I did Steelhead 70.3 yesterday which is my second time doing this particular race. I didn’t have very high expectations since I just did an Olympic last Sunday and wasn’t really following any sort of training plan.
On Saturday, Jordan and I made our way up to Benton Harbor, MI for packet pickup. Benton Harbor is on the southwest corner of the state on Lake Michigan and is about a 4.5 hour drive from Cincinnati. I must say, this weekend I decided that I fucking hate Indiana. No offense to Indiana but DAMN it sucks. Seriously, this drive SHOULD HAVE taken 4.5 hours, but it ended up taking like 6. There is so much construction literally throughout THE ENTIRE STATE. Like every few miles we would come to a complete stop and just sit there for 10 minutes because the whole highway would go down to one lane. Not only that, but a major highway that we were supposed to take out of Indianapolis was closed and we had to reroute and that added like another 30 minutes. Even driving back last night ON A SUNDAY NIGHT most of the drive was a complete clusterfuck. Terrible.
So anyway, we left early enough on Saturday that we should have been there by 3:20pm and packet pickup closed at 4 (I originally thought it was 4:30 oops). But as we kept driving, our ETA kept getting later and later to the point where it was going to be well after 4pm. I panicked because Ironman is pretty strict about you getting your packet on time. THANK GOD I thought to check the athlete guide. There was an emergency number to call if you couldn’t pick up your packet on time. The girl I talked to was super nice and said as long as I get there before 4:30 they would still be packing up and I could just get it then OR we would have had to figure out a way for me to get it the next morning. I’m so glad I called because she said if I hadn’t called they wouldn’t have let me pick it up and that means I wouldn’t have been able to race! But I got there around 4:15 and picked it up and everything was great.
Fast forward to Sunday morning. I got to the race with no hiccups and with plenty of time to spare thank god. For the swim start, we were lined up based on estimated time, so I got in the 28-30 minute group. There was an under 27 minute group as well and there were A LOT of people in that group. Like not that many people even went under 27 minutes…. I just think people went in that group so they could be in the first wave and start earlier. Which, more power to them! I wouldn’t want to do that though because then all the faster people would run them down.
The swim was lovely! Last year the water was super choppy to the point that it was a little bit scary, even as a strong swimmer. A bunch of people didn’t even finish the swim last year because of how bad the conditions were. This year there wasn’t a single wave! It was super calm and the water nice and cool. Nothing too exciting happened during the swim. I finished at about 31 minutes (my watch said 30 minutes) and ran out of the water. The transition area was super long and to get to it we had to run through like 100 yards of sand which sucked. My bike was wayyyyyy over by the transition exit so I then had to run like .25 miles barefoot on concrete to get to it.
My transition was a little slower than I wanted because I could not get my wetsuit off my feet! Normally, races have people who help you get it off. I’m not sure why this one didn’t. I then got on my bike gear and was off! The bike was also somewhat uneventful. About 28 miles into the bike, I noticed my watch stopped working. Normally it should show me my distance and speed but it was just completely blank. I paused it and started it but it still wasn’t working. I turned the watch off and back on and IT STILL DIDN’T WORK. The weirdest part was that it was still recording the ride in the background, but I just couldn’t actually see anything. I usually rely heavily on my watch so I felt a bit vulnerable without it! Now I know what it was like to race in the olden days before Garmin watches existed! Since it wasn’t working, I just decided that I would go as fast as I could, but hopefully was holding a good pace.
I came into transition after the bike still not knowing what my bike time was. I knew I probably PRed it though based on the time I saw before the watch stopped working. I ran my bike through the long ass transition and put on my running gear. I went to go start my watch for the run (praying it would be working because I REEEEEEEEEEALLY need it for pacing my run!!) but before I started it, I took note of the time. it was 10:22am. The race started at 7am. I did some mental math and figured that my swim took about 30 minutes and transition 1 took me about 5 minutes so my bike was about 2:45 or so (just a guess, my brain wasn’t fully functioning) which was great because my previous fastest bike time was 2:54. After the race, I checked the results and my official bike time was 2:43!!!
On the run my watch was actually working! HALLELUJIAH! There was one really big hill at the beginning of the run course which I remembered from last year. I was feeling so strong but decided to walk it anyway. It’s not like running it would have been that much faster! My goal was to keep holding under 9 minute miles for as long as I could. I really felt great pretty much the whole time. I pretty consistently held under 9 mins until the last couple of miles where I was holding closer to 9 or 9:10. I did walk some of the aid stations though because I like to drink Coke during these races and I didn’t want to run and drink Coke. Sounds like a good way to get sticky. My aid station pattern was take a cup of water and drink a sip, dump the rest on my head, take a cup of Coke and drink a sip, then grab a cup of ice at the end and dump it down my sports bra. It was a very, very hot run with little shade but the ice helped a lot! I finished the run with a time of 2:01 which is my fastest half Ironman run time by 9 minutes. My best half marathon time is about 1:50! So I was very happy! My average pace was 9:17 which I attribute to walking through the aid stations.
I finished still not totally sure was my time was since my stupid watch hadn’t worked for the bike course. The big clock over the finish line was giving the time of 5:34 which is 15 minutes faster than my previous best of 5:49. That was enough to make me cry. I cry at basically every one of these races. It never gets any less exciting to cross that finish line! And also usually I’m just so happy to be done.
Immediately after finishing I found Jordan. I took my phone and frantically looked up my results. My time was 5:22. FIVE HOURS TWENTY TWO MINUTES!!!!!!!!!!!! That DESTROYED my time of 5:49! I forgot that the race clock started closer to 6:50am and not at 7am because the pros start earlier. It was so exciting to think I went a 5:34 (which I was very happy about) then find out I was actually 12 minutes faster than that!
I’ve been biking A LOT this summer and I think that’s really improving my bike leg. I can’t wait until the day I can afford an actual carbon tri bike! I do love my bike but it’s a little heavy and it’s just a road bike with aero bars attached, it’s not an actual tri bike.
I’m feeling a little sore today but not as bad as usual! Mostly I’m just in pain from severe chafing (p typical) specifically on the back of my neck from my wetsuit (also sunburnt) and on my ass haha. Obviously I will be taking the day off from any and all forms of physical activity, but I have my 50 West group ride tomorrow and I can’t miss it because I only have THREE more left before I move to LA ☹.
As far as racing goes, I was originally supposed to do Ironman Wisconsin, but with my move and everything the timing didn’t work out. I deferred to a different race instead. In September, I will be doing Ironman 70.3 Superfrog (no idea why it’s called that) in San Diego! IT’S AN OCEAN SWIM! I’M SO EXCITED! So stay tuned for that!