Saturday, October 2, 2010


The week before the race I felt really good. I was running well and feeling strong. I knew I was probably a bit under-trained but I was ready. I originally signed up more than a year in advance so one way another I was definitely ready for race day to arrive.

I headed to Sandusky about 10 on Saturday morning. When I got there I checked in (Bib #867) and headed to the transition area to stage my bike. This was the first race I'd ever done where I had to set up my bike the day before the race. I figured it would be nice not having to worry about it the next morning. I planned to set up, visit the expo and athlete meeting, then head to my room to relax and watch Ohio State play Miami. Unfortunately though, when I looked in my bag I realized I forgot garbage bags to cover my bike overnight. It wouldn't have been that big of a deal but it was supposed to rain that afternoon. I also realized I forgot to bring my arm warmers or a long sleeve bike jersey and I knew it would be cold the next morning. Oy!! I usually don't forget anything so it was pretty frustrating to forget both of those things. Still, I tried to make the best of the situation and decided to just go to the expo to buy a jersey or some warmers then head out of the park to get some bags at a local store.

I took my time at the expo. I bought a light weight jacket and a few more gu's and even picked up a long sleeve Rev3 shirt that caught my eye. I hung around for the 2:00 athlete briefing and headed back to my bike for a minute to decide how many bags to get and when I got there I was horrified to see that I also forgot my tool bag! I must have put it on my other bike at some point when I was riding with Susan a couple times and forgot to switch it back. Now this was a BIG deal. I had my extra tubes, tire irons, and CO2 inflater in it. I was going to have to drive all the way back to Cleveland. So much for a relaxing afternoon!

I called Susan to let her know I was coming back. She was an angel and offered to get the stuff I needed and meet me half-way. Now I was only looking at about 1 1/2 hours in the car vs. 3. Susan even brought me a diet coke when she met me!! Luckily after I met Susan there were no more surprises and I was in my room relaxing by around 5.

I didn't have to race until 8:30 but I wanted to watch Josh and Katie start at 7:00 so I got up around 5. I bundled up, grabbed my bike pump and headed down the beach to the bike transition. I topped off my tires without bursting a tube (something I really thought might happen after my day on Saturday) then headed back up the beach to find Josh and Katie.

I found them near the start of the full Rev and wished them luck. I also found out they were delaying the start by 10 minutes to wait for more light. Since I still had to get my gear on and make one more trip to the bike transition I decided to head for my room before they actually started. I watched them go from the boardwalk. I figured I wouldn't have seen much more from the beach either so I didn't feel too bad.

I went to my room, did my business, put on my race gear and got half into my wet suit. I traded texts with Susan and figured she'd arrive with the kids about the same time I got back to the transition. One last look around the room and I headed back. While I was walking I watched the full Rev athletes on their swim. I was also keeping watch for my sister Chris who was there with a few of her friends that were doing the 1/2 Rev relay. I found her just near the swim exit (yeah!) and stopped to say hi for a minute.

Just as I got to the transition I saw Susan and the kids. It was so cool having them there cheering for me all day. I only saw them at the transitions, but it was really inspiring to know they were there. I got a lot of energy hearing them cheer for me and seeing their faces!

So, after all the pre-race drama I was ready to go. I walked to the start with Susan and the kids and did a quick warm up swim. Josh had warned me the water was cold so I wanted to get a feel for it before the start of the race. Even with the warning the water took my breath when I dove to swim. I made sure to get as much water as I could in my suit to warm up before we got the call to exit the water. Now all I had to do was wait.

I did not feel the least bit nervous waiting on the beach. With short races I tend to get anxious but at the longer races I've done I'm usually pretty calm. I guess it's knowing that it's a long day and not being worried about it too much. Plus, at that point there was nothing more I could do. The race was here.

For almost every triathlon I've ever done I've held back at the beginning of the swim and ended up catching people as the race progressed. For this race I decided I was going to be aggressive and worked my way to the very front to wait for the gun. I didn't want to waste time or energy working my way through the pack. At the gun I ran into the water and dolphin dived a few times until it was deep enough to swim. My heart rate spiked and it took a while for me to relax, but I didn't want to give up my position so I concentrated on good long strokes to keep up a good pace.

My strategy worked because I didn't have to avoid anyone until after the first turn. During the second part I actually started catching a lot of the slower swimmers from the first wave. By the end of the third leg I was catching a few of the full Rev swimmers. Susan had warned me repeatedly about sighting for the finish because some of the early full Rev swimmers had come in from way to the right side of the course. I kept hearing her voice as I sighted the finish banner and made sure I stayed left. In fact, I was almost too far left! I hope she was proud of me.

