Going into this race my focus was divided between training right through the race with my eye on the fullRev race at Cedar Point and having fun and enjoying the time with my family. I wouldn’t say the race wasn’t important to me. I figure I’m always going to compete hard, I just might not be as prepared as I could be. If you like analogies; I’m going to empty the bag, I just might not have packed it as effectively as I could have.
The Tommy Bartlett water ski stadium proved to be a very neat venue for the swim start! Not many tris start with stadium seating for spectators and staging racers. Concessions were even open, if you forgot you PowerGel and wanted a funnel cake instead. The cove was a bit tight, we swam about 50m before making a 90 left, which dictated a TT start. I actually like TT starts. I’m not the strongest swimmer and a bit navigationally challenged, so the less clutter the better. Its pretty much the only time I line up on the buoy line. The downside: it makes racing for a podium spot mental agony.
We were still assigned to ‘waves’ and given cap colors according to age, and asked to ‘seed ourselves’ according to swim ability. I figured this would be a complete disaster. Asking triathletes to accurately assess their own ability relative to a bunch of complete strangers is… well, asking a lot. I didn’t even have to ask Coach’s take on this, I could hear his voice in my head loud and clear. So I muscled my way to the front, figuring there would be a dozen other guys there just like me; over stating their ability. But I was surprised to find a lot of guys very happy to let anyone go first. I cracked a joke about wanting to go first because I had to pee the worst, but no one laughed. I ended up being the 4th green cap into the water.
The swim itself was pretty uneventful. Not too crowded, very calm, overcast, easy sighting. I felt like I had a pretty good swim, maybe a bit off course towards the last 10 mins, but it seemed like the bouy line might not be the most direct line. I also think I started pressing a bit when I saw a few other green caps toward the end, which probably didn’t help.
T1 was rough. Normally, I’d say the more running the better, especially if it counts toward your swim time. But this time there was a very steep hill leaving the Tommy Bartlett stadium. Think slopes similar to stadium seating, and it wasn’t short either! Once again, I’d forgotten rubber bands for my bike shoes. So rather than losing a shoe like Knoxvile, I decided to put my shoes on at my bike. Clearly I haven’t practiced this in a while and ended up SITTING DOWN to put my shoes and socks on. It was pretty embarrassing and slow.
The ride proved to be a tale of two halves. For the first half, I rode pretty conservatively. I didn’t know the course and had been warned about the hills. I generally try to be respectful of other people’s opinions when it comes to ‘hills’ and ‘climbs’, but I don’t worry much until they talk about ‘passes’. Did I just sound like a climbing snob from Colorado? As it turns out, there were some substantial hills on the course. I was glad I rode the first half pretty easy because I rode the hills well and made up some ground on people that had passed me earlier.
I have no cause to be a climbing snob (too big, too heavy), but I may embrace being called a descending snob (yay big, yay heavy). About half way through the bike on a long ‘technical descent’ I couldn’t help but notice that everyone was sitting up, coasting, keeping their hands on the brakes, and taking preposterously conservative lines. Not knowing the road, I got sucked into this behavior. For about five minutes. When it dawned on me that there really weren’t going to be any ‘technical’ portions to these descents, I got in my aerobars and started peddling. I had to ‘ask’ for room a few times, but I started passing all kinds of people.
Just as one long downhill was ending with a pretty sharp left, I came upon a group of 8-10 guys in a pack, four abreast at the front, three behind them, and some stragglers behind them. Before I could even think about what I was doing, I passed them all. They were starting to get out of the saddle for a short steep hill but I had a lot of momentum (yay big, yay heavy), so I didn’t take much effort. Just as I was completing the pass, it occurred to me that now I would have to stay ahead of these guys or be caught up in whatever the hell was going on back there.
