Whirlpool Steelhead 70.3 Triathlon - Triathlon1/2 Ironman

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Benton Harbor, Michigan
United States
Capri Events
82F / 28C
Total Time = 5h 54m 47s
Overall Rank = 1015/1789
Age Group = M30-34
Age Group Rank = 131/191
Pre-race routine:

-- Sorry if this is a bit long, just wanted to document this great day!-- Arrived in Benton Harbor from Cincinnati on Friday afternoon with Dad and brother Jake, who also competed. Checked into hotel then headed to race site to register and rack bike. Stayed for awhile checking out the masses of people and took some photos. This is my first HIM so I wanted to take it all in and remember the whole experience. Things seemed to run pretty smoothly at registration, but it did seem a bit crowded. That was just a hint at what was to come race morning. Anyway, ate our carbo dinner and went back to the hotel to crash. Didn't sleep very well as I was wired with nervous anticipation.

Woke up at 4:30AM ate a bowl of oatmeal, a banana, and drank a Diet Coke and water. Ate a small bagel on the drive over and a gel just before swim start. Made good time to the race start but hit a huge traffic jam of competitors all trying to get into the race... what a mess. Took us 45 mins for what should have been a 15 min drive. That was slightly stressful to be running late, but Jake and I both had one of the later swim waves. Got to transition and set everything up. Area was very cramped and tight and not much room to put stuff. I just did the best I could and tried to stay out of others' way. Finally got everything together and tires pumped, hit the potty one last time, then made the 1.2 mile walk down the beach for the swim start. My goal finish time was to go under 6 hours, but I really didn't think I could make it.
Event warmup:

1.2 mile walk to swim start, stretched for about 10 seconds, then swim for about 45 seconds, then it was time to get in line with my wave.
  • 40m 16s
  • 2310 yards
  • 01m 44s / 100 yards

I went out somewhat easy on the swim knowing I had a long race ahead of me. I swam out pretty wide of the buoy's and stayed out there and had open water the entire way until it was time to head back to shore.

Had trouble sighting buoy's with the sun and goggles were fogging up. Stopped twice to clear them. I stayed pretty well on course even though I had some trouble sighting. Went long periods without sighting by just following the beach and other swimmers.

Came upon green buoys quickly which means orange turn buoy is nearby. Little did I know there were four green buoys, so I wasn't as close as I thought. Finally hit the turn-in buoy which was a bit congested and headed in for the inflatable Gatorade bottle on the beach.

While swimming in, swam right into the ass of some guy who was wading in. Got up, but thought it was still too deep and swam another 200 or more feet till hands hit sand. Got up and ran up to timing mat and transition. The crowd was great here and really motivating!

Swim time of 40 mins was right about at my training times. I thought I might go a bit faster with wetsuit and adrenaline, but I was still ok with the swim. I was suprised how tired my legs got from the swimming which worried me a bit but did not become a problem later. Water was very calm considering it was Lake Michigan, not many waves at all.
What would you do differently?:

I can't think of much to do differently. Maybe stay closer into the buoys with the crowd to catch some drafts. Then I just end up running into more people. I suppose I could've swam harder but knowing I had several hours of racing left, I needed to conserve.
Transition 1
  • 04m 3s

Ran all the way to transition with wetsuit at waist. There was quite a long run from the beach to T1 which accounts for some of this time. I also took a few extra moments to make sure I had everything together. Got suit off quickly enough and decided to put on shoes in transition rather than run out in bare feet. There were some huge sandpits and I didn't want to have sandy feet for the rest of the day. I think this was definitely a good choice. Got helmet on and loaded up nutrition and ran out carrying bike so I didn't get sand all in the chain.
What would you do differently?:

Wouldn't change a thing.
  • 2h 51m 14s
  • 56.5 miles
  • 19.80 mile/hr

My goal on the bike was to finish under 3 hours, but I thought this would be tough. I was elated to finish in 2:51. I started out somewhat easy and took some water and gel almost immediately. Hit a bump right away and lost a water bottle. Went back for it not knowing if I'd need it or not. Only lost 30-60 seconds or so. Just kept motoring on at a modest pace and the avg MPH started creeping up to upper 19's. Had many stretches in 23-25mph range for some time. Course was great for me with rolling hills. Most downhills had enough momentum to carry me most of the way up the other side. Would get out of the saddle a bit to stretch my legs, but never let HR get up too high.

