2013 Steelhead Review
I signed up for this race because it promised fast flat rides and a point to point swim with the current. The description was not far from the truth.
We flew into Chicago the Thursday before the race and drove out to the hotel on Friday. We stayed about 30 miles from the starting line. We checked in and dropped off the bike by Sat and were fully carb loaded by Sat night.
The morning plan was to hit up an IHOP and head to the race. However IHOP had different plans. We were greeted by the staff telling us the place was closed until 6am…too late. So plan B turned into McDonalds. Unfortunate yes, but we needed calories!
A quick 2 burritos and a egg sandwich later and I was setting up transition. I had everything set with plenty of time. I suited up half my wetsuit, grabbed my goggles, swim cap, pre-fuel drink and headed out for the 1 mile walk to swim start.
This was a point to point swim in Lake Michigan. It was my first beach start, and first swim in rough water. I have watched these swim starts in videos and it looks like everyone barrels out into the water, dives in, and swim like crazy through the waves.
It is nothing like that.
Everyone walked out through the shallow parts, which seemed to last forever. I was somewhat sick of wadding through knee deep water and dove into a wave to start swimming.
I was awful at swimming in waves. I came up for breath at the complete wrong time and caught a wave in my open mouth. It startled me a little and I stood up to catch my breath. I jumped back in and tried to get a rhythm. I was again thrown off by an unexpected wave, but I motored through to the first turn.
It was 8 yellow buoys followed by 8 more orange ones until the turn to shore. One straight shot that lasted forever. The waves were a little hard to adjust to but it was not too terrible. They did slow up the swim quite a bit and I missed out on my goal swim time.
Swim time was 46 minutes
PS, that with the current thing was a sham!
A quick run through the narrow long transition area and I was switching to the bike. I took a deep breath and jumped off for the bike start.
I knew the bike would be flat and it delivered as promised. I felt great so I knew I could attack the bike.
My wave start was 4th to last, so there were plenty of athletes on the course already. I passed many many athletes on the bike. I was extra careful not to spend too much time in the draft zone, 4 bike lengths!
I powered through the first half and was greeted with some favorable winds and downhills on the return. Each time I looked down at the Garmin I was surprised at the speeds.
Bike time was 2:29!
Transition was fast. My legs felt great. I was ready to rock this run.
I started out fast and I knew I should hold back. I am not sure if that was a wise decision or not, but I am still happy with the outcome.
The run had a few good hills mixed into the mostly flat/downhill terrain. There were two loops around a neighborhood and the old Maytag corporate campus. The aid stations were well stocked with plenty to drink/eat. It was a dream.
A few troubling things did happen on the run. At mile 9 my Enduralytes fell out of my pocket. That was not too bad. Around mile 9 my race belt came off. Luckily I was holding it so I just tucked it under my jersey. Then my ankle started to tingle with the feeling of a cramp…then my hamstring at mile 12.
I knew the cramps would be coming soon so I took off running hard. The last 3 miles I was gritting it out. It was really tough but I was holding it together. My training was paying off.
The run through the finisher chute was amazing. I was slapping hands and cheering like crazy as I tried to sprint it out. I crossed the line and it was all I could muster. I stopped completely exhausted.
Run time was 1:44.
This explains it all:
The race was great, 10/10, would race again!