That’s exactly when my race changed. I wish I had hit lap on my garmin just to see how the stats changed. I rode my ass off after that. Generally, without regard for my legs or the pending half-marathon. You see, I hate racing in packs. When this happens, worrying about the rules dominates my thoughts, totally stresses me out, and prevents me from riding with the consistent effort that I need. I know it shouldn’t, but I can’t let it go.
It didn’t help that most of the guys on my tail were considerably younger and lighter than me. Several times one or two of them would come around me near the top of a hill only to coast down the other side. Now if there is one rule my mind has gotten over, it’s the Overtaken rule. Especially when there are six more guys behind you (even if they are the allowable distance behind). I’m not riding my brakes on a downhill to go to the back of the group when the guy in front of me is sitting up to eat or coasting.
So I rode harder than I have in a long time (since bike racing), to try and stay in front of these guys. For the most part, it worked. It pushed me much harder and propelled me to a better bike split than I would have otherwise had. But that’s what racing is all about, isn’t it?
T2 was much more respectable and I began the run with about 10-15 meters on most of the guys I finished the bike with. By the end of the first two miles though, many of them (did I mention they were 22, 23, 25, 29, 31 years old) had passed me and formed a pack roughly 20 meters up the road. One of them asked me on the way by if I though we all would get drafting penalties. He said it would be BS if we did. I’m pretty sure any penalties would have been well earned. Actually, I would have been upset about a drafting penalty. An overtaken penalty, I’m sure I earned.
I never really thought of trying to mix it up with these guys as they went by. It was too early. I was a bit worried about the course (hadn’t driven it, dumb), and really didn’t know what to expect from my legs after that ride. After the first two miles, no one else went past me. I could see the group in front break up and disappear one or two at a time. It made me feel slow, so I just refused to look at my watch.
At the turn around there didn’t appear to be anyone behind me my age, or making up much ground. I was great to see some teammates doing really well on the way back in. But other than that, it was kind of a boring slog. I kept myself entertained by looking at all the people sitting in traffic, which was substantially affected by the run course. I was actually surprised at how few irate people there were, but I won’t be surprised if the run course is a little different next year.
I was really happy when I checked my watch for splits. The ho-hum run turned out to be one of my fastest ever. Only 65 seconds from a PR run split on a course that was much more challenging than the PR course. Maybe I should have checked my watch more than once and not given away the last mile.
4:37:41 – good for 13th OA and 2nd AG. swim 32:07 (1:40/100m) T1 2:39 (hanging head) Bike 2:36 (21.5 mph) T2 0:40 Run 1:26:04. While we’re here, I’ve been training with an awesome Quarq Cinco power meter since January. I don’t think the prolonged switch from tri bike to road bike (February) then back to tri bike (June) did me any favors, but things are starting to come around. The stats also told me that my average power output over the 56 mile race was just about identical to what I was putting out in 20 FTP tests this spring. I’m not entirely sure how to feel about that, but I’m going with good.
The best part of the run came at the finisher chute. The whole family was there to cheer me in, but my niece, Anna, and nephew Logan were there to run across the finish line with me. It was pretty fun to see the smiles on their faces and see them get finisher medals. We got some great finisher photos.
It won’t be long and Eli will be running across the finish line too.
In addition to my family, I had all kinds of great Rev3 team support. It was great to see lots of other teammates on the course and just as many working and volunteering. Thanks for all of your support! Also thanks to all of our great team sponsors; it was another great day fueled by Powerbar, gels and blasts specifically. I felt great all day in head to toe Pearl Izumi, kit, Tri-Fly IV carbon, and IsoTransitions spoiled my feet along with Swiftwick socks.
Oh, I almost forgot what a treat it was to meet and race with Aaron Scheidies. Aaron is a visually impaired triathlete who competes with C-Different. We met the day before the race and talked some more afterward in the NormaTec recovery tent. He’s a really cool guy doing inspiring things. Aaron has won multiple world championship titles, including blistering PRs of 4:09 (70.3) and 1:57 (Oly). I hope to see Aaron at more Rev3 races in the future.