Monday, June 27, 2011

Steelhead, Come And Get Some!

Monday, June 27, 2011  at 10:51 AM
What an incredible weekend!  From the weather, to the campsite, to the event staff, to the course marking...I couldn't have asked for anything more.  And now I'm hooked on Olympic triathlons!  For the short version (if ya'll are in a hurry or just really don't want to hear all the juicy details), I feel like I had the best race of my life.  Here's a quick summary:

My Goals:
               Swim: 35 min.
               T1: 2 min.
               Bike: 1 hour 14 min. (20 mph average)
               T2: 2 min.
               Run: 56 min (9. min/mile average)
               Total: 2 hours 50 minutes

What REALLY Happened:
               Swim: 25:08
               T1: 2:19
               Bike: 1:14:09 (20.1mph)
               T2: 53 secs
               Run: 51:02 (8:14 min/miles)
               Total: 2 hours 33 minutes

Now, for the rest of you...

On Saturday afternoon, Jennifer and I loaded up the 4runner and teardrop with all our gear and headed out on the 2 hours drive north to Muskegon, MI.  We were pretty excited about the weekend, and I had started the OVER-hydration process.  I had to pee ALL day!
We went straight to North Muskegon High School where the registration process and packet pickup was happening.  On our way there, we noticed a whole bunch of road construction, which really changed the race.  Packet pickup was a breeze.  We could tell that this race was going to be very organized.
There was one big change to the course because of the road construction, and it only affected the bike course.  In fact, they completely changed the bike course from what it was to a route that was BEAUTIFUL!  It went down to Lake Michigan and then north through Muskegon State Park.  There was only one major difference in topography which is known as Blockhouse Hill.  Jennifer and I decided to drive the bike and run course to check it out, and I wish I had snapped a picture of the Blockhouse hill, but I don't think it would accurately describe the grade.  It looked like a monster!  I instantly got worried about my bike goal of averaging 20mph just because of this hill.  Other than that, the bike course looked beautiful as it was an out and back that was mostly shaded and very smooth roads.  The run course was perfect too as it was a 3.1 mile loop that we would do twice.  The swim course looked like a great lay out.  Bear Lake was a beautiful setting with a sandy beach.  We would have to swim one lap around the buoys set up in a triangle, get out of the water, run 50 yards, get back in and swim the triangle again.  Then, we'd have to run up through the sand "path" to the top of the hill where this picture was taken.  The transition zone was about 100 yards behind where I was standing...
After checking out the course, we headed toward our campground.  We made it to our campsite without any problems and checked into site 91.  Then, it was time to eat!!!  We were starving, and it was about 6:00.  I didn't really want to eat much later to give everything a chance to "work through the system" before race day.
Jennifer made some incredible Penne pasta with some yummy pesto sauce.  The ole Coleman cook stove did a great job, and we were carb-loaded!  The KOA campground just happened to be doing an ice cream cone feed, so Jennifer and I had to grab a quick cookies-n-cream cone before bed.
But, for those of you that really like our little teardrop camper, here is a picture of us on the inside.  It's actually pretty comfy in there with a queen size memory foam mattress.  It even has air conditioning!
I was pretty tired, so I tried to sleep, but that didn't happen.  I couldn't stop thinking about the triathlon the next day.  When we registered, Jenn asked how many people were doing it, and the lady said that there were less than 200.  I love small events, so that was exciting.  Then, she asked us if we were doing the sprint or the olympic distance.  When we said olympic, she said, "Oh wow!  You guys are hardcore!"  That meant to me that there weren't too many people doing the olympic, and that gave me pressure to kick some booty the next day.  Well, I think that pressure also wouldn't let me sleep pretty much all night.  It sucked!  Oh well.  Jennifer slept well, so at least she was ready.  As I lay there in bed, I kept playing the next day's events over in my head.  I suddenly opened my eyes and wondered, "Where are my goggles?"  I made a mental note to check in the morning to make sure I had them or we'd have to make a quick stop at Walmart on the way in to the race site the next morning.

