First of all, a lot of “thank you's” are in order:
- Thanks for all of you who sent the encouraging messages before the race. These truly helped to build my confidence and get me to the start line without having a panic attack.
- Thanks to those who cheered me on during the race- especially Team Trakkers! I cannot tell you how uplifting it was to hear you all cheering, especially at the halfway point of the marathon where I needed it most!
- Thanks to everyone who has congratulated me on finishing. The congrats keep coming in. Wow!
- Thanks to Charlie, Eric, Carole and the rest of the Rev3 team for putting on an amazing event at a fantastic, family-friendly venue.
- Thanks to Team Trakkers Athlete and family friend Mark (A.K.A. Tridadoffive), who completed this race last year, and tackled it again this year with me as his protege. It was great to toe-the-line with someone I knew, especially since this race was my first iron-distance race.
- Thanks to Jeremy at Bike Loft East for a fantastic bike fit. With only a couple of weeks before the race I, reluctantly, followed Kelly's advice and met with Jeremy to review my bike fit and see how it could be improved to take some pressure off my ailing left quad, which had been bothering me all summer long. Jeremy made a variety of fit adjustments which resulted in not only transferring some of the workload from my quads to my hamstrings, but also helped to correct some issues with my back as well.
- Thanks to my Mom and Dad, who stayed with us over the long weekend, to take part in experiencing the race, cheering, and help out with entertaining the boys. This really took a lot of pressure off both Kelly and me and is much appreciated.
- Thanks to Ryan and Noah, who were (for the most part) very well-behaved the entire weekend. It really helps when these races are at amusement parks. Thanks again Rev3!
- Thanks to Kelly for putting up with my 6-hour training rides this summer, as well as my pre-race grouchiness. Thanks for inspiring me to get into this sport. Thanks for your encouragement. Thanks for your cheering. Thanks for taking care of me after I crossed the finish line. I'll be sure to return the favor next year when it's your turn to race the full iron.
- Thanks to my employer, Klepper Hahn & Hyatt, offering a flexible work schedule that allowed me to squeeze in those long mid-week workouts.
- Last but certainly not least, thanks to the Lord God Almighty for giving me a strong, healthy body capable of completing this race. Phillipians 4:13 was certainly on my mind while out on the course.
We had a home-cooked pasta dinner Sat. night for some final carbo-loading. Got to bed early but woke up at 2am and never really got back to sleep after that. Too much anticipation and thoughts running through my head. For breakfast, I topped of the fuel tanks by downing 3 Ensures, a cup of applesauce, a Powerbar and one of Mom's chocolate chip cookies (~1500 calories total).
Kelly and I drove the short 5 minutes to the park, dropped off the transition and special needs bags, pumped up the tires, and gathered my swim stuff before taking the long walk up the beach to the start area.
Got in a short practice swim, which I have always found to be helpful by calming the nerves. I was pleasantly surprised that Rev3 had cleaned up all the muck from the start area that was there yesterday that had been washed ashore during the recent storms. Although the water was still pretty murky, from what I gather a constant for Lake Erie, it was a perfect temperature for a wetsuit swim. The winds were also very light so the water was pretty calm.
The Swim: 01:21:15
All the age-groupers (about 400) for the full iron-distance race went off in a mass start. There was some banging around, especially until the first turn buoy, but was tolerable. It actually was less physical than I remember the 2010 Green Lakes Tri being, and that was only about 150 swimmers per wave.
I felt really good the entire swim. One nice thing about having the quad injury this summer was that I was able to spend a lot more time working on my swim fitness. Although I am no speed demon swimmer, I did manage to complete the swim and not feel the least bit tired. I probably could of swam a little harder but I thought saving my energy for the bike and run would reap better rewards.
Had the wetsuit stripped off then picked up my T1 bag and made for the changing tent. Toweled off, applied a nice thick coat of sunscreen (forecast was for sun later in the day), loaded up my jersey with food, donned my helmet and sunglasses, hopped on the bike, clicked in and started pedaling. [Sidebar: I still have no idea why Rev3 made us put our shoes in our T1 bag and not allow the shoes to be clipped-in before the race (like every other race I've done). It seemed really dumb to have to carry my shoes to my bike, clip them in, and then run the bike out of transition to the mount line. It is impossible to safely run in bike shoes with plastic cleats!]
The Bike: 05:51:28
The bike course is generally rolling with a few short climbs. It starts out along the lake, heads through Sandusky then out into rural northern Ohio, through a lot of farmland and smaller towns. After getting out of Sandusky, I settled into a good steady pace that I felt I could hold for a long time. I felt really good the entire ride. My nutrition strategy seemed to work very well. Every ½ hour I took a salt tab and ate something (either ½ Powerbar, ½ Snickers bar, or a gulp of EFS Liquid Shot). I hydrated very well, drinking a total of about 4 bottles of EFS, 2 bottles of Gatorade and 2 bottles of water. I finished off the last of the Gatorade in my aerobottle just before getting off the bike.
Hopped off and racked the bike, grabbed my T2 bag and headed back into the changing tent. Put on socks and shoes, more sunscreen (it was getting sunny and hot out on the course), visor, sunglasses, race number belt, switched watches to my Garmin 405 and put on the heart rate monitor strap. Left the tent, made a quick pit stop in the port-a-john then headed out for the run.
The Run: 05:05:52
Well, going into this race I knew my run fitness was in question. My ailing quad kept me from putting in much run mileage at all. I'd say I ran a total of 50 miles between late June and this race. I did do a lot of aqua-jogging, and extra cycling, but it's just not the same. This was discouraging for me since I am a decent runner and can normally move up quite a bit during the run in a tri.
Leaving T2 I did feel great. I think the cheering from friends and family gave me a jolt of adrenaline that propelled me effortlessly... for about the first mile. That's when things started to go bad. I had eaten and drank too much too late on the bike and my stomach was just too full. Since it was relatively cool during the ride (low 70's), I just wasn't sweating as much as I did on my long training rides this summer, hence the extra fluids in my system. The bouncing from the running made me get a wicked side-stitch. I just couldn't keep up my run pace (I was shooting for about a 9 min per mile avg). I thought about making myself hurl for some relief but I feared once started I wouldn't be able to stop and then I'd be left with an empty stomach and no fuel at just the beginning of the marathon. I guess I could have refueled at the next aid station with Coke and bananas but decided against it as I just didn't feel like eating anything substantial at this point. I think this was a good move because as I employed my run-walk strategy I very gradually began to feel better. After the first loop I became re-energized by the cheering from friends and family and was able to put in some longer runs between walks. By about mile 19 or 20 I actually started to feel pretty good. I actually ended up negative-splitting the marathon!
I felt really great making my way back into the park and hearing the music and cheering from afar. Kelly and the boys joined me for the last run down the finish chute. Awesome!
Overall Time: 12:31:19
I finished 32 of 68 in my age group and 123 of 303 for all men. I'm happy with it.
Will I do it again? During my low points of the run I thought definitely not. Immediately after the race I thought probably not. As I write this I'm thinking maybe. Next year is Kelly's year for her bid at the iron-distance. I'll be there to support her but not compete with her. Perhaps 2013. Time will tell.