This past weekend was the annual Steelhead 70.3 and the last year of this race having prize money. It is a great race and one of my favorite little towns to visit. The Benton Harbor / St. Joseph, MI area is beautiful this time of year and the weather is almost always great. This year was probably the warmest it has ever been for this race and it was still 59 degrees race morning. Now it did get up in the high 70's to low 80's, but living in TN, that didn't seem that bad, especially with the humidity being low.
|Shot of the swim start.|
I was flying solo this weekend as Casey had to work. I drove up on Friday and it took me roughly 7.5 hours to get there. I only had to pass through about 12 different construction zones. When I drive that far alone, I make sure to be prepared and prepared I was. I listened to my favorite Podcast right now which is ESPN's Fantasy Focus with Matthew Berry and Nate Ravitz. Each show is about an hour and I had 4 episodes to catch up on. I mean, it is my favorite time of the year with my fantasy football draft coming up soon and the NFL starting in less than a month. Also listened to some Spanish along with a few church services that I've missed this summer when traveling to races. By the time I got bored, I was in South Bend, IN and only had about 30-40 minutes to go.
|How I feel without my better half.|
The weekend was uneventful leading up to the race. I had a wonderful family host me for the weekend and they were truly bummed out they didn't get to meet my better half. Saturday was a lot of relaxing, a few short workouts, the pro meeting, more relaxing, and eating some great home cooked food. Thank you so much to the Page-Wood family for such a wonderful stay.
Sunday morning was like all race mornings. Up crazy early to eat a light breakfast, pack the car and head towards transition. The weather was great and I was feeling good.
I can't say enough good things about how much I love my Xterra Vendetta wetsuit. I had a terrible start to the swim and didn't get in a great position. I was probably 20th to the first turn buoy (maybe not but it felt that way) and felt like I was already out of the game. After a few hundred yards I ended up in a group of guys which ended up being the main pack. There were 3 guys that went off the front but there were about 6-8 guys all right in that pack where I was. After not feeling great, I still ended up 4th out of the water. The comfort of my wetsuit helped me stayed relaxed and warm in that brisk 66-67 degree water. This was the roughest swim I've had in a long time. We swam against the current/waves the whole time which made for a slow swim. Being 4th out of the water, you would think it would be faster than 27:25.
I ran up the beach, into T1, and stayed calm as I jumped on my bike this time. I was right where I needed to be. Sitting in a group of guys that was going to be the main pack. About a mile into the bike I heard a "rock" hit my bike frame. I don't think twice about it and kept on rolling. One minute later, my bottle cage, with my bottle that has most of my calories for the bike, falls over and I hit it as I'm pedaling. The force of hitting this unclips my right foot and I lose my balance. Fortunately, I kept my balance this time and managed to save my water bottle at the same time. That "rock" that I heard was one of the two screws holding my cage onto my bike frame. I immediately got clipped back in and hammered to keep the guys close. On the next downhill, I made sure to put my water bottle in my tri top since I didn't want to get a 4 minute littering penalty and the bottle with my nutrition in it in my other cage. I rode like this for about 10 miles until I hit the first aid station and then dropped my bottle that was in my jersey. We had hammered that first 10 miles but I didn't feel too bad. That's about when the eventual winner Lionel Sanders came FLYING by us. He broke up the pack and I was the first gone. I had ridden way too close to my Olympic distance effort/pace for the first little bit and was now popped from the group. The rest of the 40ish miles was very lonesome. I rode strong for about 10-15 miles but towards the last 1/3 of the bike, my legs felt very heavy from going too hard, too early into the bike.
I came into T2 way back from everyone else. I put on my run shoes and hit the course. My legs actually felt better than expected but not great. I ran the first loop right around 6:05-6:10 pace which is ok for where I'm at right now in my fitness. But then the wheels fell off and I really struggled the last 6 miles. I did get a boost at around 11.5 miles as my home stay, Melanie, was doing the run leg on a relay team and she passed going the other way just yelling and screaming my name. It was great to hear and really helped me bring it home. I once again finished with a finishing time of....
4:13:43 and somewhere around 18th overall with a few amateurs beating me. Still not used to this as this almost never happened a few years ago. I was almost always top 10-15 with only Pro's being in front of me and the top amateur being kind of close but not really.
My time from Muncie 70.3... 4:13:54. My time from NOLA 70.3.... 4:13:10. hhmmmm....
Think I'm setting some kind of trend.
One of the positives to this is the fact that I have His name on my chest while I'm competing. The longer I'm out there, the more people will see me and at least wonder what "Tri4Him" is. Maybe even enough so that they go home and do a little research about our team, and eventually develop a personal relationship with Jesus. Which is the whole goal of our team. Now, my goal isn't to be out there for a long amount of time, otherwise I would really make sure to go easy, haha.
One thing I have noticed this year is that it isn't about how high up I finish, but the fact that I'm always in the top 1-2% of the finishers and I have His name on my chest. I am blessed with the talent and ability that even when I have a poor race, I'm still going to finish in the top 1-2%. It also helped to have my Tri4Him teammate Ryan Rau there this year as well. With both of us finishing in that top 1%, people notice that, and that is why we race. It isn't about us, it is all for Him. If neither of us have a great race, but we can bring someone closer to have a relationship with Christ, then it was a successful trip for us.