I raced Ironman Steelhead 70.3 back in 2016, and crashed and burned on the run, so I have had this race on my list for a rematch. This time around I definitely had some expectations (beating my time in 2016, if anything at least the run time), but also to just have fun since my last 70.3 was in 2019 and I was a little rusty!
I drove up Friday evening after work and arrived at 11p (darn the hour time change and two stops along the way), and was pretty tired so after unpacking I was asleep by 12:15. I figured I would sleep in due to getting to bed that late, but of course my body woke up at 6a as usual (well 5a my time), so I got up in search of a good local coffee place and then would eat my big pre-race breakfast back in the room. I ended up in downtown St. Joseph at a local coffee and breakfast place and was so surprised at how nice and charming the downtown area was. In 2016 we only ventured to the race venue and a restaurant near our hotel closer to Benton Harbor so I had never been to St. Joseph. If I ever do this race again staying in St. Joseph will be the plan!
After breakfast I took the bike for a short spin around the road near my hotel and then headed to the expo/athlete check-in at St. Joseph High School. This was a change from 2016 where check-in was at the park where the race was. Check in was fast, I only bought a water bottle (ha) and then hung out for the athlete briefing at 11a. After the briefing I headed back to downtown St Joseph to walk around the farmers market (not too much walking though!) and grabbed a Jimmy Johns sandwich to eat for lunch.
I hung out in the room for a bit and then at 1:30 I was on the move again to head to transition to drop off my bike. I’ve never racked my new bike before and was shocked when I noticed the front tire didn’t even slightly touch the ground when racked by the seat! I’m not that short!? After much debating I decided I would rack my bike overnight by the handlebars so I wouldn’t risk it falling if it got windy at night (storms were predicted), and then would switch back to the seat in the morning.
When I got back to the hotel I did a little bit of my needlepoint (It’s a fun Halloween scene!), got chicken to go from Applebees to eat with my microwave rice for dinner (my bland, light pre-race meal), and then worked on getting my gear/nutrition set up for the next day. Once I was done with pre-race prep, I headed to bed at 8p with an alarm set for 3a. Sooo early, but I wanted to leave by 4a to get good parking and then get to transition when it opened at 4:30. The less rushed I am, the lower my stress stays!
I actually slept pretty well and when the alarm went off I was awake and ready. I ate, got dressed, packed everything up and was headed to my car a little after 4. The drive to the parking area was only about ten minutes away, super easy to get to, and I got great parking! Once parked, I grabbed all of my gear and headed to transition. As usual I spent way too long fussing with my tire pressure and triple checking everything, however I didn’t have anything else to do for an hour so I gave into my obsession of checking things way too many times. Finally at about 6a I headed to the beach to get my wetsuit on and line up with my swim pace group.
At the swim start I heard my name and saw a local coach from STL with some of her athletes, and she came up to say hi. It was so nice to see a familiar friendly face after being solo all weekend! We chatted for a bit until it got close to 6:30 and then we got into our swim waves (I wish I was as fast as they are!).
The nerves starting setting in a little as my line inched forward to the start. I made sure my goggles were extra tight, my turn was coming up and my stomach was in knots. I waited for the beep to signal it was my turn to go, then I hopped/ran into the lake until it was deep enough to start swimming. ‘Here we go!’ I said to myself.