I don't think the swim could have gone much better. I felt good and I swam well. I don't know my exact placement but Susan told me I was one of the first 10-15 people out of the water in my wave. Unfortunately, the easy part was over for me. I jogged up the beach peeling off my wet suit getting mentally prepared for a long day.

I didn't dog it in the transition but I didn't rush either. I took a gu, put on my socks and shoes and took time to put on the jacket I bought at the expo. I am glad I did, I was cold most of the time on my bike even with the jacket. I think my T1 time was around 3 minutes which isn't too bad considering how much I did. I saw Susan and the kids as I was headed out.

My recollection of the bike was wind, wind, and more wind. I vaguely remember the roads being rough in a few patches and relatively flat, but mostly I remember the wind. I hate riding in the wind anytime, let alone when I feel the need to go as fast as I can in a race. I get frustrated and tired quickly. I am not a small person to begin with and when it's windy my body acts like a sail slowing me down even more.

The race support was fabulous. There were 5 nutrition stations and each had water, accelerade sports drink, and gu's. I was determined to keep my nutrition up during the bike so I didn't bonk on the run. After 30 minutes I took my first package of gu chomps out of my bag and promptly dropped them!! Great! I only had one more solid nutrition with me and the day was just starting! I quickly decided it could have been worse, plus I knew they were going to have solid food on the run course. Plus, I certainly wasn't going to go back for them. I just pulled out the Shot Blocks I had and opened them, being much more careful. I decided to ration them though and only ate half.

I kept my head down and pushed into what seemed like an unrelenting head wind. Occasionally it let up or was at my back and I tried to take advantage. Primarily though I just tried to survive. I took as much fluid as I could and made sure I ate a gu at least every 30 minutes. I also finished the Shot Blocks at some point.

As I expected might happen (remember I said I was a bit under-trained) I started to run out of gas around mile 45. I wanted so badly to be done with the bike but I also knew if I pushed too hard I'd be in real trouble on the run. I kept going as best I could but the final whammy was the last 10-12 miles of the race being dead into the wind. We had ridden East out of the park to start and the wind was out of the West, so on the return trip it was a straight on head wind. By the time I got to the finish I was angry and ready to throw my bike in the lake.

I got to the dismount line at almost the exact same time as the first pro athlete. They did have a 90 minute head start but he had also ridden twice as far! In my haste to make sure I wasn't in his way I twisted my leg getting out of my cleat and my right hamstring cramped pretty bad. I was lucky I had my bike and I used it like a crutch as I hopped/ran into the transition.

I again took my time, trying to stretch while I bent down changing my shoes, etc. I also took off my jacket because by that time the sun had come out and it was getting warm. I made sure to eat another gu and get my hat on. Susan later said she thought I was quitting because I never run with a hat. I never considered quitting, but I'll admit I was more than a little concerned about the run. I jogged over to the fence and kissed Susan and the kids and slowly jogged to the run course.

In spite of everything I actually felt OK as I made the switch from riding to running. I wasn't burning it up by any means but my legs weren't dead as I had feared they might be. However, the first part of the run was not without it's challenges. I had something in my shoe so I had to stop to get it out. When I did I realized it was inside my sock. It must have been there since T1 but I didn't feel it on the bike. I definitely felt it while running so I had to take off my sock too. After taking care of that I was off again.

I was now dealing with the cramp in my hamstring, stopping more often than I wanted to try to stretch it. It seemed to be loosening a bit but if I couldn't shake it I was in for an even longer day. I had covered the first mile quicker than I thought I would given my shoe issues and cramping but there was still a long way to go. I just decided to do the best I could. Even if I had to walk to whole way I wasn't stopping.

Fortunately I didn't have to walk the whole way. I was stopping less and less frequently for my leg, I was walking every water stop (by design) to take fluids and some sort of nutrition, and was feeling OK otherwise. I started to believe I was actually going to make it. And I did, until about mile 9.5. At that point I really started to wear down, again my lack of training was coming into play.

The good news was I was less than 4 miles from the finish. I just kept at it. I ran as much as I could and I walked when I had to. At one point I was counting the cones used to close the traffic lanes. I'd run for 10 and walk for 3 then do it again. It helped and I kept closing in on the finish. After the last water stop and inside the 1 mile marker I started to feel the pull of the finish line and I was determined to run all the way in. When I made the last turn toward the park I had no more pain and didn't even feel like I was running.

