I’m sure it’s no surprise that 70.3 Steelhead, for me, was just peachy - 6th Place Male Pro -. For once, I had a bit of an upper hand. It all started with the swim. First off, this course is just great. The beautiful beach front, rolling hills and challenging run in my home state really make for a solid challenge. I really nailed my nutrition this time as well with my custom INFINIT Mix on the bike in 2 bottles and a 3rd bottle of Jet Fuel. On the run I basically survived on Coke....
A Rip In Lake Michigan
Having raced here 3 times now, I definitely respect just how volatile this lake can be. The first year I raced as an age grouper it was a point to point. That was cool but a pain in the ass when you have to walk 1.2 miles in the sand. The next year I believe it was canceled (the swim), last year it was a bit choppy but wetsuit legal and this past Sunday was a bit of a swell session, however only a few white caps off the beach. All that being said, let’s focus on why the swim gave me an advantage.
- I like swimming in water with a bit of a 1-2 foot swell OR completely flat. When it’s super small chop it’s a bit annoying and you just can’t breathe but can still hold rhythm. The bigger swells that force you to often roll down and then breach over top of the next wave, really suit my style. My swim stroke is definitely more power driven and as I’m not the skinniest out there, I could carry momentum without losing as much steam.
For that reason, I knew the typical swim packs would break up and we’d be pretty tight in smaller groups. I mean, one second you were headed towards a buoy, the next you’re perpendicular and headed out to sea. Plus, I kept mistaking kayaks or other objects as buoys. All that matters in this situation is stroke + breath timing. If you do it well, you’ll avoid the tragic breath of water while you’re begging for air. All in all, I’ve heard it called the “hardest swim ever” with 20 ft waves but honestly, I loved it.
The New 70.3 Steelhead Bike Course
There is no doubt the bike course is fast and in my opinion, the new course is even better since it eliminated a lot of the more questionable roads. Sure, the turnaround area is a bit interesting but it still works well for general flow. My bike started out solid, however, I kept seeing 320+ watts while we were building up momentum in the first few corners. I’ve learned that you can certainly get away with riding near 100% FTP for the first 5-10’ as you settle into your group or break-away while still sustaining a solid overall average around 295 watts for the whole bike leg.
It was me and Taylor Reid working for a bit until Jackson Laundry motored on by. I made the mistake of letting the gap get a bit too large before starting to chase and before I knew it I was working just a bit too hard for that point in the race (without getting any closer) and I backed it off. Around 25 minutes later Taylor and TJ rode up and we actually worked nicely until 25 miles or so when Taylor was given a 5 min penalty- which I understand but…it was just unlucky. We had a moto with us the whole time and as we rounded a corner at high speed and went uphill, we tend to bunch up for a brief minute as we sort ourselves out. The referee cited him straight away and then it was just Tj and I (after the mid-point penalty tent). My power backed off a bit as I let some more space between TJ and I zooming into T2 and honestly, I just wasn’t sure how the run was going to play out since it’s always been kinda shit for me.
The Breakaway Wins!
I had a pretty solid gap from 7th/8th/9th place but heck, I had no idea it would shake out the way it did. I was essential, off the front, biding my times as the peloton of 3 gradually reeled me in. within the last mile I still had 100 or so seconds on them but when you have 3 guys pushing each other and one guy trying to survive, those 3 usually end up moving much faster. In the end, I almost got caught up giving my parents a high-five running through the shoot and had a pretty solid sprint finish to hold onto 6th place. All in all – I just couldn’t be happier to make my way into what I consider, a pretty damn good spot moving forward. It was a hot day, the run course is hilly AF but overall - I wasn't too far behind the average pro run time.
Some Final Thoughts…
My season really hadn’t gone the way I’d hoped it would, with 70.3 Texas, 70.3 Victoria and 70.3 Chattanooga having their own variations of issues while St. Anthony’s showed some solid promise. However, I’ve worked out a few kinks which have really helped.
- My bike position has just been impossibly aggressive since I’ve gotten the Storck this year. I’ve moved the saddle 100 times, adjusted the height and until I was in Austria and fit by someone who really impressed me, I was not biking well on race day. My back would seize up after 45 minutes of sustained power over 300 so something really needed to change. Now, my position just feels so much nicer and my hip/back angles are much more ideal for power production and I’m still super aero.
- My blood work was terrible only 6 weeks ago. Since then I’ve really boosted iron intake, zinc and I’m working to try and understand what’s going on with my hypothyroidism. I often eat much less than my training partners but I just end up being “thicker” but now, since seeing a bit of estrogen dominance, I’ve got to put more emphasis on methods to fix that…which are still in the works.
- Confidence – after 8 days in Guelph Ontario with some stellar athletes, I really had some breakthrough sessions on the bike and swim. I mean my running was good too but still not as good as it has been in the past. I’m improving but yes, the run is just a very delicate area my team and I are working to improve.
- The power of the Rip hat – Jackson and I were both out for a rip so …. The hats had to have helped.
Currently, I’m in Iceland for a bit, working on some cold weather prep for Patagonman in December. Mainly, I need some more extreme cold water confidence…so that’s the goal. Next up is 70.3 Augusta, IRONMAN Louisville, 70.3 Los Cabos and finally, Patagonman in Dec ….
And then training camp in Tenerife early Jan and 70.3 Dubai Feb! BOOM!
A huge thanks to Pewag Racing Team, INFINIT Nutrition, Storck Bikes, Garmin, Shimano, Castelli, Oakley, 3T Cycling, Ekoi and Schwalbe for always giving us great gear to race and train with year round.