Part two of my Cedar Point Race Report/Experience. I left the Bike out and will post that next. It’s been a busy couple of weeks catching up on life! Hope you enjoy and thanks for reading.
MORNING OF THE RACE
Race morning’s always go by so quickly, and this one was no different. I actually slept pretty well the night before the race. I found that taking two Ibuprofen PM the night before a race helps me sleep well, and takes away any left over inflammation I may have. Since we were staying at Hotel Breakers, which was literally 300 yards from the swim start, I was able to set the alarm a little bit later than usual… Alarm went off at 4:45am and the nerves started right away. I woke up, took one last glance at my race plan and started through the motions. Breakfast consisted of oatmeal, 2 pieces of whole wheat cinnamon raisin toast with Brummel & Brown butter (this stuff rocks), a bottle of Cytomax and a Larabar (which I ate on the way to transition).
My better half’s dad stopped by and drove me over to transition (was great to have such an awesome support crew there with me all day!). Once we got to transition, I made my way over and dropped off my special needs bags, hung up my transition bags, and went over to pump up my bike tires/load my bottles on the bike.
I must say that once I got into the transition area, my nerves subsided. It’s remarkable how we process feelings. If we’ve done the work, deep down we know we are ready for any challenge that we face. This was no different. I felt ready. Calm. Collected. Ready.
I’ve read a ton of other race reports, and feel the need to share a couple additional details that helped make the overall experience what it was… these are the things that go unnoticed by so many, but they are the ones that you remember. The morning music selection was awesome… as I walked up to the event I heard the subtle tones and steady beats of Death Cab for Cutie (I Will Possess Your Heart)… perfect, calming, serious, and yet mission-oriented. The next song up, and the one I heard on the way out of transition was AWOLNATION (Sail)… for me, I couldn’t have asked for two better tracks to start the day. Great job to @SeanEnglishLive. Well done amigo!
After taking care of everything I needed to do in transition I headed back to the hotel room to get my wetsuit on, have a couple more sips of water/cytomax and then head out to the swim start. It was a simply gorgeous morning and you could definitely feel the seriousness in the air of all the athletes preparing for the day ahead. Though, the most overpowering feeling came from the realization that we were doing this on a day that would always be remembered… the 10 year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
The Rev3 crew surprised everyone and put out a very nice tribute on the beach - 1 flag for each of the lives lost on that day, 10 years ago.
Pic: 9/11 tribute. Photo - Rev3 & Eric Wynn
Pic: Dawn rising, watching the pro men swim start & staying warm.
Before I knew it, it was time to watch the pros go off. I didn’t get a chance to do a warm-up swim, but wasn’t bothered by this at all. I figured I had 2.4 miles to start warming up, then 112 to get warmed up for the marathon at the end of the day.
As I made my way to the swim start, there was a brief moment of nervousness that started to creep in. After all, this was what I had been training for all year, and preparing for mentally for a lot longer. The time was here to start a day that would be my first 140.6 triathlon. As the nerves rose, I remembered something that helped calm me down a ton… just two weeks prior I went out and finished an Olympic Triathlon swim extremely strong with no wetsuit! I kind of chuckled, smiled, got ready, focused and made my way to the front of the pack.
Pic: My starting point in the front, middle/left of the pack for the swim.
Pic: Gun went off, and the sludge trudge began.
As I hit the sludge, I looked right, looked left and reminded myself to take in every moment of the day. ”Stay in the moment, enjoy the experience,” I repeated over and over. Then the race really began as I started dolphin diving about 100 yards into Lake Erie. At this point I was feeling good and started right in to my plan to swim strong for the first 300 yards and hold my ground. My first lesson learned came shortly thereafter. It was awfully hard to hold my ground when I was on the left side of the pack with people pushing me further out from the buoys as they tried to get out of the chaos of the front pack. Lesson learned, next time I’ll be on the right side of the pack and look for fast feet to hold out of the gate.
Generally speaking, the swim was pretty good. The course was two loops in a triangle fashion with the first bringing you back to the start and the second taking you right in towards transition. I settled in to a solid rhythm as we hit the first turn buoy and finally found myself towards the inside line. I knew that I had lost the faster feet at the front of the pack at this point, so just settled in to my own comfortable pace and decided I would start to push harder after the first lap. As I made my way in towards the beach on the first loop, I went to look at my watch to see how my pace was holding only to find out that somewhere along the way it had been kicked and stopped at 16 minutes. Oh well, not much to be done other than hit start again and get back at it.