Bike course was incredibly crowded and I was constantly passing or being passed. Saw people drafting but not really on purpose, basically it was impossible not to because it was so crowded. There were some rough or bumpy patches, but it never really bothered me. Must've bothered some because I saw hundreds of dollars worth of bike parts littering the couse. Mostly bike bottles and aerodrink strainers, but did see some Xlab bottle holders, CO2's, tubes, tools, amongst other things. Should've gone back later and sold it all on Ebay!

Anyway, I felt great for the bike and kept a good steady pace throughout. Ate every 25-30 minutes, either gel, half power bar, or banana. Took 5 endurolytes and five bottles of water. Chose to skip Gatorade as I felt this has been the source of past GI problems. Appears it was since I had no real problems in this race.

Had to pee around mile 40, but chose to ride it out to transition. Stayed aero most of the time except to eat or stretch for a minute. My back and neck did start to ache around mile 45, but I just tried to tough it out. The last ten miles I kept my pace up and passed a lot of people. Made it into T2 feeling elated with my time and my body felt great! I feel like my nutrition/hydration plan worked out great. Maybe I could have drank a bit more toward the end but didn't since I had to pee.
What would you do differently?:

Wouldn't change a thing. Bike was great and I really enjoyed it.
Transition 2
  • 05m 27s

Again I decided to leave my shoes on my feet due to the sand pits in transition. I hopped off my bike and ran in and racked my bike and took off my helmet and shoes. My feet were still pretty sandy, so I sprayed them with my remaining water bottle. I dried them off with my towel, put some vaseline on my toes, put on socks and shoes. This took significant time in T2 but I feel was worth it in the long run. Grabbed hat, number belt, and run nutrition and then detoured to port o johns. Had to briefly wait in a line then peed quickly and run out the chute to the run course. Peeing in T2 cost me a good minute but it I had to do it somewhere.
What would you do differently?:

I suppose I could've peed in the woods on the run course but I wouldn't have know any woods were there since I've never been on the course before.
  • 2h 13m 48s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 10m 13s  min/mile

Ran out from transition feeling really good. I was going pretty slow but still felt good. Within the first mile is the only large hill on the run. I had told myself that I would run the first 5 miles, but while I was running up this hill, I was going the same speed as everyone else who was walking. So I did walk the second half up the hill but got running again right away.

Felt really good for 5 miles and took in water and nutrition at every aid station. I was taking Sports Beans w/ electrolytes with water and a couple endurolytes too. Tried to stick to gels every half hour and ate a portion of a banana at some point. It got really tough to eat as time went by though.

Around mile 8 is when things started getting really tough and I began to struggle. Aid stations were staggered with mile markers every half mile. I basically was trying to run from aid station to mile marker back to aid station. I allowed myself to only take brief walking periods of about 30 seconds at a time. The walking came more frequently as time went by, but I still kept them short. The aid stations were well-manned and very motivating. I can't say enough about all the volunteers in this race.

My goal was to avg 10 min/mile which I did not quite make. It was more like 10:13/mile, which is still not bad since I typically run 9 min/mile. I was suprised that my legs didn't actually seem that tired, it was just my body altogether was getting run down. I suppose that means I should've taken in more calories, but I just don't know how much more I could've taken. Anyway the last couple of miles were a struggle but I ran most of the way and even convinced a few walkers to run with me for a bit. I did take some gatorade at the last couple aid stations and it didn't seem to affect my stomach. The last aid station I drank some water and grabbed a sponge that was ICE cold. Somehow they'd kept their sponges so cold compared to the others and it felt soooooo good.

At mile 12, I told myself I would run the last mile into the finish which I almost did, but not quite. With about 400 yds to the finish, I walked for just a few seconds to compose myself for the finishing chute. I was so spent at that point that it was definitely a good idea. I then rounded the corner to the last 200 yds through large sand dunes to the finishing chute. I could hear the music cranking and I was running on air all the sudden. I started to think about my family and the sacrifices they made for me while I trained. I thought about all the people that helped get me to that point. --While training for this race, I raised over $2500 for Ohio Concerns Of Police Survivors, an organization that assists families of police officers killed in the line of duty.-- I thought about all those cops that paid the ultimate sacrifice and their families who still pay. So many people donated and gave me words of encouragement. I welled-up a bit as I approached the finish line as it was all a bit overwhelming. I was so excited though, I threw my hands in the air and slapped some high-fives on the way in. I heard my name called out and crossed that final mat...... what a moment...... I've been re-living it in my head all day for two days now. I know it's no Iron distance and for some the half-iron may be a piece of cake, but it was a hell of an accomplishment for me. I tried to cherish every moment of the entire weekend and it is surely one I will never forget!
What would you do differently?:

