Swim, Bike, Run and Repeat

August marks the season of triathlons in Michigan. It is that one perfect month of the summer where the mornings are not stifling hot, the waters have warmed up and the sun is shining (most of the time). With that said, it is no surprise that over the past few weeks we have had several WSI riders compete in several different triathlons around the state. Here’s a summary of them all.

Cereal City Triathlon/Duathlon, August 9

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The Cereal City Triathlon has been a yearly event for me. I have participated in this event since it began 3 years ago. This year I did not know what to expect as I was in a 10 hour adventure race the day before (that is a whole different race report). The swim and bike went as expected. This course is home turf for me, as the start is only a mile from my house. The run was tough. I was tired, my legs were spent from the day before. I had another friend in the course who had participated the day before in the Battle Frog and I knew he and I were in the same boat; exhaustion. I passed him on the bike but knew I could not hold him off on the run. Sure enough, he came up behind me. At this point we needed each other to keep pushing to the finish. We finished together. Not my best time, not my worst. It was a finish, nonetheless.

Danny Wolin

This is the first year I have done this duathlon and had a great time. Nice (local) course, well run and good weather.  At the last minute they shortened the first run to 2.5k from 5. I stayed close behind the lead runner and had a good ride which made the last run a bit less stressful.  Ended up winning and finished in 1.01 with a PR finishing 5k.  Great race and I will do it again.

Matt Wright

Matt participated in the aquabike portion of the event, placing 1st.

Girls Best Friend Triathlon, August 15

Cindy Gippert
This was my 2nd triathlon in two weeks. The Girls Best Friend Tri is an all women’s tri put on by a company called 3 Disciplines. It was a well organized event at the Prairie View Park near Vicksburg. Nice venue, but the lake was a bit weedy even though we have gotten plenty of rain this summer. I was a bit nervous about the thickness of the weeds and the fact I would be heading out with 75 other women. But I decided to strap a pair on and take a more direct path to the first buoy (which would put me in thicker weeds). There was more bumping and touching toward the end of the swim due to a small space they were funneling all the swimmers through. Mentally I did well and did not panic and had a great swim.
In my category I was ranked 4th coming out of the water. On the bike I passed as many women I could and was ranked 1st on this leg of the race. I had a fast transition going into the run and was ranked 3rd in the run. Overall I finished 2nd in my category about 3 minutes behind the first place woman. There were 15 women in our category. My strong bike and fast transitions saved me from getting 3rd place in which I beat her by 4 minutes. It was a fun race, and lucky I finished before the heat set in.

Three Rivers Triathlon, August 22

Danny Wolin

This is the 3rd year I have done this race and this year raced for a local family battling cancer. I was very inspired to race for them and it was a beautiful day out.

This is a hard course. Super hilly bike course that never lets up and a second run with some tough hills. The first run went well and was a PR for the 5k (6.39 pace) and the ride was a bit faster than last year at 22 mph avg. Not a great pace but you really need to ride this course smart given the hills and the second run. I was the first Olympic athlete in and started the run with a nice lead. PRd the second run at 6.44 pace and won the duathlon by almost 25 minutes. I was the first Olympic athlete in overall and fastest ride. Overall I knocked a minute off the last two years with just a cleaner race.

There is still time to donate if anyone wants and I would like to thank everyone that has so far. I am lucky to get to do this and am fortunate that I have a great support network (my awesome wife, kids and friends). And the Jokinks who inspired me a lot today.

Peggy Hasse

After finishing the 23rd Three Rivers Triathlon today, I had to chance to talk to Danny. I really thought he must have started in the wrong race or messed up on the course to have finished as fast as he did!! Amazing Danny! My race was a great experience with perfect weather. I was third overall woman, and first in my age group of 45-49. 1:11:22 race. I putted through the swim with no problems at 13:05, biked that crazy, hilly course at 20.7 mph average and finally finished the run, in hot pursuit of the only two females in front of me, at a 7:31 pace. I couldn’t catch them, but was pleased with my effort! Finished up with some great food and awards. Swag for volunteers and racers extra nice. This race is a volunteer race for me as well. My whole family and local community gets out there to serve. This is, by far, one of the best races around!

Ironman Steelhead 70.3

The Bridges were at it again. This time Katie and Kevin tackled the IronMan Steelhead 70.3!

Katie

the beach was unbelievably gorgeous.

