Lake Stevens "race" report

I know I professed that I wasn't doing Lake Stevens 70.3 as a race... but I have to say I am pretty dang pleased with how the day went!    Kiki was right, I was ready and I did surprise myself.  I learned a lot on that long, hard training day, and accomplished my goals I set out here.

The day before we drove the bike course as it had changed from when Jason did it last year.  Once we were back at the lake, I had to scrape my jaw off the floor of the car as there was way more climbing than I was anticipating.  The course was up, twisty, turning, down, more turning, more up up up... not long gradual climbs, but short, punchy ones that sap strength and energy.  Well, the course is what it is and it's not like I could ride last year's, so at least I was glad to have seen it and know what I was in for.  But I tend to over think things, and I was pretty much psyching myself out thinking about the bike course.  My strengths tend to be diesel-engine-ish... get up to speed and stay there.  That course was all accelerate-deccelerate, and while I liked the bike handling aspect of all the turns, I knew I was in for a long day with the climbing.

Fast forward to the actual race: Kiki and I were in the same swim wave, and we lined up at the start.  The water in Lake Stevens is warm (73F on race day), pretty clear (with the exception of the warm-up duck cove area), and calm.  Made for some fast swim conditions - and I ended up getting on some great feet and PR'ing the swim with a 32:41, good enough for 9th in my age group.  I have never swam under 34 minutes for a half so I was happy!   I saw Kiki partway through the swim and waved, which was fun.  The bummer of the wave starts is it doesn't take long to catch the slow swimmers in waves ahead, and from the turnaround buoy into shore was a bit of a gong show navigating through the hoards.  I just let the feet I was on take care of the route and I hung on.  I did accomplish my goal of not going out too hard at the start, but just right.  Which is probably why I found some good feet; I didn't have to back off after sprinting from the gun - I started strong and took advantage of that.

Getting my transition area ready pre-race.
Onto the bike course, and it had started raining which made the roads a bit treacherous.  At many corners I saw people who had crashed; this was a bike handler's day and I backed off a bit on the descents to stay safe.  I didn't back off so much though that I wasn't passing people on the downhills though!  It was a bit chilly because of the rain and we were all thoroughly soaked.  I decided that rather than let the conditions get to me, I'd pretend it was February and surprisingly warm.  Amazing what you can overcome with the right mindset!

Yep, the course went up and down, around and around, with more up than down I am sure.  I don't know how that was possible as we started and finished in the same place, but I am sure we broke the laws of physics there.  It also seemed like every downhill ended with a hard turn and then an uphill, forcing me to scrub all my speed before the climb...  I just tried to settle in, work hard, stay on track with nutrition and enjoy the day.  The climb at mile 38 (which I was dreading) wasn't as bad as I thought, but the one at mile 45 (which I hadn't given any thought to) was interminable.  I am sure there are still some out there riding it - it took that long.  And the descent after that one was ruined by an asshole in a truck who seemed to delight in driving slooooooowly on the course and blocking about 3 of us from gaining any speed there.  I'm sure it cost me a few minutes overall, but it doesn't really matter in the end.

Elevation profile from my Garmin...
it's official - there was a lot of climbing!

Also from my Garmin.  The IM Lake Stevens website
said 2,159 feet of climbing - can you say typo on their
part?  I've read some other race reports that agree
with my figure as well.
I was pretty happy to make the turn back to Lake Stevens, but naturally the course didn't relent as we had another few uphills before back to transition.  My arms definitely got a workout on the bike course as I used a lot of upper body on the ride with climbing and cornering.  I was pretty sure I'd be over 3:30 on the bike once I saw the course, so I was happy with a bike split of 3:20 and top third in my AG.

Onto the run, fairly uneventful.  A gradual climb out then a little decline back, and then an out-and-back along the lake, up a hill, down and back over.  Then repeat.  The first lap went by, and I have to admit I would have been happy to stop there.  But another lap was required, so out again I went.  I stuck exactly to my plan of 8 run/2 walk for the first 2 hours, then 4/1 after that.  Stuck to my nutrition plan, kept positive, kept going.  And then turn right into the finish and done, top half of my AG so can't complain, and faster than I thought I'd be originally when I was complaining about "racing".  My run is definitely a work in progress, but I'm working and it's progressing so that is a good thing.  To think of where I have come since my accident a few years ago...  

On the run and smiling.
The volunteers were fabulous, cheerful and helpful.  Had a pretty grass-roots feel for a WTC event, but maybe that's because we're pretty laid-back here in the PNW.  Jason took 2nd place in M40-44 and got a Vegas spot.  Kiki had a solid day despite being sick - she stuck it out when many wouldn't have started.  We high-tailed it out to catch a ferry and get home by early evening.  Overall, a fun weekend for all and back home before my next adventure - the Alcatraz Sharkfest swim in a couple of weeks.

Made it just in time for our ferry home.
Long live Zoot compression tights!


  1. congratulations! It sounds like you did awesome considering you weren't in it to race. And nice PR swim!

  2. Thanks! I definitely learned not to give up before I even get to the start line... race even if you don't think you're ready!

  3. I can't believe I missed this. You must have posted while I was away on vacation in the no-internet-access-olympic-NP. Great job on your swim. PRs are always so nice especially when you know you've stuck to your race plan. And 4th in your AG on the bike is fantastic too especially with all those hills. I'm tossing up doing Boise again next year or Lake Stevens. What do you think now that you've ridden the new LS course?