Ironman 70.3 Steelhead - Triathlon1/2 Ironman

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Benton Harbor, Michigan
United States
World Triathlon Corporation
75F / 24C
Total Time = 7h 24m 17s
Overall Rank = 1177/1499
Age Group = 35-39
Age Group Rank = 55/77
Pre-race routine:

My husband and our boys were with me on this trip, as well as my husband's parents. It was great to have my family with me during this adventure! We were staying in a hotel in Kalamazoo, an hour away ( points, everything close by booked up, yadda, yadda, yadda...). I got up at 3:30 and headed out at 4 am. Got into transition at 5 am and took my time setting everything up. Had a coffee, banana and 1/2 bagel. Was nervous enough that I couldn't finish the bagel-I usually never have issues finishing my food :)
Event warmup:

No real warm up, to speak of. My mother-in-law was with me, so after I set up the transition and checked everything 93 times, we walked the mile on the beach to the swim start. Temps were in the low 50s, sand was freezing. I was telling people the 67 degree water will feel like bath water after walking on that sand for 20 minutes. I was right.

Got to the swim start, put on my wet suit and got in the water for about 5-7 minutes to adjust goggles and the suit. Said a prayer of thanks for the bathrooms at swim start (at Racine, none! hello!?!?!?) and right at 7:20, off we went.
  • 57m 38s
  • 2112 yards
  • 02m 44s / 100 yards

All of us, no doubt, were thankful for a VERY calm lake. As late as Thursday, there were 5-6 ft waves thrashing around, so we were all legitimately worried that this would be yet another year the swim would get canned. I entertained the thought of swimming the 1.2 miles in the hotel pool if that happened, and I'm thankful it didn't have to. Hotel pool was uber small and it would have been a dizzying experience, to say the least. As it happened, we were blessed with perfect weather on each leg of the race.

The lake was very low, so we ran almost to the first buoy. The swim felt fine, I wasn't pushing it. I am a solid swimmer, but not fast. I know this, and was just prepared to have my 49-50 min swim. Could see the transition around minute 33 and thought I might finish in low 40s, and then kept swimming.and swimming.and swimming. Ended up with 57 minutes, which was surprising... Later, my husband told me he heard a couple of pros talking and one said that his swim was 28 minutes and he has never EVER been that slow (dude!) and they thought there was a current, or wind, or something of that nature. So, I don't know, maybe I zigzagged too much, but maybe there was a current in the second half of the swim? In which case, we were swimming in an endless pool of sorts. Don't know. Either way, need to work on the swim!
What would you do differently?:

Train more :)
Transition 1
  • 07m 4s

No suit strippers at this race, so I ran to my bike and sat down to pull the wetsuit off of my heels. Tried to move as fast as possible, but still ended up with 7 minutes. There is a pretty long run up the sand into transition, very long area to walk the bike out, as I was right at the beginning of transition, which means I got to run the bike out the entire length.
What would you do differently?:

Move faster?
  • 3h 37m 26s
  • 56 miles
  • 15.45 mile/hr

A little disclaimer: You will read a few references to my HIM in Racine last year. It was a very interesting experience, and to get my references, you may need to look at that RR. If you want to read it, just click on my races and look it up. If you ever had a bad race, my report will make you feel better about your race. Guaranteed :)

ok, back to Steelhead...

Lots of rolling hills. Some decent climbs. I know for some of you, Horribly-Hilly-Hundreds-crazies, probably no big deal, but in my world, they were still hills :)

Overall, I was just thankful not to have 56 miles of constant pedal-pedal-THUMP! (Racine) and not to have potholes everywhere I looked. There were several stretches of rough asphalt (that final layer before black top? pretty rough to ride on), and let's just say that after the inaugural Half-Ironman from hell last year, I prayed a lot on those rough stretches and every time I saw somebody on the side of the road changing a flat.

Oh yeah, major malfunction. Get on the bike and realize I canNOT shift into the big gear. Whaaaaaa?????? My guess is the sand got into the chain or the shifters or some other place technical when I rode the bike on Saturday, and voila, bike would not shift from the middle into big gear. I tried shifting down and back up, by the time I hit some 30 times trying, including getting off the bike to see if I could fix it, I realized I was going to ride in the middle ring today. Oy.

Thought about freaking out a little, then decided that I was still moving forward, unlike last year (perspective is a wonderful thing, no?), and I was actually keeping my intended average (15mph), so I should just keep moving. So I did. Actually kept a 15.9 avg the whole ride until the last 10 miles or so, when I finally stopped for a bathroom break (all liquid nutrition, lower temps, little sweating, you get the picture), so those couple of minutes or whatever dropped me down to my 15.45 that I ended up with.

One weird sensation around mile 30... I remember being in aero position, and pedaling away, and I got all of a sudden so so very tired and sleepy.. remember thinking, "man, if I just closed my eyes right now, I could totally go to sleep....." First thought was, "Ugh ho, not good considering I still have 26 miles to bike and then 13 to run." Second thought was me being thankful this was not a full Ironman. I mean, these things are fun and motivating to a point, and then, as it turns out, around mile 30, you just want to lay down on the side of a road for a nap. I guess it didn't help I got almost no sleep the night before and had a weird allergy attack (sneezing all night). Anyway, I chose to stay awake and keep on pedaling and nap later. Good thing, too.

