Wednesday, August 3, 2011


5:00 a.m. I stood in line to enter transition, double checking everything. I reviewed this race multiple times in my head, but now the day is here and I was ready to go. Planed to swim 1:45, Bike 6:30, and Run 5:00, with 15 min for both transitions, I should be able to hit 13:30 and under my personal goal of 14 hours. I just need to wait for 2 hours to do so… I met up with Ed Slovenkay in transition and we headed over to drop off our bags and get to the swim start. Finishing my pre-swim nutrition, I was ready to get in the water. I headed over to the dock to hang on and not tread water. The shot rang out and the race began. Sticking to my swim strategy, I started my watch and waiting for 45 seconds to tick by. As the watch clicked 45, I headed around the dock and began the swim. The water was amazing, it is so clear, you can see at least 10 feet down. I swam to the buoy line and followed the line all the way out. There was occasional bumping and kicking, but nothing major. I got to the first turn buoy and the corner was mobbed with folks, unlike anything I had ever seen. Around the second turn buoy and someone swam on top of me and had nowhere to go. Between breaths, I snuck out “no”, “rides”. In my mind, I was thinking of saying: “piggyback rides are not allowed in the water” and “hey lady, I’m married”, but there was not enough breath to get all that out. The lady was frantically trying to find a place to go, but for a second, there were just people everywhere. On my next stroke, I turned completely sideways and dumped my passenger. I was almost laughing in the water it was so comical. On to the rest of the swim… I got to the exit / second lap start and felt great, headed back for the second lap and again was able to keep the buoy line in sight for about the whole swim. As I started to sight the exit arch, with no breathing problems, I started to pick up the pace. I swam about as hard as I could for about the last 300 yards. Exiting the swim, again, I felt great, looked at my watch and saw 1:25. Elated, I headed down the long carpet to transition.

I was not expecting the chaos in the tent, but a volunteer quickly got my stuff situated, I had all my bike gear and I was ready to head out to the bike. Wait, almost forgot sunscreen, of course, it was back on the other side of the tent, Uggghhh. Got the bike and had to wait in line to get out of transition, I was itching to get going, I almost rode over some guy who decided to put his shoes on at the mount line. The weather was perfect and I climbed out of Lake Placid (LP) remembering the advice of many, “do not burn out on the first loop of the bike”. I took it relatively easy up the hills leading out of placid and as I headed down to the first small descent, I heard someone yell: “Told you, you’d be fine on the swim!!” as Jason Davis went flying past me. Instinctually, I kicked up the pace and tried to chase him down, but then thought, “What are you doing? Jason rides much faster than you; let him go, ride your race”. The descent into Keene was not as bad as either of the training attempts, and then I was able to crank up the speed heading to Au Sable Forks. Climbing to Wilmington, I saw Dave Duecker and Matt Batzel screaming on the side of the road, just the boost I needed before climbing back to LP. The climb back was uneventful. It was great to see some familiar faces. Danielle Jolliff also seemed to appear at multiple spots on the course like she had some secret underground tunnels; she ended up with some amazing photos of the race. The amount of people on the sides of the papa bear hill made you feel like you were climbing a stage of the tour, great energy. As I rounded the beach, I saw Sue and the kids for the first time. That was the boost I needed to start the second lap. I headed back out of LP, this time; using a more energy on the climbs. As I finished the last climb and was about to start the descents, my rear wheel was making an odd sound. Long story, two CO2’s and a stop at the water station later, I had to pull over and change the tire. I looked at my average MPH, and I was at 19.9 before I started the repair. 25 min later and now at 17.1 MPH average; I headed down the descents into Keene on a tubular tire that I hoped I had put on correctly. It did not matter, I was angry at losing so much time, so I flew down the hills barely even touching the brakes. The rest of the ride went fine. I pushed hard and had in my head that I wanted to get my avg. MPH back up. Around mile 95, I saw two crazy nuts jumping and screaming in British flag Speedos, yep Duecker and Batzel. Just the jolt I needed to finish the bike. As I finished the loop, I saw Sue and the kids again, now perched on a huge wall near the special needs areas. Seeing them yelling and cheering made me forget about the time lost and start focusing on the run. Ended the bike at 6:18, not past my target, but I was hoping for 6 based on my first loop.