Sunday morning we headed over to Benton Harbor (4:30am) to set up transition and be ready for a 7am start. One thing I staged, along with my food, shoes and shades was my red flower from Fellow Flowers. The red color stands for Strength, and I would need some to get through my Declare It Day goal. Declare It Day is a Fellow Flowers thing, too, where I made this promise to myself in February for a goal race. Back then it was easy to say I could be ready for a Half IM, when I didn’t know I’d get injured running early in the spring. I’ve had to plan and re-plan a few different times, but I stuck to this goal. At some point I was sure I couldn’t do the race as I’d planned, but I’d settle for doing the race just as it unfolds.

I started in wave 4, and we went out at 7:12. I was glad to get an early start. The water was the best it had ever been for Steelhead. The RD said it was 74 degrees, and there was very little wave action. The water was so clear I could see the sand far below at times. The swim is where I had a hard time adjusting to the crowd, especially at first. I’m used to finding a patch of water and going at my own pace. But with waves of swimmers coming up behind me, it was a constant battle for space. I learned a lot from this, just keeping it together and focused on swimming forward.

The bike course was great, and I took the opportunity to have some fun and push the speed a little. I had been advised to practice my hydration and nutrition plan during training rides, and I know this advise helped me immensely because I felt good and my ride was fast. I was able to average 18.2mph on the bike. The course wove through orchards and farm country, with gently rolling hills. As I rolled back into the park, my son took my picture and it was time to run. I tied my running shoes and threw on the visor with the red flower.

Running is no longer my favorite part of these races, I’ve been injured and recovering for a while, and I can run but not as fast as I’d like to be. However, I found satisfaction in the fact that I could run without pain. At least the former injury was not painful, but I had plenty of fatigue and aches and pains settling in by mile 6 or 7. This is where the big-scale race took over for me. There were fans, volunteers and spectators everywhere! They cheered for me and yelled my name (it was printed on the bibs!). I noticed so many runners had flowers and lots of people recognized my flower. As one orange-flowered runner passed me, we said hello and offered encouraging words, a guy asked us about them. Then, a few miles later, another guy had an orange flower on his singlet. I thought it was so cool and I knew he had a story there, too. I know the reassurance and connections helped me push through those last 5 miles. Somewhere in there Kevin also passed me and it was good to chat with him a second before he took off.

Finishing this race was like nothing I’d ever done before. It was huge. The people were all cheering and yelling for the finishers. Probably hundreds of people, and it was so hard for me not to break down in that moment. I got to finish that big race on IM carpet with photographers everywhere. It was a long way from setting a goal on a wintery day. I finished in 6:34:55.

Kevin

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This was my 3rd time racing Steelhead, I raced it in 2012 and 2013, and it’s my favorite 70.3. The swim course was changed this year from a point to point along the beach to a triangle swim starting near the swim exit. I was skeptical of the change but it was nice not having to walk down the beach to the start. The weather was perfect with calm winds and overcast skies.

On the swim I was kicked in the head and had my goggles knocked off my face, I’ve had this happen before but not this hard. I couldn’t see well out of my right eye for half of the bike. The rest of the swim went well I finished with a 42-minute swim time, not my best swim. I have not been working on this discipline lately, so it’s not a big surprise.

The bike course has not changed although it seemed there were more potholes than in the past, it is Michigan. I started in the second to last wave, so I was passing people the full 56 miles. I was able to get a slight draft off each rider as I passed, a nice bonus to starting at the back. I was able to average 21.1 mph on the bike, my best bike split ever at 2:39. I have been working on this discipline and it more than made up for the slip in time on the swim.

The run at Steelhead is great a fairly flat route through the Whirlpool headquarters campus. They always have lots of fan support; Red Bull was even there blasting music from an old converted fire truck. I wasn’t sure how the run was going to go as I had PR’d a marathon two weeks earlier. But I felt great on the run getting fuel at every aid station finishing with a 1:54 run spilt, my overall time of 5:25:54 was a PR by 9 minutes.

Ore 2 Shore

Dan Frayer without the

Traveling Circus
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Fueled with home brewed coffee granola bars, I made the 8 hour voyage into Michigan’s better top half for my 2nd attempt at the Ore 2 Shore Mountain Bike Race.

A point to point 48 mile grind from Neguanee to Marquette, this race winds up and down and over and through iron mining towns via two track, gravel roads and long paved climbs.

