Grab a beverage, sit back and enjoy!
Our weekend started off with a trip to Spring Lake for a house warming party for a friend of Jennie’s from college. After spending some time with them, we headed north to my boss’s cottage (aka The Brady Bed and Breakfast) where we were spending the night before the race. On the way, we stopped and got a Hot N Ready Little Caesar’s pizza and breadsticks. Mmmmm… Excellent pre-race food. We got to the cottage around 7:30 and spent some time visiting with my boss and his boss (wife). They were very accommodating by letting us crash there for the night. By staying there, we were only about 30 minutes away from Ludington rather than almost 2 hours away from our house. The cottage is a beautiful place right on Lake Michigan. We were lulled to sleep by the sound of waves crashing on the shore – very relaxing.
Even though we were relatively close to the race site, it was still up at 5:00AM to get ready and head up to Ludington. I am glad that we got there when we did because it was still fairly empty when we arrived. It filled up quickly though. After I did packet pickup and body marking, the line for body marking grew to about 50 people. The transition area was very well organized and not congested at all. There were 7 bikes to a rack max, which is a nice change from trying to cram 8 or 9 bikes on each rack. I got lucky and my assigned row had flag/banner above it, which made it easy to find my row after getting out of swim and back from the bike.
They certainly had an eclectic variety of music booming as we all got ready. It was mainly a collection of Jock Jams with some random songs (eg. Paula Abdul) thrown in between. They even played Sexual Healing… really??? Is that really a good pump me up song? Maybe for a different activity, but not for a triathlon.
The weather was quite chilly still; the effect of having cold and rainy weather the past few days. We were assured though that today would be sunny and warm. It sprinkled a bit while setting up my transition area, but that ended quickly and the sun started to poke through the clouds. Like Tri Del Sol, everyone was anxious to get in the water because the water temperature (about 70 degrees) was warmer than the air temperature.
We got a bit of a late start for the swim. They had to wait for the SS Badger to leave the harbor before sending us on our way. The swim was located in Lake Michigan, but it was in between two breakwalls, so the water was very calm- almost like swimming in a pool.
As we made our way into the water, we had to walk carefully because there were a lot of sharp rocks that wanted to cut up our feet and stub our toes.
The swim was only 1000m rather than 1500m, so I guess this wasn’t a full Olympic distance race like I had previously thought (the bike and run were the correct Olympic distances though). It was a rectangular course; 450 yards out, 100 yards over, and 450 yards back.
I started off fairly well. I was hugging the buoys like I wanted to. However, about 200 yards into the swim, my right goggle started to leak. They felt sort of loose when I first put them on, but I didn’t want to risk fiddling with them right before the race. At first, the tiny bit of water was actually helpful because it acted like a windshield wiper and kept my right goggle fog free. Unfortunately, it kept getting worse and worse and eventually was more of a hindrance, making it harder to see.
The second half of the swim didn’t go nearly as well as the first half. For the life of me, I couldn’t swim straight on the buoy line. I was also having trouble seeing the finish line on the shore, so I didn’t even have a good point in the distance to aim for. I ended up finishing the swim in 22:05 (which includes about a minute run to the transition area). After the race, I did hear some other people speculating that the swim was actually a bit longer than 1000m. I was comforted by this because my pace was way off compared to other races.
The first transition went very well. Because the flag at the end of my rack, I was able to find my bike quickly. I took my time to brush the sand off my feet and put socks on. Usually, for a shorter race like this, I wouldn’t bother with socks, but it was still kind of chilly and there is nothing worse than frozen feet while on the bike. That happened to me at Reeds Lake last year and was just downright annoying. It was a small transition area, so I was still in and out and 1:38.
After jumping on the bike, I headed out at a good clip. The first few miles were very flat, so I got right up to 20-21mph. I was in the first swim wave, so there weren’t a lot of people on the course yet and I had the road pretty much to myself. The course was fairly well marked. However, there were a few corners that had volunteers who weren’t very vocal about what you were supposed to do. I got into the habit of yelling out a question as I approached the corner – “Olympic turns here???” Once I started doing that, it was a lot less confusing.
About 7 miles into the ride, some jackass tried to run me off the road. He was pulling out of his driveway, stopped at the end of the driveway, looked directly at me, and then gunned it, trying to make it out in front of me. I had to slow down a bit, but I was anticipating it as I saw him start to leave his driveway. I had a good feeling that he wasn’t going to have any regard for anyone else on the road.
The roads themselves were very smooth. A couple of the corners had some loose gravel, but nothing too slippery. It was a relatively flat course with a few rolling hills. I did my best to stay aero as much as possible and even succeeded at staying aero on some of the inclines.
