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Ironman Lake Stevens 70.3 Race Report

Posted Aug 16 2010 3:12pm
Way back in January or February of this year when I was planning my race year out I thought with no Ironman on the calendar this year it would be a good time to do some of the races I haven’t been able to get to in the past. So I looked up the Troika Half-Ironman triathlon which has been a staple of the Pacific Northwest tri seen for 30 years and found that it was on August 1st. Perfect - so I signed up. But I knew I’d want to do more than just that one so a bit later I looked up Ironman Lake Stevens 70.3 and found that it was two weeks later. I paused for a moment contemplating the fact that they were two weeks apart, asked myself how hard could that be when I get two weeks between them, and then signed up. Seemed like a fine idea back in February but today? Not so much. But before I give you my race report from yesterday’s fun, let me get caught up on my last week of tri-training sessions…

Tuesday the 10th began with a 4:45am session in the bike with a couple of short intervals tossed in and then a quick transition run around the neighborhood.
Stats for Tuesday’s bike: 13.3-miles in 1-hour.
Stats for Tuesday’s run: 3-miles in 23:44 @ 7:55/m pace.

Wednesday was another early morning spin on the bike trainer with time spent in the small-ring at a higher cadence. Then another easy run around the neighborhood to finish the workout.
Stats for Wednesday’s bike: 11.3-miles in 1-hour.
Stats for Wednesday’s run: 4.3-miles in 33:36 @ 7:49/m pace.

Thursday the 12th started out with a 5AM swim where I kept the effort level fairly low but steady. Then at midday I was out the office door for a final tune-up run done at an easy pace, on a hot day, with a few strides thrown in.
Stats for Thursday’s swim: 1,800-yards in 34:59 (35:59 w/rest) 3x600 w/30-sec. rests.
Stats for Thursday’s run: 6.2-miles in 47:39 @ 7:7:41/m pace.

And finally, my last triathlon training session of the year was a 5AM swim on Friday morning that was both short and easy effort.
Stats for Friday’s swim: 1,500-yards in 28:25 (29:25 w/rest) 5x300 with 15-sec. rests.

Now, the race report: My ever supportive and ever wonderful wife and I made the trek up I5 to Everett, WA (north of Seattle) on Saturday and got checked-in to the host hotel which was also where packet pick-up and the Ironman Expo were located. After getting settled into the room I made my way down for the mandatory athlete meeting and packet pick-up and ran into my friends Tom, George, Troy, and Adam. After attending the meeting and hearing all the do’s, don’ts and rules I got my race packet and then got my bike numbered and ready to check in. Karen and I headed out to the little town of Lake Stevens, WA (east of Everett) and immediately loved it. A nice little town with some spectacular homes with lake front property and it was beautiful. And hot with temps in the upper 90’s which was great for all the folks out on the water or lounging on their private docks, but not so great for someone like me who knew the next day would be equally hot. I got my bike racked in the proper spot then we made our way back to Everett and a nice dinner in a little Italian place we found.

Sunday we were up at 4:15am and of course there wasn’t a cloud to be seen. We got ready to go and made our way back out to Lake Stevens and I got my transition spot set up, chatted with some more friends, and eventually made my way to the swim start with Karen and everyone else. The morning was spectacular and the lake was still and beautiful while we waited for the race to start. Soon it was time so with a kiss good-bye I made my way to the dock and the start of my race day.

The swim start was in waves based on gender and age with my group taking off at 7:06AM. At 7:04AM we got into the water which was very warm but not unpleasantly so. I got my goggles situated and then waited for the horn to sound which it did shortly. Lake Stevens is used by the Rowing Club and there is a white cable about 6-feet underwater that the swim course follows most of the way. The problem is that everyone knows that and everyone wants to swim right over it and not have to site on the race buoys. So there is a lot of pushing and shoving and inadvertent hitting that happens. I was able to see the cable at times, but mostly I was off too far to the side to use it so I was having to try to find buoys in the bright sun. I felt pretty good on the swim and my effort level was good and I thought fairly steady so when I came out of the water I was disappointed to see my time was 5-minutes slower than it was two weeks prior and I had the ominous feeling that this might be a tough day.
SWIM: 1.2-miles in 42:05, #74 of 124 in my age group.

BikeI got changed into my bike gear and got headed out of town with a quick hello to my wife as I pedaled past. There is a ~5-mile section that took us out to the two-loop course. The temps weren’t too bad, but with 1,500 athletes taking to the course it quickly became somewhat congested. The route winds through some gorgeous back-country around Lake Stevens and another equally beautiful lake at mile 10. There was some decent shade in spots but also full-on sun in more spots. I knew not too take the first loop to hard based on some tips from friends that have raced this in the past so I just settled into a nice rhythm and kept it rolling. The hills on this course are numerous and of varying degrees of difficulty but most of them were steep enough or long enough that they were not easy. Particularly one very long and very steep hill that was arrow-straight for 1/4-1/2 a mile and completely exposed to the sun. That one hurt and hurt worse the second time. But there were also some good downhill sections that I could get some speed going (top speed for me yesterday: 49.6-mph) but unfortunately there were too many other cyclists too really let it go so I found I was on the brakes when I shouldn’t have been. Bummer. The other unfortunate thing was that I just didn’t feel like I could get going on the bike. I had to force myself to hydrate and take in calories and I just didn’t feel like doing so. That was a first for me. But when half the ride had past I hadn’t eaten anything nor finished a complete water bottle yet I knew I could be in real trouble on the run so I started forcing it down. Towards the end of the ride I was able to do some math and knew I was well off my pace from two weeks ago and ultimately did finish the ride 16-minutes slower. It was a hotter day and a tougher course, but I still think I could have done better here. See the Garmin data here.
BIKE: 56.4-miles in 3:01:51 @ 18.5-mph, I moved up to #59 of 124 in my age group.

I quickly got into my run gear and headed out onto the run course under what was now a blazing sun. The very first section was right down Main Street and was lined with cheering people which is always fun. I was able to wave to my beautiful wife once again and also saw some of my Ironheads teammates and friends. Right around the first corner was the first big climb of the two-loop run course. Already there were many athletes walking but I just geared down a bit and motored on. Once at the top I got back into a rhythm and began passing people. The run portion of this race was tough. The course is hilly and it was very hot. But I made sure to get some water at every aid station and some water on me, too. I found myself not wanting to eat anything nor take in any Gatorade which are both firsts for me. But, I made sure to drink water and take advantage of the kids that were spraying us with water whenever I could. The course is laid out nicely in that when it really starts to hurt you run back through the heart of town and large crowd and that really helps. And that happens five times so there were plenty of opportunities to see my wife and friends when the going got tough. The run had several smaller climbs but there were two significant climbs that made a lot of people walk. But soon enough I was on the last section and could see and hear the finish line activities across the lake and put on one last push. Even though my run was ~2-minutes slower than two weeks ago it was a hotter day, on a tougher course and I was able to negative split the run so not all was lost. See the Garmin data here.
RUN: 13.1-miles in 1:38:55 @ 7:33/m, I moved up to #31 of 124 in my age group.

Total = 5:29:10, #31 of 124 in the M45-49 age group.

While the conditions were not optimal and I didn’t feel like I was firing on all cylinders it was still a fun event in a beautiful location. I got to road-trip and hang out my amazing wife and I got to hang out a bit with a lot of my buddies and all of that makes it a great time with no regrets. Now, I’m resting my old bones for a few days and looking forward to running in my 8th Hood-To-Coast Relay Race with my daughter and son-in-law.
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