Lake Stevens 70.3

The story of this race started last year as I crossed the finish line of the 2009 Vineman 70.3 in triple digit temperatures.  Never again did I want to run a Half Marathon in that kind of strength sapping speed killing heat.  So when it came to planning my race season for 2010 I flipped open “The Road to Clearwater” guide to the 70.3 series and started scanning for a late season, West Coast based temperate race.  Ah ha!! There it was, Lake Stevens Ironman 70.3, in Everett, north of Seattle Washington, where highs average in the low 70’s.  This would be perfect, with a fast run I could be done by one o’clock, long before it heated up to even a cool mid 70.

Of course nothing in life actually goes to plan.  I arrive the Friday before the race in temps in the high 80’s, and forecast to climb steadily to a peak on race day.  Rats!!  Bike drop off at the transition area the afternoon before the race…92 degrees.  More Rats!!!!  Oh well nothing can be done about the weather, its just one more variable and it’s the same temperature for all of us, so drink up, stay hydrated, put your head down and go.

Race Morning. Up at 4:00, eat some breakfast, load the car and head to the race.  There by 5.30, transition set up by 6:15 and off to watch the Pro’s start at 6:30.  The lake is beautiful, picturesque and warm.  72.6 degrees which means no wetsuits for the pros but age-groupers are good.  That’s a relief, not that I am a bad swimmer, but when your’re swimming 1.2 miles the extra buoyancy and warmth of the suit sure helps.  The swim was great, plenty of room in the lake for each wave to start and swim in clean water, and thanks to the local rowing club it is the first time ever I have swam open water with lane lines!!  The buoys they use to mark the course are attached to bright white cables you can see running in arrow straight lines along the bottom of the lake.

Out of the water, a short run through the parking lot and onto the bike. I had driven the course the day before and I knew it would be hilly, but oh boy! Seemed like I was either climbing or descending the whole time, always changing gears.  The tough going was at least made enjoyable by the beautiful surroundings and some great aid stations handing out icy cold water.  Still it was a hard ride, two loops of constant hills, never really able to relax into a steady rhythm.  And oh, did I mention the heat?  It’s something you don’t really feel when riding unless its super hot, and for the last half hour of the ride I got the distinct sense that things were warming up.

Off the bike and quickly onto the run.  No shade.  More hills.  Darn hot.  Oh boy not again.  The run was also a two loop course and I soon found a steady pace, and with an aid station at every mile I could dump two full cups of icy water on my head to stay cool, and gulp down two to stay hydrated.  That kinda worked for the first 6 miles but with temperatures’ climbing into the 90’s even that wasn’t enough to keep me cooled down.  So here I am again running a half marathon in brutal heat with no shade, and so on the second loop my run splits got progressively slower and slower.

Finally I crossed the finish line, sat my butt in the first aid tent where they dumped yet more water on me and put a grocery bag full of ice on my neck and shoulders.  That did the trick and 10 mins later I was up and about reflecting on the race.  So, I could be disappointed in the time.  It wasn’t my fastest, not by a long way. And I was overheated and hurting.   I am however a great believer in the saying that there is no such thing as a bad race.  The ride was really hard…but it was the kind of riding that would make me stronger for my next race.  The run was brutal, hot and tiring for sure, but it also made me mentally tougher and a tad less intimidated by high temperatures next time around.  It was also a beautiful part of the world, a great course, and a really well organized race with great volunteers and well stocked aid stations and I still smiled the whole way.  Will I be back for more?  Maybe, maybe not.  Would I recommend it to anyone wanting to have fun on doing a 70.3?  Absolutely!!!

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About markturner3501
Chief Strategy Officer SaatchiLA

2 Responses to Lake Stevens 70.3

  1. Skyler says:

    Nice report. I’m jealous of the underwater lane lines in the lake… I need a swim like that. That’s a good lookin’ bike you’re on too, especially with those wheels.

  2. PETEMIN says:

    This sounds way harder than walking slowly uphill =/

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