There was a point just inside the park where we had to run around a couple buildings where there were no people and it was sort of eerily quiet. Then, I came around the corner and there was the finish chute with Mallory and Cameron waiting for me!! They ran with me to the finish and Susan was at the side cheering and trying to operate a still camera and video camera at the same time. What a fabulous feeling to finish and to get to do it with my kids!

My final time was 6:26, probably about what I would have predicted pre-race. Not fast by any means, but not a total embarrassment. No matter what my time was or the frustrations I suffered, I felt great. I had given it my all and I had enjoyed the day. I went into the race determined to have fun. It wasn't all a picnic, but I never felt like quitting and I did my best to chat with other racers and the volunteers when I could. The Rev3 people run a fabulous race and I highly recommend it to anyone who considers doing a long course triathlon.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Closing the loop.

After my last post I was pretty fired up and ready to go. My how things change. There were times during the last 3 months where I considered deleting this blog entirely. However, since you are reading this it's evident I didn't which I think is a good thing.

Flashback to June. I just finished the weekend double and am feeling good. I still plan to do the full iron distance at Cedar Point and am ramping up my training. Then, Cameron ends up in the hospital for a week during which time I do NO training followed by another 7-10 days where I do very little. I am having serious doubts about whether I will be ready to do the full iron and more importantly whether I really even want to. Plus, the half iron at Musselman is quickly approaching. Panic.

I almost backed out of Musselman entirely. As late as the morning before, when I needed to get up at 5 to head to NY, I wasn't going to do it. I was tired, undertrained, heavy (I gained 8 pounds while Cam was sick), and angry. I turned off my alarm and declared I wasn't going. The burden of training for the full iron was actually demotivating me! Luckily Susan gave me some encouragement and I decided to head to NY to see how I could do in a half iron.

I drove to Geneva, did pre-race stuff, slept well, felt good on race day, and had a good swim and pretty good bike. Then, I quit. I didn't even really attempt the run. I ran about 1/2 mile then stopped and turned in my timing chip. And, it was all mental. I actually started planning to quit with about 5 miles left in the bike. As I mentioned I didn't really want to go to begin with, I was tired at the end of the bike, I wasn't looking forward to 13 miles in the heat and the hills (it's a tough run course), and the final straw was that my kids were leaving for camp the next day and I wouldn't see them for an entire month. At that point it didn't take much to get me to stop. I did the math in my head and decided if I skipped the run I would be home in time to eat dinner with them and spend the evening together. So, I quit. I stayed until Josh and Katie finished but was on the road 5 minutes later. And I don't regret it one bit!

Quitting Musselman, for whatever combo of reasons, was the best decision by far. It took a lot of pressure off me and made me realize that I didn't really want to do a full iron (at least not now). I decided to quit worrying about training and start exercising. I started to run regularly again, I added in some of the other cardio stuff I like to do, and I swam or biked whenever I found time. I also e-mailed the Rev3 folks and switched to the half iron distance for Cedar Point.

Over the next 6 weeks I lost the weight I had gained, got my legs under me for running again, and enjoyed myself. When the time came I headed to Cedar Point feeling good and actually looking forward to the race.

I am going to write a race report and for that I thank Josh. He just posted his and it's actually what motivated me to write this entry and to follow it up with at least one more. He also suggested that I might need to change the title of this blog. And while I don't imagine I'll ever want to train for a full ironman, I'm going to leave it up. You never know.....

Monday, June 7, 2010

As promised...

My chick rocks! Susan finished 3rd overall in the Pump and Run on Saturday. She probably would have finished second if not for some suspect pre-race counting by one of her opponents. Either way she rocks. She did 23 reps of 80 pounds for her pump. They only counted 21 based some pretty strict rules so she got 10:30 off her run (:30 for each rep). She then ran a 20 minute 2 1/2 miles for a final time of 9:30. Yeah for Susan!!

I ended up doing both duathlons this weekend and I'm glad I did. I was really wishy washy Saturday before finally signing up. The course was 2.5 run, 10 bike, 2.5 run. My first run was really good for me, I had a good bike leg, and the second run was a bit slower but still faster than I thought. My final time was 1:17 and change. I was hoping for anything under 1:20 so I am pleased. No bling for my age group but still happy.