I guess I could have done more longer training runs of 11-14 miles. I probably should've taken in more calories on the run and I may have been a bit dehydrated since I only peed once and not again until long after the race. I just don't know how I could've drank or eaten much more though. It's easy to look back in hindsight and find small things about the day, but since it was my first HIM I didn't know what to expect. I can truly say that I am completely satisfied with all my race results. I wouldn't change a thing.
Post race
Warm down:

Basically just walked aimlessly around the finishers area looking for some water. Couldn't find any so settled for Gatorade. Later found some water outside the area. Should've done some stretches but just couldn't manage. I was a little out of it after the finish although I remember it all. I ate some pizza and pasta shortly after the finish. It didn't sound good but I thought it might help and I was right. As soon as I ate it was like I snapped right back to my normal self. I probably needed some salt. I later went down to the finish line and watched some of the finishers for awhile. I find it so inspirational to watch people crossing the line and their different reactions. I'd love to watch the last hour of an ironman someday. Went back to the hotel, showered and went out to Applebee's for food and a couple well deserved beers. Slept hard that night and drove home in the morning.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

In hindsight I probably should've taken in more calories. I need to look for some other ways to get them in besides gels, they get so boring and crappy tasting after awhile. After mile 8 in the run, I started calculating the pace I'd need to keep to break 6 hours. I knew I had it beat unless I totally blew up, which probably allowed myself to walk more than I should've. Like I said before though, I wouldn't change a thing about the entire day!

Event comments:

The event was great and well run. The volunteers were freaking awesome! The cops were awesome too and I heard several motivating comments from them which is rare. I have more positives than I can list about this race. The few negatives basically had to deal with overcrowding. There was a huge traffic jam trying to get to the parking area which was a pain. It's stressful enough preparing for theses races, but it's tenfold when running late. Also the bike course was incredibly crowded the entire way. It really made the 7 meter drafting rule virtually impossible to abide by. Other than that, I would definitely come back to Benton Harbor and race another day.

Profile Album

Last updated: 2007-02-05 12:00 AM
00:40:16 | 2310 yards | 01m 44s / 100yards
Age Group: 118/191
Overall: 191/1789
Performance: Good
Suit: QR Sleeveless
Course: 1.2 mile point to point swim from south to north along the beach. Beach start instead of jumping off the pier like previouse years was a bit disappointing.
Start type: Wade Plus: Waves
Water temp: 72F / 22C Current: Medium
200M Perf. Average Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Below average
Waves: Average Navigation: Average
Rounding: Good
Time: 04:03
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Yes Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed: Average
02:51:14 | 56.5 miles | 19.80 mile/hr
Age Group: 123/191
Overall: 191/1789
Performance: Good
Wind: Little
Course: Bike course was 56 mile loop. It was described accurately as rolling hills, but also lots of long flat sections. There were a few hills but no major climbs at all. Four aid stations with water,gatorade, bananas, and gel. These volunteers were awesome! The course was well marked every 5 miles and police at all intersections of concern.
Road: Rough Dry Cadence: 82
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Hard Drinks: Just right
Time: 05:27
Overall: Below average
Riding w/ feet on shoes Below average
Jumping off bike Below average
Running with bike Good
Racking bike Good
Shoe and helmet removal Average
02:13:48 | 13.1 miles | 10m 13s  min/mile
Age Group: 126/191
Overall: 191/1789
Performance: Average
Mile 1-2: 19:16, Mile 3-4: 18:56, Mile 5: 9:39, Mile 6: 9:37, Mile 7: 10:05, Mile 8: 10:57, Mile 9-10: 22:03, Mile 11: 11:28, Mile 12: 11:04, Mile 13: 10:42, Mile 13.1: :48.
Course: Two lap out and back, mostly flat, some rollers. Out section turned around on paved trail through Whirlpool headquarters property. Paved trail was shaded and a few other shaded areas, but not too much.
Keeping cool Average Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
Physical exertion [1-5] 5
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] 4