Thursday, October 15, 2009

Dallas US Open

Its all about the silver lining...
For the third year in a row I went down to Dallas for the US Open, and for the second year in a row I left disappointed with my effort, a 19th place finish. Usually I can lean on my run, or find parts of my race that I can be proud of...and now 4 days removed I have finally found a small but significant success that otherwise went unnoticed. I had the fastest T1 out of all amateurs by 9 seconds (4th in T2). Thats right, no one runs between the water and their bike and gets out of their wetsuit faster...have some of that. I guess the irony in the end is that the 2 things I went into this season knowing I needed to show the most improvement on, swim and transitions, did...and my strong bike/run was not there when I needed it. Unfortunately swim and transitioning only makes up 25% of the race.
The day was in the 40's, cloudy, drizzly with a light North breeze which meant the point to point ride would be against the wind all 25 miles. To add to that the waters were quite choppy and it was hazy enough that it was tough to pick out the sighting bouys while bobbing like a cork. None of these things appeared to dash my race hopes. I felt strong in the waters despite the conditions and though the front of the field was about 1.5 min slower than last year I swam the same time. I was still 3.5 min down however which shows the work in the pool I have still have ahead.
On the bike I felt strong and started moving through the field. About mile 15 - 20 a few racers went by me and I wasn't able to keep up and started to feel it a bit hitting T2 about 7 minutes down overall. Onto the run my turnover was good and although the legs were feeling a little tired I felt they would come around. And with a fast flat course I would make up time with hopefully something in the 34 range since my run had been going well this year. Unfortunately they didn't loosen up and the first couple miles in the 5.45 range were much too difficult and I was unable to hold it. The last few miles were survival and I somehow stumbled into the finishing shoot.
I'm still not completely sure why this race haunts me. However, I will begin my offseason in a couple of weeks and look forward to the long peaceful miles I will put in before the next season of racing. Look for me to do the usual list of local races along with possibly adding Half Ironman Branson and Memphis in May.
Thanks to my very supportive family, extended family, church family, friends, and sponsors who continue to come to my races and support me in triathlon and in life.
See you on the roads.

-Kevin Nickel, US Open T1 Champion

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Weekend Double

August 15 and 16 I entered 2 local races. The United Way McPherson Triathlon on Saturday and the Rockin' Route Triathlon on Sunday in Derby. My plan was to conserve a little energy on Saturday giving just enough to get the win, then give whatever I had left on Sunday. Things changed slightly when Ric Rosenkranz wondered onto the course Saturday morning. I decided to stick to my plan knowing last time it took a hard effort on a good day to beat Ric. On this day I took second and he gave a good pace I probably wouldn't have been able to hang with regardless the way I felt.
Sunday was a larger race in Derby and I was feeling better than I had before Saturday's race. I felt good through the entire race and gave a solid effort that produced a win by about 6 minutes. I earned my coolest prize of the year, an 8G Ipod nano engraved with the race name.
The last 6 weeks of my season will be spent focusing on my training for the US Open without doing any other races during this time.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Salty Dog Win and Course Record

Race day was another typical warm and windy Kansas day. This was the first salty dog I had done and had been looking forward to it since the cancellation of last years event due to weather. My swim continues to show signs of improvement and after making my way through some slower swimmers I was out of the 400 long course pool swim in 5.57. With a quick T1 I was first out on the bike course and began rolling through the 5 x 2 mile laps (26.12). I finished the day off with a 17.23 5k. Total time for my race was 51.22, good enough for a course record by a couple of minutes. Thanks to all the friends and family that showed up to support me.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

First at Mudwater

After spending several weeks back in base training my legs felt fresher for the July 19 Mudwater Tri here in Wichita. Thanks to some great dolphining I led the first, oh 100 yds or so before being over taken by some young swimmers. Again I was hoping for a better showing on the swim, but overall the day went much better than the previous race. I was especially pleased to have some of my smoothest transitions of the year after finally spending some quality time practicing them. My bike was also back up above a 25 avg with the legs responding much better and I cruised it home with a 17.25 5k for a 1.5 min gap over 2nd in my comfy new Brooks Racer ST 4's that have eliminated my foot pains.
Enjoyed my 1 week training camp in CO; on to Hutchinson Salty Dog, Aug 8, 7am at Carey Park.

