The Steelman Triathlon at Lake Nockamixon is one of my favorite triathlons. It is a local race, but is so well done it has that big-name race feel to it. Dale Winteroff has run the race for a number of years and does an outstanding job. I missed doing this race a number of years due to it falling on the same day as some of my other races or helping out at the local 5k. I haven’t done this one since 2015 when I competed in the Olympic race. Since I had done Lake Placid this July I figured I could do this without much extra training required. I was curious to see how my time compared to the last time I did it when I finished in about 2.5 hours.
The week leading up to the race was VERY rainy. Even on my 45 minute drive down there it was raining a bit and extremely foggy. The fog had cleared right as I entered the park on Route 563. Whew!
The race takes place at the Lake Nockamixon Marina. I tried to get there early enough so that I could get a parking spot in the Marina. I arrived at 5:15AM, which was not early enough and I had to park in a lot up the steep hill just above the marina. It is a bit of a drag walking up that hill after the race.
As dawn broke the scene in the marina was quite spectacular. The surround forested hills were draped in mist. The lake itself clear and the surface was like a mirror reflecting the scenes around it. A small patch of pink and orange displayed in the clouds above the fog as the sun began to arise. The sailboats docked in lines of the foreground made for a spectacular scene. A good way to start off the day!
The transition area was more empty than I remembered. It also did not have any signs indicating where to setup your transition based on the race you were in. It was kind of a free-for-all, but fortunately plenty of space. I found out later the signs had blew away during the really bad storm that blew through.
I setup my transition area rather quickly and headed over to the Port-a-Loo line to take care of any possible weight loss. Then it was time to don the wetsuit, take a little warm-up swim and wait for my wave to get called. I was fortunate that my tri-buddy Nikki from East Stroudsburg was there to help me zip-up my wetsuit. The Men 50+ wave was the 4th wave and last Olympic wave before the Sprint waves. I settled into the front-right side of the start of the counter-clockwise swim.
I started off the swim with a very easy and relaxed stroke. The water seemed pretty warm and the color was a medium brown with pretty low visibility. Once I settled into a comfortable stroke and had a clearing to my left, I started veering in towards the buoys. This really didn’t take all that long and the lane closest to the buoys was surprisingly clear. I reached the first turn in what seemed to be no time at all.
Once I made the very sharp first turn, I started to pick up my stroke rate a bit. The inner lane was free and clear. Oddly it seemed like everyone was swimming out wide closer to the sailboats that were lining the outer edge of the swim lane. Good for me!
I maintained a pretty steady pace without any interruption until I hit next turn heading towards the marina. I ran into some previous wave swimmers here that were kind backed up a bit. I managed to navigate through them and make my way to the final turn into the boat ramp. I lost a little bit of time here getting jammed up with those swimmers. I hit another bunch of slower swimmers, swimming three abreast, right before the boat ramp exit. I lost a bunch of time here since I could not get around them without hitting the dock on the side. Argh!
Swim Time: 0:29:47
I managed a steady jog through to my transiton spot while pulling down my wetsuit top. I skipped the socks for the bike, put my helmet on and headed for the T1 exit. As I was running towards the exit I realized I never clipped my chin-strap…whooops! I stopped in my tracks to clip it before I got a penalty. Whew!
T1 Time: 0:01:59
I mounted up and headed through the marina to the sharp left turn up the steep hill. I had shifted my chain into the small chainring and middle of cassette in preparation for the little leg burner out of the marina. It is always a rude awakening after the swim. I was then able to easily spin up the steep incline without burning too many matches.
The bike course was the best ever this year. The old yellow, plastic speed bumps that were so abrupt it felt like your front wheel was going to come off, were now replaced with nice wide apshalt ones. You could now actually carry a decent amount of speed over them without getting launched. Route 563, where most of the bike course takes place, was recently paved with super smooth new asphalt. The closed road and super-wide, clean shoulders made it a bikers’ heaven.
The bike course also changed a bit since the last time I raced here in 2015. The first/third turnaround were at the start of the bridge by the Haycock inlet, whereas last time it was a bit sooner, just before Top Rock Trail Road. The second/fourth turn was also right at the bottom of the steep hill bridge at the southwest end, where before it was over the bridge and a little up the next hill before. I prefered the older course since it gave you a little bit more momentum going back up the hill instead of making that sharp turn and then right up. I am sure a few chains were dropped there. Fortunately not mine today! Almost though.
My legs felt really good the whole bike. I felt I kept as steady a pace as I could given the rolling course. I didn’t burn any matches from what I could tell. I drank one bottle of Infinit over the entire 25.6 mile bike course(a little long by my GPS). I took a gel in my bento box, but never ate it. Mistake? We’ll see.
|Best Bike Split Race Prediction vs Actual Result||BBS-Projected||Actual Race Output|
Training Stress Score (TSS)
|2018 Steelman Olympic||2018 Steelman Olympic|
|QRoo PRFive ||QRoo PRFive
Looking at the numbers above from my BestBikeSplit prediction vs my actual race, You can see that BBS was only about a minute faster in its prediction compared to what I actually rode. The course I used in BBS was a little longer than what I actually rode. Watts and speed were also pretty close. One area that was a different was my normalized power, which also pushed up my Variability Index(VI). This was mostly due to me pushing the power a bit higher on the hills. BBS caps my max power at around 313 which I should probably raise up. It is pretty hard to keep that low on climbs even when I am spinning an easier gear. All said, I would say I stayed within my plan here.
