently forget that comment when deciding on races for next year.  This is truly one of the last large tri's in the area, so it's hard not to do it.

The Proof
Reflecting on the fun that is about to begin.
While some people might not care for the yellow tri top, I think it made it much easier for people to recognize me from the twitter and dailymile universe.

Shane, Me, and Joe VI about to get beat up in the swim.

A photo of Shane running to start the second lap.  Let's just title this one "First Place".
Photo Credit: Heather

Joe is on my tail... 5 seconds behind me.

Shane exiting the swim.  He always gets to the picturesque photos.
Joe VI starting lap two.  Hopping out of the saddle to blast past that Explorer. YOU GET IT JOE!!
Looks like Shane is about to get smacked in the butt by the spectator.  Watch it!
2/3's done Joe!  Way to celebrate!
Shane also gets the great action shots.
Post-race... Travis joined us for the photo!
People may also recognize me because I'm so freakishly tall.

I found a new use for the pocket on my tri tank.  Going to use this for hydration at Beach2Battleship 70.3.

Chatting it up with the Godfather of the local Twitter triathlon scene, Ryan, and his wife Emily. 
Time to go home, clean up, eat some brunch, and nap.

Forget Photo finishes... CHECK OUT THESE VIDOES!  Thanks Heather!  Great idea!


  1. Haha nice race report. Godfather indeed. Someone's got to do it, right? It's a passion, what can I say? Nice work improving your race over the year. It's been a tough season here so hopefully I can train hard over the winter and eventually beat you head to head in a race next year. It's good to have a goal.

  2. Nice photos!! Coupla comments:
    1) the bathroom line was longer than the swim
    2) the fog had clear when I hit the bike course right at 8am
    3) the website said 25.5 mile bike but the map said 23.5, another faux pas for KLM
    4) I did this race in 2006 and wasn't impressed. I should have listened to myself and steered clear of it again. There are so many good events put on around here I'm not sure how they keep getting participants. Someone told me the RD doesn't really care about participant experience, he just wants to put it on and collect the fees. I'm starting to agree. I wish someone other than KLM was putting the race at Paola on this weekend.

  3. Yeah, I should have mentioned that KLM was notorious for being innacurate with their course measurements and not giving a crap about correcting them. I was amazed that the run was only .1 mile off! But yeah, .4mi swim and 23.4mi bike...pretty poorly measured.
    They did actually have Gatorade in the jugs at the finish, but I never did find that fruit! They must have had it hidden well.
    Great job on the race and the recap! It was nice to meet you. And thanks for the shout-outs!

  4. Shocker KLM had issues...

    Thanks for the mention, and great race!