Friday, July 17, 2009


Well, a little late getting to this post. Partly from being busy, partly due to the outcome. I choose 2 or 3 A races each year to focus on. This year my early season was on HyVee. I knew by choosing to do Kansas 70.3 2 weeks before that it would be a tough double, but that it would be adequate time to recover. Although my swim didn't go well this has happened before, the real trouble came when I got on my bike and found I did not have the power I usually have for this type of race. I forced my legs through an average ride and being 8 minutes out of the lead at this point decided to cut my losses due to a nagging foot injury I had been having while running. I jogged it home in 32nd, 8 minutes slower than 2008. Of course you always learn more in the races that don't go well, and I have since re-thought my tapering strategies, race planning, etc. in regards to big races. I hope to implement these changes for the US Open. Until then I have changed my schedule to include 4 local races, a possible appearance at the club championships in OK, and the Open. Check out the locations on my website and come see a race. First off is this Sunday at Lake Afton by Wichita, 7:30am.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Ironman Kansas 70.3

I planned my season with just one race over olympic distance in hopes of gaining a little more experience in the half iron distance with my A race at HyVee just 2 weeks after. Race day was very nice with overcast skies, a few sprinkles, and some light wind.

I had been out to train on the course this spring so I knew there were quite a few hills on the bike and my goal was to swim and ride controlled and give myself a good opportunity for a fast run.
I accomplished the first 2 legs at goal effort finishing the swim in 29 minutes, 18th in my age group and the bike in 2.29 11th in my age group. Heading out on the run I felt good, maybe too good clocking the first 2 miles at 5:30 pace. Not being much quicker than my goal pace I stayed with it settling into a slightly slower pace coming through 10 miles in 59 min. In the last few miles the sun came out heating things up significantly and my legs started to let me know I wasn't completely trained for that distance. The last 3 miles I struggled through at 7+ pace finishing with a 1.22 run and a 4.23 total time. But finishing is always a goal I'm happy to achieve...and this one happened to involve running down the yellow brick road, past dorothy and the lion from the wizard of oz to get my finishers mettle from world champ Chrissy Wellington. The effort was enough for 39th overall, 21st amateur, and 6th in my age group. With a pretty deep field those last few miles cost me 5 places in my age group with the winner only 2 minutes ahead of me.
Overall I had a fun time and am looking forward to giving the half iron distance another go later on.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Pelican Festival Triathlon

On May 24th I participated in the Pelican Festival Triathlon in Windsor, CO. This race was specifically put on my schedule as a promise over the last several years to race close enough for my Grandma Nickel to be a spectator. She was there and appeared to really enjoy herself. This race also had special meaning to the community because it marked the 1 year anniversary of the Windsor Tornado which in addition to canceling last years race hit close to home when my Aunt and Uncle's house sustained damage from it who reside in Windsor.
Race day was nice, cool and overcast. There isn't a whole lot more to say about the race itself. I raced all day in second gear never catching my breath in the altitude (which I insisted to people wouldn't bother me). An average swim, a less than smooth transition and a descent bike brought me into 6th where I remained for the duration of the run.
Despite the average result it was well worth it to finally fulfill that promise to my Grandma, and of course its never disappointing to get to do some hiking in the Rocky Mountains.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

3rd Overall at Trizou Triathlon

For the third consecutive year we headed up to Columbia, MO where I competed in the Trizou Triathlon known as the nation’s largest pool swim triathlon. This year there were about 660 finishers that snaked through the pool. However, I was among 11 in the elite wave that were sent off together and did our 400m up and back in the same lane prior to the amateur start.
Lane 2 was occupied by recently retired 5x world champ Simon Lessing (think MJ of triathlon), and lane 1 the returning champ and accomplished pro Andrew Starykowicz. The rest of the wave consisted of other pro/elites; and a couple amateurs like myself who don’t have their pro card but are eligible to race for cash prizes under $5000 with the elites. Sharing a lane with me was local triathlete, Joe Company.
I was eighth out of the water with a respectable time for my standards around about 6 minutes. An actual split is not taken until reaching the transition outside. A few miles into the bike I settled into 4th trailing Andrew, Simon (in white), and Joe (in black). Heading out on the run Simon and Andrew had pulled out of eye sight and Joe was a couple hundred meters ahead.
It took the greater portion of the run to catch up to Joe, but pulled next to him just in time to sprint it out for the last quarter mile. I edged it out by a mere second or 2 to take 3rd (top pic). Although we finished 2 minutes down to the leaders I was still pleased with my 15.20 run effort which was second best on the day by just 3 seconds to Simon, and I believe a new 3 mile PR! And as chance would have it I learned my pacer, Joe, was also Mennonite. He is a very pleasant person to talk to and I look forward to seeing him at future races. Thanks as always to family and friends for your support. Next up… the pelican festival of Windsor, CO on May 23rd.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Win at Spring Migration Triathlon

