Sunday, August 07, 2005

Fleeting and Random Steelhead Thoughts

Wearing race #0007 was cool, something like twice as cool as James Bond. He's only a "double-oh."

Oh boy, do I owe the Weather Gods some sort of offering for the perfect 80-degree, light winds, low humidity day.

Much to the consternation of those around me, I cannonballed off the pier. They got over it.

Thanks to a busy racing schedule this year, I am FINALLY over my bad case of the swim freak-outs. If it was going to happen again it would've happened yesterday, and it didn't. I'm still S-L-O-W, but now my heart rate is in Zone 5 only when it needs to be!

Drafting another swimmer is a lot easier in theory than in practice.

A guy who I think was the eventual race winner started two swim waves behind me and passed me before I'd hit the swim's halfway point, his yellow swim cap little more than a blur. At the time I thought there's three possibilities here: (1) He's in the wrong wave, (2) I'm swimming in reverse, or (3) He's just plain fast. You'd be right to take door #3.

I like the swim format with buoys stretching to the horizon. All you have to do is swim 'til there aren't any more, turn right and head for the beach.

Lake Michigan's waves were mostly small except for the occasional monster that'd slap you into remembering where you were and what you were doing.

Swimming into the sun makes it hard to sight. I could not see the swim exit to save my life. Following the crowd in front of me worked, though I ended up on the beach 30 yards away from where I needed to be. Which means...

...I had to run through even MORE sand to get back to transition. Well, actually I walked back to transition.

Coming out of T1 I discovered that my chain was off. It'd had been fine during my warmup and was fine when I racked my bike. Dunno what happened in the intervening 90 minutes.

Karyn was right: it's REALLY hard not to chase the rabbits early in the bike. She was also right that I'd catch many of them before the race was over. I didn't catch them all, but more than a few blew up big time. Strategy, strategy, strategy. And know your gears.

Pro triathlete Wendy Ingraham's cheery "Hey, how are you doing today?" made getting smoked by her at mile 25 a little easier to take. Approximately three seconds later she was just a little dot receding into the distance.

Staff at the County Highway Department - who're apparently unable to read a calendar - necessitated several last-minute changes in the bike route. I liked the SEBA route better, but what're ya gonna do.

I followed my strategy of breaking the bike into easy/medium/hard thirds, and it actually worked. So did standing up for a few seconds on climbs; my back felt great the whole time.

Pre-race course talks focused on NOT LITTERING. So when my water bottle popped out of its cage at mile 45, I stopped, cursed a few times, turned around and picked it up. That "good citizen" feeling isn't quite compensating me for the fact that I could've finished under 5:20 if I hadn't.

Whirlpool's corporate headquarters coming up on my left at mile 54 was SUCH a welcome sight. Two more, mostly downhill miles to go.

Even with a bathroom stop, my transitions were OK. ITP told me about a woman whose T1 time was roughly 25 minutes. What could you possibly do in transition for that long?

ITP dunked my hat in ice water as I left T2. Almost as great a feeling as...

...leaving T2 knowing that my 6:00 goal time was firmly within reach.

That hill in the run's first mile sucked. But I never walked. And I got to run down the very same hill in mile 3.

One of my gels flew out of my jersey pocket somewhere between T2 and mile 1. So I guess I littered anyway.

Having someone to run with and talk to in miles 3-8 helped take my mind off the fact that I WAS DOING A FREAKIN' HALF-IRONMAN! I felt even better that he was thirty and I'm...not...and I left him in the dust at mile 8.

I slowed at every other water station and made sure I said "thanks."

I passed a guy at mile 11 who, I guess, was looking for someone to pace him. He dropped in behind me and when I started to struggle, he said "Oh, c'mon. What're you slowing down for anyway?" Just the motivation I needed to pick it back up.

Miles 12 and 13 were tough. I wanted to walk sooooo badly. My knees were screaming for relief, but that relief never came, because...

...I was on the verge of walking when I rounded the last bend and saw the crowds waiting by the entrance to Clock Park. Ain't walking then. No way.

The run from the park entrance, up the cobblestones and around the pavilion to the finish line was one of the longest short stretches I've ever run.

Somewhere during the run I was thinking "My knees hurt, I'm getting a blister on my foot, I have a side stitch and my shoulder's cramping, but there's still no place in the world I'd rather be."

Now it's over and I miss it. I want that feeling again. All of it, even the pain.

There's rumors that next year's Steelhead will be a Kona qualifier. If so, I'd expect double yesterday's 800 athletes to show up, and most of the new additions will be freakishly fast. No matter. I'll still be there with a smile on my face having a great time - just like yesterday.

Finish vertically!


Comm's said...

Let me first to say thanks for the report and happy your did so well. It is a special event you just participated in and you you were able to share that with me.

nancytoby said...

Wow. Impressive!!! A cannonball? AND you went back for a water bottle!? Those impress me more than any numbers you can cite! Well done!!!!! Well done indeed!!!

Flatman said...

Way to go, Steve. You crushed, rocked and pummelled that course! I am proud of you!

Congratulations on a very strong race.

tarheeltri said...

Congrats on the race... nothing better than coming in ahead of schedule. What type of jersey do you wear? I have a Tyr and the same thing happened to me.

Vertical Man said...

I've been wearing a QR jersey and I love it, but I REALLY needed that gel! Tri-shorts are Desoto and I love them too.

bunnygirl said...

Wow, great job and a great report! You remind me why I should get out and race more often!

Congrats on a good, solid race!

Shelley said...

You rock!!! Congrats again on such a fine speed demon you!!!
I could imagine you coming pretty close if not..right qualify for Kona next year...mark my words..:-D

Wil said...

Yep, it's true, definitely gonna be a Kona race next year! You had such an amazing race, I'm so proud to have been out there with you (well, at least for a little while Mr. sub 6!!!)

Vertical Man said...

You guys are the best! I'm definitely doing Steelhead next year, Kona or not (and more likely NOT!)