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Whirlpool Steelhead 70.3 Triathlon - Triathlon1/2 Ironman

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Benton Harbor, Michigan
United States
CAPRI Events
79F / 26C
Total Time = 7h 03m 44s
Overall Rank = 1533/1769
Age Group = 40-44
Age Group Rank = 194/216
Pre-race routine:

At the time that I finished I thought this was one of the bigger challenges I've ever faced. When I got home, though, I got a text message saying that a friend of mine had been found. Michael Scott Speicher (Spike) was on a mission over Iraq during Desert Storm. I served with him during that war and saw him right before he launched. He never came back. Spike's remains were found and he's finally coming home. Kinda puts it all into perspective....

Anyway, on a lighter note, my race report:

Note: There seems to be some confusion over the total number of participants. The timing company says 1669, reports 1769, and the presenters were all saying 2500, so who knows....

We left for St. Joseph Thursday night, got there about 10pm just as it was starting to rain...a prelude of what was to come...and checked into the hotel. Got up the next morning and we drove down to the beach and checked out the beach and transition area. At that point the wind was coming from the north and was fairly strong - lots of white caps. Then we drove the bike course. We were about 15 miles out when my 7 yr old stated that she had to go potty. Great, middle of no I tell her she has to go in the weeds - suddenly she doesn't need to go anymore. Anyway, as we were driving it, while the roads didn't seem that great, I really thought that it wasn't going to be too bad, didn't seem too hilly, not compared to Kensington....little did I know....

Had a light meal that night with the family and hit the bed fairly early. Woke up around 4:45 and had a banana, a bagel, and 2 cups of coffee. Left at 5:15 and glad I did, cuz it was a long line of cars to get into the parking area.

Got all set up in transition and felt pretty good - should have brought a flashlight though because it was pitch black. Walked down to the swim start and met up with Cheryl and Eric - was nice to see some friendly faces there. Talked with them for awhile till the start.
Event warmup:

Just some light stretching. Doesn't do me much good to warm up on the swim since it takes me about 1000yds till I'm really warmed up.
  • 43m 22s
  • 2112 yards
  • 02m 03s / 100 yards

This was a great swim for me. I loved it. I hung towards the back and let the faster guys take off before me, so I probably lost 20-30 seconds sauntering out into the surf. I always take a long time to warm up, at least 1000yds before I hit my groove, so this was a perfect distance for me. And ya, I wasn't the fastest guy out there and I did get passed by some people in the wave after me, but I felt awesome when I looked at my watch crossing the beach at 40 minutes - that meant I swam a sub 2:00min pace, which is really good for me.

The waves weren't bad at all - rollers of maybe 1-2 feet - just enough so that when you're in the trough you can't see anything. I had to stop several times to get my bearings and come up on top of a wave to see the next buoy. Big mistake not having tinted lenses on my goggles. The sun was right in my eyes a lot of the time making it even harder to see the buoys, but wasn't too bad - I just sucked it up and enjoyed the swim.
What would you do differently?:

Wear tinted goggles.
Transition 1
  • 04m 16s

Seems like a very long transition time, but my bike was at the very far end of T1, at least 150-200 yds down. I also took time to slap on some sun screen and put on a pair of socks. Ya, I know, that's all an excuse - i looked at the T times of the pros and they were just over 1 min...son of a...!!
What would you do differently?:

Pick up the pace.
  • 3h 29m 38s
  • 56 miles
  • 16.03 mile/hr

Ok, this is the event I thought I was going to kick a$$ on and for the first 25 or so miles I was averaging just over 22mph. 12 miles in my bike started to shake and I thought, uh oh....I knew that my front tire now had a bulge in it, but I ignored it hoping it'd go away....not so much. At mile 15 it blew. I didn't look at my watch but figured I lost at least 10 minutes, maybe 15. I felt a little like the father in a Christmas Story rushing to change his flat!