We woke up at 5am to get ready and make a little breakfast.  We weren't too hungry, but I had a bagel with peanut butter and a cookie!  :)  We left for the race site by 5:45 and made it there to get a great spot on the front rack in the transition zone.  It was perfect!  We had about 10 yards from where our bikes were racked to the mount line, so that was a plus.  After we had everything laid out, we still had quite some time before the pre-race meeting at 7:40.  The first two waves started at 8am and 8:05am, and they were for the Sprint Triathlon.  My wave started at 8:20am, and Jenn's started at 8:25am.  Right before the meeting started, Jenn and I decided to get our wetsuits on.  As we went to the 4runner to get them, I panicked, because I didn't know where my goggles were!  We looked through everything, and we couldn't find them!!  I ran over to some local person and asked where the closest Walmart was, and they said it was 15 minutes away.  That wouldn't give me enough time to go get some, so I had to resort to the next option, borrowing from someone else.  I knew that if someone in the sprint was a fast enough swimmer that they could pass off their goggles to me.  I decided to look for someone that had similar goggles to mine, and I found them!  They were hanging around a big dude's neck with his arms crossed.  I didn't have much of a choice, so I walked up to this guy and asked if he was doing the sprint.  He said he was, and he was very willing to let me borrow his goggles.  Whew!  That was close!  After the pre-race meeting, we went down to the water and watched the sprinters begin.  I watched and waited till Alex, the guy that was giving me his goggles, came out of the water.  He had a good swim and passed his goggles to me with about 3 minutes till I started.  I quickly adjusted those babies and went over to the start.

(I like how Kevin Neumann gives himself grades for each part, so I'll do that too -- thanks, Kevin)
The swim start was a beach start where we had to run quite a way out into the lake before we could actually start swimming.  I didn't panic AT ALL.  I just swam my own pace and didn't worry about hanging with anyone.  My sighting was perfect!  I didn't do any zig-zagging.  The water was 68*, but my wetsuit rocked.  I absolutely loved the swim.  The run on the beach and back in the water was fine.  I liked it because it broke up the swim just a little bit.  I gave myself a B+ because I feel like if I could do it again, I would push a little harder.  At one point, I thought, "Well, this is pretty easy.  I might as well go faster."  So, I picked it up a little bit.  I ended up blowing my goal of 35 minutes out of the water with a 23.5 minute swim.  The time didn't really start till I crossed the transition mat at the top of the hill.  Overall, I thought the swim went really well!

T1: C+
T1 was ok.  I had my wetsuit down around my waist as I ran in, and it wasn't too terrible getting off, although it did slow me down quite a bit.  Then, as I put on my helmet, glasses and jersey, I reached down and realized that I hadn't unbuckled my bike shoes.  What an idiot!  2:19 later, I was out on the bike course.  

Bike: A
Because we had driven the course the day before, I knew I needed to crank anywhere I could to get my average up.  I hammered it the whole way, but always in an easy gear to save my legs.  Blockhouse Hill wasn't too bad at all.  I didn't try to smoke the hill and made it to the top just fine.  Then, it was down hill to the turn around and then back.  I passed two people, and two people passed me, so I guess I was even for the day?  I am super pleased with my ride yesterday and was a little surprised to see that I got my average and more with a 20.1 avg.  The nutrition was perfect.  I ate some Gu chomps after the hill and drank Powerade and water

T2: A
Everything went off and on without a hitch.  It was pretty quick at 53 seconds.  I grabbed a water bottle and headed out for two laps.

The run was a lot of fun.  I felt great the entire time and never once wanted to quit.  I had seen Jenn once on the bike, and on my second lap of the run, I saw her coming in on the bike.  I amped the pace up the last mile and ended up running 8:23s.  The official results said 8:14s, but the course was only 6.11 according to my Garmin.  I feel like I could have pushed just a bit harder and had a better time.  Does someone want to teach me how to run faster, or do I just need to suck it up and RUN FASTER...

