Saturday, August 20, 2011

Steelhead 70.3* Race Report - Part 2

The alarm went off at 4 a.m. but quite frankly I had been up most of the night.  I wasn't feeling anxiety or nerves but for whatever reason was still frustratingly unable to fall asleep.  I ate a peanut butter and banana sandwich and started sipping my real fruit juice/coconut water mix.  A quick change into my singlet and it was time to meet everyone downstairs to start loading up the bikes.  

We reached the race site a little while later and were lucky that Sydney's husband Andy could drop us off nearby to the park where we could ride our bikes in the last little bit.  As soon as we got out of the car all I could hear was the wind and pounding surf.  I started to get a little worried about the swim given how the weather had been the day before.  Once we were in earshot of the transition area though we heard the announcement that the swim portion of the race was cancelled.  There were 5-7 ft swells, a rip current, and small vessel advisory.  I almost started to cry.  I of course did not want to swim in unsafe conditions because I do have a life to return to outside of triathlon but I had trained for this race for 8 1/2 months.  This was my 'A' race and first 70.3  Also, unlike the swim cancellation that had occurred a couple of years prior they did not add a run to the beginning.  The decision was made that it would be a bike/run, with everyone being sent out by bib number, in a time trial format.  I was going to race in my first 69.1.  Not nearly as satisfying and thus, the 70.3* that will forever mark this experience.

It took me about a minute to decide that I was going to have to sign up for a September 70.3 race and therefore today was going to be a long, hard brick workout.  After what seemed like an endless wait they began sending off the pros one at a time at 30 second intervals.  By the time my bib number came around (567) they were sending us off about 5 seconds apart which resulted in a bit of congestion at the beginning.

Instantly I noticed that my Cateye (that had functioned fine from the car to transition) wasn't functioning.  I had counted on that to tell me my current speed and the distance travelled.  My Garmin was set only to show me my cadence.  I wasn't about to pull off to mess around with the Cateye and I'm not coordinated enough to mess around with changing the data fields on my watch while moving so I decided to race this race based on cadence.  I know that an average cadence of between 90 and 95 is ideal for saving the legs for the run so that's what I did.  

From the get-go I felt really good.  I hunkered down into aero and started passing people.  I caught Sydney (she was bib 508) and asked her as I went past what speed we were going because my Cateye wasn't working.  She replied "Fast!" and shouted at me to save something for the run.  The course is rolling (compared to where we live) and I was having a great time passing people on the uphills (the advantage of being small) and taking advantage of the free speed on the downhills.  I made a point to be conscious of my nutrition and eat and drink when I was supposed to.  I ended up not drinking nearly what I had intended but managed to eat a package of Honey Stingers and two gels during the three hours.  I also took a salt tab somewhere along the line.  I had a very scary moment happen while going through one of the aid stations.  I was not taking anything as I was able to carry all of my required food/drink but ended up about ten feet behind a guy that fell while trying to grab a bottle.  He skidded onto his side, flipped over his bike and began to roll into the oncoming lane.  Unfortunately, I had swerved into the oncoming lane to avoid him going down and had to swerve almost into to the grass to avoid running over him.  I felt sick when that happened and my first instinct was to stop.  I looked back though and a ton of volunteers had converged on him and I don't have any kind of medical skill to offer so I kept going.  It took a bit to get my wits about me again and I was on high alert through the remainder of the aid stations.

I passed the 50 mile marker in what seemed like no time and couldn't believe how fast that ride had gone.  My only complaint about the whole thing was the peletons of (mostly) men that went by.  I don't know if it was as a result of the time trial start (by the time they got to the men's waves they were sending them one on top of another with no delay) or what but the blatant cheating that was occurring was really discouraging.  It especially bothered me when I saw a group of about six men riding in a pack with two women from my age group firmly ensconced in the middle.  I worked really hard to get the time I got and made sure that if anyone passed me I dropped back and that if I was passing I was going fast enough to actually pass.  From reading past race reports of this event it appears that this is a problem at Steelhead and I'm not sure why nothing's done about it.  Okay, rant over.

Next thing you know I was pulling up to the transition area and hopping off my bike with only a half-marathon to go!

Some pics - 

Me, Sydney, and Dave before the start

Bike Start

Loving the bike leg.  Look at my grin!

Coming into transition.  Need to work on getting out of my shoes!


  1. You are a tiny little thing aren't you! :) So excited for part 3! You rocked that bike!

  2. Loved reading part 1 and 2!! Anxious to read part 3 next!

    And I agree 100% about the groups of men that went by. There was so much drafting going on it was ridiculous, yet I was panicked if I even came close to another bike at any time! Definitely not enough policing on the course...

  3. Well, you had a great race so far, so I'm waiting to read about the run. I also am excited to hear about this new 70.3 that you're doing and how the training will go for that one. I'll be waiting for part 3!

  4. Sounds like you soared through the bike! :) I love the pictures.

    I heard that the drafting was really bad. It's so frustrating when you are racing an honest race and you get passed by the cheaters. :(

    Can't wait to read about the run!

  5. Sorry you didn't get the full 70.3 experience. That just sucks. You made the best of it, though - sounds like a great race so far!