Anyway, I got back on and up to cruising speed, shifted and bam, my chain came off the front gear. So I had to stop and put it back on. So I get back up to speed again and now my shifters are acting all weird. I shift down one and it skips 2, so I have to shift back up one. Then going along fine and all of a sudden it decides to shift on its own. WTF? But again, I ignore it, nothing I can do and even though its putting a strain on my legs, I'm still fresh enough that its not bothering me. I was just cruising along, passing people left and right, and re-passing guys I'd passed earlier who overtook me during the breakdown - I was loving life. I didn't feel like I was really pushing very hard but was still able to keep an awesome pace. I figured at that point that I was going to come in well under 3 hours and give myself plenty of time for the run.

Well, there's a jewish saying "Man plans, God laughs." About the time I started to head west God started laughing his head off cuz there were suddenly some hellacious steady winds with huge gusts coming out of the southwest. At this point I'm working a bit harder and my speed drops to about 19mph, still not too bad I think, but I didn't realize how much I was working or the toll that the phantom shifting was hurting me. That's when I hit the Blue Star Hwy and started for the 18+ mile ride back and headed straight into the winds. Also, I didn't realize just how much a small uphill grade can hurt, especially going into a headwind, but let me tell ya, there were very few downhills on the way back - it was mainly gradual uphill grades the entire way.

By mile 40 my legs were starting to burn...speed is now down to about 14mph. Mile 45 I'm positive that at any minute now my legs are going to spontaneously combust. Fire, they were on fricking fire. I was sure that I wasn't going to make it...speed is now down to 10mph and I've still got 11 miles to go. At that point the only thing keeping my cranks turning is the weight of my legs, cuz it sure isn't due to me actually using my muscles to push.

I was spent and when I finally turned in to hit the bike path for the final leg I wasn't sure how I was going to be able to run 13 miles. I realized that I seriously underestimated my bike conditioning. All I wanted was to get off that bike and into a blessed standing position.

I'd estimated a max of 3 hours and blew it by over 29 minutes.
What would you do differently?:

A lot more time in the saddle. I need to get in a lot of seriously seriously long rides. Both my legs and my neck were killing me. It was hard to keep an areo position at the end because of how much it hurt to look up.
Transition 2
  • 07m 36s

You know, at this point in the game I really didn't care about times. I knew that I'd blown it on the bike and that I didn't have prayer of hitting my goal. Also, remember the 150-200 yd run I had through T1 to get my bike? Well, I had the same damn thing again here, only this time I just walked it. I took a long time here. I hit the porta-potty, slapped on some more sun screen, grabbed a GU and took a drink. I also texted Sue cuz I hadn't seen them when I came in on the bike, so I thought that maybe they thought they'd missed me because I missed my mark so badly.

Text to Sue..."Back from the bike ride...Shoot me now!!!!"
What would you do differently?:

Have some whiskey in a flask to numb the pain.
  • 2h 38m 53s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 12m 08s  min/mile

So the first mile was going well. I went past a group of hot girls who all wistled at me and held up their HOT sign....ya, I know they likely held it up for everyone, but it made me smile and forget the pain in my legs and I started running faster, till I came around the corner and saw my first hill...who the hell decided to put that there? Well, everyone was walking up it and it seemed like a good idea, so I walked it too. Got up to the top and started running again. My legs surprisingly felt pretty damn good. I let my calves do a lot of the work and gave my quads a rest and was keeping about a 9 minute far so good. Well, that lasted about 3 more miles when it all started catching up with me. My pace started getting slower and slower. I walked at each of the aide stations and started walking a bit in between too. And every hill I came too seemed like a mountain. I knew that I'd blown my time so badly at that point that I thought the hell with it, I'm just going to chat with people around I met a few new people, walked with them a bit and we played leap frog, where I'd take off and run for a bit, then stop and walk and then they'd do the same and pass me, then I'd catch up and we'd walk some more together.

When we came to the turn off point to either do our second lap of Whirlpool or head back in for the final stretch I told the official standing there that I'd pay him $100 bucks to let me go home and not do the second lap..unfortunately the girl I was running next to offered him $1000, so I had to do the second lap.

