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Ironman 70.3 Steelhead - Triathlon1/2 Ironman


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Benton Harbor, Michigan
United States
World Triathlon Corporation
72F / 22C
Overcast
Total Time = 5h 30m 21s
Overall Rank = 369/1499
Age Group = 35-39
Age Group Rank = 59/182
Pre-race routine:

I was staying at my father's home about an hour and a half from the venue so I set the alarm for 4am, double checked the gear I had packed the night before, threw some oatmeal with peanut butter and honey into my system, grabbed a cup of coffee and hit the road by 4:30am. We arrived a little before 6am and my father, my gf and myself hopped on the shuttle bus to head to transition.
Event warmup:

I was staged in the third to last starting wave (M 35-39, M-Z) so I had an hour and ten minutes after the gun to just wait. So after transition was set up we grabbed a cup of coffee and started the 1.2 mile walk down the beach to the start line. The Steelhead crew had a great swim warm up area just off the start line so with roughly 20 minutes to go before my wave's start I suited up and hopped in the water to warm up some.
Swim
  • 49m 1s
  • 2112 yards
  • 02m 19s / 100 yards
Comments:

Somewhere in here I should probably add that this was my first triathlon. Not my first HIM but some how through the course of work trips and injuries I wasn't able to get out to any of my planned sprints and olympics earlier this year. With that said, I thought the swim course was absolutely perfect for a first timer.

I vacationed in Wisconsin last month and was fortunate enough to be able to bring my wetsuit with me and spend a few days out OWS in Lake Michigan in prep for Steelhead and through that knew I could cover the distance without issue. Toeing the race line the only unknowns in my head were how I would react in the race environment and what sort of effort I could sustain. I stayed in the back of my wave and walked out the first 50 meters or so until it was time to start swimming and I felt good and in control. Somewhere around 100 meters of swimming my heart rate skyrocketed and I couldn't breath at all, and at that time I told myself "you pretty much knew this was going to happen, you read about it all over the place so just pull yourself together, calm down, think happy thoughts and get freaking going." After a few minutes of side stroking and collecting myself I felt good enough to stick my face in the water and give it a go again. After a few strokes I was all set, found a groove and just stuck with it the rest of the way. I picked an effort level I absolutely knew I could sustain the entire distance and was more than comfortable with. In reflection I'm sure I could have gone at it a bit harder but being my first event I didn't want to come out of the water completely exhausted so I felt better to err on the side of caution.

One final note on the swim leg; I need more OWS work. Probably indicative of everyone but I had a difficult time staying on course. I'm not sure if it was the current (unlikely) or my inexperience (most likely) but I always seemed to stray to the left and was constantly having to catch myself and turn right whenever I'd sight. Additionally, while I can breath to the right I am much more comfortable to the left and due to the south to north orientation of the course all the buoys were on my right. Not a big issue at the end of the day but it would have been nice to have them on the same side I'm breathing on; that's my own fault and I can spend more time getting more comfortable breathing to the right. Overall I think my slowish time is more a result of an easier effort and swimming a zig zag the entire way.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing this time around.
Transition 1
  • 04m 16s
Comments:

Pretty uneventful transition for being the first one. Bike was racked at the far end of a long transition area but the upside meant a short run out to the mount line. I took my time in T1 to ensure I didn't forget anything. Out of the swim I pulled my cap and goggles off and then my wetsuit down to my waist, leaving my cap and goggles in the sleeve. Once in transition I had the suit off quickly, found my helmet sitting on the ground two spots over, race belt, gel flask in pocket, shoes on and out I went.
What would you do differently?:

Find a more secure way to set my helmet on my bike. Thankfully when it fell off it didn't go terribly far and my sunglasses were still attached to the helmet. Everything else was pretty smooth.
Bike
  • 2h 47m 33s
  • 56 miles
  • 20.05 mile/hr
Comments:

Cycling isn't my strong suit as I'm still fairly new to it and my plan was to target a HR around 135 and just roll with it, feeling it should put me around a 20mph average. Once out of transition and on the bike I was feeling pretty good but definitely a bit cold. Temp had to be around 65 degrees and cloudy and being a kid from Arizona with wet clothes on I felt it. However, within 10 miles I was drying out and no longer cold and ready to get going.

I spent the first 15 minutes going easy and letting my HR come down from ~155 to ~135 and then grabbed my flask to take in some nutrition. My plan was to consume approximately 2 gels an hour along with some concentrated Skratch to equal around 280-300 calories an hour. What I found as soon as I opened my flask was that none of my Gu wanted to come out due to being so cold and thick. What's rule number 1? Oh yes, don't try anything new on race day. Guess what, I never used the flask before today and I paid for it. As I'm trying to suck the Gu golf ball through the flask water hose I heard that rule going through my head over and over. I got as much out as I could and washed it down with some water and kept going. After a couple more attempts to get more out and only managing a small amount at a time I, in a circus like performance, screwed the cap off the flask, took the cap off my water bottle and filled what space was in the flask with water in an attempt to thin it out a bit. This worked so so and I was able to get a bit more out but it never fully mixed with all the Gu and thinned it all out. By the time I got off the bike I knew I didn't get all my nutrition in me and in retrospect it was catching up to me towards the end of the bike.

