September 17, 2012

Rev3 Cedar Point full race report

I chose the Rev 3 race series as my iron distance focus race this year as a different type of race management company other than WTC.  I did this for two reasons, one; after Hawaii last year, I didn't want to let another year slip by without another race under my belt and the nice thing with the Revolution triathlon series is the fact that they rarely sell out. (I registered in June for a September iron distance race) And secondly; I wanted a "non-pressure" type of race that was a little cheaper and a different alternative to the Ironman brand name.
Me and Mrs. Keep Moving Forward :o)
Rev3 Cedar Point was a no-brainer for me.  We have family and friends that live up in Cleveland and were willing to put us up for the weekend (along with take care of us leading up to race day - thank you Donna and Barry!) The race itself was a good time of the year and if the weather cooperated, it was bound to be a fast time too.  The fact that it was a little north of Cleveland allowed me to go drive the 2 hours to get to the race site and check out the course (as eluded to in a previous post found HERE)

Since this race was so low-pressure for me (meaning no Kona slots available), I took it as about as stripped down of a race I could have done.  I did not use any race wheels on my bike at all, nor did I use an aero helmet, no bells, no whistles, nothing.  I really couldn't care less who was racing against me in my age group as placing didn't really matter too much, I was only worried about my execution of this race.  See in previous years, I've always floundered on the marathon portion of the iron-distance triathlon.  I've always come out of T2 like a bat outta hell on a mission and then by the time mile 13-18 comes about, I'm cooked and walking or just slowing down in general.  Not really having a problem with the closing miles, I've just never had a race with even paces that I've been proud of.  That was to change this year.  My desire was to execute this race flawlessly.  More of a race against myself that you had to check your ego at the door and swallow the pride.  I wanted to focus on my OWN race, rather than let the other racers around me shape my outcome.
Obligatory photos at packet pickup - Tiff went on for a 45 minute PR!!
So fast forwarding to race-day, we had gotten up to Sandusky the day prior and just eaten and visited with friends the day before the race.  Having a great breakfast with Ken, Greg and Amanda was a nice way to start the day and then after check in, lunch with Tiff and Ken was a good cap off to the day-prior-to-IM "eat-fest" before going back to the house and relaxing.

Race morning came and it was eerie.  The day prior when packing my transition bags, I mentioned to Kim that it almost didn't feel like I was racing, like I was packing bags for someone else.  Maybe this is because I've done 7 iron-distance triathlons and this is all pretty much second nature by now, or maybe it was because this was such a low pressure environment for me to be racing in that I was completely at ease.  Honestly, we just got up and went to go find Ken the morning of.  Nice relaxing drive with some coffee and a bagel, not a bad way to start the morning.
At the race site, we were greeted by a fantastic sunrise and the lake looked pretty calm.  I was eager to get into the water as I was REALLY hydrated and needed to "find a warm spot" quickly.  The cannon for the race was a bullhorn and I lined up right next to the start buoy along with the other 400 people in the race.

2.4 mile Swim - 58:15 - 5th overall amateur, 4th male - 2nd in M30-34 AG
The gun went of and it got REALLY lonely.  The thing with these smaller races is that compared to the M-dot races which have about 2000-2500 people vying for that "perfect" line between buoys, the race in Cedar Point only had 400 or so folks starting which makes for a little different dynamic.  Anyway, we start swimming hard towards the first buoy and there's this guy next to me who is also trying to draft off a faster swimmers feet near us.  It's pretty sparse mind you and we have the ENTIRE lake to swim, but he and I knocked into each other a few times until I pulled away from him.
Things got really lonely and there was no clock to see how we all were doing time-wise.  What I do know is at least one person BOLTED from the start and was just pulling away (I kinda lost sight of him) and there was a female behind me that was tapping my toes around one of the turns.  I just let her go by (actually I swung off to the side and slowed WAY down and she looked at me funny as she passed) but I tried to draft off her and she was swimming very crookedly.  Nothing really exciting happened other than having a lack of people to draft off of and passing a few of the slower pro's.  2nd loop was a LOT more wavy than the first and the chop coming into shore was like getting slapped around by the waves.  I know I'm a relatively strong swimmer and I was having a tough time with it, so I can only imagine what the weaker swimmers felt like!