Somewhere around mile 7 or 8, its all a blur now, it started to sprinkle. At around 9 or 10 it started to rain pretty hard and continued all the way in. I didn't really care, but kept thinking that my family is standing out there and I'm going to be about an hour off my projected time.

I walked a bit after mile 11, but when I hit 12 I vowed not to stop and I picked up the pace. I hit the sidewalk for the final stretch and started to sprint in...well, it felt like a sprint but I was probably barely moving. Man did it feel good though to cross that finish line.
What would you do differently?:

Not really sure - I had so little left in the tank after the bike that there's probably not much I could have done. I felt like I gave it my all and that's all I can ask of myself. Just need to have a lot more conditioning to be able to come off the bike and run the whole course.
Post race
Warm down:

Raining pretty hard and wanted to get the family back to the car, so I just collected my bike and gear and we headed out. Didn't stick around for any of the food or festivities.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Conditioning conditioning conditioning.

Event comments:

Well, I met my primary goal for my first HIM and that was to simply finish. Just like my first tri, though, I was a little disappointed by my time, but at least now I know what to expect and what I really need to do to improve.

This was definitely a great experience. Everyone I met was awesome. Was really good to see some fellow BTers out there. Everyone I talked to on the run was great and there were a bunch with whom I traded whitty banter on the bike. Can't wait for the next one now!!

Profile Album

Last updated: 2009-01-14 12:00 AM
00:43:22 | 2112 yards | 02m 03s / 100yards
Age Group: 180/216
Overall: 1403/1769
Performance: Good
Actually I hit the beach at just over 40 minutes - I had another 100yds or so to go through the sand and maze before hitting the timing mat.
Suit: Sleeveless
Course: Point to point from South to North.
Start type: Run Plus:
Water temp: 0F / 0C Current: Medium
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Average
Waves: Good Navigation: Good
Rounding: Good
Time: 04:16
Performance: Good
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: No
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed: Good
03:29:38 | 56 miles | 16.03 mile/hr
Age Group: 200/216
Overall: 1548/1769
Performance: Below average
This also included approx 10-15 minutes to change a flat tire and another minute or so to stop and fix my chain that had derailed.
Wind: Headwind with gusts
Course: 1 big loop with rolling hills. Pavement was a mix of smooth and rough.
Road: Rough Dry Cadence:
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Average Hills: Average
Race pace: Hard Drinks: Just right
Time: 07:36
Overall: Below average
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike Bad
Racking bike Below average
Shoe and helmet removal Average
02:38:53 | 13.1 miles | 12m 08s  min/mile
Age Group: 195/216
Overall: 1533/1769
Performance: Below average
Course: 2 laps of the Whirlpool Corp campus. Some moderate hills, nothing like Kensington, but by that time they seemed like mountains.
Keeping cool Average Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
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] 4

2009-08-03 8:13 AM

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Extreme Veteran
Milford, MI
Subject: Whirlpool Steelhead 70.3 Triathlon

2009-08-03 8:20 AM
in reply to: #2323486

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Southern Ontario
Subject: RE: Whirlpool Steelhead 70.3 Triathlon
Congrats!! Whooohooooooo!!!!!
2009-08-03 9:10 AM
in reply to: #2323486

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Fort Wayne, IN
Subject: RE: Whirlpool Steelhead 70.3 Triathlon
Congrats on finishing your 1st HIM.  Tough luck on the bike.  I was having similar gear shifting issues with my bike for a few weeks before the race and had my gears adjusted.  The front derailleur was twisted and the adjustments were way out of whack.   It was nice meeting you at the expo.  Yesterday I was thinking this would be my first and last HIM, but maybe I'll give it another yer of training and see what happens.
2009-08-03 9:53 AM
in reply to: #2323486

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Sun Prairie, WI
Subject: RE: Whirlpool Steelhead 70.3 Triathlon
Nice job pushing through all the problems on the bike.  This delay probably had a double impact in that as you were fixing flats the wind and storm was moving on in, making the rest of the day more challenging.