I was pre-registered for Twinsburg on Sunday so when we left the house (Susan signed up too) in a monsoon at 6:15 it was just because I already spent the money. Luckily the rain stopped around 6:45 and held off for the entire race. Unfortunately the wind didn't go with it. It wasn't too bad on the run but it got a bit dicey on the bike in a few spots. I think the gusts were sometimes over 40 mph. My time was a little worse than I'd hoped, 1:11 and change, but I still felt good. I am blaming the wind and the double racing on the slight dropoff in time (I was hoping to break 1:10 with the shorter course of 2, 10, 2). Susan did really well too (especially since she hadn't been on a bike all year) and finished in 1:22 almost picking up another medal with a 4th place age group finish!

The bike/run transition was much tougher on Saturday than Sunday. I chalk that up to Saturday being my first brick workout of the year and the fact that I rode my road bike in that race. Sunday I was a bit better prepared mentally for the transition and I rode my tri-bike so I think it went smoother. Either way it still takes me about 3/4 to 1 mile to get the blood flow right for running. I'm getting there.

No other races on the schedule before the 1/2 Iron at Musselman.

Friday, June 4, 2010

I was just kidding...

I'm not really going to try blood doping, don't worry.

I've been feeling good and getting re-energized. My mental state is good right now and I am looking forward to most workouts. Still having trouble finding enough time but that's OK. I'm doing what I can.

I am signed up for the Twinsburg Duathlon on Sunday. It's a 2 mile run, 10 mile bike, and 2 mile run. The bike course goes right past my house. I'm going to have the kids out front playing defense for the other riders. Nothing malicious like sticks through the spokes, just some light taunting and maybe a few water balloons. I'll take all the help I can get.

Susan is doing a pump and run tomorrow in Sagamore. They also have a duathlon that I was considering doing but as of now there is only a 2% chance I'll try it. I'm a bit intrigued by doing 2 races in one weekend, but I'll probably just go to cheer for her.

Updates after the weekend.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Maybe I'll try blood doping

One of life's mysteries: Do you need to be able to perform before you can benefit from performance enhancing drugs?

I am contemplating adding a full cocktail of performance drugs and blood doping to my training. If I couple that with the massive lead I'm planning to get in the swim I should do well.

On a more serious note, Josh told me he read that it takes 6% less effort to run for every 10 pounds you lose. That immediately started me thinking how much weight I could lose before I was so weak I couldn't stand up. I figure 50 pounds will give me a 30% advantage so I have stopped eating, entirely. It's only a matter of time!!! (no pun intended)

Just over 7 weeks until the Musselman half and 16 weeks until the Rev3. I am looking forward to both, although how much I look forward to the Rev3 will depend a lot on how I do at Musselman. It will be nice to have a status check though. It will also be neat to be in such a big race. I really like the energy you feel during those races. A lot different than a solo trail run.

Monday, May 10, 2010

New attitude

The reason I have been having so much anxiety over this race is because I forgot why I decided to do it in the first place. I wanted to have some fun and to challenge myself to do something really difficult (isn't that 2 reasons?). I also forgot that I am 44, have been slightly overweight most of my adult life, have never been a distance runner, have a full time job, have a house to take care of, and have a wife and 2 kids.

I got so concerned about precise training schedules, proper nutrition, predicted race times, etc. that I wasn't having any fun. Today that changes. I am going to enjoy this as much I can and I am going to go back to poking fun at myself instead of worrying about every little thing.

So, here is where I stand. I am again approaching "slightly overweight" since I have been eating as though I'm pregnant for the last 3 weeks. I haven't been running or biking much at all recently. But, I can still swim like a mutha! So, if I can build a 2-3 hour lead in the swim I'll be golden!!

My new commitment is to have fun, do as much training as I can stand (physically and mentally), try to eat right (big challenge there), invest thousands of dollars in the latest high tech tri-gear (my kids can pay for their own college), race some of my favorite races this summer (Shot in the Dark, Bellefaire Biathlon, Fairport Triathlon), and give it my best shot at America's Roller Coast (an old Cedar Point slogan for those of you not familiar) in September. I am not going to worry about where I finish. I have suffered the indignity of last place finishes before (that is actually true by-the-way) so now is no different. I just want to enjoy this and finish before the midnight cutoff. Modest goals.

I am going to start today by going out for a strenuous 3 mile run!! Just kidding (maybe).

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Seeds of doubt

After having my legs almost completely seize up near the end of a 53 mile ride with Josh on Friday and my failed attempt at another long run on Sunday I am having my doubts. I'm not quitting, but I am wondering what will happen. I seem to have a million competing thoughts and concerns. I need to find my mojo, soon.

Stay tuned! I know I will. :-)