In and out of transition, not forgetting sun screen this time, and I my legs felt fine. The first aide station seemed to come very quickly, and I looked down and saw an 8:45 pace, which was much faster than my plan. A few miles later I was on plan at around a 10 to 10:30 pace. In the beginning of mile 2, my quads started to cramp. I have no idea why, I had plenty of water, and sodium. I was refilling my 20 oz hand water bottle at least ¾ of the way at each stop. Regardless, the cramps moved around my legs and forced me to walk a couple of times. I saw everyone from BAFF and CTC out on the course. The multiple out and backs made it great to be able to see folks. At one point, I was trying to walk off a dual hamstring cramp and Tim Walsh came by and gave me some tips on walking backwards, which worked wonderfully. The Ford inspiration station message from my kids was very simple “love you, beer time soon” I guess they know me. Entering the special needs area, again I saw Sue and the kids and I felt great. I headed back out for the second loop, confident I would soon finish my first IM race. The long out and back on River rd. was trying, but I kept focused on the goal, and seeing folks like Mark Durno and Rob Reddy along the way made the time go by faster. Coming back towards the Olympic oval, again, I saw Danielle, cheering and taking photos. I When I approached the oval, Jason was standing in the Bike transition area waiting for me, seeing him there, right as I was about to finish, was huge for me. I am not sure I could ever put into words how much I appreciate what he and Ed did to help me get ready for and get through this race mentally and physically. He was yelling at me to get moving, but I wanted to be sure Mike Reilly had a clear view of my race number.

As I approached the finish line, I heard the words I had wanted to hear all day: “Steve Thompson, from North Royalton, Ohio, You Are an Iron Man!” I looked, saw 12:45:59 and just smiled. I kept my composure until I saw Sue and the kids, and my eyes welled up. They are the best support crew ever, both on race day and during the months of training leading up to the race.

It was an amazing journey and a great day. The race lived up to everything I had expected, and a little more. Now I am hooked, and looking forward to the next IM race. Special thanks to my coach Sean Gilbert, your training plans and guidance made this all possible.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

NEO Sprint Tri

Clays was a fun race. The water was very warm, but I decided to wear a wetsuit for transistion practice. While the 40+ and Clydes were waiting to start, we saw Aaron and a few others mis the turn bouy and we could only imaging how nasty that would feel. As the swim started, my normal strategy is to hang back, since I swim slow, and stay in open water, since this was a sprint, I decided to try and push myself on ths swim this time. I eneded up in the middle of the pack on the way out of the water, a new feeling for me. T1 was fairly straight foward, I got the wetsuit off efficiently and got onto the bike. The course started with a couple of rolling hills, my legs were tired from the previous day's 4 hour hilly training ride, but it was only 13 miles, so I pushed forward and started a bing of passing folks, includeing the only Clyde I could find, at about mile 3. I saw 6 of our BAFF guys as I came to mile 5, and they were on their way back from the turn around. It was great to see so many of our team kits out there. The return of the course was mostly downhill and very fast. I got into T2, and only saw about 20 bikes, so and only a couple in the 40+ Clyde racks. I felt good, and headed out on the run. Again saw a bunch of BAFF folks including a blur which I later realized was Aaron. Finished the run with and avegage pace of 7:18 per Garmin which is really fast for me. Then started my additional training running... Got to see a few more folks out on the course and had to explain to a lady that I did not lose my timing chip... Ended up 1st place in the clyde group, 21st OA. Wrapped the day with a great picnic with the BAFF folks. Great to see everyone.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Little Smokies Half IM 5-22-11

After spending 1 ½ days watching some teammates and friends complete in the first 3 races of the Triple T, it was my turn to tackle the Little Smokies Half IM distance race. This was to be the first, of two, training races for Lake Placid, and I definitely learned a lot from mistakes I made as you will read on... The day prior to the race, I realized I had forgotten to pack my fuel belt, which I wanted to have for concentrated Infinit on the run. Thanks to the folks at IDUTRI, I was able to buy a new belt for the race. Of course, after purchasing the belt, I learned that the water stops would also be serving Infinit, so I did not need the fuel belt. Oh well, it is a nice belt..

