Steelhead 70.3 Race Report

As the horn blasted I attempted to run through the water but then decided to just dive in and go.  Welp that was no-go, I hit a wave and swallowed a lot of water.  I stood up and continued to run/waddle through the water and finally decided to go for it again.  As usual it was chaotic being amongst the other swimmers, everyone trying to find their own space.  I kept trying to get into a rhythm but just couldn’t.  My usual bilateral breathing wasn’t working too well as every time I tried to breathe on the left, I would get hit in the face with a wave.  I thought they said it was smooth water today?!  I beg to differ. So instead I just decided to breathe only on my right and every stroke, which I’m not used to doing, so I think it was probably the least efficient way for me to swim, but I wasn’t sure what else to do.  It was taking forever and I couldn’t get into a groove.

Finally I hit the first turn buoy and was able to do my bilateral breathing without getting hit in the face every time.  I got into a groove and thought that things were going a bit better.  I still didn’t feel in control as much as I did in Effingham which was a bit frustrating since I have been working on my swimming, but at that point I would be happy with just getting out of the water.  Lake Michigan is kind of scary, more like an Ocean than a lake.  And because of the storms from Friday the water was not clear at all like it was at Racine, instead dark and very murky.  A little panic started to set in, but I kept talking myself down and focusing on just one stroke at a time.  I got to the last turn buoy to head to shore and once again my bilateral breathing wasn’t working out so well again, this time with the sun in my face when I’d breathe to the left, so I stuck to just breathing on my right and every stroke.  Just get this swim over I kept telling myself.  Finally I could feel the sand under me and stood up and waddled to the swim exit arch.  I looked at my watch and about fell over, 43 minutes!?!?!  What!?  My goal was 36…I’m  really going to have to make up some time on the bike if I want to break 6 hours.

I saw R and JMR when running walking through transition (man it was a huge transition, I swear it felt like it took me 10 minutes) and gave them a thumbs down and a frowny face.  Once I got to my bike I rinsed off my feet, got my socks, shoes, helmet and sunglasses on and was off.  No I wasn’t.  My swim skin was still around my waist…grr.  I sat back down and wrestled with it to get it off, which was proving difficult because I had my bike shoes on.  I finally got the darn thing off and then was finally off.  Once I got to the bike mount line I stopped to lock my watch (yeah it took a little bit of time but was worth it to know I wouldn’t hit the lap button on the bike), and hopped on Lola.  We were off!

After getting into a groove after the first couple of miles I started to pass a. lot. of. people.  Woo-hoo!  Starting in one of the last few waves stinks but it was fun to pass people.  Also the roads were so nice and smooth, nothing like Racine.  I was loving the bike course, passing people, focusing on nutrition and watching my HR.  It hovered around 159 which was right around the planned pace, and I also noticed my speed wasn’t too shabby either, but tried to not let the numbers mess with me and to focus on HR.  I hit the halfway point just a bit under 1:30, maybe sub 3 would be possible. At this point I couldn’t control what happened on the swim, but I could with the bike and run.  So that was the goal.  The rest of the bike was pretty uneventful, I did get passed by a crap-ton of the men from the two waves behind me, but did pass a lot of women, and I saw R and JMR around mile 50, I waved and smiled to let them know the bike was going much better than the swim.  Soon I hit the no-pass zone and rode single file along the boardwalk and finally into transition.  I looked down at my watch and saw 2:55, hell yeah!! Bike PR!

I hopped off my bike, tried to run/jog in my bike shoes down the long ass transition, quickly swapped out shoes, put on my hat, grabbed my bib and gels and was off.  Well I also took a huuuge gulp of water from my bike bottle.  I wasn’t sure why was I so thirsty, I thought I had stayed on top of my nutrition on the bike.

Drinking all of that water was a bad idea because I started the run with a huge stomach slosh, ugh.  On top of that I had to pee, badly.  Once I got to the first aid station around mile 1.5 I ducked into a porta potty, then proceeded to grab a cup of water and gatorade and drank them both.  Stupid.  But I was sooo thirsty.  More stomach slosh.  With the porta potty stop and a huge hill the first three miles I was averaging just under 10 min miles, which with my fuzzy math, would put me pretty close to going sub 6, but I would really have to stick to that pace.

At the next aid station I drank more water, coke and gatorade and waddled off with more stomach slosh.  I knew better than to drink that much but I was so thirsty and it seemed like the aid stations were not a mile apart (they weren’t more like 1.5 and even close to 2 miles for one of them…I should have looked at the run map instead of assuming they were every mile).  So that messed with my head.  I saw R and JMR and around mile 3.5  and gave them a thumbs down and tried to pick up the pace.  That wasn’t happening.  Once they were out of sight I started walking (I couldn’t let them see me walk!), I couldn’t bear the stomach slosh anymore.  Ugh, this run wasn’t going as planned.  I tried to pick up the pace and started running again but it was slow, very slow.  I could see cups along the other side of the path which meant that there had to be an aid station close, my watch beeped and it was an ugly double digit number and I told myself I could walk at the next aid station.  Finally I got to the aid station, drank way too much water and gatorade and was also sad that they didn’t have any coke.

The next part of the course was 1.5-2? miles on a woodsy type trail and I straight up walked at least half of a mile, but managed to shuffle through the rest with a few little walk breaks until we were out of the woods and headed to the next aid station.  This one had coke (hooray) and I carried a cup of ice water for another .5 miles and took small sips instead of one big chug.  I saw R and JMR again and R said ‘you have to run a 9:30 pace to hit your goal’, I looked at my watch and I was pretty much walk/running a 14 min mile.  Yeah right R.  I waved my hands  in the air and said ‘I don’t think that’s going to happen!’ (Sorry R you are a good sherpa, I’m a bad follower) and carried on, doing a slow jog and then more walking.  I hit the last aid station on the run loop, drank more water/gatorade/coke, did more jogging and finally was on lap 2, and I instantly felt a wave of relief, I was halfway done, I can run 6.6 miles!  That’s do-able!

It’s so weird but after the first half I could run, I took little breaks at the aid stations but no more walk breaks were needed.  Puffy bloated stomach was gone and I was on a mission.  A slow mission at that because I knew my PR was out the window and I was also way beyond the time for most of my races, but I wanted to finish. On I ran, negative splitting my second half of the run and dashing through the finish line with legs that definitely had more oompf they than should have (the guy next to me said ‘wanna race?!  I said ‘yes’, and we raced into the chute. I wanted to puke after.  Bad idea)!

When I saw myy watch, h0ly moly, 6:13. That  number made me sad, sad, sad.  This was supposed to be my A race and there was nothing A about it.  BUT, (I had to have some time to think before I could think of the positives) my bike was good and I’m 99% certain that it didn’t have anything to do with my run (I’ve always been told you can’t have a good bike and a bad run, instead that means you overbiked), so the run (mental side) still needs to be worked on, but glad I did the race, and I would do it again, I loved the course!

So that’s my last triathlon race for 2016 😦 I tried to convince my coach to let me do another on the drive home from Steelhead and it didn’t work. So on to building a good base for IMWI2017 and doing some running races along the way! 🙂

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