Lake Stevens 70.3 Race Report:

This is my first ever race report, so be gentle:) I started racing Triathlons in 2009 but took a long lay off from injury in 2011 and 2012. This was my 2nd 70.3. My first was way back in September 2010. It was in the inaugural 70.3 Branson. The temperatures topped out at 100 degrees! It was a hell run. Thankfully Lake Stevens was going to be much different, with temperatures topping out at 70 degrees by noon.

My goal at this race was to qualify for the 70.3 World Championships in Las Vegas. The first three athletes in my age group would automatically qualify for the World Championships. If one of those athletes declined the offer it would role down to the next finisher in our age group and so on, until three athletes declared they would compete at the World Championships. My goal for this race was to automatically qualify, which means I would need to get 3rd in my age group.

Race Morning:
Woke up around 4:30 AM, and did my pre race ritual (Shower, put race kit on, and sweats and sweatshirt over) Ate my usual bagel with peanut butter and a chopped up bannana on top with some vitamin water. We stopped at Starbucks to get a coffee the night before so we could have it in the morning, since Starbucks is not open that early on a Sunday. Once we were all packed up ready to go, Christine (my gf) and Michael (our friend) drove the 12 miles to Lake Stevens for the swim start.
Since this was a 70.3 they make you set up your transition the day before, so I was able to put everything in one bag. (Thanks Ironman for your sweet bags!!) I walked over to my bike and did the last minute transition changes. The officials kicked us out of transition at 6:30 AM (This is when the pros swim wave started) which gave me just enough time to get everything ready and put on my Wetsuit. I started to jog out of transition when suddenly I realize I don't have my goggles or swim cap! Crap! The race hasn't even started yet and I am all ready forgetting things! For those who do not know, I totally forgot to put my cycling shoes in transition at my last Triathlon race, so this is an issue that I am trying to work on. Luckily I was able to jog back, grab my goggles, and swim cap, and jog out of transition without any of the officials screaming at me like a drill Sargent.

Since my swim wave wasn't scheduled to start until 6:59, I had over 20 minutes to contemplate my race. Christine's wave started at 6:47, so I gave her a quick kiss and wished her luck, while I just tried to stay calm and mentally prepare for an awesome race! I started to feel like I had to go pee, but at this time I had my wetsuit on perfectly, and for those who do triathlons, know how much of a pain it putting on wetsuits! So I decided to hold it and just go once I got in the water. Hopefully this doesn't come and bite me back later!

SWIM: 31:48. I saw my friend Evan Lawerence just before our swim wave and did some easy chatting with him. Once we got in, we had about 3 minutes to warm up before the gun start. I did a few easy strokes just to get used to the water and just waited for the gun. This is the most stressful but exciting part of racing. Your heart rate is beating so fast and all you want to do is just get the show on the road! When the gun went off I just took off! Of course my swim is my weakest by far of the three legs, but me being competitive I still started at the very front pack. Within seconds there were swimmers toppling over me. I managed to stay calm and tried to find the steel cord that was located in the water for the entire 1.2 miles. This is a very convenient set up that Lake Stevens provides, because with the cord to site in the water you hypothetically never need to site. I found the cord after about 100 meters in the race and decided to just stay right on that thing and only site when I started to hit swimmers ahead of me from an earlier wave. I had probably about 10 minutes of easy swimming with no interruptions to speak of, and then boom! I started to pass slower swimmers in earlier waves and found myself siting every 30 seconds. Luckily I was able to see the swimmers ahead in the water before my arm nailed their legs. I was able to maneuver my way through the field without swimming into too many people. I decided to just keep my swim stroke smooth and easy, to make sure that I would be able to swim past slower swimmers without knocking into them and possibly swallowing water. Everything went smoothly and I exited the water with a conservative 31:48 swim split. I do not where any electronic devices while racing. Instead I go by feel, so I was not able to see my splits after the race was over, but I was not surprised by my swim time. I figured if I pushed I could have done a 30 minute swim but it might have hurt me on the bike. As it was, with my conservative swim, I was able to have a great transition and started the bike feeling awesome!

