When I first planned my year I had my sights 100% set on Steelhead. I wanted to go to Clearwater. As the year went on I really got into racing half Ironman races. I gave all the races 100% and had some amazing weekends. Kinetic was awesome and a good early season test, giving me Swim Bike and Run PRs. Then the Triple T was just too awesome for words. Musselman was a huge breakthough with another bike and run PR. So when it came time for Steelhead I was excited to race, but no longer felt like it was this huge race I'd been building for. Clearwater had gotten less exciting to me as well. I realized that I really enjoyed the smaller races where the bike courses had some breathing room and I don't have a ton of extra money to use to go to Florida. So I went into the race wanting to PR the swim, bike and run (the bike was a no-brainer since it's flat), but I wasn't sure if I really wanted to go to Clearwater in November.
I am very fortunate to have met a great couple, Anita and Jim, when I was in Florida this year who own a boat that they dock at St. Joes. They offered to let me stay on their boat when I came up for the race. Anita was doing the race, her first half in many years. She did Kona in '96 (how cool is that?) but had taken many years off of racing. I met them the day before the race at the expo where they were volunteering and I jumped in and helped with packet pickup. That was fun. Then we went back to the boat and cleaned up and went to dinner at another wonderful couple's house. They were hosting the only pro woman who was at the race, Gina Kehr, and it was great to have a nice home cooked meal with some new friends who were all SOOOO friendly and funny and relaxed. After that we went back to the boat and I was cutting Z's within minutes, lulled to sleep by the slow rocking of the waves.
Got up, got ready, and drove to the race super early. Set up transition and made the long walk to the swim start. I had lost Anita somehow so chatted it up with some other competitors on the walk to the start. It was SUPER windy and the there were whitecaps and breaking waves out about 500 yards. So it looked like it was going to be a rocky morning. One thing that stood out was that there were no buoys on the race course except for at the beginning and end. Also obviously absent were boats in the water. Weird. About 10 minutes after I arrived at the start they announced that they were canceling the swim. I was super disappointed, but completely understood. I guess the kayakers couldn't hold their lines in the waves and buoys kept breaking loose. And there was a very strong current. I figured that this made the Clearwater decision for me, as I am a much stronger triathlete than duathlete. We all walked back to transition to get our shoes for the 2.1 mile run and walked to the run start.
Run # 1
The beginning of the run really highlighted how huge this race is. The competitors lined up on the street for blocks. They set us off in waves by our age groups every 4 minutes (instead of 6 as it was supposed to be for the swim). I knew this was going to make for an even more crowded bike course and an insane transition. I mean, how spread out are we REALLY going to get in a 2 mile run. Not very.
My wave took off somewhere around 8:20 and the run went straight up a big hill and back. I tried to keep at 1/2 iron run pace so as not to get overly anaerobic. I also didn't want to pull anything since I didn't get a chance to warm up. It went fine. Headed into T1 at 15:16.
Ran in, got my bike, helmet, took off. 1:04 T1 time. I ran out to start the bike and heard someone in the audience yell- Go Mike Honcho! It was my mom! Yay! My parents made it out. That was so cool to see. And they had my puppy who I haven't seen in 8 weeks. SUPER cool.
Not so super cool- Idiot me forgot to put on my sunglasses. DOH!
I had actually tapered for this race so my legs felt great and the bike was fast. It became immediately apparent that the only way not to draft was to pass people. So that's what I did. Whizzing to the left past people then back to the right. Over and over. The course was SO FAST. It was boatloads of fun. My crank was making some funny noises that had me very concerned, but I figured a flat course wasn't going to put too much stress on it so I tried to ignore it.
I did a good job of not drafting or blocking until about mile 48 or so when the age grouper men caught me. I got engulfed in a big pack and had to expend a lot of energy to pass them again. Thankfully we hit a section with a strong crosswind and my wheels are money with a crosswind (hence their name- Nimble Crosswind...). I feel like I'm shot out of a cannon when I get the right wind angle. So I continued on and made it into transition super fast. When I looked at my watch I realized that the course had to be short, as I had imagined it would be when they had to change it at the last minute to make room for the first run. By all accounts it was 54 miles.