All things considered, and by all things I mean my current level of fitness and my starter road bike, I am happy with the bike leg. I got to ride it, no tires were harmed in the process, and I beat my (albeit conservative) pace I had as a goal.
What would you do differently?:

Well, not walk bike though sand? :)

Realistically, though... Ideally, get a tri bike :) And become a better cyclist. All things on the menu with time ;)
Transition 2
  • 05m 4s

Tried to move faster, I guess I did somewhat. But I also didn't have to run with the bike and up the sand, so that made a difference.
What would you do differently?:

Move faster yet again?
  • 2h 37m 5s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 11m 59s  min/mile

Ok, whoever designed the course was evil. We went up a BIG hill in the first mile, fine. Then both loops had decent hills, each time ending in a big hill (maybe 12-15% grade? in non-technical terms, quite vertical) - it was pretty steep and people were joking it hurt to walk the thing.. The hills on the loop descended at such a gradual decline that it NEVER felt like a downhill. Seriously. We got to run 2 loops of UPhill only, finishing each loop with the monster hill. My question is... would it have killed them to switch the direction and give us the downhill instead?? Just sayin'....

Overall, not too impressed with the scenery. Nothing scenic about the Whirlpool campus, if you are wondering. I know I'm exaggerating some, but really, it was two industrial buildings and a tractor in the grass. A little winding path through a little park with a creek. Some more hills and parking lots. Thassit. Of course, to be honest, by then, I really didn't care where we ran. I just wanted to be done.

Witnessed a guy losing his lunch at 10.5 miles. We were going around a turn, and this guy looked kind of out of it and started going (staggering?) into the grass and I thought he was being a smart alek and was going to cut through the grass and save himself 30 yards of running torture, and got to see him completely lose all his liquids. Then he kind of deflated into the grass. It was clear he was not having a good time. Felt bad for him, but in a small, self-preserving way, it made me realize I was not as bad off as my tired body was trying to tell me I was, and I told myself to pick up my dissolving pace and finish this thing!

Weather was great, maybe 75 high? But for some reason, it felt pretty hot. I poured water on myself at each aid station, which helped. I also managed to get a sunburn on my neck. How, I'm not sure. I trained all summer in 90+ degree temps without sunblock and never burned.

Volunteers were fantastic! Lots of munchies for us, very enthusiastic and upbeat. I thanked as many of them as I could.

That last downhill (the first huge hill out of transition) was a nice finish to the prolonged character-building experience. Then we had less then a mile left. I tried to really take in that last mile, knowing it held emotions of two training seasons. Everything I trained for last summer and the heartache of my first Half-Ironman at Racine was in that last mile. All the training this season and the last 7 hours of today were all for these last few minutes of the run and the finish chute. My body was tired, but my spirit was so thankful to have had this opportunity to have a normal (is there such a thing?) Half-Ironman experience. Those last few yards and a sprint down (ok, up) the Finish Chute were so much more than just the last few running yards. There were some deep, and happy, and thankful emotions.

I saw my mother- and father-in-law and said hi to them as I ran past them. Then I took off in a sprint toward the Finish Arch and heard my hubby yell for me and just ran! Passed two guys and finished! It was really one of the best moments of my life ;)

What would you do differently?:

Train, train, train...
Post race
Warm down:

Hugged my husband and my boys, my mother- and father-in-law :) Everybody got teary-eyed. Took a couple of pics. Took a recovery drink and sat for a few minutes, enjoying being done. Got the bike and my stuff out of transition, then we all walked to the post-race party area and got the pizza, which my boys promptly ate :) Those after race minutes are seriously a pretty awesome time.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Not enough training. Isn't it always?

Event comments:

Loved the venue! The beach setup is absolutely gorgeous (though, as it turns out, sand is bad if you want to shift)! Very family friendly. My boys (3 and 6) enjoyed playing in the sand and in the lake all day on Saturday. Race is well organized, on time, great volunteers, would love to do this again :)

Profile Album

Last updated: 2012-06-30 12:00 AM
00:57:38 | 2112 yards | 02m 44s / 100yards
Age Group: 58/77
Overall: 1189/1499
Performance: Average
Suit: Full-Nineteen Frequency Elle
Course: A C-shaped swim back to transition.
Start type: Run Plus: Waves
Water temp: 67F / 19C Current: Low
200M Perf. Remainder:
Breathing: Good Drafting:
Waves: Navigation: Below average
Rounding: Good
Time: 07:04
Performance: Below average
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Yes Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed:
03:37:26 | 56 miles | 15.45 mile/hr
Age Group: 58/77
Overall: 1213/1499
Performance: Good
Wind: Little
Course: Rolling hills. Roads were mostly decent with some rough stretches.
Road: Rough Dry Cadence: 80
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Bad Hills: Average
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 05:04
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike Good
Racking bike Good
Shoe and helmet removal Good
02:37:05 | 13.1 miles | 11m 59s  min/mile
Age Group: 55/77
Overall: 1177/1499
Performance: Average
Course: Run out, up a giant hill, then two (I want to say 4 mile) loops, then run 2 miles back.
Keeping cool Average Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5