Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Steelhead 70.3 Ironman Race Report

Tuesday, August 16, 2011  at 7:50 AM
Soreness after a race is a good thing, right?  Doesn't it mean that you pushed yourself hard enough, and that you left it out on the race course?  If that is the case, than I did, because I'm feelin' the pain in my legs, and my calves, and my butt, and the list goes on.  But, it's a "good" soreness if you know what I mean!  :)

I must say that Steelhead was an AMAZING experience, and the one thing that I can take away is that --

Friday afternoon, Jennifer and I decided to go to the Race Expo in St. Joseph.  Kevin @ Ironman by Thirty and I had emailed each other, exchanged numbers, and had sort of planned to meet each other at the expo.  As soon as Jenn and I walked in the door, I saw a familiar face walking toward me.
It's so funny to meet bloggers, because it was like we already knew each other.  I knew about his wife, his dog, the name of his bike, where he lived and a bunch of other stuff without actually meeting him.  And, he's such a great guy.  We listened to the pre-race meeting, and then Jenn and I went in to buy some sweet stuff!  Ever since I saw the bike jerseys from last year's race, I wanted one, and THEY HAD THEM!  The ones for this year didn't look quite as cool as the older ones, and they were $80 instead of $40.  So, I had to get one of those babies, plus one of those super cool Ironman shirts that has your name on the back.  Here's what it looks like:
The front with a classic "Dork" face
The back
You can see my name fifteen lines up on the left side.
I also scored some other cool stuff like a new water bottle, a sticker for the car (of course!!!), and the swag that we got in our bags like the sweet Headsweats running hat and a new tech running shirt.  I wanted a bunch of cool gear to remember my first 70.3

Saturday was super chill as I tried to lay around and drink TONS of water!  I think I drank close to two gallons and had to pee every three minutes.  I wasn't really nervous at all, and I actually slept REALLY well that night.  I made a triathlon checklist this time as to not forget anything like I did at my last triathlon (Bear Lake Triathlon), and it worked, because I didn't forget anything!

Sunday morning started early at 4am, and I have to pause here for a special announcement.  I must have married the most amazing girl in the world, because not only has she put up with me being gone on long rides and long runs and working out by herself because I had to do some hard training, but she is an incredible race cheerleader too.  She was with me the whole way which included the 4am wake up call!  Thanks for being so great, Jenn, and I love you!

We had the car packed and made the long trip of 20 minutes over to Jean Klock Park to set up transition.  The weather channel had been predicting a terrible rip current for that morning with 4-7ft waves.  As we walked towards the park, I turned to Jenn and asked if she could hear what I was hearing...the pounding surf!  Sure enough, as soon as we got into the transition zone, the race director was talking over the speakers telling us that the swim was canceled.  I was pretty bummed, but I had been trying to prepare myself for it since I had read the possibility online.  In 2008, they canceled the swim, but instead, they made everyone run 2.1 miles.  This year, they just canceled the swim, and I was really stoked that I didn't have to run first.
Just getting to the transition area.  Do I look nervous?
It was then that I got to meet my second blogger buddy, Erika.  Again, I knew exactly what she looked like, so when she came up to me and said, "Are you Matthew?"I knew who she was.  You should check out her blog "This Spartan Will" for her race report, although she smoked me on this race.  Bloggers are just so cool!  It was fun just chatting it up and being bummed together that we wouldn't do the full 70.3.
There was a whole lot of standing around as we all waited to see what would happen.  Then the race director told us that we would start on the bike, and it would be a time trial start, and that we needed to stay in transition to not trigger the timing mats.  They said that the pros would start at 7:15 at 30 second intervals, and then the Age Groupers would leave one at a time by our race numbers every 3 seconds or so.  I was #1811, so I knew I had a LONG time to wait.  I got to meet another awesome blogger, Mary @ Tri Like Mary.  She actually found me while I was talking to Erika.  She had an awesome race including some PR's, so go check out her blog for her race report.
See the two dudes trying to find a spot to pee?
It was pretty hilarious to watch people hop the fence and climb that dune behind me to take a pee.  You can see a couple guys up there, but even the girls popped a squat up there in the bushes.  It was easier for me to slide through the fence and use the "beach facilities."  We had plenty of time to talk and chill and snap pics as we waited for our turn to start the race.
Just to give you an idea of the water conditions, here's a picture of the lighthouse in St. Joe.  We were supposed to swim from there to basically where this picture was taken.  I'd say it was a little too rough.  Although I was bummed that they canceled it, I think they made the right call.
After an hour or so of waiting around talking to people, the race director decided to start letting people go 2 at a time and much closer together.  Suddenly the transition areas was emptying, so I grabbed my bike and headed over to "Bike Out."  Kevin was racked just a couple numbers down from me, so we left at about the same time (Although, he finished about 45 minutes before me...what a stud!).  The nerves started to kick in, because I'd never started a race like this and it was quite foreign to me.  They said, "Get to the mat.......Go!" and off I went!