Time: 2:31:52 21.34 mph (adjusted for length)
So if it had been 56 miles it would have been 2:36:30. Which is still pretty huge for me
T2: Uneventful. Exactly the same time as T1. 1:04. No reason for it to be any faster or longer than T1 I supposed. Same distance, opposite order of events.
Run: When I started the run I was sure that it was going to be a big suckfest. I was hot. Really, really hot. Melting actually. And I was slow. I hit the first mile at 9 minutes and made a pledge that if I totally blow up I can't walk! I decided then to walk through all the aid stations and take in as much fluid as possible. After the second aid station where I took water and threw it over my head and 2 cups of gatorade down the hatch I started feeling better. Much better, actually. And I started to pick it up. For some reason I always have this feeling that triathlon runs are going to drag on forever. And they never do. The miles just click off so fast that the race is done before I know it! When I turned around for loop 2 I really started to cook. Now I was lapping people so there was always a target to pass. That really helps to keep moving. But of course, as always I got to mile 11 and completely ran out of gas. This is actually a good scenerio, since I can always talk myself through 2 miles of pain. But man, do those 2 miles HURT. Thankfully at Steelhead it was all downhill. And by this point there was plenty of eye candy to chase since the age grouper men were just starting to pass me. Never hurts to have that extra motivation!
As I came into the last stretch, which someone with a really sick sense of humor made through very soft sand, I got a huge smile on my face. It was over, already. My 4th Half Iron race of the year, and it was a successful one. I saw my parents off to the side, crossed the finish line, beaming, and literally collapsed. Thankfully there were 2 great volunteers who caught me and dragged me over to chair since I was completely out of it and couldn't even support my own weight. Mickey, our local race director and friend came over to congratulate me, which was really nice. I had warned him about my tendency to leave it all on the course and that I would be unlikely to be verbal after the race. I was right!
Run: 1:44:25 (7:58/mile)
After a few minutes of stuper I got up and walked over to the food trough like a drunken sailor and then saw Maddie and my parents waiting for me. What a treat! We found a spot under a tree where we hung out until I could start to process information again. It was a good day.
My parents were nice enough to hang out through the long rolldown process. I didn't get a slot, as they only rolled to 8th or 9th in my AG (I was 10th out of 128). Ironically I thought that racing in 25-29 would give me a BETTER chance at qualifying (I raced 30-34 all year due to USAT rules and this race did age on race day instead). Turns out I would have gotten a slot in 30-34. Oh well. Now I have to find something else to do with my November. I'm sure I'll think of something!
Went with Mom, Dad, Anita and Jim for ice cream, they handed off Maddie and we drove home, landing in Cleveland around 11:15. Paulo was nice enough to keep close tabs on me during the drive so that I didn't fall asleep (I was a tad tired and a little bit out of it still). And this morning I took the Mad Dog on a 1.5 hour tour of her new neighborhood, including a dip in the lake. It's so nice to have her back!
Bike and Run PRs. A very fun weekend, and some time with my family. A very well run race, and great job to the RDs for the last minute course changes with very little delay. First class event.
Big disappointment not to have the swim. Especially since this most likely would have been a sub-5 performance for me and huge breakthrough. Not to mention a likely Clearwater slot
Someone took my aerohelmet from transition (#964 if anyone reading this took it by mistake...). I'm holding out hope that it was a mistake, but fear it was stolen. Just damn!
OK, time to find another race to do this year!
Conversation with Paulo this morning:
pAULO says: (12:03:46 PM)
For someone that didn't want to go to Clearwater, you sure mention it a lot ;)
Jodi says: (12:03:57 PM)
I would have taken the slot
don't really want the season to be over yet
I guess that's the main reason I wanted to do Clearwater
I've had a lot of fun racing this year
pAULO says: (12:08:03 PM)
and good races
now you need to become a decent runner
I guess it's time to do some run training....
A Few Good Swims
2 hours ago