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Lake Stevens 70.3 Race Report

On Sunday July 6th, 2008 I completed my first 1/2 Ironman! I am very proud to say I finished in 7:05.05 and gave it everything I had. Lake Stevens is a beautiful venue to hold a race. The event was well organized and the fan support was amazing.

On Saturday morning our convoy (The McKay Family in their new Subaru and us in Tim's X-Tera)drove down to Everett WA for race package pick up and manditory pre-race meeting. After a 1.5 hour wait at the border, we arrive at the Holiday Inn Everett just in time for the noon briefing. After the hour meeting, we picked up our packages and headed over to Taco Del Mar for lunch. I had a Baja bowl figuring it was far enough from my race to play havoc with my stomach during the race. After lunch, around 2pm, we headed to the race transition site to rack our bikes and check out the swim start. My nerves were pretty good at this point but I was anxious to get the race started. "Once I am in the water, everything will be fine" I kept saying.

Next it was off to check in to the brand new Tulalip Casino Resort and Spa. The service and room were excellent. The room was large with 2 queen size beds, 47" TV and 3 headed shower. Best of all, it is all brand new. Once we checked in, I rested and got organized while Tim headed out to the casino.

Around 7pm, I was confident in my pre-race preparations and Tim came back to the room $90 richer from the casino. We headed off for dinner to find an hour wait in the hotel restaurant. Around 8pm we were seated and eating by 8:30 (which was later than I had hoped to eat). My dinner consisted of a piece of baked salmon, cooked veggies and a baked potato with butter. Perfect pre-race meal.

Fast forward to 4:15am Sunday morning. After an OK sleep, the alarm sounded and it was time to get up, eat and drive over to the race site. With a coffee in one hand and a peanut butter sandwich in the other, CM and I were off the the race.

We had purchased parking the day before at the package pick up for $10. The money went to a local charity and it made our race morning a lot smoother than if we had taken a shuttle in from a parking lot further away. Set up the transition, visualized coming out the the water and to my bike a few times and left transition. After using the 'Honey Bucket' twice I figured I was ready. It was about then that I ran into Clint Lien, a coach from Tucson who I knew was also doing the race. He gave me some great words of wisdom "Don't think about how much time you have left for the race to be over, stay in the moment and enjoy the process" Ok, I am not sure if he said those exact words but it was something like that. I kept it in mind during my race.

At 6:30am sharp, the pros start. I can see them swimming away from the dock and I start to put on my wetsuit. Wave after wave of men and women start and at 6:56am women aged 35-39 start the race. We get into the water and hold on the dock, the horn sounds and we are off. The water is really warm compared to what I am used to at Kits Beach. The fresh water is also a treat compared to the semi polluted salt water at Kits. I think about taking the swim at a steady controlled pace. I know I have 7 hours of racing ahead of me and don't want to do anything stupid in the first 30 minutes.

Swim time: 38:31

Out of the the water I head to T1 and get myself out of my wetsuit. No strippers in the 70.3 races so I am on my own here. I am really prepared. Socks, shoes, helmet,glasses and I am on my bike and riding.

T1: 3:56

The Bike at Lake Stevens is HILLY. A couple of really big up hills and some really fast technical downhills. My fastest downhill clocked in at 56kms/hour. Pretty sure that is the fastest I have ever gone on my bike. During the first loop of the course I am feeling good. Enjoying the other riders and the scenery. On the second loop, I am still feeling good but stop to pee at about 1/2 way around. My nutrition plan on the bike worked well and I would stick with this again. I ate and drank early on the bike. 1 bottle of GU2O (2 scoops) and Carbo-Pro (2 scoops) with 3 Clif Blocks every 1.5 hours. After my 2nd bottle was empty, I replaced it with a bottle of Gatorade that was at the bottle exchange. I only drank about 1/4 of this before dumping it after my 2nd loop.

Bike: 3:50.53

After another quick transition. Change shoes, strap on Fuel Belt (4 bottles with 1 scoop of GU2O and 1 scoop of Carbo-Pro), swap the helmet for my visor and I am out and running (ok, shuffling at first).

T2: 2:25

My run started off feeling really good. I was surprized since I had been on the bike for almost 4 hours. I figured it would take me a few kms to get into the groove but my legs felt ready to run almost immediately. Stopped to pee at the first 'Honey Bucket' I saw and then I was on my way again. The run route is a figure 8 that passes the start/finsh area 4 times. This is great for fan support. The first half of the the run is through a industrial park (basically flat) and the second part of the loop is an out and back along the lake shore (rolling hills). The first loop felt good. I ran downhill and walked up hill for both to the loops. The support on the run from the locals was much appreciated. With about 1 mile to go a supporter called to me and said "congratulations on finishing". Although I was still a mile from the finish, the moment hit me and I started to get a lump in my throat and tear up. I have NEVER cried at the end of a race and was surprized that I had the energy to even start crying. I quickly realized that crying was not going to help me finish as my airway was starting to close up from the sobbing. Snapping my self back to the moment, I stopped crying and finished the race.

Final time: 7:05.05

All in all it was a great experience that I couldn't have asked for a better first 70.3 race.

What is next for 2008? 1.5 VOWSA Race on Sunday July 20th, Diva Only Sprint Tri on July 27th and Vancouver Olympic Tri on September 1st.

Another 70.3 race? YOU BET in 2009. I would definely do the Lake Stevens race again and/or other 1/2 IMs.

Ironman Canada? TBD...hmmmmmm :-)

Lessons from my first 70.3

1. Take the time to put sunscreen on my face and shoulders at T1 and/or T2. I am still slightly burnt from race day.

2. Train longer, harder and more hills on the bike.

3. Focus on strength training for my upper body and core. My tricepts and abs were hardest hit on the bike. Who knew.

4. Try to focus on my running posture. Some of my photos running look like I was about to colapse. Ok, maybe I was going to at a few points.

5. Smile all the time. Toward the end of the run, I am not smiling in my photos. I was happy, really, I just didn't have the energy to show it.


Anonymous said…
I have been wanting to do a half Ironman and recently signed up for Lake stevens for July 2012. I am already nervous and have been having dreams about it! I found your blog post and wanted to thank you because it was very helpful for me to read your experience and calmed me down a bit so now I can actually be excited!!
Thank you!

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