My journey to Steelhead started late Thursday night when I started taking The Bike apart to pack in a bike box for my flight the next day. Cousin Miles, who did Steelhead this year with me, picked me up at 5:45 the next morning to catch an 8:30 flight from New Orleans to Chicago. We arrived in Chicago at about 11:00 and headed straight to St. Joe, Michigan, to register and check our bikes into transition.
We unpacked our bikes in the parking area of Jean Klock park and put them together. I rode The Bike around the race site to be sure that everything was working correctly. We then registered, got body marked, and checked our bikes into transition. I then came across my new Evotri teammate, JP, at the Michigan State University tri tent. What a cool guy. Cousin Miles and I then had an early carb loading supper with the rest of the Evotri gang - it was so great to see them all again!
Next, we headed over to our friends John and Tracy's house in Niles, Michigan, who were incredibly kind to put us up for a few nights. They were even nice enough to get up early with us the next morning, make us breakfast, and drive us 45 minutes to St Joe to the tri start. It was so nice to be dropped off right at transition and not have to worry about parking! Miles and I got our transition areas situated, put on our wetsuits to our waists, and headed to the beach to walk the mile to the start.
The wind was blowing pretty hard, and I noticed white caps out in the lake pretty far. I saw jet skis hopping over waves, and kayakers having difficulty with the waves. I walked along the edge of the water where the sand was firmer, and was surprised by how not cold the water seemed. It wasn't until we were almost all the way to the start that we found out that the swim was cancelled. Then we trekked another mile in the sand back to transition, put on our running gear, and got ready for the 2 mile run that was substituted for the swim.
My age group was wave 15, which was third to last - really sucked. I'd never done a duathlon before, and thought I would treat the two mile run as a warm up. It was relatively uneventful, except for the hellish hill and the run through the dunes in the deep sand at the end.
The bike - I really enjoyed the bike. I'm surprised to be saying that, especially since it was windy and hilly. But I enjoyed it. I think a big part of it was that this was the first race that I've done on The Bike, which fits me so much better than my old bike. I've also never raced with a power meter before. I tell you, it makes all the difference in the world. Coach Dan advised me to not spend more than 240-250 watts getting up the hills, so that I could save my legs for the run. It was also very helpful to be able to monitor my power output at all times to be able to pace myself better during the entire bike, especially given all the many variables like wind, hills, etc. I was so thankful to not flat or crash - I saw too many of both of these on the bike.
The run - I started the run with one goal - finish without walking. I didn't care how slow I had to run, I was not going to walk. Not even the hills. Not even the big hills. Not even the cruel quicksand pit at the very end of the race. DO NOT WALK! It wasn't easy, but I was able to reach that goal because I had planned for it throughout my bike, and I had nailed my nutrition. It's amazing what your body can do when you give it proper fuel.
Results - hard to compare to other 70.3's without the swim, so here are my splits.
Bike Steelhead 2008 2:48 (Steelhead 2006 3:46)
Run 2008 1:43 (2006 2:42)
Discussion - for me, these results are so much better than the past two 70.3's I've done. I think my improvement can be attributed to a lot of things, especially my coaching, my equipment, and improvement in my arthritis that was more active in 2006. But I think a HUGE factor was getting my nutrition right this time, which I've never been able to do before. In my next post I'm going to discuss my Steelhead nutrition more, and list everything that I ate the day before and the day of the race because I would like to try to duplicate it for IM-FL in November.
Went out to Heston Bar and Grill for supper that night to refuel, and man did we refuel!
Thanks - BIG thanks to Cousin Miles for signing up and doing Steelhead with me, even though you're such a jackass. BIG thanks to John and Tracy for your incredible hospitality, and spending your entire Saturday chasing me and Miles around southwest Michigan. And BIG thanks to Coach Dan who drove in from Chicago with his girlfriend early Saturday morning just to watch me do this race - you're the best!