Transition 1 - 2:13
Ran in and there was only one set of wet footprints leading into the men's change tent, which reaffirmed Kim yelling to me that I was second overall (turns out I was actually fourth male at this time - two guys swam 50's and exited the water with the pro-wave, so no one noticed them) I ran out of the tent and saw Ken Koppenhaver and yelled to him as I was going to get my bike.

112 mile bike - 5:13:29 - 6th overall amateur - 4th in M30-34 AG
I popped out on the bike and I knew my foot would hold up here, exiting transition I saw Kim and Tiff who told me I swam a 1:01 (they were reading off the clock - actually was 3 minutes faster), and got some cheers and instantly noticed my HR was a little high.  I tried to soft pedal it on the causeway on the way out, but there was a guy in front of me and I was eager to make up for a sub-par swim.  The causeway was a little bit bumpy, but being out of the water so early, you could weave around the bumps.  My stomach still felt full and my arms were REALLY tired from battling the waves, so I was a little nervous about how that would all play out and tried to settle in as best as possible.
My stomach felt rather full and I decided to not take in any calories for the first 30 minutes.  Because of the wavy swim and full sensation, this was the right choice.  Also my heart rate was high and I knew I wouldn't digest unless I got that under control, so I started to slow down a bit.  After 2 hours passed on the bike I was back on track with calories and was riding slow enough that I wiped out the time I waited to intake calories.  A really neat thing happened near the 20 mile mark.  I was passed by a motorcycle with a camera guy on the back of it and he had either an Inside Triathlon sticker on the front of the helmet.  He started snapping some good photos of me and then just drove off.  It was cool and made me feel really pro, but I hope I get to see any of the photos somewhere!
I passed 2 guys in the first 15 miles or so and got passed by a few as well.  I was trying desperately to keep track of things, but another guy came by me at like mile 20 and asked where we were in the age group race and I had no idea.  It was comforting though that I wasn't the only one interested.  Around that 25 mile mark I realized I was kinda in no mans land and from about 25-55 miles into the race I saw NO one passed me and I passed no one.  Literally if the signs were not on the road marking the course, I wouldn't know if I was going the right way.  It really felt like a training ride.
Near 55 mile mark, we blended in with the half'ers and there was some confusion on my part because I was focusing on passing them safely and I saw some signs that read a bunch of things like, "full 2nd loop" "half ironman" and "full finish" and I was 56 miles in at that point.  I turned a left and there were half'ers coming back towards me too, which was really confusing.  I didn't pay any attention to the half maps, but maybe I should have because for the next 4 miles until I saw the 60 mile full marker, I had no idea if I was going the right way!  My buddy Jim LaMastra told me that last year he and a few pro's took a wrong turn and I was internally freaking out a little (given my track record)

After finding the 60 mile mark, things were smooth sailing.  I felt like I was pacing this ride really well and the Garmin File from the Bike proves it too.  I got passed by 2 other guys in the closing 10 miles (near the causeway) and the last guy that passed me asked, "you really wanna get off that bike don't you?".  To which I replied, "YES!" as I was bouncing around on the causeway lumps back to transition.  All in all, good ride that I am really proud of.

Transition 2 - 2:11 - 6th overall amateur - 4th M30-34 AG
Nothing special to report here, other than nervousness of how long my foot would hold up and the guy that sprayed sunscreen on me hit the chaffing on the back of my neck which made me wince...

