Thursday, October 11, 2012

Rev3 Cedar Point Race Report: 9/9/12

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.
It’s 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.
On 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
273/715 Men
8/46 Clydesdales

T1: 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.
Time: 3:11
Rank - not listed, but leaders were through in 1:30-1:45, so bad.

Bike: 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.
Time: 2:25:33
Rank: 17/715 Men
          1/46 Clydesdales

T2: Nothing remarkable, except that I am remarkably slow at transitions.
Time: 2:04. Argh.

Run: 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
                  11/46 Clydesdale

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
                      132/715 Overall
                          3/46 Clydesdale 

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