 Go, Smitty, Go!!!!!
I've been working for the last 6 months for those calves!  Yeah Baby!
The plan was to hold back on the bike knowing that I had a half marathon to do, but I guess you could say that I didn't stick with my plan.  I don't know what the deal was.  Maybe it was because it was perfect weather at about 68-70 degrees and overcast.  Maybe it was the adrenaline rush like Kurt @ Becoming an Ironman said, or maybe it was because everyone else seemed to be going so fast, but I was moving!  The course was jammed with people because we all had started so close together.  I was leap frogging with one guy for the first few miles, so we started talking and ended up doing to whole ride together.  My average was pretty solid at 20mph, but my goal was 18.5 to save my legs for the run/shuffle.  I was trying to listen to my body, and it said, "I feel good.  Keep doing what you're doing!" At mile 40, we turned to head back toward the park, and the 18-20mph tailwind hit us.  I decided to slow it down to save the legs, but it didn't happen.  It was just too easy to go fast.  So, I ended up with a 20.21mph average!  I think that is pretty awesome, but I was a little worried about blowing up on the run.  The total time for the bike was 2:46:13.

Jennifer was pretty amazing.  She drove out on the race course and took pictures several times.  It was really cool, because she would take a pic, get in the car and drive next to me, go on ahead and take another picture, and repeat.  She was so encouraging!
 Transition "2" was fine.  I thought I could do it under 3 minutes including the long run in transition, and I ended up doing it in 2:41.  Nice!  As I ran with my bike, my legs felt pretty good.  I was having so much fun!

The run wasn't too bad.  I love talking to people, so everyone that I was around was my best friend.  I ran with a guy on his second lap as I was running my first, and we had a great time.  We talked about everything, and before I knew it, I had already ran 4.5 miles!  Sweet!  We came down a short hill, and I saw Jenn standing at the corner.  Now you must know that EVERY triathlon picture I have of me running makes me look like I'm barely moving.  It seriously looks like me feet are hardly off the ground, but not this day!  I high-stepped that baby through the corner to get a good picture.  I also thought of one blogger that is hilarious and has a special goal to get a "Jumping" picture at every race.  Check out Cory @ FastCory.com.  This one's for you, buddy!
Like the two watches?  I forgot to drop one at T2, so I ran with both till I could give one to Jenn.  
The guy I was running with (see picture above) got a bad side stitch and had to start walking, so I kept motoring on.  It sucked, though, because I was almost in no-man's land without anyone to talk to.  I tried to hang on to my super slow pace, but I think I was slowing pretty good.  I saw Jenn one last time before she left to get down to the finish line.  At mile 11, I tried Coke because I've heard it's just amazing.  I don't know if I'd exactly say that, but it was pretty good.  Then, at about mile 11.5, I saw a friendly face coming the other direction.  It was Kevin Neumann!  He had already finished and come back to get me!  It was a huge pick-me-up and just what I needed to push me the last little bit together.  He told me that as soon as I entered the shoot, to "Hit it" and race the last couple hundred yards, so that's what I did.  He ran on the inside of transition to beat me to the line.  I saw him motion to his really sweet wife, Jennie, to take some pics of me.  You might see one on his blog when he puts his race report up at Ironmanbythirty.com ---Go check his blog out!
Now you might laugh, but I practiced a finisher's pose the day before.  I thought about raising my hands with "number 1's," but I wasn't even close to being #1, so I couldn't do that.  I thought about double fists, but no.  I came up with a big smile and a fist pump to finish my first "70.3."  Here's the side view of it starting to happen...
I was SO happy!!!
My run time was what I had planned on, which I guess is good.  But, after looking back I realize that I really set an easy goal of 9:45's per mile.  I ended up with a 2:07:25 half marathon averaging 9:43's.  No wonder my legs felt good running after the bike...I was basically walking! :)  

I came in 898 out of 2000 (+ or -) people. Middle of the pack, that's for sure.  And I came in 89th in my age group.  It sure isn't that impressive, but I had a blast!  

Now, I have to sign up for another one, maybe Rev3 Knoxville or IM Augusta for next year so that I can do the full 70.3.

Thank you bloggers for giving me motivation and encouragement.  Thanks for the kind comments and helpful wisdom from your own experience.  Thanks for reading my blog!


Matty O

Awesome job man!!! I loved steelhead's course and when we signed up we knew that it had a history of having the swim canceled. Bummer that you didn't get the "full" experience but you definitely played your cards right.

You were very smart on the bike, body felt good so you went with it. Really cool you had your wife popping up all over haha, it can get kind of boring out there for a few hours with no familiar faces.