Above are my stats for the first loop of the bike versus the second. I left out the exit/entrance of the park here since it doesn’t give a true apples-to-apples comparison. Looking at these numbers I am pretty stoked at how similar they are. The second loop was even faster than the first, so I guess I can say I negative splitted this baby! I guess it helps coming off an Ironman with a boatload of fitness to pull from. One other thing to note here is that my Power:Heart Rate ratio dropped to almost 0 on the second loop too. This means that I becameeven more efficient on the second loop by my heart rate and power becoming more tighly coupled.
Overall, I was very happy with this ride. I stuck too my plan and stayed pretty consistent throughout the ride. I surely could have gone faster, but I think I gave myself a good opportunity to execute a good run of the bike.
Bike Time: 1:16:55
I cruised into T2 and dismounted bike with no issues. I kept bike shoes on and waddled with them into transition. I heard someone call my name while I was dismounting, but I couldn’t turn around to see who it was for fear I would fall off my bike.
I racked my bike and switched into my run gear pretty quickly. I made the decision to skip the socks again here in order to save a few more seconds. My thought was “how bad of a blister could I get in 6.2 miles right?” Mistake? We’ll see…
I had also loosely tied my Hoka Clifton 4’s so I could slip in them quickly. I did not double knot them though. Mistake? Again…we’ll see.
T2 Time: 0:01:00
I started out well for first loop and headed for the lollipop shaped peninsula at the tip of the marina. The path is really narrow with 2-way traffic, which makes it very hard to pass if another runner is coming the other way. I averaged about 8:15/mi pace for the first 2 miles. Not bad considering I was working the biking out of my legs here. Mile 3 was a little bit slower at around a 8:30/mi pace.
I made the 2nd turn around and headed back out on my second loop. I could feel my laces loosening up a bit and my foot was sliding around. Hoka’s have traditionally given my blister problems in my arches, but in the last year it seemed to have resolved itself. I started to realize that socks had something to do with that. I was starting feel those arch blisters forming again due to the loose laces and no socks. I tried to keep running without tightening up the laces but during the 5 mile they finally came undone. I had to stop running and re-tie both laces. Ouch! That added an entire minute to that mile split resulting in a 9:30-ish pace.
In addition to the laces coming undone, my arch blisters were becoming excruciatingly painful. Especially the right one. I was really regretting going with out the socks now. I pushed through the pain and still managed to keep my pace in the 8:30-8:40 range. I think the pain of the blisters hid the pain in my quads.
I also started to feel a little bonkish on the 2nd half of the run. I had skipped the gels on the bike and on the run and it started to take its toll. Mistake #3!
I made the final left turn through the the woods to the finish line. I could not wait to hit the finish line and stop the hurt.
Run Time: 0:52:51
Finish Time: 2:42:30
2nd (of 14) age group
I quickly jumped in the makeshift showers at the finish line and let the cool water run over me for a bit. It felt good running in my shoes and cutting the pain coming from my arches. I was reluctant to look at the carnage that lay above my insoles. I grabbed some food from the food tent and headed to a picnic bench to refuel a bit.
After I ate I finally took off my shoes and surveyed the damage. It was not good on the right foot. A large blister, the length of my entire arch had formed, popped and removed the top layer of skin all in the last couple miles of the race. It was glowing red. All I could think is that I have another race the following weekend and would that heal in time.
I limped over to transition to get my phone so I could check the race results online. I was pretty happy to see I had finished 2nd in my age group! I have never placed at Steelman race before so that was a bit of a big deal for me. I guess I would have to stick around for the awards now. As I looked over the results a bit I saw that I missed 1st place by 1 MINUTE!!! So that extra minute it took me to tie both my shoes on mile 5 of the run basically put me out of 1st place…or close to it anyway. Oh well? It has been awhile since I have been on the podium and it doesn’t occur for me that often. I feel kind of a relief to be there again. After all that has happened this season it is that much sweeter a reward.
The awards finally started and it took forever to finally get to the Male 50-54 AG for the Olympic. My wife or anyone else came to see my race, so I didn’t have anyone to take any pictures. Thankfully, one of my tri-friends, Nikki, was there and she was able to snap a pic of me on the podium so I have proof.
This race was a good learning experience for sure. I can take some of the mistakes I learned here and correct them next week when I head up to the Finger Lakes for the Peasantman Intermediate Triathlon. I will surely be doing a couple gels at the end of bike/start of run, wearing socks on the run and tying my laces up good and with double knots in T2! More to come on that.