By the second loop I found a couple of other folks that were starting to push the pace and pass people - so I hopped on a train of about 3 people all the way to the last turn buoy. At this point, I felt like we were slowing a little bit too much for my liking and pulled around them and pushed the pace to the beach. It was such a great feeling knowing that all the hard work and training had payed off to the point that I could lift my pace for the last 1,000 and feel great doing it.
With about 300 to go I stuck with my plan and eased my pace to start lowering my heart rate and increased my kick slightly to get blood flowing into my legs. It worked like a charm! I hit the sand with a smile and a heart rate in high zone 1. Score!
Pic: Exiting the swim - happy and feeling great.
Pic: Out of the water, wetsuit coming off and heading into T1.
Pic: Walking through T1 to my bike rack - maybe I should have picked it up a little!
Pic: The cone-head helmet crew in T1 - we triathletes are an odd breed.
I felt great getting out of the water and was heading up the beach towards the wetsuit strippers. Saw two guys on the left side that looked like they knew what they were doing, headed there way and was on my way in 10 seconds. Perfect! Found my bag right away and headed to the changing tent. Empty seat right by the exit and I had a great volunteer who put everything back in my bag I didn’t need. Again, bonus! I took my time, made sure I had everything in my pockets I needed and headed out of the tent. Part of my race plan was to walk through T1 and force myself to keep my heart rate down. With a 6 plus min transition, I definitely accomplished that… :) It worked, and I was below where I wanted to be heading out of T1.
Up Next: the Bike & Run - this is where it starts to get interesting!
So, it’s been about three weeks since I finished my first 140.6 triathlon, and honestly, I think it’s taken that much time to soak it all in. Before I get too much further into the race report, I want to stop for a moment and thank everyone who supported me and TEAM FIGHT. Without your support, I could not have accomplished the biggest goal of it all… to raise over $1,500 for the Ulman Cancer Fund. We did it and the totals are still coming in as some folks mailed checks, but it looks like we’ll be close to $2k for this round!
As humans, we go through life setting and completing goals. Ever since I was young, I was intrigued by the sport of triathlon and especially the 140.6 Ironman distance. For me, completing my first triathlon at this distance will always stick with me for a variety of reasons, but mostly, because it was the culmination of years of preparation and it really could not have gone much better. Without further ado, here’s the race report.
As you’d expect - it’s a bit long, so I will be breaking it up into 3 parts (Travel & Pre-race, Morning & Swim, Bike & Run). Here’s part 1 hope you enjoy!
TRAVELING TO CEDAR POINT
946 miles is just over 6.5 times the distance of a Full Rev triathlon and yet, in a car it took us only a couple hours more than it did for me to finish 140.6 miles under my own power… imagine if we still relied oh human and horsepower for our transportation! Geez!
We had a great road trip up and broke it into two separate days of traveling so that we arrived the Friday before the race with enough time to drive the bike course, check in to the hotel, complete athlete check-in and cruise around the expo for a little bit before settling in for the evening.
Overall, the trip was pretty uneventful and we saw some sites (neat, interesting, awesome, and weird). Not limited to, but including the NFL Football Hall of Fame, a giant power generator that looked like some upside down train engine from the future (picture below for your viewing pleasure), coal mines in West Virginia, great wildlife and so much more.
PIC: Some sort of futuristic, upside-down, power generating device.
One thing I will say about the trip, is we were thankful to borrow this behemoth vehicle that easily fit everything a triathlete and support crew could ever want. We took all the necessities - microwave, toaster, multiple clothing bags, tri bag, bike, trainer, wheel sets, a cooler packed with goodies for the road and meals for the race, fruit - you name it, we had it. Could you say we were overly prepared, probably. Was it a little bit less stressful knowing that anything we wanted from the comforts of home (especially nutrition wise) was at our fingertips, definitely.
PIC: Everything a triathlete and support crew could want!
I was a little nervous from being in the Rover for so long and having my legs feel pretty stiff by day two. We were really ready to get to Hotel Breakers (the host hotel for the race), but I thought it would be good to drive the bike course on the way in - namely because “flat” is a relative term to describe bike courses. I was so glad that we took the time to drive the course Friday on the way in though. It was gorgeous! So different from the monotonous training routes that I did my longest rides on. Small rolling hills that you could ride through, shady parts, a couple little downhill sections with one longer portion, and loads of corn fields!
After a day and a half of being in the Rover, we were definitely ready to be out of it and happy to get to Cedar Point!
PIC: Hello Cedar Point!
