Matt Hanson | Professional Triathlete
5x Ironman Champion/ 4x 70.3 Champion

Ironman Kansas 70.3 Race Report

Kansas FinishI originally put Kansas on my calendar as a “must do” race for this year. There are a few courses that have beaten me up in the past and this course was one of them. Two years ago, I fell victim to the heat, the humidity, the wind, and the hills. It was important to me to go back to that course and have a good day there.

Ironman Kansas 70.3 was a race that almost didn’t happen for me. First, I wasn’t sure if I could get ready in time. The race was only 3 weeks after IMTX and I definitely went to the ‘well’ in The Woodlands. I ended up heading down to Texas again to train with Tim and David for the two weeks leading up to the race so they could see exactly how everything was going and I could get instant feedback on pretty much every workout. One week from race start, I had been able to get back to solid training and knew their plan for me would have me feeling great for race day. I woke up Thursday morning to a phone call you never want to get, my grandpa had passed away rather unexpectedly. My first instinct was to get home to family asap. After a few long discussions with my mom, she convinced me to stick to the plan and race and just get to Minnesota as soon as I could after the race. I do feel like I was able to enter the race physically and mentally ready to put out a solid effort.


Race Morning

I was staying with an awesome host family about 15 minutes away from the park. They were absolutely terrific hosts and went over the top to make sure I was comfortable. I woke up at 4:00 and drank my new pre-race breakfast: two servings of Infinit Mud with almond milk. I got my bike ready for the race at the house so I wouldn’t have to spend too much time in transition and was out the door. When I got to T2 to set up my run gear I had a mini panic attack because my Garmin 310 was frozen on the shut off screen. No matter what I did, I couldn’t get it to turn on. I remembered that I had an old Timex wrist watch back in my swim bag in the truck so I rode my bike the mile back to my parking spot to pick that up. I was feeling a little rushed as I didn’t plan on the extra trip but I still had plenty of time. I made it back and got both T1 and T2 set up with just a little time to spare. Thankfully, they announced the race would be delayed 15 minutes so I didn’t have to rush to get my wetsuit on.


Swim: 26:21

I got in a good warm up in the water and found where I wanted to be on the starting line. Something just felt a little off for some reason. I thought I would be fine and I just didn’t have my “game face” on yet. I got off the line ok, but fell off the front pack really quickly. I swam with the second pack for a few hundred yards until they pulled away and I was left in a pack of 4. I swam with them well until the last 1/3 of the swim when I started to not feel well. The last few hundred meters of the swim were a struggle for me, something was just wrong. I made it to shore and could see the pack of 3 ahead of me and thought if I had a good transition and put in a hard effort right away on the bike I could get back with them.


T1: 1:43

The first transition went well but I just didn’t feel good. As I was ripping my wetsuit off, I was feeling dizzy. Still, I was able to get my bike and get out of transition quickly.


Bike: 2:16:08

1979756_836411003039880_7916600138201075853_nThe first 20 minutes on the bike were a struggle. I finally figured out that I overheated on the swim. My HR was above 185 for the first 10 miles of the ride despite the fact that I wasn’t able to hold the watts I did for a Full IM, much less my goal 70.3 pace. I was becoming a bit frustrated because I saw the pack riding away from me. Thankfully, I had a bottle of just water on the bike, usually I don’t carry water on a 70.3. I sucked down a little but dumped most of it on my back. I also was able to get in a few calories, I took down ½ of my flask of Infinit Napalm in the first five miles of the ride! The combo of water and calories seemed to bring me around and my HR slowly drifted down and the power drifted up. I started feeling good, really good actually. I knew I had lost nearly a mile on my pack so I decided to put in a 30 minute effort well over my goal pace. I was able to attack the hills hard, stay areo, and keep the pressure on the pedals. I didn’t bridge the gap on the second pack, but I did cut their lead down to just over a minute. Overall, I had a great ride minus the first 20 minutes. I entered T2 thinking I had an outside shot of finding the Podium.

Nutrition: I followed my nutrition plan perfectly after everything settled down. I ended up downing all 3 bottles of my Infinit Custom Blend, my entire flask of Napalm, and the bottle of water I had with me. I often get a few questions about bringing 4 bottles with me for a 70.3 but I like that I can be completely self-sustaining and think I make up any time loss due to the extra bottle by not having to slow down at any bottle exchanges.


T2: :56

The second transition went great, I was in and out with no real hiccups. I was moving so fast that I threw off my sunglasses with my helmet and didn’t even notice it until I was out of the gate. I was definitely not going to go back and get them though.


Run: 1:13:33

1932493_544603215658989_779827015531271027_nRight out of the gate, I was able to see how far the leaders were ahead of me due to the first out and back. I was about 8 minutes down from the leaders and 6 from the podium. I knew I was going to have to put down a great run in order to accomplish my podium goal. I ended up averaging a few watts more than I planned to on the bike and I didn’t have my garmin for the run so I decided to be pretty conservative with the pacing early on. It was absolutely perfect weather for the race, so I figured no one was going to hit a wall on the run. Every place was going to be a battle. The nice thing about having so many out and backs on a course is that you can get a good sense of how quickly you are gaining on people and how far ahead people are (although I hate having to break stride to make the 360 degree turns). Unlike IMTX, I had to fight to hold pace. Each mile was a bit of a mental battle. By the halfway point I had moved into 8th and I was still cutting into the next few guys. At mile 9, I tried to put in a surge, but it was a bit short lived. I just didn’t have a ton left in me. I moved into 6th after mile 11 and could tell I was still about 2 minutes down from 5th. I tried to pick it up a little again to see if I could at least give myself a chance for a sprint finish but just didn’t have anything else to give. I ended up with the fastest run of the day again, but it just wasn’t fast enough to put me on the podium.

Nutrition: I was able to get in a little water and a few cups of cola during the run. I also took a few swigs of my Infinit Napalm in the first half of the race. By the last half, my stomach was in a bit of a knot so I just made sure I was doing whatever I could to stay cool.


Overall: 3:58:41

I am taking a lot of positives from this race despite missing my podium goal. I had a PR in the swim, put together a great bike leg despite struggling early on, and I ran well despite not having my Garmin to use as my pacing crutch. Each race I feel like I learn a ton. I am physically feeling great. I am confident the course that coaches David and Tim have me on will get me to where I want and need to be very soon. Two days after the race and I am already chomping at the bit to get back to training.

One Comment

  1. Joel

    June 13, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    Another great report Matt! Great to see the continual progress and excited to see how far you can go.

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