• Derek Stone

Ironman 70.3 Traverse City

Traverse City 70.3 Race Report

Photo Credit: Eric Abbott

Well- Where do I start? I signed up for this race before it was opened to the public. Looking at my schedule, I debated if it made sense. I qualified for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships which falls two weeks after Traverse City. I was okay with the idea of racing 2 70.3s within 2 weeks, however, I knew travel would be chaotic.

So I pulled the trigger and booked a flight and Airbnb!

I lived in Traverse City right after college and I always enjoyed going up there. A part of me wonders why I moved from Traverse City to Toledo, Ohio in the first place but things worked out pretty well.

Coming off a strong performance at Chattanooga and Steelhead 70.3, I was eager to set a PR and have a killer race. I previously went 4:12 at Steelhead and I knew I was capable of running faster, I just needed a little more on the bike to break 4:10.

The way up:

Well I flew out at 6AM from Nashville and had a layover. I landed in Traverse City sometime before noon with the Foland crew and I made my way to Athlete Village. Of course, I don’t plan anything, and I couldn’t check in to the race or my Airbnb so I went to Brew, a coffee, sandwich and beer shop on Front Street. I loved it when I lived there, and I still do! I grabbed a coffee and sandwich and buried my face in TrainingPeaks so I could update athlete’s workouts for the following week.

I reached out to a friend Ryan, who I knew from living there back in 2011. He also committed to the challenge. He’s a pretty athletic dude and I expect he’ll be hooked after the race! I then checked into my Airbnb, went for a light run and biked to the local grocery store to buy the essentials and had dinner at the Franklin on Front Street before calling it a night.


Well I woke up early and biked to the swim exit at Clinch Park. The water was awesome. So clean. So clear! It was unbelievable! I forgot how clean the water was in the waters of Michigan… Except Flint. That’s just tragic.

I jumped in without a wetsuit. Roka swim brief only. Getting out was challenging as the air temp was 49 degrees! Whoa! This could be an issue race morning. I’m not sure I even started a race this year below 80*. Either way, I dried off and biked up the last decent on M-72. It was a sizable climb then I zipped back down and went back to my place for a 2ndbreakfast. I made my way back to Athlete Village for the course briefing and chilled out for a while in my room while I finished up training plans as The Hangover played in the background.

Ryan and his girlfriend had me over for dinner where we had a very clean meal and, as always, my 1 beer on the eve of a race.

Race Morning:

4:30 wakeup call! Here. We. Go!

As usual, I stick to a simple meal- instant oatmeal, a banana, nuts, coffee and Gu hydration. I walked to transition which was about a half mile walk. Then, I saw several EMJ Teammates as we all set up our bikes and prepared our last-minute details before we made our way to the swim start.

The Swim:

Matt, Ben, Ryan and I all started together near the front. There wasn’t much motion in the water and by the half way mark, I was on and island. There was a group in front of me and a group behind me. I just enjoyed the cool water and just focused on my stroke. As I exited the water, I looked at my watch and saw 28:XX. Score! I wanted to swim sub 29. I had the wetsuit strippers help remove my wetsuit and continued to T1.

Official swim 29:14

T1- I moved quickly but made sure I dried off. The air temps were cool and I didn’t know if that would impact my performance. I also put on socks. Something I never do after missing top 3 at Ohio 70.3 last year by 3 seconds!

T1 2:53

The Bike:

Once again, I lost a bottle right away! Shoot. I had two bottle of GU and 5 GU gels to take on the bike and I planned to grab on course nutrition as needed. Well, after losing a bottle right out the gate, I needed to depend on Gatorade Endurance for fluids.

A short flat section on Front street before making a large climb. I knew it was coming but I forgot how long it was! About half way up, I saw Scott Foland before a younger competitor flew by me on their bike out of the saddle. I thought to myself, what and idiot! As I approached Scott, they flew by him and I looked at Scott and said, they will be walking the half marathon! After cresting the hill, Ben Hammer from EMJ went by me as we exchanged our best wishes. A few miles later, Matt Barcus caught me and asked if Ben was ahead. “Yup” I responded. “damn he never beats me out of the water” I match Matt’s pace but I just couldn’t hang. Then I heard. “Hey Derek,” as another competitor passed me. We went back and forth for a while with 1 or 2 additional guys. Everyone would make a small attack and then some else would go. I then looked over at the competitor that acknowledge, and I looked over, trying to identify. Still no luck. About a mile later, he passed me again and said, “It’s Nordquist, From Grand Valley!” AHH! A fellow athlete I competed against in college!

Anyway, the bike course was relentless. I did not expect it to be as challenging as it was. To be honest, I lost some motivation on the bike. I thought I was underperforming but my power was pretty steady and was exactly the same at Steelhead. I probably had an opportunity to stay aero for certain sections but I was ready to get off the bike at mile 20.

After we made it through the small town of Empire, we turned back east and had a headwind all the way back to transition. I remember approaching the last climb before we had a nice long decent back into town. I was geeked up once I hit the top. A nice, fast decent with about a mile of flat section right into transition.

Over the course of the 56 Mile bike, I took in 3 gels, one bottle of my prepared GU mix and grabbed a bottle of Gatorade at each aid station, although, I probably only took about half to 2/3rds of each bottle. It was cool and I don’t think I was sweating much at all!

Official Bike 2:33:03 (ouch!)


Nothing crazy here but I was on a mission. I was in and out in 1:08

The Run:

I quickly fell right into 5:40 pace… This was too fast. I pulled back and hung around 5:48 for about half the run. I was just trying to catch up to my teammates! I took Gatorade at every aid station and saw a volunteer I knew. Hi Sue! I grabbed a gel around the half way mark too and I wish I would have earlier and also grabbed an additional gel. I began to fade the last 3-4 miles. Although the course was mostly flat, the last couple of miles had a few kickers that knocked a lot out of you. I just counted down the miles and ensured I was staying calm, relaxed and took in some mighty breathes of air. I really wanted to run 1:15 for the half but I just did not execute very well in the beginning. Finding the last 1-2 minutes requires everything to go right and I just misjudged the nutrition on the run.

The course was great. I used to run around Boardman Lake when I lived there so it was nostalgic as I weaved thought the forest path. The run course did get crowded on the 2ndloop. It’s hard to squeeze that many people on an out and back double loop.

Run 1:16:36

Overall time 4:22:54- 30thOverall- 6thOverall Amateur and 2ndAge Group

I am at peace with the result but I think I could have displayed a little more discipline on the bike and executed the run a touch better. I think a perfect race at my current fitness may have yielded an additional 3-4 minutes.

I would certainly like to go back to this race. I’m still looking at what makes sense for next season, but I love that the race finished downtown and everything is walkable. I love the area and really enjoyed being up there again!

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