The evening prior to the race, I laid everything out in the tent (yes we were camping for the weekend events) and double checked to make sure I had everything. In the morning, after fighting with the Zipp wheels to get them to accept air, we had everything ready to go. 45 minutes before race time and we jumped on the bikes to ride down to the race start. This was a good warm up ride, as it was just a little over a mile away. The adrenalin was starting to pump, I had heard for a while how hilly the bike and run course were, and I was looking forward to seeing what I could do on this course as it would be a good barometer for my progress towards Placid.

I found the secret decoder sheet that told me where to rack my bike and get transition ready, so I hooked up the bike and got in line for my chip. 25 minutes before race time (10 minutes till Transition Close) and I had my chip and was ready to setup my transition. As I opened my bag, a flash ran through my head, as I recalled taking the transition towel out of the bag to use as a pillow in the tent AND that I had taken out my CEP socks as I was going to wear them overnight (but never did). So, no towel (not a big deal) but no socks (planned to wear the CEP’s for Bike and Run) ohh no. I ran over to the IDUTRI table, but they were not setup yet. I came back and a random guy setting up next to me, seeing my frustration, gave me a “spare” pair of running socks he had. Tri-folks are great people! So, I setup the transition sans towel and with borrowed socks. I put my wetsuit on and headed down to the lake to see the TTT guys and gals start the last of their amazing set of races.

The swim start was grouped by estimated swim finish. I swim slow, so I assumed about a 2 min / 100 yrd pace, and with 2112 yards to swim, I jumped in the 45 minute group. The start was a 2 person time trial start with 5 second send offs. I got in the 60 degree water and started my journey. I was able to find open water most of the way, and I had an easy smooth first lap. Out of the water and onto lap 2. On lap 2, as I rounded the farthest turn buoy, I noticed the sun was coming up over the tall trees around the lake, which was a great sight on each breath. With about 400 yards to go, some guy decided to repeatedly swim into me, after some mid water gyrations, he was gone. I headed for the last turn buoy, and then to the swim finish. Thank God, I was done with the swim and had Zero lung issues. I looked down at my watch and saw 40:41. That put a spring in my step, as I was 4 minutes ahead of my estimate. On to the bike.

I got into transition, quickly remove the wetsuit, found my borrowed socks and headed out for the hilly bike course. I decided not to take the Endurolyte capsules with me, as I had a strong mix of Infinit in the bottles. As I turned off 125, I entered the beginning of the longest and most technical climb of the course. I kept to my plan of climbing as close to 80 cadence as possible and thank goodness I did, because the first hill went on for a long time. Finally cresting the top, and starting the decent, I then had to quickly hit the brakes to make it safely through two tight hairpin downhill turns. After that the course opened up a bit. The course was beautifully laid out in many wooded areas. There were a few medium to hard climbs in the middle and when I got to RT 125, I started the next difficult climb. This time I was rewarded with an awesome downhill stretch of newly paved road, glancing down, I was hitting 41 to 44 MPH, great ride. I pulled into the turn around, to begin lap 2, I was at 1:31:34 and at that point, I realized that I should have pre-filled bottles and left them on the table. The line for the water was 5 minutes (ouch). Got filled up with garden hose flavored water and filled my extra bottle, which was pre-loaded with Infinit powder, and I was off for loop 2. Loop 2 on the bike course was obviously more predictable and the first long hill did not seem as long. Throughout this loop, I kept thinking about the advice from Ed Slovenkay, “push hard but keep to a metered effort”. Looking back at HR data, I keep my max HR under 165 and averaged 143 on a course with over 5400 feet of climbing. I really enjoyed the entire bike course, even the one point when I needed to pass a car on one of the fast down hills. Seeing all the TTT jersey folks out there who amazingly were doing this race after the sprint race on Friday and the 2 OLY’s on Saturday was inspiring to say the least. I finished the bike at 3:10:22 and I was very happy with my time on the bike. On concern I did have was that it was way warmer out than any of the weather in which I had trained, but on to the run I went.