The run was a GREAT time too! Keep in mind you just biked 56 miles, don't expect any land speed records on your triathlon runs haha. I have never taken cola during a race, I am fearful for what it might do to my stomach :(

Looks like you had a wonderful experience! I told you that you could do it and would have FUN doing it too haha.

Can't wait to follow your next journey man. Congratulations!!!

Ironman By Thirty

Once again, awesome job! You superseded your goals for both the bike and the run. Too bad there wasn't a swim because you would have crushed your 6 hour goal.

Love that leaping picture! You are totally smoking that guy to your right!

Great to meet you two and we'll have to get together again soon.

tri like mary

It was great meeting you Matt! Funny how I looked up and just knew it was you. I'm glad to hear that you had a great race and had fun while doing it. I've actually signed up to do the Half-Rev at Cedar Point on September 11 to get the full 70.3 in. Hopefully that race goes even nearly as well as Steelhead did!

Kurt @ Becoming An Ironman

I told you you'd end up going faster than you expected. I assume that it's not until you've done more races than you can remember that you can start to really expect how fast you'll go. Either way, great bike leg!

That is too bad about the swim, but like you said, it was probably for the best; safety wise. And I laughed so hard when you said you practiced the finisher's pose! Not because it's dorky, but because I don't doubt SO MANY people do that same thing but will never admit it. Awesome job!

Here's to another awesome 69.1 or 70.3 tri!! =P


Way to go Matt! Sorry no swim but that would have been ugly out there even for the pro's. Safety first. I hope you do the Augusta 70.3 next year. I plan on doing it too! I hear the swim is awesome ...downstream! Soreness is a good thing by the way. I usually can't run a step for a couple days after a hard race. Congrats once again!


Welcome to the club! Bummer that it turned into a duathlon, but I can tell that there will be many 70's in your future.

Rest up!

Luke Powell

Great race! Sucks that the swim was canceled, but those white-caps look fierce! Awesome pace on the bike...sometimes your legs just have a little more than expected!
I've already signed up for the Olympic race at Rev3 Knoxville next year, I heard great things about it!!

chris mcpeake

Awesome. Well done!!


Awesome race Matt! And dang... you always look so happy! :) Congrats!

I love that shirt with everyone's name on it... I've never seen that before but will be purchasing one if I ever get the change! My name on a shirt? Too cool!

Definitely hit up REV3 Knoxville. Not only will we be there (blogger meet up!) but it's a great race. I will warn you thought... holy hills! :)


It was such a pleasure to meet you and Jenn too!

You killed this race and did an amazing job! Thanks for being such a positive influence on me too when I was freaking out about the whole thing!

Congrats again - GREAT JOB!!


Great job!!!!! Bummer about the swim but gives you a good reason (like you need one!) to do another one!

I looked at the shirts with the names at our race and could not find my name :( there was a guys standing next to me that couldn't find his either but could find the name of a friend that had done it the year before....boo

oh and that run....please....I really did walk and it wasn't that fast. :)

Ms. Duffy

I love that you had fun the whole way because that's what it's all about! It's too bad about the swim but it sounds like you took it in stride just fine! Now you know what to expect for Anderson / Augusta / whatever's next!

Cory Reese

This is beyond awesome. You KILLED it! I love that blurred bike picture....and the mid-air picture....I'm seriously impressed. That water looks hideous, I'm glad you didn't have to tackle that.

Way to go, this is amazing!

Sean @ Learn Fitness

Congrats on the finish man, I wish I had found your blog before the race and had been able to meet you. I love meeting fellow bloggers and meeting Kevin was awesome as I'd been reading him for a while.

It sounds like you had as good of a time as I did. Even though I was bummed for not being able to swim I still had an awesome time and am psyched to figure out which one I want to try next year. We should do a blogger meet up & train up for something like Augusta or another 70.3.

Congrats again!!


Way to "Go Smitty Go" !!

excellent race, love the dueling watches
looks and sounds like you truly enjoyed it
great attitude with the dropped swim. youll get that full half



First of all, let me say that I love that you practiced your finisher's pose the day before. That is awesome! And totally something I would do. :)

Congratulations again on a great race! It was wonderful to meet you and Jenn! Hope to see you both (and your puppy) soon!

Amber @ Betty Meets Jane

Wow. 70.3. You crazy. Seriously. What kind of crazy people do that? Apparently at least 2,000+ of you.

That kind of sucks you didn't get to swim. Why did they cancel it?

Congratulations! :D


The RD were right in cutting out the swim. Looks pretty bad in the pics. GREAT JOB on you HIM Race. you have to still be so proud. Love that you looked like you enjoyed it and took it all in. TO ME...that is what it is all about.

aka - gottarun472 (would not let me sign in)

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