After arriving and getting settled into our hotel room we went right over to the transition area for athlete check-in. It was great! The volunteers were so friendly and seemed genuinely excited to be part of the experience for the athletes, a theme that continued throughout the race. The first stop was to get my arm band (#92) then on to the next stop where I was weighed in (they do this as a precaution for medical reasons to get a starting weight), next up was the photo booth and then on to get my timing chip. It was such a cool touch to take a fun, personalized photo with me and my better half that went up on the big screen when I crossed the finish line!
Once we finished with athlete check-in, we cruised around the expo to check out all the goods and then headed back to the room to get some dinner and rest.
SATURDAY BEFORE THE RACE
Waking up Saturday morning the mood was positive, focused, and celebratory. After 5 months of challenging training, life’s ups and downs, the realization that I was 24 hours out from the start of my first 140.6 triathlon began to set in. As I got up to go through the motions, I began to think about the advice that a few seasoned-triathletes who have qualified for Kona multiple times told me… “Enjoy every moment of this experience. Appreciate the fact that you are healthy enough to complete an event of this distance. Have fun. Stay positive.” So, that’s just what I did.
The morning started with my normal pre-race breakfast and then I focused on getting through my pre-race workouts quickly so that I had some time to enjoy the afternoon and not feel too rushed at any point of the day.
Saturday Morning Swim: 700 yards, easy with 3-4 race pace efforts; focused on sighting, technique and comfort in the lake.
The lake was fairly calm, but very murky. The swim felt pretty good with two minor exceptions. The first was that when you got in the lake there was nearly 100 yards of this thick sludge (who knows what it was, but I’m still alive with no degenerating limbs - so it couldn’t have been too toxic). The second was the cooler water temperature. Us Floridians get cold when the temperature drops and I am no exception to this rule. Luckily, after about 5 minutes in the water I warmed up and the fear of having a cold water induced “ice-cream headache” on race morning subsided quickly thereafter.
PIC: Trudging through the sludge.
PIC: The scene on the beach Saturday morning was awesome.
Saturday Morning Bike: 11 miles (give or take) at about 18mph average. I had 3 goals for this ride. First, make sure that everything was okay on the bike (gears, etc.). Second, ride the start/finish of the bike course down the rough road along the coast of Lake Erie to get a feel for how it would be on the way out and back. Third, and most important, loosen up the legs a little bit with 3-4 race efforts for 90 seconds each.
The bike ride went great on all accounts! I learned that the road was rougher than I thought, but holding a bigger gear would be the best way to get through it. Additionally, it would be important to check my back bottles after getting through the section on the bike as I saw a couple people lose them just during this ride. It felt great to get the legs warmed up and I had to hold myself back a couple of times from going too hard… a great place to be!
Saturday Morning Brick Run: an easy 2 miles right off the bike at around a 11 min average pace with 3 pickups for 90 seconds at approx 8:30 pace with full recovery in between and a couple steady race efforts at 9:30-9:40 pace.
Throughout the run I felt focused, and happy. How could one not be when all things are firing in sync! Not much else to say about this one.
After the run I headed back to the room, showered, ate some lunch (orzo with lean turkey) and kept hydrating with Hammer HEED & Cytosport. Lunch done, it was off to the Athlete meeting and bike check.
The REV3 crew did a great job with the athlete meeting. They provided a full update regarding last minute bike course changes and answered all sorts of questions. The bike course had to be changed due to construction on part of the it, which was promised to be finished by race day - but wasn’t, the REV3 team had to make a few last minute adjustments. Normally, this wouldn’t be a big issue, but heading out of Sandusky, OH towards the country there are lots of things to deal with - namely railroad crossings. The local police, officials, and race director were able to find a route that was not impacted by any such obstacle.
PIC: Athlete meeting Saturday before the race.
PIC: Racking the trusty steed. Loved these racks - so much nicer than the normal “A-frame” style racks.
PIC: Nice touches from the REV3 folks - personalized name plates.
PIC: Bike racked, wrapped, and ready to spend the night! Note: I find that 3 Target bags work perfect to wrap the bike - two on the front bars and one tied on the seat.
PIC: View of transition area from my bike rack location.
After getting my bike racked, I walked through transition as a practice for race day - exiting the water, grabbing my bag off the peg board (I scored a great location right at the end of the first rack), through the transition tent, back to my bike and then through Bike Out. It’s always good to do a quick walk-through to help visualize the motions.
Once that was done it was back to the hotel room to settle in for the afternoon which consisted of double checking my special needs bags (then setting them aside so I didn’t keep checking them), keeping my nutrition and hydration plan on point, and relaxing.