Think of this race as the IceMan’s less popular, but far naughtier best friend. The one that puts out every time, but you really have to work for it.

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Steady rain on Friday made the sandy sections fast and the red dusty sections muddy, providing me with 2014 IceMan flashbacks between the views of Lake Superior and Fat Bikers roaring past on the downhills.

I spent the day trading spots with IceMan legend and Bunker Hill Bikes’ Chad Schut. His 29+ Michigan made machine pulled away on the rough descents and I would pull him back one gritty miserable climbing pedal stroke at a time.

I finished the day just over 3 hours and 14 minutes, which bested my 2013 time of 3 hours and 22 minutes.

I made the drive home on Saturday reflecting on the $4 toll you pay after crossing the mighty Mackinac Bridge. Well worth the price of admission.

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Grand Island Marathon

Yet another race report brought to you by the Bridges….(but this time there were no bikes and no kids!)

it was forced into the schedule. The marathon course follows the perimeter of Grand Island counter clockwise on a dirt trail with awesome views of Lake Superior and the Pictured Rocks National Lake Shore.
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I was able to set a new PR with a 3:57:53, shaving a whole 6 seconds off my best marathon! I ended up 7th in my age group. This course is a lot harder than my previous time that I set at the Grand Rapids Marathon, so I am very pleased with my race. I am wondering what I could do on a flat road course, Indy perhaps?

Katie

I finished the Grand Island Half Marathon. I wanted to do this race for a long time; especially when Trail Runner Magazine featured it as a top 21-destination race. It is a Great Lakes Endurance race, and I had run the Tahqua Trail Run in 2012. Since Tahqua, which was an amazing experience, I looked forward to returning to the beautiful Upper Peninsula. This race was epic. The highlight was running along a single track trail just feet from a cliff and the pristine water of Lake Superior (far) below. Once past the finish line, I joined the many runners in the lake to cool off. How many races can do that?
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My time was less than impressive. My chip time was 2:37:49, my slowest Half ever. I did stop and take pictures, and I’ll say I enjoyed the course and was happy with my “results!”

Smile, Kevin. You are about to run a marathon!
Smile, Kevin. You are about to run a marathon!

Ironman Muskoka 70.3

A Race Report from Charles

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Muskoka, Canada is a region in Canada that is referred to as triathlon country. It is filled with lakes, “rolling” hills, small towns, scenic rides and is understandably, an athletes little heaven. It is also said to be one of the toughest terrains for athletes. One tourism magazine was quoted as saying “Anyone who completes a triathlon in Muskoka earns major bragging rights.” The Ironman 70.3 Muskoka was, to date, the toughest challenge that I have faced (even compared to the Lumberjack 100)!

Pre-race, I had my finish time in mind. Although, I knew with this being my first 70.3 imagethat you never know what to actually expect. The event took place at a local resort. The swim was uneventful and my time was just as I had anticipated. The almost 1/4 hike through the golf course up to transition was an interesting experience.

Hopping onto the bike I was hopeful. I was also already anticipating the climbs that the course would undoubtedly provide. Just drivingariund the area the previous day proved this bike would be no easy feat. These are not the hill climbs you see in Michigan, and definitely not the hill climbs I had been training on! Surprisingly, I finished the bike almost right on my target goal, averaging 17.5 mph (which was somewhat surprising considering the number of times I was under 5 mph just trying to reach the top of a hill).

imageBy the time I dismounted and headed out for the run, my legs were done, and I knew it! I had given all my effort to keep my pace on the bike that there wasn’t a lot left to give. Needless to say, my run suffered. My pace was much slower than anticipated. The hills were still there too, and my now it was midday, no shade, and the heat was quickly rising! Being in Canada, all the distances were in metric as well. In addition to my exhaustion, I had to play mental math games trying to figure out what mile of my 13.1 I was at.

In the end, I finished. I was a bout an hour off of my goal time, but I finished. My family was there to see me at every leg of the course, which really helped as a pick me up. I imagefinished an Ironman 70.3 on one of the toughest terrains the event offers! I am already anticipating my next one as a redemption, and on a course with a little less elevation climbs!

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The days following were filled with a fun, relaxing vacation with the family sight seeing, kayaking, spotting bear and moose, and just enjoying the wilderness that Muskoka has to offer.