Another month, another race. After a breakthrough performance last month at IRONMAN 70.3 Muncie & securing my spot at the 2017 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships, I took a few days to recharge and recover before starting another training block.
Christina and I spent a few days training around the flatlands and cornfields in central Indiana before heading to Benton Harbor on Saturday. We arrived at Jean Klock Park around 2pm for race packet pickup – the registration line was incredibly long but thanks to our All World Athlete status, we skipped the line and breezed through registration in 10 minutes.
Afterwards, we did a short shakeout swim in Lake Michigan. Water temps were much warmer than I had expected…the one previous time I had stepped foot in Lake Michigan was during my 2010 trip to Chicago where water temps were in the low 60’s.
Little did I know, the warm water temperatures would result in a non-wetsuit legal swim portion of the race.
Race Day – Sunday, August 14th, 2016
Swim: non-wetsuit announcement meant that I wouldn’t have the chance to swim in my Zone3 Vanquish wetsuit. Being in Wave #5, I started 16 minutes after the first wave along with the relay team swimmers. I lined up on the left side of the group in an attempt to avoid the thrashing and kicking of other swimmers that populate the middle and inside lane (right-hand side). Within a few minutes of the swim, I had found some feet to follow and decided that it was a comfortable pace. I spent the rest of the swim in the slipstream and reached the beach in 39 minutes and 38 seconds.
Although this is my slowest swim since last year’s Ironman 70.3 Eagleman, I had exited the water feeling very relaxed. Drafting for nearly the entirety of the 1.2-mile swim portion of the race proved to have saved tons of energy.
Transition #1: Slapped on my Rudy Project aero helmet AND put on bike gloves for the very first time in a triathlon!
Bike: The legs were feeling super strong in the first hour of the bike, producing 245 watts of normalized power at 26mph. The roads were super bumpy and I was relieved to have worn my bike gloves. However, I had dropped one of my water bottles early on and had to grab a bottle at an aid station with about 10 miles left. The second hour of the bike was a slight fade, dropping my average power down to 241 watts for the 56-mile split. To my surprise, I was able to better my 70.3 Muncie time of 2:12:14 down to 2:11:59, a personal-best in time & power.
Transition #2: Quickly racked my bike and sat down to clean off the sand covering my feet before putting on my New Balance RC1600 racing flats.
Run: There was one goal – to run even mile splits. Once out of transition, there were five other guys immediately up the road for me to pin down. I passed those guys within the first couple of miles and once I started the 2nd loop of the run, there was a lot more company. Nothing out of the ordinary happened as I ticked off each mile. With about two kilometers to go, I picked up the effort towards the finish, gave Christina a high-five as she passed me going the other way. The 13.1-mile run resulted in 1:27:03.
Total race time of 4:23:44, a 2nd personal best finishing time in the half ironman distance.
Coming out of the water 29th-place in the Men’s 25-29 age group, the consistent bike and run combination ultimately placed me in 2nd-place [& 14th-place Overall].
Despite the unseasonably warm water conditions and losing a water bottle through the bumpy roads of south-western Michigan, IRONMAN 70.3 Steelhead provides an enjoyable race experience. Did I mention that they had CHOCOLATE MILK at the finish? Chug!!!
Thank you to all my sponsors, friends and family.
Special shoutout to Christina’s parents for being our race ‘sherpas’!
Thank you for reading 🙂