Bike: 2:30.10: The first 15 miles went like a breeze. I ate a decent amount before the race started and it wasn't hot at all so I only drank water for the first 15 miles. I just wanted to settle in a good rythm and not worry about reaching for food or other drinks. By mile 20 the pee feeling started to come back. (Once I got in the water I didn't feel the urge to go) I held it in until mile 35. At this point the sensation was overwhelming and I wasn;t about to stop! (This is a world championship qualifier) I all ways wondered if I would be the guy that would just go in a race or if I would hold it until I saw a porta potty. Well, this race confirmend it, at mile 35 on the bike ride I looked around and made sure there was no one near me and just let it fly! It was a huge relieve, and I was able to concentrate on the rest of the bike race.
Everytime I passed someone I made a point to look at their leg to see if they were in my age group. I passed a handful of 25-29 year olds at the start of the bike but it started to thin out and I stopped seeing anybody from my age group. I took this as a good sign.
My friend Micheal did this race last year and warned me about a quick 90 degree turn into a huge hill. He told me that you will need to gear all of the way down, because the grade is so steep. He couldn't remember what mile marker this happened at so I was just waiting for this hill to come up. Looking at the map before the race I saw there was a decent climb at mile 25 so I thought that was where it was going to happen, but that marker came and went and no huge hill! Did I miss it? Am a biking so well that this "huge" hill that you need to gear down on felt more like a hump for me? Unfortunately this was not the case. I just recently got done passing the last two 25-29 years olds that I would see on the bike course. One of the two age group competitors I was not able to fully shake and every time that I would pass him on an up hill, he would get me back on the downhill. At about mile 40 these two guys were right with me and I heard the volunteers yelling "Gear Down!" I thought, this is it, I guess I am not the "climbing god" I thought I was earlier. At this point I decided instead of gearing all of the way down I would just mash the hill. Once we hit the hill one of the age groupers got caught by surprise on how steep the hill was and yelled out an "Oh, Shit!" and looked like he almost stopped dead in his tracks. The other age grouper that I wasn't able to shake had a good cadence going, but I decided to go as hard as I could and I flew past him. This was the last time I saw him on the bike, so I was finally able to shake him, but at what cost? Matches were burnt on that hill, and for the first time on the ride I started to feel the lactic acid build up in my legs. I decided after the hill to just keep a good cadence and save my legs for the run. When I made it to transition, I counted the bikes on my row (They keep your age group all in the same row) I only counted two bikes! Great news, I am 3rd in my age group, going into my strongest discipline and feeling great! Little did I know they weren't able to get all of our age group in one row and there were actually five people running in front of me, which put me at 6th place going into the run.

Run: 1:28.05: Thinking that I was in 3rd place in my age group my goal was to start conservative. 13.1 miles is a long way to run after you have swam 1.2 miles and biked 56 miles! The first person I past was ironically a 29 year old! This is great! I am now in 2nd place:) Unfortunately shortly after my rival that I was finally able to shake off on the bike flew by me running an insane pace. I though, okay, back to 3rd. I can let him go, and just hold this position, and who knows, that guy could die, and I could catch him later in the race.
During the entire run I had an urge to go number 2 and by mile 3 it was a very strong urge. I thought about not stopping being in 3rd place but I thought to myself if there is a porta potty available and no line I will stop real quick. Luckily just have the 3 mile mark I saw just that. I ran in and took the fastest number 2 in the world, and ran out and grabbed a water to sip at the aid station. I figured I lost only 30 seconds and was feeling a million times better letting all of that weight out:) I was hoping the one guy I past did not past me back, and at this point even though I was feeling really good I decided to run conservative and hold position. I did not pass another guy in my age group and by mile 9 two guys (one had a 26 number on his left calf, and the other had a 27 on his calf) flew by me going well under a sub six minute mile pace. After looking at their age I saw their numbers were in the 1,300's and to my knowledge my age group was all between the 800's and 900's. By their numbers, and how fast and fresh they looked I decided that they must have been on a relay team and must have just been doing the run portion. I decided that I was most likely still in 3rd, and even if they were doing the whole thing there was no way that I was going to be able to stick with them, so my strategy stayed the same, which was to not push it and risk falling apart later. By mile 11 I past a 29 year old. This was great! This means I might be 2nd place, and at worse 4th place. I held this position to the finish and tried to push the last mile but instead of going faster it was my slowest mile of the day. The legs were falling apart and I was so relieved to finally see that sweet finish line:) I clenched my hands in jubilation, and let the emotions flow thinking that I finished 2nd in my age group and was going to be going to Worlds! After limping around the finish line I saw one of the super fast runners that was blazing a sub six minute pace on the run. I asked him how fast he ran, and he said a 1:17.21. Clearly he was a relay member and just did the run, but just to be sure I asked him if he did the relay. To my dismay he said that he did the whole thing, and I asked if the other guy he was running with did the whole triathlon too, and he said yes. Shoot! I asked him if he was planning on doing Worlds and he said he had commitments and was not going to be able to do the race. Sweet! This puts me at 4th place in my age group but at least one of the guys is not going to accept his qualification. Then the results came up.....I looked at my name, my splits, but most importantly my place....6th place:( There were two other guys that were in a different row then me on the transition and had a fast enough swim that I was never able to catch them during the race. The first guy that past me on the run ended up 2nd and the two guys that flew by me going a sub six minute pace ended up placing 3rd and 4th. The 5th place guy in my age group beat me by six minutes on the swim! I was able to put time on him in the bike and run but it wasn't enough.

Overall Result: 4:33.24. 46th overall, and 6th in age group. 14th in age group on swim, 2nd on bike, and 8th on run.

Even though I did not accomplish my goal I am very happy with my performance and know that I had my best race for that day. This was a great race to confirm my comeback after taking two full years off from Triathlon due to injury. I plan on coming back next year much more fit in all three disciplines. My goal for next year will not only be to qualify for worlds but to win my age group!

Thanks for reading, and good luck to all of you in your own races:)