All in all though the bike went fairly well and I hit the 20mph average I thought I could comfortably hold. I could have gone faster but I know my run would have really suffered so I feel I kept it in control really well.
What would you do differently?:

Thin out the Gu in the gel flask so I could take in all my nutrition.
Transition 2
  • 02m 39s
Comments:

T2 was uneventful as well. Coming down onto the boardwalk I pulled my feet out of my shoes and followed the traffic in as it was a no pass zone. Coming into the dismount line was a bit of a mess as there were at least a half dozen people stopped right at the line spanning the entire distance across it. I hopped off my bike and had to come to almost a stop to keep from running people over in front of me. The heard thinned and I was able to go around and into my rack.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing
Run
  • 1h 46m 52s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 08m 10s  min/mile
Comments:

Coming out of transition I was feeling fairly good and taking a peak at my TGT showed around a 7mm pace, almost exactly where I wanted to be for this run. I felt that if I paced the bike well and took in my nutrition I could run around a 1:30-1:35 off the bike. After clearing the first hill I took a look at my watch and was surprised to see around an 8 minute mile. Boy it sure felt like I was running faster than that and my HR was up where it should be for 7s. Maybe it's just not picking up accurately so I kept running, looking at my watch, running, looking at my watch and it was still stuck on 8 minute miles or thereabouts. Then I felt just how sluggish my legs were and reflected upon wonders of just exactly how much gel did I get into me. I thought I got through a fair majority of my flask, not all the gels I'd planned but at least very close. Post race inquiry showed I got through three whole gels on the bike, not the 5-6 I needed. My wheels were slowly coming off as I was running out of energy and was nearing the 6 mile mark. I should also add that I had to pee ever since coming off the bike. There were johns in transition but as I ran through to run out not a single one of them were empty so I kept going, telling myself I'd stop when one was empty as I wasn't going to wait for someone else. Come to find out this led to a nice little cramp/stitch high up on the right side of my stomach that plagued me until I was able to find an empty john. At mile 6 I came upon an aid station with an empty john and found some relief. Immediately after going that cramp/stitch that had been plaguing me for the first half was gone. Moved up to the water, dropped a gel and took back off. Wow, was that gel needed because once it hit me 5-10 minutes later I had a whole new gear and found the pace I had been looking for. Bam, I was back at racking off 6:50 miles, passing people left and right and feeling absolutely great. I rode that pace for the next 4-5 miles and then fell flat on energy once again, just in time for the downhill jaunt to the finish. Final aid station I grabbed some Coke and got a bit of a boost for the last mile and was happy to have a touch of a kick across the finish line.
What would you do differently?:

Go back to the bike and figure that gel flask out before the race. I really think I would have had a much stronger run if I had been able to take in the nutrition that I had trained with.
Post race
Warm down:

Met up with my family and gf who all came out to cheer me on for my first event on my birthday. Awesome way to celebrate my 35th! Stopped by the provided Pizza Hut buffet and tossed some food into me and then hit the road.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

I'm quite happy with my overall performance but if I really want to pick it apart, which btw I think is an absolute must in order to learn how to perform better next time, I would have to look at my nutrition. I think my training showed I had the right nutrition dialed in and I strongly believe that missing just those few hundred calories on the bike cost me a nice chunk of time.

Event comments:

I cannot say enough good about the Steelhead race venue and organization. Granted this was my first event but even my gf, who has done numerous WTF HIM and IM along with countless other triathlons, commented on how well organized everything was. From packet pick up to aid stations to the volunteers it was all first class and without a single hiccup.




Last updated: 2012-04-27 12:00 AM
Swimming
00:49:01 | 2112 yards | 02m 19s / 100yards
Age Group: 131/182
Overall: 1017/1499
Performance: Average
Suit: Synergy
Course: The Steelhead swim is a 1.2 mile, point to point, Lake Michigan swim that runs with the prevailing current of the day. On this day the current was running from south to north so we swam south to north. I thought it was a great course set up in that off the start line, after rounding the first buoy, you had 7 yellow buoys followed by 7 orange buoys and then finally a huge red buoy signifying the turn in to the swim out.
Start type: Run Plus:
Water temp: 72F / 22C Current: Low
200M Perf. Bad Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting:
Waves: Navigation:
Rounding:
T1
Time: 04:16
Performance: Good
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
No
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed: Good
Biking
02:47:33 | 56 miles | 20.05 mile/hr
Age Group: 89/182
Overall: 591/1499
Performance: Good
Wind: Little
Course: Beautiful rolling course through the West Michigan countryside, taking in views of farms, orchards and the lake shore. Felt very fast!
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence:
Turns: Cornering:
Gear changes: Hills:
Race pace: Drinks:
T2
Time: 02:39
Overall: Good
Riding w/ feet on shoes Good
Jumping off bike Good
Running with bike Good
Racking bike Good
Shoe and helmet removal Good
Running
01:46:52 | 13.1 miles | 08m 10s  min/mile
Age Group: 59/182
Overall: 369/1499
Performance: Below average
Course: Two loop, lollipop run course with two good size hills and some rollers. Half a mile out of transition was a good size vertical climb up but as it wasn't part of the two loop lollipop I was glad to realize I only had to climb it once. Course went out and down the roads and then into the Maytag campus at which point it moved onto more of a walking trail through a beautiful, scenic forest, pond, wilderness setting. Around the campus, back out onto the road and then straight up another big hill, only this one you would run twice, mile 5 and mile 10. Two loops around and then a downhill run into the finish.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Yes
Evaluation
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