Preparation: F-
Forgetting to bring your goggles to the race?  Are you kidding me?  That's ridiculous.  Forgetting to unbuckle your shoes?  Seriously?  C'mon, Matt!  Next time I'll do better.

Overall: A-
Even though everything might not add up to an A-, I feel like I deserve that for the entire race as a whole.  What an experience for my first Olympic triathlon.  The Bear Lake Triathlon gets my highest recommendation.  It was so well-run.  Everything was super detailed and done perfectly.  Everything was marked well.  The police did a nice job protecting us.  The race director was great.  If I was going to live in Michigan next year, I would TOTALLY do it again.  

Placement: 3rd in age group
There were 8 guys in my age group, but because the top two did so well that they placed overall, I ended up placing third in my age group!  That may sound pretty good, but in reality, I only beat three guys in my group.  Who cares?  I got a medal, and that's all that matters!!!

It happened similar to Jenn who walked out with a 1st place medal.  Way to go, Jenn!
And of course, you have to see the cool tech shirts we got.

To my blog readers: you guys rock!  I thought about you all the whole race.  You gave me motivation, because I didn't want to report a crappy race.  I thought about ya'll training and racing like Fave in the IM CDA.  Thanks for the "push" to do well.  I feel like Steelhead is going to be really fun, and I'm starting to feel prepared.  Bring it!



WOW!!!! Way to go, rockstar!!! That was an amazing performance! WOO HOO!!!!!!

Matty O

Great job Matt! Feels great to get out there and execute all the training perfectly!

That is a great time too for your first ever Oly distance. My first was bad haha, made too many mistakes and did not do a triathlon for 7 years after it haha.

Keep up the good work and make sure you practice pacing yourself for 70.3. Our biggest mistake was hammering the bike and having trashed legs for the run, you have to find the right speed for you on the bike for the 70.3

Congrats to BOTH of you guys!

Cory Reese

Wow - AWESOME job at the race!


Matt, that's awesome!!!! You crushed your goal times! Congrats to you and Jenn both!

And it looks like you had a great time camping!


DOUBLE medal BLING!! Love it! Your report was complete from beginning to end. glad you did not let the missing goggles mess up your race.

VERY nice all the way around!

btw - this is gottarun472. for some reason blogger will not keep me signed in. :(


That sounds like an awesome weekend topped off with a sweet medal. Congrats on the determined training and solid race!

tri like mary

Awesome job Matt! I also can't believe that you found someone to loan you goggles - I don't think it would ever even occur to me to ask!

Caratunk Girl

Matt!! I am so excited for you, you totally CRUSHED your goals!! That is awesome.

Ironman By Thirty

Ummmm.. Hello sandbagging those goals!! You smoked it!

I (and Jennie) absolutely love your camper. Once we get a new vehicle big enough to pull a camper we might have to invest in one.

That sucks about the goggles, but is totally awesome that Alex let you borrow his. Way cool.

Thanks for the mention :)

Only a B+ on the swim? That is a solid A+ in my book, especially for a beach start.

Congrats on the podium finish and an amazing Oly debut!

PS: I just saw your comment on my blog and I had the same thought as you about passing each other. I actually kept an eye open for your yesterday on I-196 looking for an SUV with bikes and a camper.

kessia reyne

I'm so glad to hear it went well! We really missed you at the barbecue, but it looks like you got to the campsite at just the right time. Also, I said a prayer for you and Jenn early on Sunday morning-- that the race would go well, injury-free, and be fun. Looks like that was a prayer answered! Praise the Lord!

Hope to see you guys soon... :)


You Crushed this Bro!
sets up for a solid run to Steelhead:)



Awesome job you guys did!!! I read this awhile ago I can't believe I didn't comment! You guys are soo cute in that last pic!

See my blog for the latest in blogger awards that I've passed your way! :)


Awesome job! I am new to your blog -found you thru another blog that mentioned you were doing Steelhead! Me too!

Congrats on a great race! Excited to read about your prep for the 70.3... I am getting nervous!

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