Cedar Point was actually the first triathlon that I signed up for, back in September of 2011. Yes, going directly to a 70.3 as a first race seemed like the proper procedure. No, I did not have a clue what I was doing at the time.
amazing how plans change. Almost a year (and 6 races) later, I’m
driving to Ohio straight from 5150 Nationals in Iowa, getting set to
race my A race, and the one that got me started on the triathlon path.
I’m...concerned about this race. Due to my 80-90 hour/week summer work
schedule, my training plan has taken some hits. I have not done the long
runs that I would have liked, and I had to more or less abandon my swim
training with the Masters group due to a time conflict. My cycling
baseline is ok, but that only gets you so far. To add to my concern, my
last 70.3 was less than stellar - the Eagleman sweatfest where I started
to cramp 4 miles into the run.
the plus side, 5150 Nationals went quite well, and the run felt solid
throughout, if numerically unimpressive. So the plan is to address the
issues of Eagleman - more salt in my ride nutrition, and more control of
ride pace, in order to set up a decent run.
Parking at Cedar Point is incredibly easy - it’s an amusement park,
and there is no competition for close-in spaces at our 5:30 AM arrival.
Bikes were racked the night before - they use wheel holders instead of
the bars at seat-height, which I really liked. Not having to get the
bike, with water bottles, out from under a bar seems much more efficient
to me. Setup goes smoothly; the only annoyance is that the full rev
starts first, leaving us with nearly two hours of dead time before our
start. We retreated to the car, laid back the seats, and napped for a
bit, then fixed breakfast about 90 minutes before start - bagel, lox and
cream cheese, as always.
The swim is in Lake Erie, and the weather, despite severe storms the
day before, is beautiful. I read other race reports that complained
about the choppiness of the water, but I didn’t find it to be bad at all
- a few waves, but nothing too disruptive. The start was a bit odd -
the water was knee-to-thigh deep for about 50 meters, and a lot of
people chose to wade instead of swimming at first. I swam from the
beginning, but it didn’t seem to be faster than the waders. Dolphin
dives would have probably been the way to go; add that to the list of
swimming skills I need to learn. Looking at my time, though, I did
significantly better relative to the field than usual. I wonder if the
waders burned more energy at the start than usual? Sighting wasn’t bad;
the size of the lake and the small wave action made buoys a little tough
to spot, but on the return leg, the park itself provided plenty of
sighting points. The swim in general felt comfortable, but my lack of
time in the water was apparent in my inability to hit a consistent pace
and find someone to provide a draft.
Swim Time: 39:08
The run to T1 was on a sandy beach, so I took a few extra seconds to
towel the sand off of my feet before I socked and shoed. Totally worth
it. Otherwise an unexceptional T1; still very, very slow by any
competitive standard though.
Rank - not listed, but leaders were through in 1:30-1:45, so bad.
The ride is a flat-to-rolling-hills lollipop through some secondary
roads in rural Ohio. Road quality was fine, except for a stretch of
normal-looking road that set up a crazy vibration in the bike - very
jarring, almost tooth-rattling. That was only a mile or so each way,
however, so it wasn’t bad at all. I had an early scare on the bike - I
felt an odd hitch to the pedal push less than a mile out of T1, and I
determined that the back wheel seemed to be rubbing a bit. I could not
reach the release tabs easily from a seated position, and I didn’t want
to make the news as the guy who cut off his finger in the spokes of his
back wheel, so I stopped for a few seconds to hop off and open the brake
release. With the extra room, the wheel seemed to be fine, so I headed
off along the course. At Eagleman, I made two errors: I went out too
hard on the bike, and I drank mostly water, neglecting to get enough
salt. Today, I planned to go a touch easier overall, and to back off
significantly in the last 10 miles. Coming into the 15 miles to go, I
was sitting at about 23.5 mph avg, and I decided that I would try to
cross the line at around 23 even. Given that the return leg had some
decent downhill segments, this let me back off significantly to set
myself up for the run. On the nutrition front, I picked up a bottle of
Salt Stick to help with salt intake. To store it, and to make sure I
took it on schedule, I took 4 cubes out of a sleeve of Shot Blox,
inserted a Salt Stick pill, then replaced 2 cubes, added another pill,
and finally replaced the last two blocks. This meant that every time I
took nutrition from that sleeve, the pill was ready to go. Coming into
T2 I felt pretty rested, HR was under control, and I was generally ready
to go for a run.
Rank: 17/715 Men
T2: Nothing remarkable, except that I am remarkably slow at transitions.
Time: 2:04. Argh.
Right out of the gate, I felt like the changes to the bike had paid
off. I felt controlled, comfortable, and I was moving at the general
pace of the herd. (With the exception of the tiny, fast people who
dashed by, doing their tiny-fast-people things. I have learned to accept
this.) I was anxious to maintain pacing, and while things were going
well off the start, I was anxious to avoid digging myself into a hole. I
decided, therefore, to walk 30 seconds at each mile marker, in order to
keep HR down. I also decided to take liquids every two miles instead of
every mile, as digestion on the run had been a problem previously. All
of this worked as planned. The run - a very flat run which looped up and
down the streets of the nearby town - went by quickly and easily, and
the miles wound down. The only issue I had with the run is that the race
organizers did not issue Clydesdales with a “C” tattoo, so identifying
my competition was tough. (In Clydesdale culture, asking every largish
man who comes by “Are you a Clydesdale?” is considered rude). I had a
bit left in the tank, so if I had known who I was racing, I might have
been able to pace one of the two racers who apparently passed me on the
course. Coming into the finish chute, I had enough juice left for a
solid sprint to the line.
Run Time: 2:08:21
Run Rank: 132/715 Overall
Even though I could not be certain, I was confident that I had only been passed once or twice by Clydesdales on the run course, and checking the results, I confirmed that I had nabbed 3'rd in division. Katie also made the podium, with a fantastic 2'nd overall finish in the aquabike. The podium medals for this race are enormous, and are designed to fit around the finisher medals - a very neat touch. Overall, I could not have asked for a better A race - great location, great race, and a great relief to get a handle on the 70.3 distance.
Overall Finish: 5:18:17