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2012-08-21 11:04 AM

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Expert
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Scottsdale, AZ
Subject: Ironman 70.3 Steelhead


2012-08-21 11:27 AM
in reply to: #4373123

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Champion
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Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Steelhead

That was a pretty expert sounding performance for a guy doing his first tri.  Congrats!

Next time just put the flask somewhere warm (get creative).  That will thin out the Gu quickly   I personally can store it in my cleavage, but you might want to put it in the waist or legband of your shorts.

2012-08-21 12:10 PM
in reply to: #4373123

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Chelsea, MI
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Steelhead
I think you killed it for your first triathlon.  That bike and run you had were great.  Congrats.
2012-08-21 12:32 PM
in reply to: #4373123

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Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Steelhead

Was that a typo.... your first triathlon, but not your first HIM?

Anyway, great job. Funny how big of a deal a half marathon becomes after a 1.2 mile swim and 56 mile bike.

On an OWS, you will see exactly how your stroke is not even. One of the swim gurus here told me how common it was for (me) someone to veer to the side they breath. My strong side is my left and I breath to the left. Thinking like a canoe I thought I would veer right, but I veer left. After being told that and doing OWS... I found I had a pronounced side swipe to me right arm on the catch. I thought I was pulling back, but was pushing to the outside. I do not know what you do, but ya, you never feel it in a pool.

To me nutrition is about the brain. I can't replace enough glycogen in muscles in a race. I have what I have. When my motivation and attitude go, then I know my brain does not have enough sugar which can be fixed. Are you confident your intake was the reason you could not run?

Great race and a great time. You did quite well. Which one are you doing next?



Edited by powerman 2012-08-21 12:34 PM
2012-08-21 12:41 PM
in reply to: #4373123

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Scottsdale, AZ
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Steelhead
Thanks everyone. I can't stress how happy I am with my performance, I'm just one of those always looking for more. I think I got around 350 cals on the bike and while not certain, just judging from how my pace drastically picked up after getting some nutrition back in me on the run I would guess it was a factor. Suppose I will find out next time around As far as what's next, I've got an Oly in Sept followed by Chicago Marathon in Oct, immediately followed by the next HIM I'm doing which is Soma (tentatively) here in AZ. Have to see how I feel after Chicago. More than anything looking forward to next year after a solid winter of building more base in cycling and refining swim technique.
2012-08-21 1:03 PM
in reply to: #4373123

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Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Steelhead

I'm the same way.. it's the only way you learn. So how do you know you paced the bike right? What were you trying to maintain?

It certainly can be nutrition. We are all different and nobody can just take a glance and say sure, that's what it is based on how I do it.

Ya, and my last HIM swim, knowing what I know about my stroke, I tried to compensate... but did too much and kept veering right.

You put up a great time and even with your "troubles" on the run, it was still a very strong run. If you can run 7 minute miles in a HIM, wow! And yes, it sounds like you managed the race very well. Definitely right where you need to be.



2012-08-21 1:37 PM
in reply to: #4373123

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Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Steelhead
You rocked it! Congrats and happy birthday!
2012-08-21 7:12 PM
in reply to: #4373406

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Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Steelhead
powerman - 2012-08-21 12:03 PM

I'm the same way.. it's the only way you learn. So how do you know you paced the bike right? What were you trying to maintain?

It certainly can be nutrition. We are all different and nobody can just take a glance and say sure, that's what it is based on how I do it.

Ya, and my last HIM swim, knowing what I know about my stroke, I tried to compensate... but did too much and kept veering right.

You put up a great time and even with your "troubles" on the run, it was still a very strong run. If you can run 7 minute miles in a HIM, wow! And yes, it sounds like you managed the race very well. Definitely right where you need to be.

I suppose at the end of the day it's only a guess if it was nutrition or not. I stayed around the HR I found to work on the bike in training yet felt flat coming off it so I suspect nutrition. But it could just be training and fatigue rather than nutrition. I suppose the only real way to decipher that mystery will be when I go at it again and hopefully hit my nutrition target. Then I can measure how I feel on the run and have a good gauge of what the limiter was. All I know is I can't wait to spend more time training the bike and with a swim coach.
2012-08-21 10:08 PM
in reply to: #4373123

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Elite
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Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Steelhead
Give it a little time to reflect. You get it figured out. Awesome time again.
2012-08-22 7:50 AM
in reply to: #4374334

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Expert
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Scottsdale, AZ
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Steelhead
powerman - 2012-08-21 9:08 PMGive it a little time to reflect. You get it figured out. Awesome time again.
Thanks for the help/advice/insight.
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