Jun 9, 2009

Steelhead 70.3

Qualifying for the World Championships!! The Steelhead 70.3 Triathlon was the race I had been building towards all year. Every long ride on my trainer during the dead of winter. Every lap in the pool and every mile put on my trainers. I knew this would be the race that would decide if I was going to be any good at this sport. All year I dreamed about comparing myself against the best in the Midwest. I couldn't wait to find out where I stood. Since the MiltonMan Triathlon, my bike training had been going great. I cycled 230 miles in Lake Placid during Ironman week. I knew all the pain I went through in those mountains would translate to a fast bike split at Steelhead. My run training had still been very low mileage leading up the race, but I still felt very strong and I wasn't concerned. I got into Benton Harbor, Michigan on Thursday. The race was on Saturday. I was lucky enough to stay with Jody at his hotel. It was about 1000 times nicer than the Motel 6 I stayed in the other days. After getting into town, we swam a little and checked out the race sight. We pretty much just relaxed. We all though Saturday was going to get into the 90's so I concentrated on drinking a ton of water all day Thursday and Friday. On Friday, we went to registration and road our bikes a little bit on the course. We just needed to make sure the race setups were in order. After racking our bikes that evening, Dave and I went to grab a pre-race diner at Applebee's with my parents. Then, it was all about trying to calm the nerves.... race time was approaching quick.I awoke on Saturday morning after getting almost 7 hours of sleep. I never get that much before a race. We gathered our stuff and ate breakfast. Jody came and picked us up before 6:00am. On the way to the race, I was quiet. I needed to concentrate on what I had to do that day. I knew I would be tested physically and mentally. After setting up transition, I found a hidden Port-A-John behind the RV's. It was a nice score...I didn't have to wait in line. While doing my business, I heard the announcer say that the swim was cancelled due to 4-foot swells. I thought he was joking. All of a sudden this race became very different. I knew my age group was packed with solid runners. This was going to make it tougher. I didn't care though...I came here to qualify for the World Championship no matter what I had to do. The race started with a 2.1 mile run instead of the 1.2 mile swim. I positioned myself at the front of the field. The gun blew and we took off. Immediately Nick Waniger took off. One guy went with him and rest sat back. I lead the pack into T1 about 1:30 back from the lead two. They absolutely smoked the 2.1 mile run in 10:20. My trans was quick and I was soon on the bike. Immediately my cycling legs where there. I felt strong for the first time all season, very strong. I was passed by several guys in my age group during the first 25 miles, but I wasn't worried. I was hoping my pacing was stronger. I went through mile 25 in 58:00. I almost couldn't believe I was riding that fast. My nutrition was solid during the whole leg and I still felt good. I went through mile 50 in under 2 hours. I was still flying. As I approached transition, I knew I would have to have a great run. I needed to pass like 7 guys. Right away, I passed two guys in my age group. I ran the first mile in 6:15. It was conservative...I needed to save energy. As the run progressed, I started to feel better and better. Everything was clicking into place. Mile after mile, I ran at 6:30 pace. Then, at mile 8, I approached the guy who was sitting in 5th position. I needed to pass him. It was time to make my move. I ran on his feet for 30 seconds conserving energy. Then, I dropped the hammer. He went with me for a few minutes, but I was able to eventually drop him. At mile 10 my quads started to cramp. I didn't care though. I only had a 5k left. That finishing chute was awesome. It was lined with people and I couldn't have been happier to be running through it. I saw my parents and my brother. I gave a few high fives and then crossed in 3:55:30. I finished 23rd out of more than 2500 athletes. I finished 3rd in my age group. I was also the first Ohioan to cross the finish line. My bike split was 2:15:06. I averaged 24.8 mph. My run was 1:25:40 (roughly 6:32 per mile). After I finished, I found out that I was one person away from making it to the 70.3 World Championship in Clearwater. Luckily, one the guys ahead of me already had a slot. Now, I get to race with the best 50 athletes in my age group from around the world. It will be a true test...We will see where I stand against the best in the world!

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