Side note, I am a Naval Flight Officer, never crossed paths with Capt Speicher as I was not in the Navy at the time, but was relieved for his family to receive word that he was found.  I did see one other Navy guy in attendance.  I was wearing a Navy Tri Top as well as the other guy. 

2009-08-03 10:29 AM
in reply to: #2323486

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Subject: RE: Whirlpool Steelhead 70.3 Triathlon

Coop!!!  What a challenging first HIM you had!  You have amazing toughness to get through that bike and pull off the run!  Awesome job! 

So, hot girls with a sign huh?  Maybe somebody needs to put them at the top of that first hill to get all you hotties to run up it eh? ;-)  I love that you had a good time on the run and made the best of it even though you were hurting and things didn't go as you'd planned.  I hope if I'm silly enough to try one of these bad boys, I carry the same great attitude you have to the starting line!Laughing

On a side note, I'm glad your friend is home now. 

2009-08-03 11:18 AM
in reply to: #2323486

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Fishers, IN
Subject: RE: Whirlpool Steelhead 70.3 Triathlon
My goodness, you are amazing with all you had to deal with on the bike.  Great job!  It is amazing how many training rides you go on and never have any issues and then you get in the race and there she blows!  Oh well, you kept your cool and got the job done.  Man I can tell I was not adequately prepared, my legs are sore! Good job doing that second lap. 

Congratulations on your first HIM!....Man that hurt, let's do it againWink

2009-08-03 3:29 PM
in reply to: #2323486

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Canton, MI
Subject: RE: Whirlpool Steelhead 70.3 Triathlon
Coop, awesome race report.  I didn't have to deal with a flat or ghost shifting on the bike and I was still demoralized by the wind!  I also love that you texted your wife in T2!  Ha!

Before you know it, you'll be signing up for a full IM!
2009-08-03 5:08 PM
in reply to: #2323486

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Canton, Michigan
Subject: RE: Whirlpool Steelhead 70.3 Triathlon

Congratulations Eric! You did a great job.

2009-08-03 8:01 PM
in reply to: #2325178

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Grand Rapids, MI
Subject: RE: Whirlpool Steelhead 70.3 Triathlon
Great recovery from all the bike mishaps Coop. Congrats on your first HIM! I knew we could do it!
2009-08-04 3:08 AM
in reply to: #2323486

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Des Moines, IA
Subject: RE: Whirlpool Steelhead 70.3 Triathlon
Nice job Eric! I just noticed our time difference that only about 40ish seconds separated our finish times and I distinctly remember hearing your name as I was running my bike back to the rack in T2 and thinking "That name sounds familiar!"
2009-08-04 6:39 AM
in reply to: #2323486

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Ann Arbor, Michigan
Subject: RE: Whirlpool Steelhead 70.3 Triathlon
Great job!!!!  The wind, the evil, evil wind, so sorry to hear about that, and on the return no less, but you made it through!!!

Yeah, you're thinking about another one, aren't ya????

2009-08-04 9:37 PM
in reply to: #2323486

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Extreme Veteran
New Boston
Subject: RE: Whirlpool Steelhead 70.3 Triathlon

Great job out there, way to overcome and finish. Be very proud of your accomplishment.  That was a great race report, I hope I have the determination you do, for my race.

2009-08-21 2:15 PM
in reply to: #2323486

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Winter Park, Florida
Subject: RE: Whirlpool Steelhead 70.3 Triathlon

I'm planning on the 2010 Steelhead and doing my homework on 2009 Race Reports.  Your RR was great to read, "till I came around the corner and saw my first hill...who the hell decided to put that there" was hilareous!

All that hard work and all those obstacles...what a great effort you put into the day and all the days leading up to it.  Really, really great job!

Edited by eddievolly 2009-08-21 2:16 PM
2009-08-21 2:26 PM
in reply to: #2323486

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Ferndale, MI
Subject: RE: Whirlpool Steelhead 70.3 Triathlon
ahhh, coop, i finally got around to reading this!  Seriously great job on this!  I know how hard you've worked all year and when it comes down to the day, you do what you can, eh?

So, maybe next year we Hound it up at Steelhead, maybe?
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