I passed a couple people here and there and got passed by a few as well, but overall there was very little bike traffic on the first part of the course.
Once we got about 15 miles into the course, however, we met up with the sprint course riders. This part of the course was on a road that leads into the State Park. The road was lined with sand dunes, so I had to be sort of careful not to hit some of the patches of sand. I did see one rider drift too far to the right and end up crashing into the dune. I slowed down to make sure he was alright and he said he was – I think he was more embarrassed than anything. The ride into the park was on a slight incline and directly into the wind. It took a lot of mental work to KMF (keep moving forward). I chanted that in my head over and over as I made my way to the turn around; KMF, KMF, KMF. With the sprint riders, there were more people to pass, which made it seem like I was moving fast despite the wind.
Once we got to the turn around, the wind was at our back and it was downhill from there. I was flying for about 2 miles at 25+mph with hardly any effort. My upper legs and gluts were aching towards the end of the ride, and I was worried that it would affect my run like it did at the Grand Haven Tri and Tri Del Sol. Nevertheless, I continued to push myself as hard as I could.
I ended up finishing the bike portion in 1:13:33, a 20.2mph pace! I am thrilled with this time. It is my fastest pace for the distance and only the second time I have broke 20mph in a race.
T2 was very quick; only 54 seconds. I did have one accident though. I stepped on my goggles with my bike cleats on. It sounded like they cracked, but I can’t find any damage to them now. I grabbed a water as I headed out on the run.
The run was amazing. I had almost no brick feeling from the bike. We started out with the sprint and full distance runners all together and then parted ways after a mile and a half. It was hard to see who was in what even for that first mile and half, but after that, I didn’t get passed by anyone on the run. At first, I didn’t think I was going to be passing anyone because I couldn’t even see the runners in front of me. Eventually, though, I started to see more and more people and ended up passing about 10 or 12 runners.
My one complaint about the run was the aid stations. They had water and Hammer HEED sports drink. The Hammer HEED, however, was clear (or nearly so). When I thought I was getting water, I got the Hammer HEED, took a huge gulp and nearly gagged. It tasted awful. It was sweet and salty at the same time. Even after getting water at the next aid station, I was still licking my lips and tasting salt. I am just glad that I didn’t dump it over my head. It should be a rule that non-water should be colored (like Gatorade).
The run course itself was beautiful. The middle 3 miles was primarily on a paved nature trail with some unpaved sections. I flew through this section of the course, and it was just downright fun. After the trail, we popped back out to the main road. At this point, we had a mile and half to the finish. This entire portion was a slight downhill on a straight section of road. Because of this, it was possible to see the final turn the entire way down the hill. It was a great motivator to be able to see the finish in the distance. I was able to pass a couple more people on this final stretch, including a guy I had been chasing for about 2 miles.
I finished the run as my best leg of the race. Lately, the run has not been as good as I would have liked it to have been, but today finally lived up to my expectations. My time was 46:41 for a 7:31 pace. This is where I picked up most of my ranking by placing 26th out of 87 on the run.
The post-race was excellent. Not only did we get medals, but they had great refreshments. Trays of sub sandwiches, fresh fruit, bags of chips, and Blow Pops (random, I know). I am thinking that the person who chose Sexual Healing for the soundtrack must have also picked the Blow Pops.
Other Race Notes
There was a course record set for the men (1:48:31). That is ridiculously fast – and he make it look effortless.
I am starting to see more and more people I know the more races I go to. I saw D again today (he was doing the full distance as well) along with lots of other familiar faces. Lots of people wearing Millennium Triathlon shirts as well, so I wasn’t the only one making up for that lost opportunity.
Also, My Team Triumph was at this race. I have mentioned them in the past, but basically they are a group of athletes who tow, pull, and push people with disabilities so that they can enjoy the thrill of completing a triathlon. Today, Team Michael made their way to the finish.
After enjoying the post-race food, I headed back into Lake Michigan for a quick “bath.” I got out and changed into my street clothes so that we could hang around Ludington for a bit before heading home. The lake bath actually worked better than I thought. It isn’t the best I have ever smelled, but it was better than my post-triathlon aroma.
We had lunch at House of Flavors, a diner with their own brand of homemade ice cream. We were both craving some nice greasy food and end up getting orders of chicken fingers and fries. They disappeared in no time.
After finishing lunch, we headed back to the beach and walked along the breakwall out to the lighthouse.
|Overall Place:||35 / 87|
|Gender Place:||32 / 60|
|Age Group Place:||7 / 11|
|Swim Rank:||49 (6 in AG)|
|Bike Rank:||49 (7 in AG)|
|Bike Pace:||20.2 mph|
|Run Rank:||26 (6 in AG)|