Ironman Chatty 70.3: Matt Kennard
Ironman Chatty 70.3 2019!
I wanted revenge from last year's chatty race where the heat cooked me and zapped my chance to beat my 5:40 PR. This year marked my 10th 70.3 race - kind of crazy in itself that I've done so many already!! It didn't feel that long ago that I was so in over my head at Muncie in 2014.
Started the trip out with Team Tech at Ruby Falls Friday morning, ate a delicious meal at Main St Meats and then walked Rock City. We've learned we do sight seeing 2 days before the race. The day before a major race, we stay off our legs as much as possible the day before. The expected weather was HOT. and Mother Nature didn't disappoint the meteorologists. Temps hit 90 on Friday and 89 on Saturday. Saturday morning, Christopher and I saw our girls crush the IronKids race then drove the bike course to do a little recon. Attended the 11am athlete briefing then rested. We saw people lined up, in the heat 45 minutes before bike check in opened with their bikes 🤷🏻♂️. I was taking a nap in my compression boots in a cold hotel room while they sweated in line. At 3:30pm, Chris and I walked our bikes right in with no line and racked them. Then off to the team dinner! 25 athletes and family members met up and enjoyed some Italian and laughs! Back to the hotel for final prep and early lights out.
Coach Ashlynn Lucas has been preparing me for this race for a while now. She talked to me about nutrition, strategy, and the confidence to go crush the course. Also multiple ways to deal with the heat. Together we had a plan, my job was to execute that plan.
Race day started at 3:30am. Met Chris in lobby at 4:30 and we walked to transition. Got my area all set up, fluids prepared. After mentally running through both transitions, and making sure I had everything...I got out of there. The brain can make you think you've forgotten something if you give it too much time. Quick bus ride to starting area of swim. Hanging out with Rogue teammates right before a race is awesome! Everyone is nervous and excited. We all help each other stay calm and laugh (or fart ..Chris). Finally time to line up. Pro athletes go first and have a lot of trouble due to strong river current. Ironman makes the decision to change age group athlete course to all down river swim. It sucks when a course gets shortened, but athlete safety comes first. I based my swim start position based on how I swam last year. I wanted to get going asap to try and beat the heat. Swim went great! Current helped push me along and I stayed calm and strong.
Long path to get to bike! Bike course is fun. Lots of rollers! Lots of wide open road! A few big hills. Hit 39mph on one of the downhill bombs! Flying around on my bike is one of my favorite things of triathlon! A goal for the bike was to average 20 mph with working too hard for it. I knew my success depended on my run and I didn't want to overtax the legs early. But I stayed on those pedals. Trusted my nutrition plan and executed it well. I also drank more water than usual. I could feel the temps rising.
Off the bike and in my run shoes! I was thrilled that my bike time was close to where I wanted it and yet my legs felt fresh for the run! Another testament to Coach Ashlynn's preparation!! My plan for the run was simple: run walk intervals at 4 minutes and 30 seconds. Base Salts every mile and a gel every 3 miles. Lots of water and Gatorade at aid stations. I had my custom Infinit in my handheld. I didn't worry about each mile time or the overall time. I stayed in the moment. No stress. "Just work your plan, don't worry about others!" I repeated to myself. The miles were ticking by and I was staying cool. There's a bridge we cross called Veterans Bridge. Big American Flags 🇺🇸 all the way across the river. There is zero shade here and you go over a big nasty steep hill to get to the bridge. I started repeating the Pledge of Allegiance to get my mind off the heat. It worked well. Then we go a few more miles and we hit the Y intersection. In my brain fog, I started heading toward the finish line instead of starting the 2nd loop ! Whoops! Back tracked a few steps and corrected my route. 2nd loop goes up a hill and the long highway section. Then we drop into the bike path portion. It's shaded here! And I see Jamie Viers!! Man, friendly faces are a god send in these events! I ask Jamie if he wants the ass slap to count or just a love tap. He assured me if I was going to do it, it better count. He may have come off the ground! There was an aid station whose theme was Kona Nooga! Think Polynesian paradise. People dressed up as tiki warriors, coconut shell bras (on dudes) and super positive energetic volunteers! They were awesome! Then back to Veterans Bridge. About 9ish miles into the run and my shins warn of cramps. I back off my run pace and decrease my run interval. I feel a burning sensation on my right foot. I believe it's just a blister. I look at my right hand that has WWJD on it. And I think " Judy would smile at the pain and run faster!" So off I go, smiling at the will power to continue pushing even in pain. Then I see a flower in the hair of Kimberly Townsend. I met Kim last year at RuntheBlueGrass And we seem to do a lot of the same events. Again, those friendly faces pick me up! Finally! The finish chute! I see Brittney and Savvy, Paige and Ollie! Then the speakers start blaring Paradise City. My Air Guitar skills were on point! The crowd ate it up! The louder they got, the better I felt! I crossed the finish line and felt amazing! A volunteer poured an ice cold bottle of water over my head which was fantastic! Official time of 5:34! A 6 minute PR in 82 degree heat! Mission Accomplished! Then all my teammates started crossing the finish line! There was a massage tent that offered athletes a free massage! After a shower and a quick rest, we hit up Community Pie! Only place I've found with THICK crust GF pizza! The "Drunk Pig" pizza uses GF vodka sauce and ricotta cheese. It was amazing. I'd be wrong to not point out that Chris ordered a 19 inch cheese pizza which he polished off...all by himself. It was strong work by his mouth and stomach! Of course you have to enjoy ice cream at The Ice CREAM Show! Delicious!
I've said it before , and I'll say it again, it's the triathlon community, the athletes, the families, volunteers and support groups who make these events just so amazing! The love and support is everywhere. Does this cost money to do, sure it does. But the emotions felt and seeing everyone being a part of the action, kids, adults, adults acting like kids (🤙😜) is worth every penny. If you've never been to a triathlon, I invite you to join us. Compete with us, volunteer for us, cheer for us! You won't be sad you did!
A special thanks to Team Tech for another successful adventure! Watching Savvy and Ollie rule the world is hilarious! To everyone who sent me a good luck or great job, your words mean a lot to this former fat guy who just loves to exercise now!
My love, my partner, my #1 supporter..Brittney Morgan..My Mojo! I can't express enough how much your support and example of a phenomenal wife and mother you are is appreciated. I love you with 100% of my heart!
Work towards IM Ohio 70.3 starts Wednesday!