I travelled up with a friend to Lawrence, KS, this weekend for the Ironman 70.3 Kansas race (the 70.3 is a 1.2 mi swim, 56 mi bike, and a 13.1 mi run). I’ve done half-iron distance races before, but this would be my first time on the Kansas course. We arrived Saturday afternoon at the race site, checked in and received our packets, and got our bikes checked into the transition area with plenty of time. The weather on Saturday was HOT. I was thankful not to be racing that day, as I was a little miserable and sweating while in the shade with a breeze blowing on me.
That evening we ate at a pasta joint in downtown Lawrence, KS. My BG was 141 that evening before dinner, and I over-guessed on the carbs in the pasta that I ate, so just after 9 PM I was 105 but trending down, according to my Navigator. I corrected and had pretty good numbers throughout my sleep.
I woke up on race morning at 4 AM with a BG of 190…not ideal, but manageable. My nerves really start kicking in on race days and I become really insulin resistant. I bolused for the correction, but at 5 AM I was still at 199. My CGM was beeping at me telling me ‘high glucose’ (I have it set for 190 on race days, so it will alarm me earlier) and at 6 AM, I was 213. I hadn’t eaten anything at that point, but knew I’d need to get a clif bar down to give my stomach something to work on during the swim. I had to leave my pump in the transition area, so I gave myself a large bolus that included coverage for the bar, plus some more correction. Then I exited the transition area and started getting my wetsuit on.
My wave was one of the last ones to go, so I didn’t actually get in the water until nearly 7:15. I took in a gel just before I entered the water (not having my CGM or a tester with me, I didn’t know where I was at that point, but hoped the insulin was working) and I had an extra gel in my swim cap, in case I felt low while out on the 1.2 mile swim. I eased out and treaded water with the other 100 or so people in my wave…the horn went off, and my race was underway!
The swim felt good. The water was more or less smooth, with very little wind or waves of which to speak. I found a good pace and we were spaced out enough that I wasn’t trying to fight others for the same swim line. Before the turnaround it started to bottleneck, as I caught slower swimmers from previous waves. I rounded the buoys and was still feeling good on my way back. There was a lot of traffic coming back, but I never got close enough to get a foot in the face or anything.
I exited the water and looked at my watch: 35 min. 59 sec. I wanted to break 40, so I was happy with that. I got to my transition spot, dried off my hands, and tested: 187. Pretty good glucose for pre-bike. I reconnected my CGM and also decreased my basal rate to -50% of normal for the next 3 hours. I had stripped off the wetsuit, and thrown on my helmet and glasses. Grabbed my bike, and off I went. I leave my shoes clipped onto the pedals, so I worked on getting my feet into my shoes over the next ¼ mile just before hitting the hill to climb out away from the water.
The Kansas bike course is made up of pretty fast rollers, with only a few steep climbs, and a few flat spots. I played “leap frog” with several people as I would pass them on the downhill (my weight is good for something!) and then
they would overtake me climbing up the next. I checked my CGM occasionally (which I carried in my pocket on my back), and it was holding steady just under 200. I continued to sip Gatorade throughout the ride to ensure that I was
getting carbs continuously. With about 10 miles left, my CGM showed that I was trending downward, so I made an effort to take in a gel and finish off the Gatorade that I had. My legs started to twinge with the hint of cramps as well, but as long as I didn’t try to get out of the seat to climb hills, I was fine. As I neared the transition area, I pulled my feet out of my shoes and pedaled the final meters with my feet resting on top. I neared the dismount line and hopped
off, hitting the ground running.
I secured my bike on the rack and tested my glucose while I was putting on fresh socks and slipping into my running shoes. 153. Pretty good place to start my run! I adjusted my basal to -75% of normal—I’m more insulin sensitive by the time I get to the run—and got ready to run. My bike time was 2 hrs 49 min, which is a 19.8 mph average. I can usually push faster than that, but given the number of rollers on the course, it was a pretty good speed in my book.
I grabbed my CGM and tossed it in my back pocket again as I took off out of the transition area. Only 13.1 miles to go! ;-) The first two miles I covered in less than 16 minutes, and I was feeling good. The course had a nice long, half-mile incline at that point, and by mile 3, I had slowed significantly. The heat started to get to me as the sun continued to glare down, with no more clouds in the sky to protect me. I quickly started to drop my BG, despite eating another gu and drinking Gatorade at every aid station that I encountered. It was in my stomach, but it wasn’t emptying quickly enough to catch up to my changing BG. I hadn’t brought any test strips or a lancet with me, so I was relying just on the CGM for info. It bottomed out at 67 (not a great place to be when running a half marathon) but leveled off and I
continued to hold steady in the low 70s.
My legs just would not turn over very quickly for me as I made my way throughout the two-loop course. As I hit miles 10 and 11, my two big toes cramped a little bit and so I tried to concentrate on making them relax (it’s hard to run when your toes are squeezed up in a ball ;-). With the last mile in site, I picked up my pace and had a good strong finish in the heat of the early afternoon. My run time was 2 hrs 17 min…far from a PR (personal record) for a half marathon distance, with a pace time of 10:32/mi. Not at all an impressive showing on the run, but definitely left me room for improvement with the other half-irons I have scheduled for this year.
Overall, I finished in 5:50:12. It was just over 30 minutes slower than my half-iron PR, but I also felt it was a pretty fair race based on the training I have been doing. I wanted to break 6, and I did that. I know that I need to work on my run endurance, and this race was definitely a re-affirmation of that. I tested after the race and was 145...all of that Gatorade
I had consumed in the last half of the race was finally making it out of my stomach and into my blood stream. I bolused for the impending spike, as well as for the food I scarfed down afterwards, and never peaked over 170, which was great! I held steady for several hours between 140 and 115 as my friend and I packed up our gear and got back on the road, headed home.
Kansas 70.3 was a great race, and while I don’t think I’d do it again tomorrow, I will definitely keep it open as an option in order to come back and see about improving that time!