Run 26.2 miles - 3:36:20 - 4th overall amateur - 4th M30-34 AG
Heading out was a little surreal, Kim was giving me placings and splits via her mountain bike and I hadn't run more than a few steps in the last MONTH prior to race day.  So I really had no idea how my foot was going to hold up.  I figured out at packet pickup, if I rolled onto my arch and pushed off via the big toe, it only hurt the capsulitis a little bit.  So I figured I could work with that.  Realistically I knew I could get through 13 miles, but the last half of an ironman marathon is hard enough when your body is at 100%, let alone when you are taking a gamble and you haven't run in a month.  I knew I was in for a long ride.
I was all decked out in my PowerBar Team Elite kit and as a presenting sponsor of the Revolution 3 triathlon race series, I was able to get into their photo stream on Flickr with the shot above.  Gingerly clicking off the first few miles again I was trying to keep my heart rate down.  I knew from my training that I'd been running faster than I was at the current moment, but my heart rate was being my dictator and I was sticking by it.

The first loop was eventful, I was struggling to keep my heart rate down as the heat of the day started to creep around and I was clicking off 8minute miles like it was freaking clockwork.  Honestly, if you look at the Garmin File of my Run, it proves that I was slow and steady through the entire thing.  I think of the entire race, I was most proud of the steadiness to the pacing that I exhibited during this run.  Kim popped by me at around mile 15 or so and asked how I was doing.  Things were actually pretty good and as she sped off to go cheer for our other friends, I began to think I might just be able to pull this crazy thing off!
Loop 1 of the run
I saw a bunch of folks during the run - Tiffany was en route to a crazy good PR in the half, I saw Ken toughing it out on a rough day for him, Greg and Amanda were cheering like crazy on the sidelines and I yelled at Doug MacLean who was looking smooth as always in the aviators. Jim LaMastra even came over and slapped me five as he was on his way to a payday and subsequent 10th place pro finish.

Hitting mile 18 or so, we were obviously all mixed in with the half'ers and it was hard to see who you were actually racing against.  But I was coming up on a few folks that I recognized that had passed me earlier in the bike.  There was a dude in a Ballou Skies jersey and another guy in black with a bib# in the 90's.  I was getting word from Greg, Amanda and Kim that I was gaining on the Ballou Skies guy and I was getting really focused on catching up to him.  I knew I was in 5th overall and illusions of grandeur started dancing in my head whether I could catch him and then the guy in black in front of me.  I would later realize that the moment I saw the guy in black, he was probably passing the Ballou Skies runner and that's the last I would see of him.
Loop 2 of the run - more focused
There have been a smattering of folks from WNY that have qualified for their pro cards in the last few months/years (Hansen, Brodnicki, Rosinski, Curbeau, Ohlson, etc).  I would be remiss if I didn't think that hitting top three would be REALLY cool (although I know I would ultimately not take that pro/elite card. Let's be honest, there's no way I belong in the pro ranks and this was not a stacked race.  Additionally there's no way I could validate that card in any other races over the next years....nor do I want the professional triathlete lifestyle for myself, so I know I'm being hypothetical right now, but people have asked, "if you would have gotten top 3, would you have turned pro?" Quick answer - no.) I was basically getting lucky no one fast showed up here at Cedar Point.

Anyway, back to the race!  About mile 22, I was coming up on this Ballou Skies guy and right around that time Kim was coming up to cheer for me on her mountain bike.  She started to say "there's 4th place..." and I put a single finger up to my lips and said, "shhhh" because I didn't want the guy to know I was coming.  I wanted to sit a few feet behind him, reload from catching up to him and then make a surge and pass that made him lose all will to chase me down and stay with me.  I made that pass at mile 23 and I heard his footsteps fading in the distance.  I was in 4th place and as soon as I got comfortable and settled back into my pace, disaster struck.
It felt like someone had thrust a knife through the bottom of my right foot and I was forced from running to a hobbling walk.  Immediately I thought, "NO! Not now....oh no!!!!" as I just hobbled as fast as I could and realized I still had 2.5 miles left to the finish line.  I tried running once or twice again to no avail and the Ballou Skies guy passed me once more, pushing me back to 5th.  I was hobbling and jogging and watching my garmin read slower and slower mile splits.  I think there was a 10:00/mile in there and then a 9:20/mile in there.  Everything was falling apart and I knew that if I didn't make it to the line soon, I would be in danger of letting that 9:xx time slip away from me too!

