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!