One thing you can count on for the spring migration or any other tri for that matter this time of year in KS is wind. The only question is from which direction. This year it decided to blow from the N which meant slow out fast back on the bike and a sure fire wake up call heading out into it still dripping from the swim.
Having not seen a set of results I only have some rough figures on times from Yvette. I do know I won with a time of about 54.54 which was about a minute faster than last year. The difference was almost entirely due to a faster run that was unusually quick for this early in my training and is showing promising signs from my base season training.
The race itself was shaping up to be a two person dual from the gun between myself and Ric Rosenkranz, former pro triathlete and 2 time sprint national champion. Although I had communicated with Ric via email after being introduced through a mutual friend we had never met in person. So I did not realized as we snaked through the pool swim he was in fact the person I was matching stroke for stroke one lane over and 2 people in front of me. My 400m time was the 2nd best of the day at 5.34 (by 1 sec to Ric), and we headed into transition and out onto the breezy course. Within a couple miles I had positioned myself into 3rd and was gaining ground on 1st and 2nd (Ric). I took the lead shortly after the turn around and high tailed it back home pushing my 53/11 in the neighborhood of 30-36mph most of the way back (Time for the 12 1/2 mile ride around 30 min, 25mph avg).
Ric followed close behind as we entered transition and after fumbling around with my frozen hands trying to get my flats on I headed out for the 5k with Ric close on my heels. As I picked up the pace I could hear he was still right there and knew it was going to be a 5k dual between us. Although I knew I had 40 seconds on him from the later stat time, racing insticts kicked in and I realished the opportunity to race head to head with my pursuer.
With less than 2k to go Ric pulled up next to me and we proceeded shoulder to shoulder until about 200m to go. I gained a slight advantage and outkicked him to take the invisible tape. Our 5k time was about 16.20, about 40s faster than I had run the year before.
I was glad we finally had a chance to meet in person because he has been helpful in answering questions and directing me from the position of someone who has been where I'm trying to go. As far as I am aware there are no other pro or former pro triathletes who reside in KS (surprise) so Ric has been a valuable resource to have. And once I've reached my development goals as an amateur, and of course the criteria to apply for a pro card, I'd be happy to represent KS in that capacity.
All in all an enjoyable day and first tune up race to the season and I'm always thankful for the strong support from my family when I do races close enough to home for them to attend. And although she didn't say so I believe Corynn really enjoyed her first triathlon as well.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Hutchinson YMCA Triathlon

On Saturday, after getting off work, I wondered over to the Y to see if I could still jump in a late wave of the Triathlon they put on. I was just in time for the last wave so I suited up. It was a windy and warm KS day for myself and 30 other dedicated tri geeks who were attempting a 250 yd swim, 4 mile indoor bike, and a 1.5 mile outdoor run. I enjoy doing the local races and Suresh Menon does a superb job making this a non-intimidating, fun atmosphere for newbies and would be a great way to do your first tri if you live in the area.
I finished first with a time of about 21 min and enjoyed the added difficulty from doing the bike on a recumbant (all uprights were taken) which absolutely loads your quads if you're not used to it.
On to Emporia next weekend for the 2nd of several early season tune up races. Feel free to come check it out, start time is 9:00am at the stadium.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Another Year...Another Birthday Training Challenge!

Although my main goal with this blog will be to provide a report on the races I do throughout the year the page was looking a little blank. So I thought I'd provide you a little window into my current training since I am often asked about what I actually do day in and day out as a competitive triathlete.
After taking a couple weeks off for Corynn's birth, and through the amazing support of Yvette and the rest of my live in family (brother Kenton and his wife Eunice), I have managed to average 15 hrs a week since the first of the year. With Yvette starting up work half time again, and continuing to work full time myself, I feel really blessed to have completed that much.

Then came birthday week. Nearly every year for the past decade or more I use birthday week to stretch the parameters of my training to test what else I am capable of (this usually completely ignores the 10% rule). This year birthday week was a bit overscheduled with meetings and a speaking engagement so I postponed it a week to the last week of February. The goal was 28 hrs of training in a week to represent my 28th birthday. Everything went smooth; I finished the training, incurred no injuries, still spent time with Corynn, and didn't finish the week sleeping on the couch. I'll put the mileage below if you're curious what that looks like. Happy training!
Swim = 6 workouts, 17,500 yds, 5.25 hrs
Bike = 7 workouts, 280 miles, 17.5 hrs
Run = 4 workouts, 37 miles, 4.5 hrs
Strength = 4 workouts, 1 hr

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