Last solid meal was at 4:30pm and lights out by 8:30pm.
Next up - Race Morning & the Swim!
Thanks for reading!
It’s been an absolutely amazing adventure to get this far. Today was filled with time that went by too fast, and enjoyable moments of just trying to soak it all in. I started the day out with a little swim just to get used to the water and my wetsuit again and boy is the water murky. Luckily, it seems just like home but a little colder - :). After the morning swim, we headed back to the room to go get a little bike/run session in to keep the legs loose after not working them the past couple of days. In simple words, it felt good. After that, it was off to the athlete meeting, then bike check-in.
Now, here I sit, looking out the window writing this short post… It feels surreal. I look to my left and these nutrition bottles are here, ready to go for tomorrow. One will go in the freezer tonight, one will be filled with ice and water in the morning, and the rest will have water in them. They have the names of those who donated to TEAM FIGHT written on them. They include some simple words of motivation. And one powerful word… “Remember” - this is for all those that we’ve lost. When things get tough, and I know at some point they will in the 140.6 mile day, I just need to look down and remember what the driving force is behind all of this.
I have too many words to say tonight, and yet, there are really very few. I’ll remain focused this evening, try to sleep, hold the nerves down in the morning, and then begin the process of enjoying somewhere around 43,107 “moments” (seconds) during the day tomorrow.
For those of you who would like to follow me along the course tomorrow, you can do so by going to www.rev3tri.com/live/ and tracking athlete #92 (that’s me). Also, my awesome support crew will likely be tweeting updates via @copychic on twitter.
140.6 miles at Rev3 Cedar Point… here we come!
It’s been a long haul to get here. I wanted to put together a longer post today to talk about some of the challenges, the ups, the downs and all of the things that I’ve learned along the way to get here… two nights before race day for my first full iron-distance triathlon. But, as I sit here this evening, looking out the window and watching some of the roller-coasters at the Cedar Point theme park I realized that it would be too long of a post for right now.
As I sit here, I realize that there have been thousands of miles covered, hundreds of hours, and years of preparation. Though, the most amazing thing has been the support from everyone along the way. Friends, family, dailymilers, TEAM FIGHT comrades, loved ones, and everyone who I may have missed… to you, I say Thank You! With you this is all possible. With your support and encouragement, WE are sitting here this evening getting ready for the race. WE will hit our goal of raising over $1,500 for TEAM FIGHT to help in the fight against cancer.
I have so many thoughts tonight. So many realizations. Yet, I know that I need to remain focused on the task at hand.
I look forward to sharing the experience with you all the best that I can during the next 24 hours leading up to the race, through the race, and following.
Signing off for now as I write the rest of the donors names on my nutrition bottles (I’ll get some pics posted tomorrow too).
Back with another post tomorrow afternoon, after my last race prep short work out.
As always, thank you for reading and supporting TEAM FIGHT!
PS - you can watch/track live on race day this Sunday at www.rev3tri.com
If you’ve been following this blog since the beginning, you know that I have been using Joe Friel’s book as a guideline. I’ll give a full review of it in another post, after the race, but one of the key component’s that he talks about is writing out your race plan after your last Peak Week workout on Sunday. So, yesterday, in between getting some things done that have been neglected over the past couple of months due to long training weeks, I outlined my race plan for Rev3 Cedar Point - Full Rev next Sunday.
Warning - it’s a bit long, and overly detailed. Originally, I wasn’t going to post it, however, I know reading others has helped me and maybe this will help someone else prepare. Someone who may be going through the same thoughts/feelings as they get closer to their first iron-distance triathlon.
I found that taking the time to sit and write this out literally put me into a different mental state that has stayed with me. Like most new things, one must experience the process to fully understand the feelings associated. Bottom line - it helps. Ironman triathlons are as much a mental effort as a physical one. I believe this level of detail will help when my mind gets tired.
Some of the Race-day morning schedule may change as I haven’t seen the course yet and don’t know the distance to/from transition areas, etc. Other than that… this is it in its fullest. Note: all time goals are based on training estimates and “decent” weather conditions.
RACE DAY PLANOverall Race Keys for Success:
Swim: 1:13 - 1:18
Transition 1: 4min - 5min; (Walk through transition; Relax)
Bike: 5:45 - 6:05
Transition 2: 3:30 - 5min (Slow jog off bike, Relax through transition)
Run: 4:25 - 4:35
Swim Keys for Success:
So - with that, I’m signing off and getting ready for the week ahead.
PS - please consider a small donation to TEAM FIGHT. We’re still closing in on our goal!