Steelhead 70.3 Pre-Race Report

Well I raced my ‘A’ race of the season this past weekend and even though it didn’t go as planned (spoiler: no PR and breaking 6 hours…boo..hiss), there were some good parts and also some learning lessons, so I can’t say that it was all bad.

JMR and I headed up to Benton Harbor Friday morning, an hour behind schedule, but still with plenty of time (or so I thought).  We stopped for lunch and were back on the road in a little under an hour…until… I realized.. there was a time change.  Good grief, so now being an hour behind schedule + 1 hr lunch + time change, we were three hours behind, not arriving until almost 4p!  I had thought we would get in around 1p, perfect to get a nice lunch, then check in at the race, head to the hotel to relax, and have a nice dinner along the beach.  Boy was I wrong.

We got to athlete check-in around 4:30p, I quickly checked in, bought my usual race t-shirt with all of the athlete’s names, and we hung around for the 5p athlete meeting (basically a pre-race briefing going over the course and rules).  The meeting ended at 5:30, and we headed back to check into the hotel and unload our car…it was supposed to be 15 minutes away but somehow it took 30 minutes…grr.  Our dinner reservation was at 6:30p so we were cutting things close.  After unpacking and freshening up, we headed to Silver Beach Pizza at 6:20, already running late and both not in great moods because we were tired and frustrated with having to rush rush rush, and arrived around 6:40.  Phew.

We had reservations at the ‘upper deck’ which was 21 and over, so it was more of a lounge/adult atmosphere, and our table overlooked the lake and beach so it had a nice view.  We ordered half Hawaiian and half  Carousel (Pepperoni, sausage, ham, bell pepper and mushrooms), and it was delicious (I ate the few leftovers we had later on that night).  I didn’t take a picture of the pizza, but I did manage to take one of the ridiculously large Founders Centennial IPA I ordered (the 18oz ‘schooner’ is their signature size).

Carb loading?

After dinner we walked along the beach and checked out the water.  At the athlete meeting they said the water temperature measured 75.9 so I was curious to see how it felt, and it was a little chilly at first, but definitely nothing like the water temperatures at Racine… I started to wonder if the swim wouldn’t be wetsuit legal, which I actually would be ok with since I hadn’t swam in my wetsuit all summer and was worried about another panic attack like IMWI’s swim last year.

The next morning we were up bright and early to head to the 10k race JMR had signed up for in  South Haven , MI, which was around 30 minutes away from Benton Harbor.  The race had a fun theme as it was held in the morning of their Annual National Blueberry Festival, so we were excited to also check out the festivities after the run.  Unfortunately after we parked and headed to packet pickup it started POURING down rain.  I headed back to the car to attempt to stay dry while JMR waited in line since packet pickup was outside.  When he got back to the car he was soaked.  And grumpy.  He announced that this was stupid and we were just going to leave.  As I put the car in drive, he had a change of heart and said, ‘ok, no, let’s just wait it out and see’ (which I was happy to hear because we woke up early and drove all of the way there).  However, it just kept pouring.  I checked the weather radar on my phone and it looked like the rain was going to stop around 8:45a, 15 minutes after the 10k started. So, not terrible, but at the rate it was going, it would be a miserable 15 minutes for JMR.

Around 8:15 JMR got out to do his pre-race run (in the rain) and I hung out with some other runners under an awning close to the start.  Another runner joined us and said that they had pushed the race back to 8:45, they must have looked at the same radar I did 🙂  As it got closer to 8:45a the rain stopped and JMR headed to the start to get ready.  It was a pretty small race and I’m not even sure there was a gun, I just heard ‘Go!’ and they were off!

I had some time to kill so I walked around and took a few pictures and then hung out at the finish line.

I really need a real camera, my iPhone 5 doesn’t do this view justice

I counted the male runners as they came by and couldn’t believe JMR was the 11th male!  He blew by me and crossed the finish, and we later found out he had won his age group 🙂

Lookin’ good.

We stayed for awards, but because we were both still pretty wet and tired, we didn’t stick around for the parade or festivities so we could shower and relax at the hotel.

After we got cleaned up and rested for a bit, we headed to bread + bar for lunch, and it was good!  I definitely haven’t been following my usual race protocol regarding food…pizza on Friday and now a salad for lunch (usually I just get sandwiches, skip the bread and eat sweet potato fries, not exactly healthy, but it works!), but I was excited for a mini-vacation and wanted to enjoy the food too.  Although I think my pre-race nerves had finally settled in because I could only eat half of my salad and JMR finished the rest.  Next we headed back to the race site so I could check out transition and race day parking since we rushed out on Friday and didn’t get a chance….which was probably a terrible idea.  It was crazy crowded and we had to park in race day parking, which was 1.5 miles away (eek… so much for staying off my feet the day before the race), and the lines to register and check -in bikes were crazy crazy long, which didn’t affect me since I had already checked in and was bringing my bike in the morning, but boy did it ramp up my pre-race anxiety.  I did get swim in/bike out/bike in/run out all figured out, and found where I will rack Lola, but after that, we got the heck out of there (and took the shuttle back, no more walking for me!).


We hung out in the room for a couple of hours until my friend R arrived, who made the trip up to cheer me and a few of his other friends that were racing on, and then headed to dinner at a restaurant nearby that had my usual pre-race steak and baked potato (no sweet potato, but I had decided any potato will do :))  Service was pretty slow and terrible, but the food was good, and around 8p we headed back to the hotel for me to prep my transition bag, get things ready for the morning and head to bed.

I slept awful.  Awful.  The pull out couch R was sleeping on had squeaky springs and every time he moved it squeaked.  I know he tried to  be quiet but that stupid bed was noisy. By 2a I was already dreading getting up in 2ish hours since I had hardly slept at all.  But once 3:50a hit, I was up, ate my breakfast (2 hardboiled eggs, 1 cup of applesauce and a banana), hopped in the shower, and then started to pack up things and get ready.  By 5a we were out the door and headed to the race site.  Traffic wasn’t terrible and we were parked around 5:40a and made the long walk to transition, which wasn’t as terrible as the route the day before, since we were able to cut through neighborhoods making it only around a mile.

I got to transition around 6a and it closed at 6:45a, so I had plenty of time to set up transition, wait in the porta-potty lines,  and then hang out with JMR and R since my wave didn’t go off until 7:56a.  Around 7:30a I headed into the water for a quick warmup (which felt good) and then took a gel.  Soon it was time to get into my wave to line up to start.  Eek.  I felt sick to my stomach and nervous.  Why does it never seem to get easier the more races that I do?!  Soon I was wading in the water with my wave, with 1 minute to go.  I adjusted my goggles, stretched my arms and I heard the horn sound, we were off!!


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