So I bucked up, I told myself, "you can do anything for 2.5 miles" just start running and grit through the pain".  Ballou Skies guy was gone and I was just focused on finishing.  Those last few miles and steps were the most painful and humbling that I have ever run.  Kim was waiting for me at the finish and I was hoofing it in as best I could.  I was just trying to limit the amount of people that would pass me and the amount of time that would go by.
You can see the Ballou Skies guys arm and shoes behind me...
Entering the park again, I knew I was about 1 mile from the finish and I tried to pick up my pace.  My HR graphs show this and I have no idea what those spikes were late in the marathon (maybe static electricity or interference from water being poured over my head?)   Regardless I heard Kim and Tiff cheering their fool heads off when I was nearing the chute.  I just figured it was because I was so close.  It was only after I turned the corner and saw the finish line, did I realize why they were going berserk.
1.8 seconds after I crossed...
I came around the corner, and Ballou Skies was picking up his kid and waving to the crowd.  He was slapping hands and really living it up in the finish chute. HE HADN'T CROSSED THE LINE YET!!! I don't even really remember making this conscious decision, but I just bolted as fast as I could for the line.  The official results show me as finishing 1.8 seconds ahead of him.  After I caught my breath, I felt kind of like a jerk for passing him in the finishing chute, but I'll paraphrase what my father in law said after we called him on the way home, "it's a race, not a freaking parade!" Classic.

Rev3 Cedar Point Iron-distance triathlon - 9:52:28 - 4th overall amateur and 1st M30-34 AG
You'll notice that I was 1st in the M30-34 age group in the final standings and that's because they removed the top three guys and put them in the overall category.  Top 5 people in the amateur race were in my age group. The guy that I ran down in the finishers chute with the Ballou Skies jersey on lost out on getting; a fuel belt, a fuel belt palm bottle, $25 to the Rev3 store, a sweet AG winner medal, and free entry to the Rev3 CP Iron distance race next year ($500 value)

The aftermath  
It is exactly a week after racing as I write this and the swelling in my right foot has finally subsided.  The day after the race, I looked like this:
My buddy Tim (yes the same one from the comment section) had the best remark about this picture.  I'm just paraphrasing, but he said something to the effect of, "who is the fat kid that took a picture next to your foot?"...hilarious.  I've been doing all the right stuff like elevating it, taking ibuprofen on a regular basis and icing it and FINALLY yesterday I was able to see some veins in it.  I don't know what it means and I have scheduled another orthopedic doctor visit to see what they say about it, but we'll see.  

All in all I'm really pleased about the race and if I have a bum foot for a little bit, so be it.  I've finally hit that elusive sub 10 time and while my marathon might not have been as fast as I would have liked, I have been asking some reputable sources around here why that might have been and will post another blog about "what I learned" at a later date.  

So, it's officially off season for me, the Oktoberfest beers are flowing regularly and I'm relaxing and trying to get into a pattern of a normal person.  I'm still limping when I walk because of the foot, but it's getting better daily.  I hope everyone else's seasons end on the same high note as mine did.  Here's to 2012 multisport season, one hell of a year!  Cheers.


Tim said...

Nice move at the finish Trav. You see Gary, there are three types of people.
Nice write-up. I have a goal when reading your race reports. I try to finish them in fewer minutes then you took in hours to run the race. Sometimes I don't make it though.
You do look snazzy in your PI Powerbar kit though. Anyways, great race man and way to blow the 10 hour mark away. Just think how fast you could've gone without the bum foot. I have this image of you post race hobbling around and Kim asking if she can get you anything and you just yelling POWERBAR! Gotta maintain your independence man.

Matthew G. Young said...

Congratulations, Travis! I am really proud of you.