It’s hard to believe I have embarked on my third triathlon already in the last year. The Steelman was one I had steered away from last year due to a longer than usual swim. The Steelman Sprint consists of a 860yd(0.5 mile) swim, a 15 mi. bike and a 5k(3mi) run. This year it seemed to be the missing piece to my puzzle. I am preparing for my first Olympic distance tri, The Quakerman, this September which is also at Lake Nockamixon. I had attended two open water swim clinics at Nockamixon earlier in the summer to hone up on my weakest sport of the three. The clinic left me with good amount of confidence in the swim. So in order to keep that rolling, I thought the Steelman sprint was the perfect event to parlay that confidence. The Steelman sprint swim is a half mile which is only a tenth less the Quakerman Olympic swim and all other sprints I had done previous were only a quarter mile. The only bad thing about the timing of this event was that I pulled a calf muscle(soleus) about a week and half before the event. I had laid off it totally after it occurred and babied it with ice and rest, so I wasn’t sure if I was going to last the whole run or not. The worst thing would be if I totally ripped it and could not attend the Quakerman. So if I got any pain it would be a walk event.
The Steelman event is very well organized and has been recognized by Triathlon magazine as well as good reviews from competitors. The coordinator had sent a slew of emails out notifying everyone of every little thing came up, in addition to an 80+ page Athletes document with full instructions. No lack of communication here! I decided to head down there on Saturday to do my packet picket and do an easy ride of the bike course. They had a little mini-expo setup so I picked up a few things for my new bike.
The athlete instructions said that sprint distance athletes must be in the park by 5:30AM due to the closing of the main road(RT 563) for the race. We would also not be allowed out of the park until at least 10:30AM that morning. That is a bit of a drag especially for any spectators that want to see you race. Due to this restriction I told my only fan, my wife, that she did not need to attend this one. It is just a training event for me anyway. I thought being there by 5:30AM would give me plenty of time to warm up in each discipline, but the long line at the port-a-potty consumed alot of time and they also closed the transition area at 6:45AM. This was really annoying since my wave of swim didn’t go until 7:45Am! A whole hour of standing around. Fortunately my swim instructor was there to watch the event and I shot the breeze with him for a while.
After standing around for an hour, they finally called my wave for the swim start. When we all got in the water everyone was hanging back from the start buoy except one guy. The announcer made a funny comment about it and we all moved up. The water temperature was 80 degrees, so wetsuits were not USAT legal. I really was prepared for this and had practiced this in the swim clinic. I started out staying to the inside of the buoys. This was nice since there wasn’t any traffic to contend with, but when I tried to get in to round the first turn buoy things got a little congested. Course was a bit of a rectangle with a counter-clockwise direction. Things got a little better after the second turn buoy and everyone started spacing out. I did take a couple breathers on my back, but this was by far the most consistent swim I have had as well as my longest(0.5 mi). The open-water swim clinics I had taken earlier definitely increased my swimming confidence and my ability to relax in the water. Swim Time: 17:50 (Pace: 36:23, 232/537)
T1 was ok. A long jog into the transition got my bike and out of there. Biggest mistake here was running out of transition while being on right side of my bike. I didn’t realize this until I tried to get on my bike and then I had to move around to the other side. This was also my first tri with my new bike, a Quintana Roo Caliente, and I had not practiced any transitions with it. This became quite evident with both T1 and T2. Something to work on for next time, which is the main reason I did this race. One other note is that my Swim Instructor, Scott, was there cheering in the transition area which was pretty motivating. T1 Time: 2:02
I was pretty excited to get out on the bike course with my new tri bike. The Nockamixon bike course on Rt 563 is fairly hilly compared to the past two tri’s I did in NJ, but not that different from what I usually ride at home. I was hoping that this may be a bit of an advantage for me compared to some of the flatlanders in my wave. Coming out of the transition in the marina the first thing you hit is a little steep climb out towards the road. That really wakes the legs up after swimming for 20 mins. I think a couple guys passed me going up it but I ended up passing them before we got out to Rt. 563. This one guy in the Olympic race and I kept jockeying back and forth the whole time. I would pass him on the hills and he would pass me on the flats. It kind of helped keep my motivation to stay with him. Bike Time: 41:12 (Pace 18.6, 45/537)
T2 was a little bit of a rough time. First off I came flying into the dismount area and almost flipped my bike over when I got off. The bike is much lighter than my old bike and I didn’t distribute my weight properly. Nothing a little transition practice cannot cure. Then I could not find my stuff in the transition area. I was a row over and just could not see it. I even had my Austin Powers towel hanging there which I thought would be really noticeable. Apparently not. Despite these hiccups, my time wasn’t too bad. T2 Time: 1:28
The run was the part that I was most wary of due to my calf injury. I didn’t know how long that I could last running without that coming back again. I surely didn’t want to make it worse, so if it did start hurting I would probably be walking the rest of that leg. I started out very slowly making sure I was in my best Chirunning form. My calf felt really good and I started thinking I might be able to run the whole time. Then came the halfway turnaround. About a tenth of a mile after that it felt like someone stabbed my in the back of the leg! Shit! How could that go from feeling fine one second to piercing pain the next? I walked a little bit, but kept giving it another try…nothing. Then I somehow found a form that I could run and it didn’t hurt. I think I was basically keeping that leg straighter, kind of like I had a leg cast on, and was able to make it the whole. It wasn’t fast by any means but if I could salvage my overall race a bit it was worth it. Run Time: 28:16( Pace: 9:07, 321/537)
My overall time was 1:30:45 which is ok. Hey it was only a training race anyway, so I am happy with it. I definitely got some things to work on for my Olympic race which is my high priority. I finished 14 out of 39 in my age group which puts me solidly in the top half. The only thing that kinda stinks is that a solid run could have put me in the top 5 or at least close. But there is always next year. The post-race food was pretty good. Tons of fruit and some pizza and cookies to satisfy my post-race junk food urge. Hung out for a bit, talked with a couple I knew and eventually they let us out of the park.
Place Bib# D Name Age G City St Rank 860ydsw Pace Tran1 Rank 12.8mbk Rate Tran2 Rank 5krun Pace Penalty Final Div/Tot Div Gen/Tot G
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122 638 S Brian Schwind 42 M ALBURTI PA 232 17:50 36:23 2:02 45 41:12 18.6 1:28 321 28:16 9:07 1:30:45 14/39 M40-44 82/291 M
Sprint Order of Finish Results
Spring Award Winner Results