The run course started out fine, but quickly went up hill. As I turned onto the service road, I saw Christian and then Ed coming the other way, finishing their first lap. For me, seeing folks I know is a great burst of energy. The first 4 miles were mostly an uphill climb, and the total run was just north of 1700 feet of climbing (according to Garmin). I took many walk breaks to keep the HR in check and because I was beat down, Nutrition, Nutrition, Nutrition… Luckily, I took my Amphipod hand bottle with me which had a concentrated Infinit mix, because the Infinit on the course was very watered down, but that only lasted so long. Just before Mile 4 I felt like the early signs of leg cramps, so at the next water stop, I grabbed pretzels and endurolyte capsules (probably should have had them on the bike, note to self). The cramps seemed to subside, possibly because I was now jogging downhill. Soon, I saw Christian and Ed again around mile 4, damn those guys run fast. Next, I saw Janet and Tim, during a walk break and Janet promptly reminded me to get moving…  The lack of full strength nutrition combined with the heat of the day cause the cramps to return around mile 10. I pushed through to the next stop, got some more salt and fluids and kept moving. Finished the run in 2:26:30 (that is not a typo, it really took me that long). I was so happy to cross the finish line and see the Muscle Milk Rejuvenation Station. I headed straight over there for some great recovery drink. My total time was 6:24:47, I was happy to have finished ahead of most all the big guys out there, but more importantly, I learned a lot from my first training race this year and I am looking forward to the next races. One last point, a big thanks to Joe Edwards for taking over my role of group fan / photographer, and for the great encouragement on the course.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Rev 3 Cedar Point 1/2 IM

It was an awesome day. One of the first where everything was in sync. Used music medication during the swim, no lung issues in the water. I came out of the water charged up and ready to go (slow swim, on purpose, 48 min). Smooth T1 and headed out on the bike course which had very few hills, but enough wind to make up for the lack of hills. As I was rounding mile 55, I was averaging 22.2 MPH, and starting thinking, oh no, did I just kill my legs for the run. Based off some advice from Brian P., I slowed the last mile a little to get some energy back. Ended the ride avg 22.1 according to Garmin. T2 went a little slower, b/c I chose compression socks for the run, (needed, but they added some time). I started out on the run, wondering how the legs would hold up. My goal was to hold 20 MPH on the bike and 9 to 9:15’s on the run. When the Garmin clicked the first mile, I looked down and saw my first Mile was a 7:14 and thought, OK, let’s see how far we can push this thing. Ended up with my first 3 miles under 8’s and held close to 8 for the next 8 miles. For me, who usually runs 8:30's I was very happy. Then I slowed to a little over 9 for the last two, minus a painful burst for the last 200 yards… I usually walk through rest stops, but I had a weird energy and I just kept running. Ended the run at 1:50, which is 3 min off my PR for a standalone half marathon. In the end, I finished at 5:18 and placed 2nd in the Maie Clydesdale division. I was shocked and ecstatic. The best race I have had thus far for certain. Looking forward to Lake Placid training. I switched to Infinit nutrition about a month ago and that stuff is amazing. Not saying it was the cause of my results, but it along with some great advice / coaching from Ed S., Brian P., Christian K., George V., and Dave D. definitely helped! Thanks everyone!!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Race season is off to a good start. Took 1st in the Clyde division at both Clays Park Sprint and Monroe Falls Sprint races. Bike has been doing great, 6th overall bike time in both races. Looking forward to the Oly distance races comming up soon. This Sunday is the Medina Twin Sizzler 27mile road bike race, always a fun and fast time...

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Just getting started. This year's Race Schedule is shaping up as follows:

May 16th, Cleveland Marathon
June 13th, ONE Sprint Tri at Clays Park
June 27th, Munroe Falls, Summit Sprint Tri
July 4th, Median Twin Sizzler Road Bike Race
July 25th, Milton Man Olympic Tri (Tentative)
Aug 8th, Greater Cleveland Olympic Tri
Aug 15th, MS 150 "Pedal to the Point" Bike Ride
Aug 29th, Houston Woods Olympic Tri
Sept 12th, Rev 3 Half IM

About Photo Above...

Photo taken by Sue T., but layout and concept of the actual photo belongs to Daniel Smith (